Tag Archives: Ukraine

Roundup: TTCS & Ukraine, RTM & Roe, Holocaust Talk …

The Conservative Synagogue continues to help Ukrainian refugees.

The congregations sponsored a planeload of 132 refugees. The flight left from Budapest on Tuesday, for Israel.

Rabbi Jeremy Wiederhorn reports that the families have been welcomed to Israel as new citizens.  Mazel tov!

From Ukraine to Israel — with help from The Conservative Synagogue of Westport.

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The Representative Town Meeting’s next session is June 7.

In addition to the usual requests for appropriations and ratifications of Planning & Zoning Commission decisions, there is this agenda item: to adopt a sense of the meeting resolution “that Westport supports the constitutional rights and principles established in Roe v. Wade, and opposes the elimination of those rights by any subsequent Supreme Court decision.”

The town’s non-partisan legislative body has passed similar “sense of the meeting” resolutions before — including, in 1969, a resolution asking President Johnson and Congress to “take immediate action to withdraw from the (Vietnam) war.”

Joanne Woodward spoke in support. After 3 hours of long, impassioned debate, the RTM voted 17-15 in favor of the resolution. The New York Times ran a long story about it.

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On Thursday, Holocaust survivor Judy Altmann gave an important presentation to all Bedford and Coleytown Middle School 8th graders.

The Westport school district has made the link publicly available (and posted it on their website). Click here for her talk. To learn more about Judy Altmann, click here.

Judy Altmann

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The Levitt Pavilion kicks off the holiday weekend — and its summer season — with a pair of free “open house” concerts this weekend. No tickets are required for the 2 shows, today and tomorrow (Saturday and Sunday, May 28 and 29, 5 p.m. both days).

Tonight it’s Michael Coppola and Harvie S Jazz Duo. Tomorrow features The Esperanto Duo: Dave Giardina & Chris Payne (“old time and gypsy jazz”).

Click here for more information.

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Just in time for Memorial Day, a new flagpole has been installed outside the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Long may she wave!

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Also just in time for Memorial Day: The ice cream hut at The Porch is open for business.

A servicemember and his family kicked off the holiday weekend yesterday, with a treat.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

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Jerry Kuyper snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo in his unmown meadow (“aka yard,” he notes).

The snapping turtle’s shell was about 12 inches long. And, Jerry adds, “the scars on the back might be from a lawn mower.”

No wonder the turtle snaps.

(Photo/Jerry Kuyper)

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And finally … on this day in 1830, President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. It denied many Native Americans their land rights, and forcibly relocated them.

Thus began one of the most shameful parts of our nation’s history.

 

Arlene And Alexey: United By Ukraine

Nearly 15 years ago, Arlene Gottlieb waited to be seated at a restaurant in Rome.

She and her husband David are 50-year Westport residents. But that night, she was alone.

A young man tapped her shoulder. “Would you like to join my wife and me for dinner?” he asked.

She was surprised, but grateful. As they ate and chatted, they discovered a connection. Alexey and his wife Victoria lived in Kyiv, Ukraine — Arlene’s grandmother’s home.

A friendship formed. Over the years, Arlene and Alexey exchanged emails and texts. He invited the Gottliebs to visit.

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, Arlene asked how he was doing. He texted back: “It’s getting bad here.” He wanted Victoria and their teenage children to leave. She did not want to go.

Finally, she agreed. Alexey drove his family to the Polish border. Then he returned home, to fight.

Luckily, they’d just gotten Canadian visas. This summer, they planned to visit Victoria’s sister in Toronto. They moved up their departure date. As soon as they could, they flew to Canada.

A couple of weeks ago, Arlene called Alexey. He was underground in Kharkiv, as a sniper.

Victoria told Arlene he needed military equipment. It cost $6,200. Arlene promised to raise the funds.

The Gottliebs’ friends pitched in. A journalist friend of Victoria’s in Odessa made sure it was delivered to him.

