COVID has caused many organizations to move meetings online.
You can’t do that with a hiking club, though. So the Y’s Men group has adapted. They meet in smaller numbers now. They maintain strict social distance — 8 feet, just to be sure. They wear masks when they assemble.
But they still get their exercise. And their miles.
Twice a week, Chris Lewis leads 10 to 15 hikers. He knows all the trails, throughout the county.
Wednesday hikes are 2 hours long. Friday’s are more strenuous, and can take up to 3. Only heavy rain or extremely slippery conditions stop the Y’s Men.
In addition, “walkers” meet nearly every day. They avoid difficult trail conditions.
This may not be the Y’s Men’s motto. But it should be: “COVID? Take a hike!”
(Hat tip: Michael Hehenberger)
A recent hike at Trout Brook Preserve, owned and managed by Aspetuck Land Trust. Tom Johnson (3rd from left) is a Y’s Men hiker and ALT member. (Photo/Sal Mollica)
Dave Briggs is one of the best interviewers around. He brings out the best in his subjects, in a relaxed, fun and insightful way. His Instagram Live chats are always intriguing.
And I’m not just saying that because I was a recent guest.
Today (Wednesday, January 6, 4 p.m.), he’ll chat with David Waldman. They’ll talk about the commercial realtor’s work developing Bedford Square and the west bank of the Saugatuck River, bringing Barnes & Noble downtown, and much more.
Head to @WestportMagazine on Instagram. You’ll be entertained — and learn a lot.
“Gatsby in Connecticut: The Untold Story” is ready for prime time.
Or at least, Amazon Prime.
The 70-minute movie by Robert Steven Williams — starring Sam Waterston and Keir Dullea, covering F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s formative summer in Westport — is available on the streaming service.
The New Yorker called it one of the best films of 2020. Click here, and judge for yourself. (Hat tip: David Meth)
David Tarqueno died on December 24 at Norwalk Hospital, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61 years old.
His obituary says, “David left behind an incredible number of friends who loved him. His personality was like no other. His presence could light up a room. His smile, his laughter and his humor will remain with every heart he touched.
“David loved fishing — he was out there every fishing season opening day. Nature and animals were an important part of his life. He was devoted to his family and friends. That devotion was selfless, his trust boundless, and love endless.”
The Staples High School graduate is survived by his parents, Joseph and Marianne Tarqueno; sister Lisa Tarqueno-Crawford; brother Peter Tarqueno, and his beloved dog Harry.
And finally … today, the Electoral College meets. Will Vice President Pence do what Joe Biden did as vice president 4 years ago (and Al Gore, George H.W. Bush and many others before him), affirming the legitimate winner of the election 2 months earlier?
Or will American democracy be launched into a parallel universe, one in which lunacy rules and losers’ temper tantrums make us the laughingstock of the world?
To clarify yesterday’s Roundup story on absentee ballots:
The registrars of voters have not “counted” ballots yet. They cannot do that until tomorrow. What they did on Saturday was open the ballots, to find any without signatures.
Five of those — out of approximately 8,000 returned — were discovered. Those voters will be contacted today, and are allowed to vote in person tomorrow.
As Thanksgiving nears, Wakeman Town Farm is collecting nutritious, non-perishable food, for delivery to 2 local pantries. Among the items most in
Rice and quinoa
Mac and cheese
Dried fruits (raisins, prunes, apricots, etc.)
Soups (canned or boxed)
Stews and chili (canned or boxed)
Peanut butter and jelly
Dried beans and ;entils
Canned tuna, salmon, chicken in water or broth
Protein and granola bars, unsalted nuts and seeds, whole grain crackers
Coffee and tea.
Items can be dropped off at the “Food Donation” bins at the gates to Wakeman Town Farm on Cross Highway, and at Franny’s Farmacy and Savannah Bee.
As COVID cases rise, what will local retailers do on Black Friday?
Jillian Elder wants to know. The founder of the Finding Westport platform — your go-to site for all local retailers, restaurants and services — is surveying businesses, and will post that information soon. It will go on Finding Fairfield County and Finding Connecticut too.
If you’re a retailer or restaurant owner, tell Jillian your hours, limitations on customers, etc. Email email@example.com.
Westport writer Ruth Shalit Barrett’s long article about crazy, college-focused Fairfield County niche youth sports — fencing, crew, squash, lacrosse — created quite a buzz when The Atlantic published it last month.
It’s creating more buzz now. First, the magazine appended an extraordinary 800-word correction.
