Tag Archives: Westport CT

Westport, New England?

I had never heard of SantaBarbaraSolutions.com, a California-based website.

That’s okay; they probably never heard of “06880” either.

But a question on the site recently asked:  “Do you consider Fairfield County, CT to be part of New England?”

“I know technically it is, but it really isn’t at the same time,” the writer began.  He or she added:

Nobody in the FC roots for the New England teams. People root (properly) for the New York teams.  I’ve lived here for 8 years, nobody roots for the Boston teams.  Everyone else in CT, roots for the scum (AKA Boston teams), the FC is proper.

When people from the FC come to NY they’re New Yorkers, locals.  When people from other parts of Connecticut come to NY they’re tourists scum like the rest of the country.

Leaving aside the obvious — that no one here calls this “the FC” — the post raises another, even more provincial question:

“Do you consider Westport to be part of Connecticut”?

For example:

  • Can you name all the candidates for senator and governor?
  • Can you name our current senators and governor?
  • Do you know how many counties there are in Connecticut?
  • Can you name all (ahem) 8 of them?
  • When was the last time you were in Hartford?  (Driving through on I-91 does not count.)
  • Who was Wilbur Cross?

What do you think, “06880” readers?  Is Westport part of Connecticut?

Part of New York?  Or some stateless place, maybe an American version of Kaliningrad?

Click “Comments” to weigh in.

Be Honest!

“06880” gets plenty of requests for advice.  Usually we just blow them off respond politely.

But a recent email demands serious reflection, and in-depth responses.

Not from “06880,” though.  From you — our loyal, passionate, and uber-opinionated readers.

A former Westporter who now lives elsewhere wrote:

I need some real info — as real as you can get.  My husband and I want to move east within the next year.  I’m seriously considering Fairfield, Norwalk Stamford… but my heart is Westport.

However, that may be through a very filmy and possibly faulty lens of my childhood there.

I’m working with a nice realtor there.  I’ve asked her, and she assures me there are still wonderful, real and down-to-earth people in Westport.  That’s important to me.

For a year, I’ve read blogs and articles about living in Westport.  A lot of it isn’t favorable.  The terrible things I’ve read really bother me.  Westport’s reputation can be horrible online when it comes to rich, overindulged, shallow people.  Is there a balance there like everywhere else, I’m hoping?

An iconic view of Westport.

My mind wanders there, my heart wants to take me back there to live, and I know so many streets with my eyes closed, the curve of the shoreline as you drive to Compo.  That never leaves you, and I’ve wanted to go back for some time.  I listen to my intuition.

But I don’t want to be fooled by being too sentimental either.  Is Westport as bad as some say it is?  That’s so hard to believe.

I would love to know your true thoughts.  Be real with me.  The good, bad and the ugly.   What’s still magical?  What’s really changed since the 1960s and early ’70s when we were kids there?  Are there still wonderful people there?

I’ve read that young people don’t stay and businesses are moving out.  Is this so?

Another symbol of Westport.

I know this is a long question.  But I’ve had a whole year to read some not so great stuff about Westport not being vibrant anymore, and a rich people’s playground, blah, blah blog! and Wesporters of today.

We will be there this fall, and maybe stay at the Longshore Inn.  I’ve made a reservation for a couple of nights so we can just see.

There’s your challenge, “06880”-ers.  An ex-Westporter wants to know about Westport today — the good, the bad and the ugly.  Just click on the “Comments” tab, and write the “real info.”

And at the end of your response, please answer 1 question:  Should she move back, or not?

Enjoying The Summer Stay-cation

The Westport family’s 3-day plans fell through — the northern New England college they called for an interview for their rising senior was fully booked long ago.

blog - Connecticut mapjpgSuddenly, the Westporters had time all to themselves. So on a Tuesday night they sat down and talked about the many local things they always talk about doing, but never have time for.  It was a very long list.

They added ground rules:  no Facebook, Blackberries or email.  (They followed them well.  Not perfectly, but they tried.)

“What fun we had!” the mother reported.  Their high school students found the Maritime Aquarium — particularly the penguins — as much fun as when they were kids.

They mini-golfed in Ridgefield, picnicked at Waterford Beach near New London, rode bikes, took walks, saw movies, ate out and had leisurely breakfasts.  Even an errand to a camera store felt special, because they did it together.