The other day, Alexey texted Arlene. He sent photos, of himself with the equipment.

As she described the latest twist in this unlikely friendship, her voice broke.

“I still wonder how and why he picked me out to join him for dinner,” she says. “And how we kept up with each other, through all the years.

“There’s a Jewish word, ‘beshert.’ It means ‘meant to be.’ That’s all I can believe.

“I’m not a praying person. But I pray every day that he is okay.

“This is a love story, all around. I’m just glad we can help Alexey, and help Ukraine.”

David and Arlene Gottlieb

Roundup: Little Rock 9, Indie Movies, Lice …

Three years after Brown vs. Board of Education, public schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, were still segregated.

But on September 25, 1957, US Army soldiers escorted 9 black teenagers into Central High School. 14-year-old Carlotta Walls LaNier was the youngest

On May 24, 2022 (7 p.m.), Carlotta — now in her 70s, and the last survivor of that courageous group of 9 — will join her friend, Westporter Steve Parrish, “In Conversation” at the Westport Library.

Carlotta will describe what it was like to be escorted by armed soldiers through an angry mob, and what happened to her and her family in the months and years after. She’ll reflect on her journey — and ours, as a country and a society.

Click here to register.

Carlotta Walks LaNier

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Staples High School’s Independent Learning Experience allows to move beyond the classroom setting, tackling projects or courses not otherwise offered there. Through an Independent Learning Experience, students spend a semester or full

Several students have produced films (giving new meaning to the phrase “indie movies”). They’ll be screened on Tuesday (May 10, 6:30 p.m., Staples auditorium). Each is about 10 minutes long.

Themes and filmmakers include:

  • An ex-criminal turned interdimensional defense officer investigates a lead on a former partner (Jacob Friedman)
  • Co-dependency and instability challenge 2 teens as they deal with daily life (Leah Chapman and Tate Mullineaux)
  • A high school girl struggles with mental illness (Elen Macaluso)
  • A couple preys on victims in a twisted game of betrayal, manipulation and psychosis (Ben Seideman).

A question-and-answer session and small reception follow. The public is invited.

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I don’t have any young kids. Nor do I have much hair. So I would not know about what I’m told are lice outbreaks at some Westport schools (and pre-schools).

But Liz Solovay is on the case.

The Westport resident owns Lice Treatment Center. She’s been helping local families with in-home and treatment center services for over 15 years.

As if you don’t need more reasons to call Liz: This is Small Business Week. So while you’re taking care of some “small business” of your own, you’re also helping one.

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Lynsey Addario has taken some haunting, harrowing photos of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

But one that the 1991 Staples High School graduate (and Pulitzer Prize winning photojournalist) published in yesterday’s New York Times may be among her most sorrowful.

Nothing illustrates the depravity of the Russian invasion — and its toll on innocent people — more than this simple shot.

Aleksandr, a resident of Kramatorsk, sat in a room of his destroyed apartment after it was hit by a Russian airstrike yesterday. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

Thank you to Lynsey, fellow Staples grad and Times photographer Tyler Hicks, and all others in the war zone, for showing the world what is going on half a world away.

To learn more about the history, geography and culture of Ukraine, listen to Professor Walter Zaryckyj at the Westport Library on Monday (May 9, 7 p.m., in-person and Zoom). He’ll speak on “Understanding Ukraine: Past, Present and Future.” Click here to register.

“06880” is a proud co-sponsor of this important educational event.

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The 2022 rugby high school nationals will be televised.

That’s of interest to “06880” readers, because Staples High School will be in them.

The Wreckers — ranked #5 in the nation — head to Elkart, Indiana soon. They compete for a US title from Thursday to Saturday, May 19-21 (times TBD).

Can’t make it to “The RV Capital of the World”? Go to Little Barn instead. Matches will be shown there, on a big screen.

In March, a crowd gathered at Little Barn for the rugby team’s kickoff tournament in Virginia.

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The Joggers Club is moving — from Compo Beach to the Greens Farms train station.

