A few times in the week following Isaias, I got no mail at all.
I chalked it up to the storm. Either no one was sending anything, or it got delayed somewhere along the way.
But after reading stories like this one about problems with the US Postal Service, I’m wondering if my empty mailbox is part of a larger issue.
Nearly everyone in Westport loves their mail carrier. These men and women are devoted, efficient and friendly. They know their routes, they know us, they deliver the mail with smiles and speed.
Similarly, we love the Westport post office. We may not like its crowded parking lot or cramped confines, but we know we will get excellent service. The clerks answer our questions — from basic to complicated, and often idiotic — with patience and clarity.
Whatever is happening to the US Postal Service has nothing to do with them.
But it’s important to crowdsource this one. So: Has your mail delivery been slower than usual lately? Are there fewer collection boxes around town? (The one near CVS disappeared years ago.) Have you noticed anything else in the past few weeks?
Click “Comments” below. And the next time you see your postal carrier: Thank him or her for their service.
The Westport Downtown Merchants Association and ASF are partnering to raise $10,000 for local businesses hit by COVID. They’re offering a unique Westport design, for hoodies, long-sleeve shirts, t-shirts and tank tops.
For each sale, $10 will be given to a WDMA-backed fund, and distributed ASAP.
But hurry — they’re only available through June 14!
Ready for some exercise? Want to help frontline healthcare workers?
Thanks to Colby Kranz, you can do both.
The 2015 Staples High School graduate has designed a “Half Marathon from Home.” She posts a schedule that everyone follows, with playlists, daily tips and weekly motivational podcasts — but you choose the training routes (and final run, on July 25) that works best for you and your schedule.
Colby — who has 6,000 Instagram followers, for her @livingpurely healthy recipe and lifestyle tips — says that dozens of people have already signed up for the half-marathon. They come from many different backgrounds. Some were training for a race that got canceled. Others have never run before.
All are welcome!
Colby Kranz is in national sales with iHeartMedia. During COVID, she’s working — and training — in Westport.
The latest restaurant to reopen — with new, socially distant outdoor tables — is the Sherwood Diner.
The menu is not as extensive as before. But the most popular items are all there. And 2 more umbrellas are coming soon.
It’s not their biggest graduation of their lives. But every June, the Westport-Weston Co-op Nursery School celebrates its pre-K classes moving on to kindergarten next year with a a picnic on the Unitarian Church lawn, and an end-of-year video. Parents, grandparents and siblings join in.
For the first time in the school’s 65-year history, graduation was upended by a pandemic.
The videos were made by the Co-op’s Staples High School interns, and emailed to families. And instead of a picnic, there was a “car parade.”
But each youngster got a goody bag. There were “Co-op Class of 2020” t-shirts. And there were enough smiles all around to (almost) forget that there was a somber reason behind the new-style ceremony.
On April 8, Governor Lamont ordered all flags in Connecticut to fly at half-staff, mourning all the lives lost to COVID-19.
On May 19, he directed them all to return to full-staff.
The Westport Post Office has not yet gotten the message. The American and POW flags continue at half-staff.
For several years, Design Within Reach had a small Westport store.
Tucked away on Elm Street — behind Klein’s and the back entrance to the YMCA — it was not, CEO John Edelman admits, a great location.
Now Design Within Reach — which calls itself “the largest retailer of authentic modern furniture and accessories in the world” — is back in Westport.
This time, they’re doing it right.
Design Within Reach — a new store in the old post office.
The Stamford-based company has taken over both levels of the 1935 post office building on the Post Road, across from Jeera Thai and Finalmente. They’ve completely renovated the 2 floors — which themselves were redesigned by Post 154, a restaurant that could not possibly need all that space — and made good use of the terrace overlooking Bay Street.
The Bay Street side of Design Within Reach. New entrances lead up from the sidewalk.
It’s one more exciting addition to downtown. With Bedford Square and Jesup Hall restaurant opening nearby, there’s an infusion of energy that hasn’t been felt since the movie theaters’ last picture shows 2 decades ago.
Edelman is excited to return. And he doesn’t just mean relocating the store.