Last night, the Atlantic retracted the entire piece. Click here to read why.
The Atlantic illustrated Ruth Shalit Barrett’s story with this time-lapse photo by Pelle Cass.
Every day, the Y’s Men walk. Yesterday was typical: a group gathered at the train station, then headed out for 4 1/2 miles. Molly Alger joined them, as “the token woman.”
All walks are socially distanced — except for their brief gathering for this photo, part way through.
And finally … today is of course the Day of the Dead.
Olivia Macior graduated from Staples High School last June. For weeks, she waited for things to get back to normal. Now — in the wake of George Floyd’s murder — she wants something different: a “new normal.”
It’s “a normal where people of color don’t have to fear the very people who should be protecting them; where education is equitable; where the criminal justice system is fair and lawful, and racial injustice does not plague every aspect of our lives.”
Inspired by the words of Angela Davis — “I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.” — she is using her considerable art talents to help.
Her powerful work is up for auction on Facebook, through June 21. 100% of the winning bid will go to Black Lives Matter. Click here; then message her with your bid, via Facebook or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Not everyone agreed with yesterday’s Black Lives Matter protest in downtown Westport. This graffiti was seen this morning at the boarded-up Tiffany store:
Westporters in the know know: No one beats the Y’s Men for hosting insightful, thought-provoking speakers. Thursday’s — their first via Zoom — was typical: informative, wide-ranging, both global and local.
Andrew Wilk — executive producer and director of “Live From Lincoln Center” — moderated a discussion on the future of the Westport Country Playhouse, and arts in general, in the wake of COVID-19.
Panelists included Playhouse artistic director Mark Lamos, general manager Michael Barker and actor Jake Robards.
The 30-minute chat ranged from the many issues impacting the Playhouse reopening — like safety, audience response and finances — to the importance of live performances. Click below to view:
As restaurants around Westport reopen, at least one will not.
An online auction is underway for many items at Tavern on Main: food service equipment, outdoor patio sets, decor and smallware.
It’s the end of the last sit-down, full-service restaurant on the main part of Main Street. It had a long run — and so did its predecessor, Chez Pierre.
No word yet on what — if anything — will replace it.
Nearly a dozen retailers are helping Home with Hope collect liquid dish detergent, all-purpose cleaners, soap, paper towels, sponges and sanitizing wipes. All donations go to families living in the organization’s supportive housing.
Hours are 10 a.m. 2 p.m. for all collections. There’s a box outside Restore Hyper Wellness (877 Post Road East) every day.
Other stores, with collection days:
Thursdays: ASF Sporting Goods (1560 Post Road East); UPS (606 Post Road East)
Fridays: West (117 Post Road East); Blow Dry (76 Church Lane)
Mondays: Greenwich Medical Spa (645 Post Road East.)
Tuesdays: New England Hemp Farm (136 Main Street)
Wednesdays: Green + Tonic (17 Jesup Road)
Questions? Email email@example.com
How’s this for a way to treat the frontline workers we have been hailing as heroes?
Trader Joe’s had a picnic table at the back of their parking lot. It was a nice place for employees — sorry, “crew members” — to eat, or take a break.
The other night, it was stolen. (Hat tip: David Meth)
Eighth graders missed their “moving up” ceremony this year. But — thanks to the Bedford and Coleytown Middle School PTAs — the 400-plus graduates are having their day in the sun.
Now, as you see these signs throughout Westport, you know who to thank.
Speaking of graduates, Margo Amgott writes:
“We’ve seen all the great signs celebrating Staples seniors. But there are others who are sheltering in Westport. We’ve long been weekenders, and after COVID now here we are!
“Could we do a shout-out to those transplanted seniors? The lovely people at Baker Graphics helped me make these for our daughter.” (The other sign — not shown — congratulates Molly for her acceptance at Trinity College.)
Great idea, Margo! Here’s too all Class of 202 grads! Wherever you went — and wherever you’re going — out town salutes you.
And speaking yet again of graduates …
St. Paul Christian School celebrated the end of the year with a drive-through closing celebration. Children received a diploma, yearbook and blessing from their teachers.
Tomorrow (Sunday, July 7, 5 p.m., Klein Memorial Auditorium, Bridgeport), a number of Westport congregations are participating in an “Interfaith Prayer for Racial Justice & Healing.” Masks are mandatory, and social distancing is enforced.
And finally … it’s hard to believe I haven’t posted this yet. I guess I was waiting for the exact right time.
The coronavirus has claimed the life of a well-known local volunteer.
