In my recent Legacy Project interview with Colleen Plantinga of Westport, she spoke of when she first moved to Westport with her family in 1962 from Old Greenwich.She had 2 children and a husband
who commuted every day of the week to New York City. I asked many questions during the interview, one of which was: “What did you think of Westport when you moved here?”
“Now that’s an interesting question,” she responded.
“Did you like it?”
“Oh, I liked it very much. It was very rural. Timber Lane was all trees. The road was gravel. There was no city water.”
The Plantingas had a well and one summer the well went dry.The water was discolored.
Moving from one town to another necessitated the change of schools for her two children, Prill and John, Jr.They went to Burr Farms Elementary School
which no longer exists. It was torn down and is now a big MacMansion development on Burr Farms School Road.
When I asked what she did with herself when she moved to Westport, Colleen answered, “What did I do with myself? Well, I kept house, I cooked, I took care of 2 children, and I gardened.”
Colleen is an avid gardener and even joined her church in order to be able to take care of their gardens.
What Colleen remembers about downtown Westport in the early 60’s is how different it is now than it was back then. “There were ‘mom and pop’ stores. There was Greenberg’s where you could buy children’s socks and things. There was a butcher. There was a fish market. And of course, there was a hardware store. It seemed small town to me,” she said, “and I loved it.”
Rippees Farm Stand is another favorite memory for both Colleen and Prill. Rippees was on the Post Road and the produce was grown on their farm and sold fresh everyday. Prill especially remembers
the sweetness of the strawberries and peaches.
Although she herself was not a community activist, her husband John Boyle became head of the Public Sites and Building Committee, partially because of his expertise as an engineer. Colleen was not a “joiner” but her neighbors, the Katzenberg’s, encouraged her to do something in town because of her love for Westport. But Colleen says, “that’s just not who I was, and I already had a full-time job as mother and wife.”
Colleen Plantinga is the epitome of a dedicated mom and and wife and all of us Westporters owe a large gratitude to her and the other women of that era in Westport for building the solid foundation that Westport enjoys today.