His Westport roots go back to his parents, who got married here 70 years ago. They moved to Ridgefield (more land), but he made regular trips to Gold’s (for Sunday lox and bagels) and Klein’s (for Sally White’s record department).
Eight years ago, when Edelman became CEO, the New York Times did a story. Of all the company’s stores, he chose to be photographed in Westport.
Last week — as guests at an opening party admired the handsome chairs, desks, beds, lighting fixtures, sofas and more — Edelman took time to talk about his sprawling new store.
John Edelman (center), Design Within Reach’s CEO. He’s flanked by Matt Mandell (left, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director) and Westport 1st selectman Jim Marpe.
As a post office, the building was a typical New Deal project: big and heavy. The Post 154 owners modernized it, but when they closed they left lots of “stuff” behind.
The new tenants created a beautiful space. It’s modern, open, alluring and airy.
Designers kept the center staircase, but that’s about all that remains. They “deconstructed” nearly all the rest. Exposed ceilings and HVAC give the store a hip, contemporary feel.
Dozens of pendant lights hang above the center staircase.
The terrace is a great idea, showcasing relaxed living while drawing customers from the side street.
The store — which really should be called Design Within Reach of Only Certain Zip Codes — does not have many suburban locations. Edelman says. But with 70% of their clientele having graduate degrees, Westport is a perfect spot.
Edelman is back in Westport big time. He and his wife rented a house on the water. He can walk to the train station, and he may buy a boat.
He can’t buy records from Sally White anymore. To mail a letter, he uses the “new” post office.
But he can still get his bagels and lox at Gold’s.
And then, a couple of blocks away, he can watch Design Within Reach help jump-start the renaissance of downtown Westport.
There’s plenty of room on the lower level to show off bedding, and more.
Before South Moon Under. Before Klaff’s. Before Muriel’s Diner, shaped like a trolley car.
Before all that — on the block between what is now Taylor Place and the Taylor parking lot, across the Post Road from what is now Starbucks and what was then the very new Westport Public Library — stood this very handsome row of buildings.
Click on or hover over to enlarge.
According to Seth Schachter — who sent this fascinating 1915 postcard — the area was traditionally called “Hulbert’s Block” (or perhaps “Hurlbutt’s,” for the famed Weston family). This is the first time he’s seen it called “Post Office Block.”
The post office is at the far right (with a bicycle leaning against the pole). A store belonging to Wm. E. Nash is in the center.
As a bonus, here’s the back of the postcard:
The sender — “Leffer” — tells Miss Jeannette Smith (in beautiful penmanship) that’s he (or she) has marked the building in which he (or she) will live with an “X.” You can see it on the far right of the postcard — just above the post office.
Meanwhile — totally coincidentally — just yesterday I received this photo from Lee Saveliff.
It shows the entire block — this time, from the perspective of the corner of the Post Road near Main Street. Taylor Place is on the left. Club Grill later became Muriel’s Diner. Click on or hover over to enlarge.
Lee says that her great-grandparents — Leonard and Julia Gault — owned the Club Grill building. The larger one — closer to the river and bridge, with Pat’s Diner and Achorn’s Pharmacy (!) — was owned by the Klaff family.
This shot looks to be from the 1940s or ’50s. In November of 1974, the block burned to the ground. Lee saw the flames from her home, on Imperial Avenue.
The post offices of our imagination are solid, imposing buildings.
Certainly Westport’s was — at least, from the 1930s till a few years ago. Then the Post Road post office moved to Playhouse Square. Today it’s a cramped, crowded, crummy shell of its former self.
Saugatuck had a fine — if smaller — post office for many years. It’s now an auction house. (There is a mail drop nearby, on the corner of Franklin and Ketchum Streets. That’s a step up from the interim trailer, which squatted off Saugatuck Avenue.)
Saugatuck’s very first post office was located at the corner of Riverside Avenue and Railroad Place. Some Westporters know it as Desi’s Corner. There’s a newspaper stand there now.
Back in the day, it must have been a great post office. And — across from the bustling train station — quite a meeting spot.
Click on or hover over to enlarge. (Photo courtesy of Seth Schachter via Bill Scheffler)
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