They invite everyone to stop by, every Saturday at 8 a.m. The first run is free. They offer a variety of distances and paces. All are fun.

Plus coffee, treats and music after each run.
·        When: Every Saturday @ 8:00am
·        Where: Green’s Farms Train Station

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The Westport Weston Family YMCA will offer 15 needs-based lifeguard certification scholarships this summer.

Applicants must be 15 to 23 years old, with strong swimming skills. There are 2-day courses May 7-8 and 14-15, and June 4-5 and 11-12. Click here for the application, and more information.

Questions. Contact Julia Marshella by email (jmarshella@westporty.org) or phone (203-226-8984).

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The other day, our “Westport … Naturally” feature showcased a handsome swan, sitting on her eggs.

She must have been foraging for food yesterday. Here was the scene:

(Photo/Elaine Marino)

And we’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: Don’t get too close! Give her and her cygnets-to-be plenty of space.

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And finally … on this date in 1940, John Steinbeck won the Pulitzer Prize for The Grapes of Wrath. It was a novel — but it cut very, very close to the truth.

 

Westport Firefighters Send Protective Gear To Ukraine

The Westport Fire Department has donated used personal protective equipment — including coats, pants and boots — to Ukraine.

Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons organized the project. Yesterday he delivered the turnout gear, to be shipped to Ukrainian firefighters.

Gibbons says, “Firefighters support one another around the county and the world. The men and women of Ukraine fighting fire under war conditions reached out for our support- so we responded. We support them and their fight for freedom.”

Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons and Uliana Khovanets, liaison with Ukraine Post, with Westport Fire Department gear headed to Ukraine.

Fire Chief Michael Kronick adds, “Imagine trying to put out a fire without the proper equipment. There are raging fires in cities, forests and fields from the numerous bombing attacks, which firefighters work around the clock to put out. We know that our equipment will save lives, and help the firefighters.”

Gibbons thanks Westporter Mark Yurkiw. Fluent in Ukrainian, he expedited the communication and logistics necessary to get the gear directly to Ukraine Emergency Services.

The National Fire Protection Association specifies that structural turnout gear should be retired when the garment is beyond repair and no longer able to pass the NFPA test. Though the donated gear is past its technical expiration date for use in the US, it is clean, in serviceable condition, and ready to provide protection to Ukrainian firefighters.

Roundup: Ukraine, Roe v. Wade, Art …

How does Ukraine’s geography impact its history? What about its natural resources? Why is it fighting so fiercely for its independence, and why does Russia covet it so?

In other words: What do we need to know about Ukraine’s past, to understand what’s happening there today and tomorrow?

This Monday (May 9, 7 p.m., in-person and Zoom), we can all learn together.

The Westport Library hosts “Understanding Ukraine: Past, Present and Future.” Professor Walter Zaryckyj — director of the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations — will provide insights into this fascinating and important country that most of us know only through recent news reports and images.

It’s a great way to learn about the geography and history — long-ago and just-before-February — that most of us never learned or knew.

“06880” is a co-sponsor of the event. I’ll moderate the discussion, and lead a question-and-answer period at the end with Professor Zaryckyj.

Click here to register for a spot in the Library Forum. Click here for a Zoom link. Click here to learn more about Professor Zaryckyj.

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Spring is the perfect time for ice cream.

Actually, any time is the perfect time for ice cream.

But the coming of spring also heralds the arrival of Gofer Ice Cream. Westport’s newest shop opens soon at 1240 Post Road East. It takes over the former Silver Ribbon location, near (among others) Fortuna’s, Greens Farms Spirit Shop, a vape store and COVID testing center.

Inklings — the Staples High School newspaper, which first reported the story — says that when Gofer opens this spring, it will feature premium hard and soft serve ice cream, plant-based and fat-free options, smoothies, cakes and more.

Gofer’s other locations include Darien, Greenwich, New Canaan, Ridgefield, Riverside, Stamford and Wilton.

