Last Friday’s Flashback featuring Cockenoe Island — specifically, its rescue from a planned nuclear power plant, thanks to Westport citizens and politicians — sparked a note from Willie Salmond. He writes:
No need to go to Africa for adventure and game viewing.
This past Friday I took my kayak over to Cockenoe. I had first booked Campsite #3 at Westport Town Hall ($20).
They were very helpful. They gave me a map, and told me to put the Marine Police number in my cell phone. (It’s 203-341-6000. Anyone heading onto the Sound should have it.)
Cockenoe Island. It’s a mile off the coast of Compo Beach — but a world away.
It was windy. I struggled to set up my tent, since the pegs did not hold easily in the sand. Eventually, I was ready for the night. I then spent an hour walking and gathering wood for the fire. There wasn’t much, but enough.
Campsite 3 has a little picnic table, which is a great help. At dusk I sat and watched 4 American Oystercatchers in a line, feeding on the edge of the lagoon just in front of me. Their elongated red beaks are superb.
American oystercatchers, on Cockenoe Island. (Photo/Willie Salmond)
Suddenly they took off. Two jet skis thundered into the lagoon, with 2 people on each. It was extremely low tide. I hoped they wouldn’t hit any sand banks.
Then a small speedboat arrived, and crunched up to the shore at my campsite. A boy pulled it a little up the shore. Two girls came over and asked where Campsite 4 was. I showed them it was further up the little inlet.
“Can we sail up there?” they asked. I said it was low tide. They would have to follow the jet skis out of the lagoon, turn right, then approach the campsite from there. I walked overland to their site and waved them in.
Soon it was time to watch Jupiter and Saturn risw in a clear eastern sky. Saturn remained so bright wheeling her way west through the night.
Sunset on Cockenoe Island. (Photo/Seth Schachter)
Next morning I went on my morning game walk, just like I had in Uganda. Up the little creek I saw 2 very young deer, wobbly on their legs.
The little Bambis came up to me, then skittishly turned into a copse of trees. How did they get there, and where was their mother? Did they walk at low tide from Norwalk, since they seemed too young to swim that distance? Or were they born there? The mystery remains.
The journey back was so calm. I was grateful for the toilet facilities at Compo’s Ned Dimes Marina at Compo.
We are truly blessed to have this island on our doorstep, and that it never became a nuclear power plant as was once planned.
(Want a Cockenoe Island camping permit? Click here.)
The month-long closure of the south end of Main Street is over. Planters have been removed; cars can once again park on both sides of the road.
Cancellation of the July 4th fireworks disappointed thousands of Westporters. But the decision was especially tough on Westport PAL. They sponsor the annual show. The money they make pays for a host of activities: sports programs for thousands of kids, the Longshore Ice Rink, an annual Halloween parade, a party for children with Santa, health and wellness efforts, and much more.
Which is why their upcoming golf tournament (September 14, Longshore golf course) is more important than ever.
The 58th annual event — named for former Police Chief Samuel Luciano, a staunch PAL supporter — begins at 7 a.m. with a continental breakfast and putting contest.
There’s a shotgun start, scramble format; lunch; more golf, then dinner, raffles and prizes (hole-in-one, hula hoop, longest drive, closest to pin).
The cost is $175 per golfer, $700 per foursome. Sponsorships are available too, from $150 to $5,000 (largest sign at first tee, banner on dinner tent, complimentary foursome). Click here to register, sponsor — or just donate to PAL.
Westport’s “Back to School” and “After-School” programs — both of which serve families in need — are always well utilized, and generously supported. In our new coronavirus world, they are more important than ever.
Elaine Daignault — director of the Department of Human Services, which oversees both projects — notes, “This is not a typical fall. COVID-19 has disrupted the usual back-to-school enthusiasm with a sense of anxiety, and fear of the unknown.
“Still, you can help to reinforce a child’s sense of hope and stability by ensuring they have tools they need to excel in school, and an opportunity to participate in after-school activities.”
Human Services relies on the generosity of neighbors to provide financial assistance for income-eligible families. Last year, 192 children benefited from Westport’s Back to School Program, and many families accessed affordable after-school childcare.