Joe Hawley lived in Norwalk. But he was very active in both Sunrise Rotary and the Y’s Men. He died on Wednesday, at 67.
An entrepreneur and sales and marketing executive, he worked with global beauty and fashion accessories firms like Healthtex, Liz Claiborne and Avon. He served as a mentor and coach to many in the industry.
In retirement, Joe devoted himself to serving his community, as a volunteer with Westport Sunrise Rotary and Y’s Men.
Roy Fuchs — who know Joe through both organizations — says, “Joe’s abilities, judgment and willingness to get involved, to help wherever he could, were respected.
“In Sunrise Rotary he held no office, but was a leader. He took over our already successful annual wine tasting fundraiser. He led, he organized, he managed — he joked, he cajoled. He made it successful beyond our wildest imagination.
“At our meetings Joe was quick to speak, but always with a purpose. Always with a message. He got most of us to think just a bit harder about what’s important, in our lives and in the spirit of Rotary, as we follow the motto of ‘Service Above Self.'”
“We will miss his joy, his laughter and his willingness to help others.”
Joe was an avid kayaker and bike rider, and a wonderful neighbor. In fact, he said being president of his Norwalk neighborhood association was his “best job ever.”
Joe loved to travel, and loved his family. He was happiest when they intersected. His 2 grandchildren were the lights of his life.
He is also survived by his wife Susan; daughters Ashley and Signe; son Trevor; 2 brothers, a sister and 21 nieces and nephews.
The Staples High School Gridiron Club has a great idea.
They emailed all members, reminding them of the many local businesses that supported them over the years with donations to fundraisers, ads in program books and (much) more.
Now is the time to pay it back. “Please take every opportunity to support our sponsors by purchasing their goods and services whenever and wherever possible,” they say. They included a list of dozens of sponsors, just as a reminder.
Think how many Westport organizations have been helped by local merchants. If you know of someone who donated to your cause in the past — well, what are you waiting for?
ASF often contributes to local fundraisers. You can shop online to help them — and many other merchants — now.
Jennifer Hrbek reports that Yale New Haven Health desperately needs hand sewn masks.
Click here for a pocket pattern. Donations can be mailed to Yale New Haven Health (Attn.: PPE Donations), 600 Derby Ave., West Haven, CT 06516. They can also be dropped off there Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
You can donate sewn masks that do not follow the pocket pattern too. YNHHS will pass them on to homeless shelters.
Jennifer and her friend, Bedford Middle School teacher Caroline Davis, have been making masks regularly. “They’re desperately needed. And working on them with kids is a great way to teach life skills,” Jennifer says.
Unless you’re on the list of prohibited applicants.
You’re ineligible if you are “involved in real estate, multi-level marketing, adult entertainment, cannabis or firearms.” You also cannot be a state elected public official or state employee.
I understand the possible conflicts of interest around state officials and employees. But it seems to me the other groups listed have just as many small business worries as any restaurant, market, gift shop or toy store.
And realtors? I can’t imagine there were any open houses last weekend — or will be, over the next few weeks.
Amy Messing writes: “My husband and I plan to donate whatever we get from the government to help during the crisis. Other people may be moved to do the same.
“Do any local fundraising efforts distribute money to restaurant workers, small businesses and others in need? Also, are there any needs for volunteer help that you can identify?”
There are many. This morning, Westporter Stephanie Webster’s great CTBites.com featured a list of many restaurant funds. Click here to see (and note that locally it includes both Match Burger Lobster and Artisan).
I told Amy that I’d crowd-source others. Please click “Comments” below, and let us all know your favorite fundraisers and volunteer opportunities.
One positive side effect of the coronavirus: crime is way down.
I’m on the email list for regular updates from the Westport Police. Usually, the list of arrests for things like distracted driving and speeding is 6 or 8 pages long.
This morning there was just 1 (for “failure to obey control signal.”)
Often too there are 4 to 6 “custodial arrests” (aka lockups), for crimes like domestic violence, larceny and sexual assault.
For the last week, there have been none.
Nice to know that even criminals are self-isolating.
This weekend Elise, Penelope and Daphne Eisenberger painted hearts and positive messages on rocks they, their dad Nico and mother Robin Bates collected at Burying Hill Beach.
Yesterday they put them (in places no one would need to touch) by the entrances to Westport EMS, the police station, Greens Farms fire station and post office, their pediatrician’s office and a few other spots. They saw similar signs around town.