On Saturday morning the list was nowhere near done.  One kid went back to a summer job.  E-mail needed checking; laundry beckoned.  Daily life began anew.

But, the mother says, “the satisfaction of being home and stepping out of the routine was magical.  I always think of us as a family that  spends time together, but something about this endeavor felt so freeing.  Three days together under the radar — when can I mess up the schedule again so we can do another stay-cation?”

There are limits to her joy, of course.  When I asked if I could use her name, the mother answered quickly.

“Definitely not,” she said.  “My kids would be mortified.”

A Modest Proposal

Soundview Drive, Westport CT

This weekend, Soundview Drive was filled with bikers, joggers, walkers, gawkers, Rollerbladers, skaters, scooter riders, lemonade sellers, gals and their fellers — and cars.  Plus motorcycles, trucks and !@#$%^&* Hummers.

It was a different story Friday.

From late afternoon on, Soundview turned into a pedestrian mall.  With traffic shut down — everyone headed to the fireworks; no one left — the quarter-mile strip of prime beachfront property became the coolest place in town.

People meandered, then stopped in the middle of the street to chat.  Music played, and did not compete with cars to be heard.  Little kids turned cartwheels.  Older kids made out.

I wondered — as I do every fireworks day — why this happens only once a year.

How hard would it be to shut Soundview down2 or 3 Sundays each summer?  Folks could stroll to their heart’s content.  A reggae band could perform; maybe a juggler and mime too.  Joey could send his ice cream trucks down, and fire up a grill out by the Hillspoint jetty.  Who could argue with a street party like that?

Well, residents of Compo Beach Road could.  They’d complain of increased exit traffic on their street.

To which I’d say:  Leave your house, and hang out on Soundview too.

Bring your cooler and your kids.  Trust me:  You’d have a blast.

Wild Wild Westport

A local company sent this email to employees yesterday:

“Please exercise extra caution when walking through the parking lot, and in the general neighborhood.

“Coyotes have been spotted in the parking lot, with one seen moving between cars this past Saturday.  We’ve also been advised that packs have been spotted late at night in the parking lot and on Saugatuck Avenue.

“Although coyotes typically will not bother humans, we understand a few years back an employee walking through the woods from the Westport train station was chased by a coyote.  If you are followed by a coyote, it is advised that you yell and raise your hands to scare the animal off.”

Let’s hope that strategy is more effective than whatever has not been working on deer and Canada geese.

Coyote

Takin’ It To The Street

It sounded like a good idea.

The Downtown Merchants Association figured a street fest could kick off summer.  So yesterday they blocked off Main Street, hired a  Jersey band, brought in street performers, threw in the Oscar’s  hot dog cart, added some non-profit booths, and waited for the crowds to come.

They never did.

The folks who were there — primarily young kids — had fun.  But numbers were low, and the buzz organizers were hoping for never got beyond a drone.

A clown engages part of the small crowd at the Westport Street Fest.

A clown engages part of the small crowd at the Westport Street Fest.

There were a few problems.  On a late May Thursday, nearly every Westporter’s evening is booked solid.

Promotion was spotty — and the target audience unclear.  Was it a family event?  For young kids only?  Did they want high school students, to make it cool?  No one knew.

And whoever handled weather messed up big-time.

Greg Sullivan mans Oscar's cart.

Greg Sullivan mans Oscar's cart.

The DMA is undaunted.  President Bob LaRose hopes for more Street Fests this summer.  Once school is out — and the word gets around — and this stupid cold rain leaves — the idea may take off. Main Street could pulse with life on warm, lazy nights.

Here’s another suggestion for putting a pulse into our moribund downtown:  Instead of hiring vendors to sell wine and beer on the sidewalk, figure out a way to bring back some of our old funky bars, dance clubs, coffee shops — and maybe a movie theater or two.

Every night could be a Street Fest.

Adam Winikoff, James Manning and Chris Tacopina dream of the day they're 15 feet tall too.

Adam Winikoff, James Manning and Chris Tacopina dream of the day they're 15 feet tall too.

No Propane Cylinders

Super Stop & Shop, Westport CTFor a friendly neighborhood megastore, Super Stop & Shop sure has lots of warnings.

