Happy Days

Before J&J Car Care Service, the Getty station was a Tydol. It was mentioned last week on “06880.” Here’s a great photo (click on it to enlarge).

Dairy Queen, Westport CT 1956

What’s more remarkable about this January 1956 photo, though — posted by Nick Tiberio on Facebook — is the Dairy Queen. (Check out the cop car — with just 1 light on top — in the parking lot.)

DQ sat on the site of what later became the Crest. (It’s now the entrance to Playhouse Square.) The Crest was Westport’s 1st drive-in — as beloved by teenagers in the early ’60s as the Big Top in later years.

Today’s equivalent is — I have no clue.

A bit east of the Crest — beyond the right side of this photo — was the original Viva Zapata.

All that’s missing is the Fonz.

27 responses to “Happy Days

  1. Wasn’t that where the car wash was?

  2. Dan, weren’t you “the Fonz” back then??

  3. Now that’s a great picture of pre 60′s westport

  4. Great photo – thanks for posting. This is the Westport I see in my mind’s eye, complete with ’50s cars. I can’t believe the cops had to drive an under-powered small Plymouth! You gave me a happy flashback to a Mother’s Day in the mid-60s when my sister and I chipped in and treated my mother to a “fancy dinner” at the Crest !!!

  5. I imagine it would be today’s equivalent of the Sherwood Diner (for the teens, at least)

    • While 90% of the Staples kids hang out at the diner from time to time — it’s the go-to place after Players rehearsals, after FCIAC championship soccer games, and many other times — it’s also shared with families, senior citizens and the rest of the world. I’m too young to have gone to the Crest personally, but from everything I’ve heard it was a place where guys showed off their cars, their black leather jackets, their DAs and their girls. It was not a place to bring your kids or your parents. Older Westporters: Am I right?

      • You are correct about the Crest in the early mid-60s, Dan. The Downshifters and the fearsome Quads. Guys in black leather jackets and motorcycle boots. Babes with big hair. Great California-style burgers. No hi si’s (“high society”) at night. The Big Top was hi si territory.

      • The Crest was our two young sons’s favorite spot in Town. Their mom would drive them there several times a week. For some reason they were addicted to greasy cheeseburgers.

  6. Yes, I think Frank is probably right about the Sherwood Diner.

    I did not know there was a DQ there years ago.

    What’s also fascinating about this pic is the sign for “PINES SNACK BAR.” What’s the history of that? Thanks.

  7. Richard Lawrence Stein

    Dan this is when and where you excell!!! Vintage perspective photos of our little town!!! Bravo love this stuff!!! Check out the old Realtor sign for Helen Benson? Any crack old timers who can provide info on this person.

  8. Love the photo.

    Dan — where can we find an online photo collection of vintage Westport?

    • No clue. There are a couple of Facebook pages (“Exit 17 Residents and Ex-Residents Westport CT” and “Exit 18 Westport CT Residents and Ex-Residents”) with some good photos. Anyone else have any ideas?

  9. I remember going to the Dairy Queen with my parents and getting a Butterscotch Sunday after seeing a movie at the Fine Arts. A long time ago.
    Jane Sherman

  10. U. Zooelly N. Trouble

    Helen Benson, Sally Hunter and “Dot” Bradley were among the pinnacle power elite of Westport realtors back in the day. You bought your home from one of them or you didn’t buy. My mother worked for “Miss Benson” in the 60′s and she was what you might have gotten if Mr. Potter from “It’s a Wonderful Life” had decided to change his gender and the technology were available and the society would have tolerated it in 1946. No matter, she was strong enough to beat any man at their game and crashed the glass ceiling before there even was one. There was one other realtor whose name escapes me who billed himself as “The Flying Realtor” who would take well-heeled prospective homeowners that were unfamiliar with the geography on their initial tour of the market in his own 4 seat airplane. They don’t make ‘em like they used to.

  11. Well, if Helen Benson the realtor also taught piano, I would not compare her to Mr. Potter. Helen Benson was my piano teacher for several years in the mid-1960s and she was always very enouraging. My only gripe was that she wouldn’t let me incorporate rock music into my piano lessons, even when I started to compose. Looking back, though, I guess I can understand why a classically-trained pianist in her 60s was not wild about the keyboards in “The House of the Rising Sun.”

  12. The Westnor Diner was the other hangout for Staples in the 50′s. It was at the corner of Sylvan Rd & the Post Rd across the street from the Fable Funeral Home..

  13. Viva Zapata was built in the former car wash at the east end of what had been the Crest parking lot in the late 60s. The floor was covered with sawdust and peanut shells. It was great then, and great now!

  14. Telling your parents you wer going to study at the library was code for hanging out at the Crest at night. Everyone WAS cramming, though, but it was cramming into the booths, not cramming for exams. It was a real daily, nightly hangout, preceded in popularity by the already mentioned Westnor, (which was in one of those diner car structures) and even earlier by Bill’s Smoke Shop (where Westport Pizzeria is now), and Rudy’s (Rootie’s?) in back of Parker Harding Plaza. Rudy and his wife had a counter at street level, and a room down a short flight of stairs that had booths and a great jukebox…sometimes we would even dance…and smoke cigarettes…
    Going downtown to hang around was called “hacking around,” and we did it pretty much every day.

  15. A guy named Chris owned the Dairy Queen and Andy Klein owned the Crest. Before Viva Zapata that spot was Banfe’s Drive-In. I think the “flying realtor” was George Ritter who had his offices on Myrtle Avenue. Those (I think 55 Plymouths ) were some of the worst cars Westport PD ever had. They were before my time, but when I started in 59, we drove Olds 98, stick shift rockets, and were envied by police departments throughout the country. Both the Crest and the DQ had no inside seating and were served through walk-up windows. – Dick Alley

  16. Florida Wrecker

    Jiim;
    1950′s Imported Car Dealers – Saugatuck and Post Road.
    http://blog.hemmings.com/?s=westport

  17. Florida Wrecker, thanks for posting. I never knew that a car dealership occupied that space before the Post Office did.

  18. Crest Drive In served bacon on their hot dogs. Sounds insane, and is, but was delicious. Our dad took us their when we were kids.late 50s or early 60s…maybe it was only a hang at night?

  19. there