“It won’t stop anyone from getting sick, or make anyone better who is,” Nico says. “But we hope it’s helpful in some small way to those who work hard to keep us all safe.”
Coincidentally, just a few minutes before I published this piece, I got an email from EMS deputy director Marc Hartog. He writes about those stones:
“We don’t know who placed them there or when, but everyone here is incredibly moved that someone, or some group, thought about us and wanted to show their support.
“This is another example of everyday people doing whatever they can during this crisis, even just to boost the morale of our personnel on the front lines. We wish we could thank them, let them know that this gesture is so appreciated. Maybe if you post this, even though we can’t do it in person, they will know.”
Done. And PS: Now you know!
Elise, Penelopoe and Daphne Eisenberger.
Lauren Braun Costello is making lemonade — more accurately perhaps, lemon tarts or meringue pie — during this time of lemons.
Every day during the pandemic, she’s on Instagram Live with tips and tricks to stretch pantries, and help us feed our families.
Lauren is a classically trained chef, with an impressive CV. Check out itslaurenofcourse.com on Instagram.
Yesterday’s rain did not stop Doris Ghitelman.
The Westporter had to go shopping. So she called 4 high-risk neighbors and friends, and asked what they needed.
“It makes me happy to the core to help,” she says. “There’s always a silver lining 😊🧡”
PS: Nice gloves!
Across the world, John Karrel reports, people are putting teddy bears in all kinds of places: windows. Front porches. Roofs.
The idea is for parents to walk around with their kids, counting as many as they find. It’s a scavenger hunt anyone can help with.
John’s already spotted a couple of teddy bears in Greens Farms. Time to add yours! (And if you don’t have one, plenty of toy stores in Westport can help.)
Every week for decades, the Y’s Men meet to hear intriguing speakers.
COVID-19 has halted that tradition. But the Y’s Men are resourceful and resilient.
They’ve developed a podcast series — and they’re sharing them with the world.
Recent guests included internist Dr. Robert Altbaum and epidemiologist Dr. Pietro Marghello, plus that guy who writes the “06880” blog.
Today John Brandt interviews the CEO of a major wholesale distributor to national supermarkets. He’ll talk about the supply chain.
Every year since Edward T. Bedford built the Westport YMCA*, the gung-ho group of nearly 400 retired and semi-retired men has won the Memorial Day Best Float competition.
The tradition continued this year.
The 2019 parade theme was “Thank a Veteran.” The Y’s Men took it one step further, thanking Merchant Marines — the “unsung heroes” of World War II — for their service.
If you were at the parade, you know how great the float was.
If you weren’t, you missed another great tribute, from men who are members of — or close to — the Greatest Generation.
Whether you were there or not, enjoy this video, created by Y’s Man Sal Mollica. It’s a quick look at the float’s creators, its construction, and the proud part it played in Westport’s Memorial Day parade.
*Or maybe it just seems that way.
Comments Off on Y’s Men: Memorial Day Floats Their Boat
But the Connecticut plates on his sleek, dark green classic Jaguar always read “KY COL.”
The University of Kentucky graduate and former Kentucky National Guard officer spent 34 years with GE as a financial management executive.
Yet it was his life after retirement that made his death last Thursday at 83 so impactful on Westport.
As CFO of the Historical Society — during the Great Recession — Elliott moved assets into no-load index funds.
Other non-profits staggered, as sponsorships and donations plummeted. But the WHS — which was still paying off a mortgage — thrived.
“Elliott was dealing with very serious heart issues at the time,” then-president Dorothy Curran recalls. “He put his health — perhaps even his life — on the line for us.
“He was not always easy to work with. He knew his parliamentary procedure cold, had no use for wandering conversation, and insisted that board meetings end promptly at 5:30 p.m.”
His chair says it all.
But, Curran says, “he was a quiet, principled, tireless force of nature. There never was any question that his moral compass, financial integrity and heart for service, above and beyond, were in the right place.”
The WHS was hardly Elliott’s only volunteer activity.
He was a longtime Boy Scout leader (during and after GE, at the local, district and national levels). He was an avid Y’s Men participant (recruiting excellent retired executives from that group for the WHS financial advisory committee).
In support of his wife Joyce — a distinguished executive and volunteer in her own right — he worked the “boiler room” of the Westport Woman’s Club during Yankee Doodle Fair crunch time, counting cash late into the night.
Longtime friend and fellow volunteer Pete Wolgast also salutes Elliott’s integrity.
“He could always be counted on to do the right thing,” the fellow church finance committee member says.
