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Remembering a Westport Gone By

My husband and I moved to Westport 24 years ago, mere hours before our second son was born. It was a close call, but we needed the extra bedroom. The neighbors all arrived on our doorstep with food and offers of babysitting and transportation. Several of them were, and still are, artists, which ingratiated me because I paint as well. Unfortunately, my perspective can be very imaginative, but since moving here I have met artists of all sorts, closet mostly, but often incredibly talented, who paint or sculpt on their screened-in porches in the summer and in an extra bedroom during the colder months.

Westport has changed quite a bit in the past few years, but the nooks and crannies of all the private little roads here are still filled with so many creative people. I see them at the beaches with easels set up and oblivious to everything except for the ripples in the water that they are transferring to canvas. It is understood that you do not bother these people, although they don't mind you looking at their progress in silence, and it is best not to start a loud story about your Aunt Annie who paints too, but is allergic to turpentine.

The other thing I love about Westport is Burying Hill Beach. The tiny parking lot holds less than 15 cars, but rarely is it filled. I can slide my kayak into the tidal river and drift along the rock wall separating me from the throngs on the other side splashing at the state beach, Sherwood Island. The reeds change color with the seasons and it's a great place to pull up with a pad of paper to sketch behind the steering wheel in the winter ... and on one of the water-beaten jetties during the warmer weather.

Nostalgia: We raised our kids here, at the end of a cul-de-sac that has an island with an apple tree and big boulders for seats. I still prefer shopping at the older establishments and family-based businesses, although I can't think of any right now except for the shoemaker behind Westfair Shopping Center. For those of you who have been here awhile, remember our five sweet movie theaters, The Ship's Restaurant, Selective Eye, that ice cream shop on the Post Road that sold hippy clothes downstairs, waiting in line at Big Top for charbroiled burgers, the Remarkable Book Shop, Klein’s and the video arcade with machines that took quarters.

That's it. Westport.

Catherine Stone is co-founder of Coldfire Inc ., an internet marketing firm in Westport, a painter and author of the book "Down to the Marrow."

What do you miss most about the way Westport used to be?

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