Tax-deductible donations (cash or gift cards to Staples, Target, Walmart, etc.) can be made online; click here, then select “Family to Family Programs – Seasonal Program – Back to School”), or send a check payable to “Town of Westport/DHS Back to School Program” to Human Services, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880.
Families who may qualify for this program should contact DHS youth and family social worker Michelle Bottone by phone (203-341-1068) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The Department of Human Services’ Back to School program helps youngsters get backpacks — and fill them with needed supplies.
Residents of Glenwood Lane have had it with Optimum.
After Tropical Storm Isaias, it took 12 days for cable and onternet to be restored to the street, off Maple Avenue South. Pieces of old cables still hang there.
Two days ago — August 31 — a crew finally arrived to clean up. But they turned the service off again, leaving residents who depend on the internet during the pandemic unable to work.
Optimum responded that the earliest they could come back to fix their mistake would be September 5. They then said they would come yesterday (September 1). However, they did not show up. Optimum now promises to come today.
Instead of sitting waiting for another no-show, some residents publicized their plight. This is one of 2 signs at the head of their road.
(Photo/Aurea de Souza)
Westport knows him as Willie Salmond. He was born in Scotland, lives here, and has spent much of his professional career (and retirement) in Africa, working first in international development and then in AIDS relief. He is also an author and screenwriter.
As William Salmond, he’s just published “Deep Secrets.” Here’s a brief description, on Amazon:
As the Coronavirus ravaged the world economy with the yawning chasm of inequality between rich and poor getting deeper and wider, no one seemed to notice the movement south into Africa of swaths of Al Qaeda-hardened committed fighters. It was a unique opportunity to regroup and prepare for the final knock-out blow to the Great Satan and her allies whose economies were already on the ropes.
Is life a game of chance? Or is there a guiding hand? Racked by guilt and shame can we truly be forgiven and find healing and even love?
Money man Winslow Kirk looks for answers to these questions as he steps out of his comfort zone into the heart of Africa in search of his granddaughter Eleanor whom he allowed to be given up for adoption following a tragic boating accident. A threat note from the world’s number one terrorist who is coordinating the threat to Western countries sharpens his resolve. Can he find Eleanor and will she forgive him? After his wife’s death and his own cardiac illness he begins to muse about what really matters.
And finally … today would be the 81st birthday of Robert Lee Dickey. When he began singing with his cousin James Lee Purify, the duo became “James and Bobby Purify.” Dickey died in 2011. You may not remember their names, but this beautiful song may ring a bell:
Gault was already 57 years old — just a little younger than Mitchells of Westport is now — in 1920, when workers installed a coal-fueled heating unit for the Abbott family.
The 96-year-old boiler in the Salmonds’ basement.
The Dutch colonial on St. John Place has been renovated several times since Woodrow Wilson was president. But the boiler was the same.
This week, company president Sam Gault presented homeowners Willie and Anne Salmond — a retired couple — with a state-of-the-art new one. It’s quite a 45th wedding anniversary gift: The value is $11,000 (including installation).
(And it came not a moment too soon. Sleet fell yesterday, on the coldest day of the fall.)
Sam Gault (right), president of Gault Energy & Home Solutions, delivered a new state-of-the-art Energy Kinetics System 2000 boiler to Anne and Willie Salmond yesterday.
The Salmonds — who moved here in 1984, when Gault was just 121 years young — have an interesting story themselves. They raised 3 children in Westport, but also traveled extensively for work. Among other things, he served in Uganda with an HIV/AIDS prevention program, while she did foundation work in India.
Both are members of the Saugatuck Congregational Church. He’s recently taken on preaching assignments there, and at Christ & Holy Trinity Episcopal Church.
Willie is from Scotland. Anne is from Northern Ireland. Both grew up in homes where heat was a luxury. In fact, coal was used in bedrooms only if someone was sick.
As a New England winter nears, the heat is welcome — especially since Anne has arthritis.
They thanked Gault for its generosity, noting that since retirement they wanted to spend their money on what Anne calls “things you can see. We ignored the old dinosaur in our basement.” Now, they’re inspired to take on other domestic projects.
Here’s one final twist: The original owners of the Salmonds’ house — the Abbotts –are related to the Gaults through marriage.
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