A storybook of extraordinary women, Aaron Burr’s secret love life and a classic movie set in Westport.
My family and I are on a mission to watch films and TV productions that are affiliated with Westport in some way – be it their location, writer and/or actor. We chose to do our first family review on the 1956 film, The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit based on the 1955 novel by Sloan Wilson by the same name. This American drama, starring Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones and Frederic March focuses on a young World War II Veteran, Tom Rath, (Peck) balancing family life in Westport, a Public Relations career in New York City, and the emotional after-effects of serving in the war. While the 2 1/2 hour film takes its time telling a complex story, we all agreed that it was a groundbreaking film for its era in how it addressed uncomfortable situations that challenge one’s personal integrity in the workplace, at home and in society. It was really fun to see 1956 images of Westport’s train Station (Saugatuck), various roads and parts of Main Street. What really stood out was the amount for which the Rath family sells their “modest” home: $14,000 at a time with the median US home value was around $8,000. You can watch The Man In the Grey Flannel Suit here.
Film Review: The Man in the Grey Flannel SuitAlicia D’Anna
A deftly presented tale about a little known figure of American history: The second–and secret–wife of Vice President Aaron Burr. Enslaved in India where she was born, Mary Emmons was owned first by a French Colonial family and then by Burr’s first wife, Theodosia Bartow Prevost Burr after being purchased in the West Indies where Emmons travelled with her original owners. The book imaginatively reconstructs the life of a woman about whom the historical record remains mum–following her from childhood in India to the Caribbean and finally to America where she lives the remainder of her life. After Theodosia’s marriage to Aaron Burr, Emmons becomes Burr’s unwilling mistress, bearing him two children who later go on to prominence in abolitionist circles. The author makes up for the lack of primary source material to inform Emmons life by, instead, deeply researching all other aspects of this 18th century world in order to create a believable story. Engrossing and worth a read: especially for lovers of 18th century period fiction who enjoy glimpses into the lives of diverse Americans.
Book Review: The Secret Wife of Aaron BurrRamin Ganeshram
Rebel Girls is a non-fiction book about 100 extraordinary women throughout history. Sadie’s favorite story in the book is about Irena Sendler, who was a brave fighter resisting the Nazis in occupied Poland during World War 2. Working under the pseudonym Irena Sendlerowa, she saved many Jewish children when she was part of Polish Underground resistance movement.
Q. Was there anything that surprised you? Yes, many years ago they had an epidemic** and now we have a virus that makes people sick.
Q. What did you learn from the story? You just have to be brave to help other people.
Q. Describe the character. She was very encouraging. Her father told her to have courage and always help people. She was brave and saved lots and lots of children.
Q. Do you think your friends would like to read the book? Yes, but I don’t think some of the boys would like it.
Q. Are there any new words that you have learned from reading the story? Nazi, Persecuted, Epidemic and Typhus
**Epidemics, including typhus, were common due to poor hygienic conditions and lack of medical supplies in the overcrowded ghettos where Jews were forced to live in Warsaw.
Book Review: Rebel Girls by Elena Favilliand Francesca CavalloQ&A review with Westport Second Grader, Sadie Griffiths