Among Westport’s notable residents was writer-producer Rod Serling whose famed television series The Twilight Zone invited viewers into the shadowy interstitial realm of the “Fifth Dimension” where inexplicable–and often odd–things took place. In the 1960 episode entitled A Stop In Willoughby, Serling paid homage to Westport in both subtle and overt ways. The main character, Gart Williams, is a beleaguered and disillusioned ad-man with an overly-ambitious wife. Each night Williams takes the commuter train home with (pre-climate change!) November snow swirling outside its windows. When he dozes off after the conductor calls “Stamford!” he has a lucid dream about a stop called Willoughby where it is sunny and warm (the new conductor tells him it’s July) –but it is also 1888. He awakens just before the conductor calls “Saugatuck-Westport!”
At home, Williams quarrels with his ambitious wife, Janey, noting that “Some people aren’t built for competition or big, pretentious houses they can’t afford, or rich communities they don’t feel comfortable in, or country clubs they wear around their neck like a badge of status.” After telling Janey about his peculiar dream on the train she angrily retorts “You were just born too late! You’re the kind of guy who could be satisfied with a summer afternoon or an ice wagon being drawn by a horse.” (Sounds like our kind of guy!) Vowing to eventually get to Willoughby, Williams looks forward to his evening commute and his dream-land visits to the idyllic 19th century town but then, in true Twilight Zone fashion, things take a bizarre turn. A Stop in Willoughby and all other episodes of the Twilight Zone are available as part of Hulu and Netflix streaming plans.