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“Tom”… mind for mechanics … “meanwhile” … dark curly hair … happiest when idle … electrifying future in engineering.
Updates from Tom
Those who attended our 50th Reunion may recall that Tom played an indispensable role in getting the sound set up for Saturday night dinner at the Red Barn.
Over the years I would hear from Tom about the physical changes going on in Westport. On visits to see daughter, Julie, in Weston, I would pick up a copy of Westport magazine. Thumbing through the pieces about all the Beautiful People who’ve replaced us hoi polloi, I would be left with a quite distinct feeling: “Nothing here I can relate to any more…”
In the following email Tom confirms another, related aspect of these sentiments—the ubiquitous commercialization of Westport. Alas, the town that we knew and loved (and many still consider “home”) seems to be undergoing a slow but relentless vanishing act. In reply to my Thank You for his generous contribution to staples55.com, Tom wrote…]
February 10, 2016 email…
I’m doing very well for an “old guy”! Haven’t got any idea of where the time went. Being highly scientifically minded, when the older people used to say when we were young: “Time goes by faster and faster with age”. I was smug since I knew everything back then, and said: Time is Time—how can it possibly speed up! Well, I learned my lesson too late and am now looking back in a sort of daze wondering where the heck it all went. I’m about ready to do a deal with the Devil to get some of it back but he hasn’t picked up on me yet or maybe my soul is a reject and He’s not interested.
Still doing lots of work on the house; carpentry, plumbing and such and if I could shed about 25 lbs, would feel about 50. Unfortunately, there’s always that kernel of doubt that things could all go to hell in an instant; I’m sure you and our classmates know the feeling well.
Speaking of going to hell in an instant, it ‘s taken a little longer but Westport is now sitting at the edge of an abyss and within a few years will fall into the depths of Hell, as far as our nice little town is concerned. I’ve wanted to take a couple of days and take a series of photos that will illustrate what’s going on but I’m always so busy and the weather has been lousy so I’ve been putting it off. But as far as the center of town goes, nothing remains the same! The old library, town hall, Westport Bank building, the U.S. Post Office the YMCA and YMCA extension down Church Lane have all been “re-purposed” to create a bigger and “better” shopping area.
The building that housed the ‘Y’ extension was completely demolished down to about 20 feet below the existing surface. What looks to be a parking garage is under construction. Every single business in the center of town is gone with the exception of Oscar’s Deli. The replacements are all “mall shops”; Westport is now known as the “outside” or “open-air” mall.
Essentially, the town no longer exists. It has become a mall surrounded by residential areas. Really stinko!
We were so lucky to have experienced the Westport, Wilton, Weston and Greens Farms [and Saugatuck] neighborhoods when they were “under populated”, under utilized, wild, unspoiled and truly beautiful. I still remember when we used to spend entire days walking through the woods around Nash’s Pond, just a mile from the center of town, the meadows in Greens Farms and the shoreline at Saugatuck Shores. They’re all gone now. One can barely walk more than 75 feet in any direction without bumping into a building of some sort. And now the center of town is gone, too. Thus, we progress like lemmings rushing to the ocean.
Living here almost my entire life, witnessing the change, I can really appreciate growing up in the old, unspoiled past. Maybe we had to worry about nuclear war, deadly diseases, and hurricanes but I’d still take it over today, hands down.
Have to go, sorry for the tirade. Stay healthy and happy and thankful that we’re still on the right side of the grass!
I followed up with a couple questions about the construction going on at the old YMCA (click photo, below, a wide-angle view showing both Main St. and the old WBT building) and about Nash’s Pond—both of which Tom had mentioned in his email (Bruce Kent was curious about the Nash’s Pond mention, as well). Some of you may have seen a post about Nash’s Pond on the 06880DanWoog.com site about the recent storm that hit Westport (do a search on that site for “Nash’s Pond”—some of the viewer comments may kindle memories of the place).
Here is Tom’s reply (click photos to enlarge):
February 23, 2016 email…
… responding to your two questions:
A. The old ‘Y’ original building is currently gutted—not even windows [remain]. And the new part that replaced the firehouse has been totally demolished… I believe a parking garage is currently under construction. I don’t know [for sure] what the intended use is since the whole idea of the planned changes leaves me cold—I’ve been keeping my head in the sand. I will find out for you when I get a chance.
B. There were three ways to get to Nash’s Pond [click map to view Tom’s recollections]:
- Easiest and most direct was the driveway that led past the old icehouse. It led up to a small knoll, right where the little island was, about 100 feet north of the dam. However, any activities you remember would have taken place at the opposite end of the pond.
- The second was by going on Blind Brook Road, off Woodside Ave. The other end of Blind Brook Road was unpaved and stony and joined North Sylvan Road at our house. The upper portion was popular as a “lovers lane” back then.
- The last and most popular approach was a track through the woods, entered from North Sylvan Road, across from the Bernhard Estate. The track led all the way down through the woods and ended at the pond. It was really rough when it got to the pond but that’s how they brought in the wood and stuff for the bonfires when the skating parties were held.
Pressed for time so have to go. Back to you when I can.
Strange to say, I have no distinct recollection of Nash’s Pond. A vague sense of a shallow waterfall near the Post Road/King’s Highway intersection? Maybe. Sneaking a smoke at the old ice house along Stony Brook during a BJHS recess? Maybe. Then again these might be someone else’s recollections.