The cigarette stuff I get (although one sign would suffice).  But “no propane cylinders”?

Has that been a problem in the past?  I don’t recall any incidents of shoppers hauling propane cylinders inside.   And if they did, what happened?  Were there like explosions and stuff?

If propane cylinders haven’t been an issue (knock wood), maybe we shouldn’t count on dumb luck to protect us in the future.  I think Stop & Shop should start listing everything Westport shoppers might be tempted to bring into the store, unless specifically told not to.  For example:

“No vials of anthrax allowed in store.”

“Please!  Keep enriched plutonium in your car.”

“Notice:  Shoulder anti-aircraft missiles prohibited by law.”

And don’t forget little pictographs, for non-English-speaking terrorists and children who can’t yet read.

Happy Memorial Day!

Everyone loves a parade.  This crew gathered in front of the Carpenters' house on Myrtle Avenue.

Everyone loves a parade. This crew gathered in front of the Carpenters' house on Myrtle Avenue.

World War I veterans might have felt at home in this parade car.

World War I veterans might have felt at home in this parade car.

Westport's Memorial Day parade is not complete without Little Leaguers.

Westport's Memorial Day parade is not complete without Little Leaguers.

Bill Vornkahl (podium) leads his 39th Memorial Day ceremony. From left are First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and grand marshal Ed See.

Bill Vornkahl (podium) leads his 39th Memorial Day ceremony. Seated in front from left are First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, and grand marshal Ed See. Mr. See, who was also grand marshal in 1946 -- just after World War II -- gave a powerful speech, ranging from the status of Westport veterans after World War II to the draft and torture.

blog - Memorial Day 5

Staples trumpeter Cameron Bruce plays the echo for "Taps." Joey Genetti also soloed.

I Love A Parade

And you should too.  Particularly if it’s Westport’s Memorial Day parade.

In an iPod world, tomorrow morning’s event is a Victrola.

Everything about it screams a simpler era.  There is a pancake breakfast.  School bands play Sousa marches.  Veterans salute.

Extended families crowd sidewalks, searching for a marching child, parent or friend to cheer.  Others gather on Myrtle Avenue lawns, in front of handsome Victorian homes.

Westport CT Memorial Day parade

Police officers, firefighters, town officials, drum-and-bugle corps — all pass by in a happy jumble.  Kids jam floats, tossing candy to the crowd.  A little child pulls the horn on a huge diesel truck.

For an hour or two tomorrow, you don’t have to look cool.  You don’t have to be cool, or act cool.

You just have to be there.  Wave a flag.  Wave hi to friends and neighbors.  Wave to the EMTs, the state troopers, the men and women from World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and the kids from Iraq and Afghanistan.

When the parade is over, wander to the green in front of Town Hall.  Listen to the invocation, a couple of speeches, some patriotic music.

Look around.  Enjoy the view.  Think about everyone — veterans and others — who sacrificed so much so you could be at that spot, at that moment.

This is Westport.  This is America.  This is Memorial Day.

See you there.

Westport Memorial Day parade

The Show Goes On — Staples Players’ 50th

Friday night’s 50th anniversary celebration of Staples Players was spectacular — but it was just a curtain-raiser for Sunday’s affair.

Over 200 Players alumni — actors, dancers, singers, tech crew and more — will gather at 5:30 p.m. in the auditorium for a truly legendary evening.  Included in the cast:  several Broadway veterans (and 2 Tony Award nominees).

A few seats are still available.  Click on www.StaplesPlayers.com for details.

Recent graduates Britt Hennemuth and Megan Watt are emcees for Players' special 50th anniversary show.

Recent graduates Britt Hennemuth and Megan Watt emcee Players' special 50th anniversary show. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Film director Adam Marcus and his brother, Broadway veteran Kipp Marcus, welcome 200 fellow Players alums at the 50th gala.

Film director Adam Marcus and his brother, Broadway veteran Kipp Marcus, welcome 200 fellow Players alums at the 50th gala. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Kevin Watt and Max Stampa-Brown reprise a classic show at the Players' 50th anniversary. (Photo by Kerry Long)

Kevin Watt and Max Stampa-Brown reprise a classic show at the Players' 50th anniversary. (Photo by Kerry Long)