A real sense of place
Published 12:00 am, Friday, June 3, 2016
I recently wrote in this column that Westport has been losing much of its open space and some of its physical charm and history as we find ourselves in the midst of a construction boom that is changing the face of the town. That is the bad news.
The good news, however, is that the vibrant spirit of the townspeople who founded our town in 1835 and who developed it carefully and compassionately through the generations, has always kept us together as a tightly-knit community working for the common good. This week’s significant Memorial Day Ceremony brought us together once again to celebrate those who went before us.
As evidence of our enduring community spirit, I reprint for readers of this column a statement I wrote for a special album of comments about the town from Westport citizens, compiled by the Westport Historical Society’s late Roy M. Dickinson, a close friend and associate of mine, two decades ago in the early summer of 1996.
The wonderful part of this reprint is that everything I wrote in 1996 still holds true today. That, in my opinion, is worthy of celebration.
Here is what I wrote:
“Westport, Connecticut has, over the years, become one of America’s legendary towns. Novels, plays and movies have been written and produced with Westport as their backdrop; famous actors. Actresses, writers, artists, architects, lawyers, doctors, corporate executives, political figures — noted people from all walks of life — have made this their home. One of the major reason for the town’s cosmopolitan nature is that, while Westporters are friendly and have a real sense of place, there is an unwritten, silent agreement among the townspeople that we live and let live. We do not badger our celebrities for autographs; we let them walk easily among us.
“It is an exciting and heartwarming experience to arrive and put down roots in Our Town, with its superior school system, its beautiful town-owned country club, its lovely beaches and harbors, its diversity of people, its many stores and specialty shop where people can find virtually anything they want.
“Perhaps most important is the high caliber of the great number of Westporters in local government who provide a wide variety of first-class service to all of us, as well as the quality of the hundreds of volunteers who assist our nonprofit charitable organizations and who perform community service work for our youngsters, our handicapped, our elderly and our homeless.
“In short, we are a town with heart and soul. We feel safe in our homes and in our streets because people take enormous pride in this town and because our police and fire department are comprised of men and women second to none in Connecticut. They are highly professional and well-trained.
“We are as diverse and sophisticated as any town in America. We are a mecca for people from all towns around us.
“They come here specifically we have the energy, the facilities and the diversity that they do not have. Overall we appreciate good people, good values, and a good lifestyle.
“We tend to speak our minds and to openly disagree. That makes us, at times, confrontational and heated in our discussions of public issues. We believe mightily in the democratic process, we hold hotly-contested elections; we speak passionately for what we believe.
“Ironically, it is our ability to openly disagree on major issues that creates such vitality and zest for life in Westport and Weston — both towns of leaders, pace-setters, believers, and go-getters.”
Woody Klein is a Westport writer. His column, “Out of the Woods,” appears every other Friday in the Westport News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.