“He was highly intelligent. And he used native ability, along with his experience from many years as an internal auditor at GE, to be an extremely valuable member of many non-profits.”
Elliott Netherton, in his military days.
Pete says Elliott “straightened out the church’s accounting and finances, and brought them up to general accounting standards.” When Pete became WHS president in 1995, he did the same for that organization.
Then he did it all over again, for the Y’s Men.
On Sunday, Pete stopped by Elliott’s house.
Seeing Elliott’s Jag with the “KY COL” plates in the driveway, Pete says, “I realized our community had lost an outstanding citizen.”
(A memorial service for Elliott Netherton is set for Tuesday, June 7, 1 p.m. at Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Hat tip: Rick Towers and Bob Mitchell)
Westport’s public safety and Parks & Rec personnel are following the weather patterns closely. A final decision on whether or not to hold the Memorial Day parade will be announced by 7 a.m. tomorrow (Monday) morning.
If the parade is cancelled, the public is encouraged to attend the Memorial Day ceremony at Town Hall at 10 a.m. Monday.
It’s a yearly tradition: The Y’s Men win the “Best Float” competition. They did it again last year, for their depiction of the Japanese surrender to Gen. MacArthur. They’ve worked long and hard on this year’s float — but bad weather may wash out all their hard work.
35 years ago, Steve Rubin’s medical and surgical supply company was considering a move from Long Island to Norwalk.
Steve and his wife Toni lived in Douglaston, Queens. They began talking about moving to “the country.” Their friends thought they were crazy. They sort of did, too.
“We both grew up in New York City,” Steve says. “For us, Westport was the edge of the earth, before it cracks off.”
But fresh air, and a produce stand on North Avenue, lured them in. The Rubins rented the big white Rippe house, next to 7 acres of corn farmed by a guy named Buster.
“We truly felt like we lived on a farm,” Steve recalls. “We fell in love with this place.”
Toni and Steve Rubin.
The 1st folks they met were Betsy Wacker — from Welcome Wagon — and her husband Watts. George Underhill, from the town tax office, soon became a good friend too. All 3 introduced the Rubins to many aspects of their new home town.
Steve’s company never moved to Norwalk. He spent 5 years commuting to New York.
Then, 23 years ago — at age 47 — he suffered a heart attack.
The Rubins’ Westport friends responded immediately. Meals poured in. People drove him to the doctor. They did whatever they could for the couple.
The heart attack led Steve to retire from his stressful work. He got a job with Westport’s Parks & Rec Department, manning the Compo gate.
He organized workers for the Compo Beach playground construction project. He joined the Y’s Men. Toni created the Respect program, for children with special needs.
“It snowballed,” Steve says. “It was like we’d lived here 100 years. This town has a magic effect. It makes people feel like natives.”
The Rubins’ activities grew. Steve spent many years as the voice of Festival Italiano. He did not stop until the last raffle ticket was sold. “I made a whole bunch of new friends there too,” he says.
Perhaps his most important contribution began the day he complained to Gordon Joseloff about “some safety issue.” Joseloff — at the time the moderator of the Representative Town Meeting — urged him to run for the legislative body.
Earlier this month — almost 20 years later — Rubin resigned from the RTM. In an emotional farewell, he announced that he and Toni are moving to Charleston, South Carolina.
Steve and Toni Rubin’s t-shirts say it all. He adds, “I could not have done any of this without my wife and best friend.”
The impending move is “bittersweet,” Steve admits. After a couple of years of consideration, the lure of warmer winters and a lower cost of living was too good to pass up.
“We don’t want to wait until, god forbid, we’re too old to do it,” Steve says.
The Rubins don’t know a soul in Charleston. But, he notes, “We didn’t know anyone when we moved here. We did it before, and we’ll do it again.”
Steve adds, “we’ll love this town forever. There are so many great people here. It seems like Westport is filled with mensches.”
Steve Rubin in the Memorial Day parade.
The Rubins leave knowing they’ve made a major mark on their adopted home town. Their name appears on the quilt at Town Hall, the library River of Names and brickwalk, the Wall of Honor at the Staples football field and the Longshore pool wall mosaic.
They’ll miss the many activities they’ve participated in, and enriched: the Memorial Day parade. First Night. PAL fireworks. Downtown trick-or-treating.
They’ll miss Compo, Longshore and Saugatuck. “We’ll even miss the Post Road and Main Street,” Steve laughs.
They’ll miss Westport a lot. But not as much as we will miss Steve and Toni Rubin.
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