What took Westport so long? What are we, chopped liver?

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Yesterday’s “06880” story on Westport neighborhoods included this line about the “Private/Residents Only” sign on Saugatuck Island: “Fun fact: No other Westport neighborhood has an actual ‘entrance.'”

Ken Stamm sent along a photo showing another sign, a couple of miles away:

(Photo/Ken Stamm)

It’s not actually an “entrance” to Saugatuck — there’s no such thing — but it is certainly more welcoming than “Private/Residents Only.”

There’s only one problem: As Ken notes, the sign faces the I-95 on-ramp.

It should say, he writes, “Thanks for visiting Saugatuck!” Drivers who see it are those coming from Saugatuck, on their way out of the neighborhood.

On the other hand, it is a very handsome sign.

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Just a few hours after news leaked of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in a case challenging Roe v. Wade, several protestors headed to Westport’s political town square: the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge. A number of passing drivers honked horns in support.

‘Deb Noonan and Nancy Aldrich were among the protestors yesterday on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.(Photo/Bobbi Essagof)

Last week, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed a first-in-the-nation bill. It will protect medical providers and patients seeking abortion care here, who may travel from states that have outlawed abortion. It also expands the type of practitioners eligible to perform certain abortion-related care in Connecticut. Governor Lamont has said he will sign the bill.

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Our town has plenty of art shows. One of the best is at the Westport Woman’s Club

This year’s event is May 21 and 22 (2 to 6 p.m.), at their 44 Imperial Avenue clubhouse.

Among the local artists there with their works: Ola Bossio, Trace Burroughs, Ann Chernow, Susan Fehlinger, Larry Gordon, Tom Kretsch, Arpad Krizsan, Paul Larson, Erzsebet Laurinyecz, Jena Maric, Jon Puzzuoli, Peter Savarine, Gay Schempp, Oksana Tanasiv and Larry Untermeyer.

There’s music by a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee (guess who!), and refreshments too. Proceeds support the Woman’s Club’s charitable work — now in its 115th year.

The Westport Woman’s Club opens its doors on May 21-22 for their annual art show.

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Boys lacrosse gets plenty of press (and the Staples High School team is one of the best in the state). But what about girls lax?

Last Saturday was PAL Appreciation Night. Families of young players tailgated, then supported the high school varsity  and JV girls teams against Trumbull, under the Paul Lane Stadium lights.

The PAL program’s mission is to create a fun, safe and respectful environment for girls to learn skills. The goal is to instill in players of all abilities a for the game, respect for teammates, personal responsibility, a healthy competitive spirit, an understanding of good sportsmanship and fun for everyone.

Teams are open to girls who live in or attend school in Westport. New players are welcome. No one is cut.

For information on summer clinics and the fall program, email  westportpalgirlslax@gmail.com or click here.

Westport PAL lacrosse players, at Paul Lane Stadium.

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MyTeamTriumph — the great organization that pairs children, teens and adults with disabilities (“captains”) with volunteers (“angels”) who help them participate in triathlons and road races — invites everyone to a jewelry party fundraiser.

Allison Daniel/UpNorth CT hosts the social event-and-more on June 8 (4 to 7 p.m., Sconset Square). There are great designs, in a tremendous variety, at many price points, plus snacks, wine and fun.

Attendees receive a 10% discount on jewelry. A percentage of sales goes to myTreamTriumph-CT. Click here for ideas.

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Mark Mathias spotted today’s “Westport … Naturally” scene near downtown.

There will be baby cygnets soon. If you see the mom now — or her and her babies later — please keep your distance!

(Photo/Mark Mathias)

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And finally … on this day in 1953, Ernest Hemingway won a Pulitzer Prize for The Old Man and the Sea.

Who of course was a completely different guy from …

 

Roundup: Ducks, Ospreys, Kindness …

The Great Duck Race returns this year. But — just as ducks migrate — so does the popular Westport Sunrise Rotary fundraiser.

