Westport: An “Old-Fashioned Christmas In A New-Fashioned Town”

Alert (and archive-minded) “06880” reader Fred Cantor found a Christmas ad from the December 6, 1950 Wilton Bulletin.

I have no idea what he was looking for, but what he found is fascinating. Exactly 63 years ago today, Wilton residents were urged to

shop in Westport for an old-fashioned Christmas in a new-fashioned town. Choose from an abundance of perfect gifts for every member of the family in the delightful atmosphere of small town service and big city selection.

Next to a drawing of a stereotypical ’50s nuclear family — Dad in tie, Mom in a serving role, girl and boy looking appropriately wonderful — the text described the “streamlined shopping center that is Westport.”

Because Westport is the biggest small town in the world with some pretty smart people living in it, Christmas treasure hunters expect New York selection and get it, but no New York hurly-burly, just genial “hello neighbor” friendliness.

Xmas Wilton Bulletin 2

But wait! There’s more!

Westport, we learn, “has grown — from a sleepy whistle stop to a shopping center teeming with sophisticated gift ideas for the exacting giver.”

Our storekeepers have the know-how to keep the prices as attractive as the gifts. Walk up and down Main Street, bask in the Christmas spirit spilling from shop windows, turn into Sherwood [Sconset] Square, then up and down State Street [Post Road], along Taylor Place, over the State Street bridge, into the hills of Weston, and up the Post Road.

That Weston reference lost me. But read on…

Wherever you go, you don’t have to look for a friendly face, they’re looking for you. Fair Exchange in Westport. Trade in tired weary days of city shopping for a joyous Christmas season country style shopping in Westport.

The 1950 ad was sponsored by the “Westport & Weston Merchants Association.”

Participating businesses — including the Dress Box, Westport Hardware, Isabel Eland, Achorn’s Pharmacy, Townley Restaurant, Tracey’s Men’s Wear, Welch’s Hardware, The Music Room, Sport Mart, Paint Bucket, Greenberg’s Department Store, Fairfield Furniture and Towne Television — were “Open Nitely Till Nine.”

11 responses to “Westport: An “Old-Fashioned Christmas In A New-Fashioned Town”

  1. William Adler

    The reference to Weston – as a copywriter I can hazard a guess. Someone told the person writing the ad they should wedge a reference to Weston into it somewhere to be inclusive of the adjacent town, but the mention was a throw-in and made no sense! Shop in the “hills?”

  2. Sandy Soennichsen

    Alas, all those wonderful Westport shops are gone (with the exception of Achorn’s) and most of that “hello neighbor” friendliness alluded to in the infomercial. However, if you went shopping in Westport you could also drink and get schnockered since Wilton was a dry town in those days, and Westport was a convenient watering hole.

  3. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    “Shopping in the hills” is “Yankee smart”, Bill. When I was home from college in the ’70’s I worked at the “House of Wares” the Weston hardware store during the holidays. Amazing place. They had everything and it was a neat way to avoid Christmas shopper’s hell in Westport, Norwalk or the Trumbull mall. I was on good terms with Paul Newman because he was a regular and the many executives I got to know there helped me find my first “real job.”

  4. Sandy Soennichsen

    I may be wrong but wasn’t Greenberg’s Department Store in Weston at that time, before it went to Westport.? And Eric is right on, when the Weston hardware store was House of Wares it was indeed a real hardware store. Now it’s forte is lottery tickets and yard games and generic batteries, no true hardware. Tools and nuts and screws and electrical devices and plumbing supplies…..it’s off to Home Depot.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

      Sandy, I can’t imagine Greenberg’s was ever anyplace but Main Street. I think they were owned by the Shilepsky’s but it was a long time ago for me.

  5. Greenberg’s was owned by the Gruber family & never was in Weston. What a walk down memory lane. That’s where everyone knew you & you knew them & everyone that worked in those stores too. You’ll never beat the 50’s for the friendliest town in the U.S.A. I’m sure I’ll get comments on that one but you would have to have lived it to know.

  6. Sandy Soennichsen

    Well, Lee Greenberg is still in town, and I’ll have to ask her the next time I see her. I know she and her husband owned Greenbergs.

  7. Rebecca Ellsley

    This weekend December 8th is the Westport Historical Society Holiday House Tour and MOOSE LODGE is on the tour. It should help people to get into the Holiday Spirit 🙂

  8. Sally Campbell Palmer

    I knews the scene well – worked in a gift and gourmet shop called Amanda’s on Main St. when at Staples in the 50’s. First job of the morning was to sweep the sidewalk and check in with the neighboring stores for any good stories. Main St. was a pretty eclectic collection of retail shops!

  9. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    This is what I like about this site: Research, History, personal memories. Thanks, Fred. Thanks, Dan.

  10. Nancy Powers Conklin

    Oh, the memories are flooding into my mind, in a great way. Westport was a great place to grow up. I remember being given an amount of money with my sister and we walked up and down Main Street buying gifts for our family. All the shopkeepers knew us and helped us make our selections because they all knew our parents! That time was special and will remain precious to me. It will never be the same again!