From 2008 to ’19, thousands of yellow ducks bobbed in the Saugatuck River. COVID forced it into a virtual format the past 2 years.

On July 9, the Great Duck Race will be run as a giant water sluice on Jesup Green. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1), the Rotarians will see how it works as a duck race track. AJ Penna is providing a truck and front loader. Water comes from the Westport Fire Department.

Everyone is invited to watch tomorrow. “Ducks” in full costume will pose for photos.

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Also on Jesup Green: The Westport Library Book Sale.

It opened yesterday, with the usual packed crowd. It continues today (Saturday, April 30) until 5 p.m. Tomorrow (Sunday, May 1, noon to 5 p.m.) all items are half price. On Monday (May 2, 9 a.m. to noon), fill a bag for $5, or purchase individual items for half-price.

The Westport Library Book Sale yesterday. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Kindness is always on the Porch menu. Everyone feels comfortable at the Cross Highway café.

Tomorrow through May 15, they’re running a “Kids Kindness Contest.” Everyone in grades K-12 is invited to share a story of how they are kind to friends, strangers or within the community.

The K-2nd grade and 3rd-5th grade winners each earn an ice cream social with 9 friends. The middle and high school winners each get a fun lunch with 3 friends.

Forms are available at the Porch, or by clicking here.

The Porch is always “kind” of cool and great.

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Want to surprise the woman in your life the day before Mothers Day?

Take her to “Supper & Soul” next Saturday (May 7).

It’s a great event, with lots of reasons she’ll be thrilled. The 8 p.m. concert — remember live concerts? — features Cris Jacobs. He’s back in Westport, after a searing show at the 2018 Blues Views & BBQ Festival. The opening act is Gnorm.

The show is at the Westport Library, where the new, state-of-the-art sound system will blow you away.

Tickets ($90) include a 3-course dinner at a downtown restaurant (6 p.m.; list below), including tax and tip (though drinks are on you). $40 concert-only tickets are available too.

Participating restaurants include:

  • 190 Main
  • Amis
  • Arezzo
  • Basso
  • Capuli
  • De Tapas
  • Don Memo
  • Manna Toast
  • Spotted Horse
  • Wafu
  • Walrus Alley

And … after the show, your ticket is good for happy hour pricing on drinks at any of the participating restaurant. Try a different one than dinner!

Click here for tickets and more information. Click below to see Cris Jacobs. The event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, and the Westport Library.

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There may be no free lunch. But there was a free sapling giveaway yesterday.

Dozens of Westporters took advantage of the Arbor Day gift at Town Hall, courtesy of the Tree Board.

Residents Robert Sohmer and Debbie Fisher showed up — then offered to help. They’re shown in the photo below, as Tree Board members Alice Ely and Monica Buesser prep saplings.

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Speaking of nature: Recent reports of the Fresh Market ospreys’ demise are premature.

Carolyn Doan reports: “All is well with the pair. They are incubating now, which means they sit very low in the nest and are impossible to see.

“They are really a really strong pair, and are co-parenting. They give each other breaks while one is in the incubating position. They call out to each other when one needs a break or is hungry.

“Yesterday I watched the female sit at the top of a dead tree behind Terrain. and preen herself for 45 minutes. After faint calls from the nest, she went back. Then the male popped up. He went to a nearby perch and preened.

“The ospreys returned a week early this year, so chicks may come sooner than usual.”

A Fresh Market osprey, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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Remember the Yarn Bomber? In the darkest days of the pandemic, she brightened the town with her late-night creations.

Molly Alger was not the Yarn Bomber. But — responding to an “06880” offer — she took “secret” lessons, via FaceTime.

The actual Bomber left yarn on Molly’s porch in the middle of the night. Molly  created 2 bombs for her own trees, and 2 for friends.

She also did one for the Senior Center. I lasted through 2 winters and one summer, since November 2020. But it was looking a little ragged.

Now — just in time for spring — Molly has created a new Senior Center yarn bomb.

The pandemic has eased. But the Yarn Bomber — and her protégé — live on.

The Senior Center’s new yarn bomb.

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29 Staples High School students and 6 adults returned recently from 10 days in Spain. It was the first overseas trip for a large group in a decade.

The packed itinerary included visits to Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Madrid and Barcelona. Highlights included Alhambra, scavenger hunts in cities, an olive farm, guided city tours, a flamenco lesson and show, the Prado Museum, a churro breakfast and cooking class, Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas, a Good Friday religious procession, and the first women’s soccer match ever played at Camp Nou — with a crowd of 91,000.

Future trips planned by Staples’ World Language Department include Germany next spring, and a February journey to Panama focusing on STEM topics.

Cheering for the Barcelona women’s team at Camp Nou.

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Staples High School’s boys basketball team will have a new look next year.

Head coach Colin Devine is stepping down, to pursue administrative positions. In 15 years at the helm, he built the Wreckers into an FCIAC contender.

Coach Colin Devine (far left) and members of the 2018 Staples High School boys basketball team took the #ALSPepperChallenge.

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Services have been announced for Charlie Capalbo. The former Fairfield Ludlowe High hockey player battled 4 cancers before succumbing last week, one month before his 24th birthday. He is the grandson of Westporters Richard Epstein and Ina Chadwick; his mother Jennifer Wilde Capalbo is a Staples High grad.

Charlie’s wake is Wednesday, May 4 (2 to 8 p.m., Penfield Pavilion, 323 Fairfield Beach Road, Fairfield). A funeral mass is set for Thursday, May 5 (10 a.m., St. Thomas Aquinas Parish, 1719 Post Road, Fairfield). Burial will be private.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo.

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Today’s New York Times carries one of its most harrowing stories ever on the war in Ukraine. It begins:

 The wind carried the smell of death across the street. The body of the dead man, burned, mutilated and barely recognizable, was taken from the refrigerator and laid on a metal gurney. The coroner smoked a cigarette and unzipped the black bag.

It was a beautiful spring day. There had been no shelling that morning. And Oksana Pokhodenko, 34, gasped, blinking, at the charred corpse. That was not her brother, she told herself, that was not Oleksandr. That was barely a human.

Her brother lived once. The family patriarch for 20 years since their father died, he called his sister every day after the war started as he fled with his family to a village, Husarivka, wedged between rolling wheat fields. He kept calling — “Hello, Little One. We’re good. How are you?” — but never mentioned that the Russians had overrun the village where he was hiding.

Ms. Pokhodenko, in black jeans, a black jacket and barely laced sneakers, struggled to keep looking at the body. Her brother had taught her how to ride a bike and had loved to watch cartoons for hours with his son. To his sister, he was a “stone wall.” This was a charred husk. Half of the man’s skull was gone, and his chest cavity was splayed open.

The photos are as chilling as the writing. They’re all by Tyler Hicks, the 1988 Staples High School graduate and Pulitzer Prize winning journalist. Click here for the full story, and Tyler’s images.

Some of Tyler Hicks’ latest photos, illustrating atrocities in committed in Ukraine. (Photos/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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“Westport … Naturally” waves goodbye to April (and hello to May!) with this gorgeous image from the Library Riverwalk:

(Photo/June Rose Whittaker)

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And finally … on this day in 1803, the US purchased the Louisiana Territory from France. We spent $15 million — and more than doubled the size of our nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olga’s Story

“06880” reader Olga Olha Kyrychenko writes:

I am a Ukrainian, American, Odessian and Westporter, all at the same time. This is my story.

My family left our home in Odessa and came to United States about 2 years ago. Back in Ukraine my husband had an office job as a tariff broker. I was raising our 2 sons, preparing to return to my career in telecommunications.

We thought we had a good life, but we also had a feel it could be over. It was scary to leave all behind and come to the US, but we did it for our boys, for the future, for a better life. We embraced the American dream so many seek.

Olga and her sons.

We arrived in the US in the middle of the COVID pandemic with no language, jobs, or home of our own. Even though it has not been an easy journey, we were incredibly grateful to begin a new life in such a diverse and compassionate community as Westport.

Olgla and her husband, in the US.

Within a week my husband joined a construction crew, even though he had no idea how to handle tools. I have been helping our boys with the cultural transition and learning English. Not long ago, I began babysitting to contribute to our family income.

As challenging as it has been for us, we struggled to accept that our home, Ukraine, would be engulfed in war soon after our departure. Our families have been forced to leave their homes and communities, and lost all sense of safety and security. Their children live in constant fear and confusion. We have been trying to help them any way we could.

As if navigating these events weren’t enough, on April 23 we found ourselves staring at our own home in Odessa being televised on fire, and posted on every social media platform. It was destroyed when an errant missile slammed into the side of our apartment building.

One view of the bombed apartment building in Odessa …

You may have seen the news that a little baby girl and her family died in that building. They were our neighbors.

More people died who the news did not cover. Even more are out of their homes. Close to 200 people don’t have a place to live.

… and another.

Our hearts are breaking for our neighbors whose lives were lost or changed, and for the reality of homelessness for our nephew and his girlfriend who miraculously escaped.

We consider ourselves lucky to be here and alive, and desperately want to help in any way we can. But we have very limited resources. With humility, we ask you to please consider donating anything you can. This money will go directly to the families of the victims, and toward rebuilding a place we used to call our home.

Please click here for the link to a GoFundMe page I started.

Thank you, and God bless!

(Hat tip: Elena Shmonina)

Memorial to victims outside the Odessa apartment building.

Westporter Seeks Medical Help For Ukraine

Like many Westporters, Tatyana Hixson is horrified by the images and stories from Ukraine.

Soldiers and civilians of all ages have been injured — many severely — and need specialized care.

Tatyana is trying to do something about it. She’s got a business background, and is helping in a niche area: medical equipment.

For many years, she says, Big Dream Children’s Foundation helped Ukrainian children with disabilities. She is a good friend of co-founder Lena McMahan.

When the war began, the non-profit began supplying humanitarian and medical aid to anyone needing assistance. They’ve already found negative pressure wound machines, and sent them to Dnipro Medical Center.

But much more needs to be done.

Tatyana hopes to locate medical equipment like this:

  • External fixators, especially guided ones like Ilizarov Apparatus or Taylor Spatial Frame
  • LCP plates and Intramedullary nails (Interlocking and Elastic [TEN]) to treat fractures
  • Traction tables for operating rooms
  • Construction and equipment for spinal surgery
  • Cell saver for intraoperative blood salvage

I don’t know what any of that means. But there must be “06880” readers who do — or know someone with connections who does

The “06880” tagline is “Where Westport meets the world.” To help prove it, email Tatyana: kedr27@gmail.com. 

17-year-old Mikhail suffered blast wounds to his lower extremities while driving a truck during the war. He relies on specialized medical equipment to recover.

Roundup: River Dredging, Beach Cleanup, Ukraine …

The other day, 1st Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker, Congressman Jim Himes and Senator Richard Blumenthal took a boat tour of the Saugatuck River. They surveyed conditions, and announced $2.81 million in federal funding for proposed dredging.

Police Chief Foti Koskinas and Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich were on board too.

Tooker calls the river “one of Westport’s greatest assets. Westport is fortunate that this long-needed project is on the near horizon. For years, the sediment coming down the river has caused shoaling of the federal channel, and has diminished the multi-use capacity of the river.

“With funding now earmarked for this important dredging program, the outlook for downtown, the Saugatuck neighborhoods and the river shoreline is positive and vibrant for our businesses and our residents.“

Ratkiewich adds, “the dredging project will increase recreational opportunities on the river, allow for maritime connectivity between downtown and Saugatuck, and most importantly will enhance the ability of our emergency services to respond to emergencies that happen on or near the river.”

From left: Police Chief Foti Koskinas, Public Works director Pete Ratkiewich, 1st Selectman Jen Tooker and Congressman Jim Himes on the Saugatuck River. (Photo courtesy of Rep. Himes’ office)

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Sustainable Westport, the Zero Waste Committees of all Westport schools and ZenWTR join together to sponsor a community Compo Beach cleanup this Saturday (April 30, noon to 2 p.m.).

Everyone is invited to help. Meet at the pavilion by the volleyball court and playground.

Questions? Email zwcstapleshs@westportps.org.

Beach garbage, from a previous cleanup. (Photo/Lou Weinberg)

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As reported last week, Lynsey Addario is back in Ukraine.

The 1991 Staples High School graduate  — and Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist, and MacArthur “genius grant” fellow — captured grim scenes of Orthodox Easter services yesterday along the frontline in the Zaporizhzhia region.

“Hopes for a cease-fire over the holiday weekend were quickly dashed,” the Times reported, “as Russian artillery fire and missiles continued to strike Ukrainian infrastructure, government buildings and residential homes.”

(Photo/Lynsey Addario for The New York Times)

Her fellow Times journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner — and Staples ’88 grad — Tyler Hicks has been in the embattled nation all along.

Today his photos illustrated a story about 12 people who have chosen to stay in the basement of a shattered school building. Click here for the piece.

The view from a bombed-out apartment in Saltivka, one of Kharkiv’s most brutalized neighborhoods. (Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

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“The Art of Nature” — Earthplace’s first benefit art show and sale — opens this Thursday (April 28, 5 to 9 p.m.).

Each artist has up to a dozen pieces. All are inspired by the natural world.

Westporters in the show include Jennifer Williams, Kris Toohey and Nancy Breakstone.

The opening reception includes wine, light bites donated by Rizutto’s, and a $15 donation to Earthplace. 35% of each piece sold is tax-deductible.

The show continues with free admission Friday (9 a.m. to 9 p.m.) and Saturday (9 a.m. to 7 p.m.).

Kris Toohey’s “Sunkissed Marsh” is one of dozens of works at Earthplace’s art show.

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It takes all kinds.

And all kinds were out in force the other day, posing for today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

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And finally … on this day in 1792, Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle composed “La Marseillaise.” It became the French national anthem.

Quelle coincidence! France is in the world headlines this morning, thanks to a very important election yesterday.

Ukraine 101: Learn Together At The Library

Since February, we’ve all been consumed by news from Ukraine. We follow military action closely; we read media accounts of refugees, and see photos and video of cities, villages and the Ukrainian people.

But many of us have only a vague knowledge of the country itself. What is its history, from the Middle Ages and the “Kievan Rus,” through 600 more years of rule by the Austrian Empire, Ottoman Empire and Russian tsars? How did it become part of the Soviet Union in 1922, and what happened during the horrors of World War II? When the USSR collapsed in 1991, how did Ukraine transition to independence? We know that President Zelensky is Jewish, and a former comedian. But what was his path to office?

How does Ukraine’s geography impact its history? What about its natural resources? Why is it fighting so fiercely for its independence, and why does Russia covet it so?

In other words: What do we need to know about Ukraine’s past, to understand what’s happening there today and tomorrow?

On Monday, May 9 (7 p.m., in-person and Zoom), we can all learn together.

The Westport Library hosts “Understanding Ukraine: Past, Present and Future.” Professor Wolodymyr Zaryckyj — director of the Center for US-Ukrainian Relations — will provide insights into this fascinating and important country that most of us know only through recent news reports and images.

It’s a great way to learn about the geography and history — long-ago and just-before-February — that most of us never learned or knew.

“06880” is a co-sponsor of the event. I’ll moderate the discussion, and lead a question-and-answer period at the end with Professor Zaryckyj.

Click here to register for a spot in the Library Forum. Click here for a Zoom link. Click here to learn more about Professor Zaryckyj.

What role has geography played in Ukraine’s history? We’ll learn together on May 9.