The Way We Were

For some reason, people have started emailing me great photos of the Westport of yore.

I know plenty of “06880” readers like them. Longtime residents, expats, even recent arrivals appreciate seeing where what’s changed in our town — and what hasn’t. (Click on or hover over any photo to enlarge it.)

So, without further ado:

A dealer called simply “Foreign Cars” did business on the Post Road near the Southport line, just past Barker’s (or, as we know it today, Super Stop & Shop).

Foreign cars - 1950s - Post Road
This looks familiar: near the train station. In the 1950s, it was Frank Reber and Charlie Cole’s Imported Cars. This photo, and the one above, came from Hemmings Daily, thanks to David Pettee.

Frank Reber and Charlie Coles Imported Cars

A few years earlier, this was the scene around the corner, at the train station. There’s Black Horse Liquors on the corner. The newsstand was Baer’s.

Train station 1950s - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
Here’s the eastbound view. Both photos are courtesy of Debbie Rosenfield.

Train station 1950s eastbound - courtesy Debbie Rosenfield
This 1949 view of downtown comes (as do all the photos below it) from the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut, via Brian Pettee. Colgan’s Pharmacy was where Tiffany sits today. Across Taylor Place was the trolley-shaped diner. Opposite that — hidden by trees — was the small park behind the old Westport Library. And that car in the middle of the intersection? It was turning onto the Post Road from Main Street, which had 2-way traffic.

Downtown 1948 - copyright Thomas J. Dodd Research Center UConn
Main Street Mobil occupied the current site of Vineyard Vines. In the distance you can see what for many years was Westport Pizzeria.

Main Street Mobil station 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
Back when the Merritt Parkway was for motoring, this was the signage (watch out for those jagged edges!).

Merritt Parkway exit 41 sign - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn
And when you came off Exit 41, this is what you saw. Underneath the “Westport” arrow, the sign says “State Police 3 mi.” The barracks were located on the Post Road where Walgreens is now — opposite the diner. Pretty close to I-95 — though in 1949, the “Connecticut Turnpike” had not yet been built.

Merritt Parkway exit 41 - 1949 - copyright Thomas J Dodd Research Center UConn

34 responses to “The Way We Were

  1. William Adler

    These are so cool – thank you so much for posting. Can’t get enough of them! I bought my first car, and oft-not-starting maroon MG Midget, at the “Foreign Cars” shop on the Post Road. It’s amazing how MANY cars they had in this picture – would that such a thing existed today !!!

  2. If memory serves me Westport Pizzaria didn’t open until 1968-69. At the time the photo of the Mobile Station was taken I believe that space was occupied by Bill’s Smoke Shop and next door was Mac’s Meat Market (with saw dust on the floor)? Great old pictures, thanks for posting!

    • You’re right, Jeff. I should have explained that it was not Westport Pizzeria when the photo was taken. As for Mac’s Meat Market — in the late 1950s/early ’60s it was located at the corner of the Post Road and North Maple. Was this an earlier location for it?

      • I just heard from longtime Westporter Audrey Doniger. She says that Mac’s Meat Market — owned by “Mac” McCarthy, an Irish philosopher who always gave free bologna to the kids, was indeed at the corner of Post Road and North Maple. His wife really ran the store, and his son later took over.

        The Main Street store was called “Max’s.” It was a fish store, owned by a Jewish guy.

        Mac, Max — what’s the difference among friends?!

        • Ok, I concede on Mac”s Meat Market location but there was a market aproximately where Ann Taylor is now that had saw dust on the floor and when you walked in the register was on the right by the door and there was a meat department in the rear. I swear the Butcher’s name was MAC! Could that be the same Mac?

          • Deb Rosenfield

            I think that might have been Gristede’s? Hard to believe there was ever a supermarket on Main Street. Plus 2 pharmacies (Dorain’s and Achorn) and Welch’s hardware.

            • Also Westport Hardware, and another market.

              • Wendy Cusick

                I remember the Cool Card shop near the tunnel and a market I remember grocery bags. I thought it next to or near the card shop. The market definitely was on the river side parked on that side walked through the tunnel.

                • Walking through the arcade to Main Street I remember Greenbergs on the right and the Hardware store that became Henry Lehr and West Lake restaurant on Needle Park. The demise of Greenbergs was when the roof collapsed. Does anyone remember the nightclub on the second floor with the carpeted rooms?

  3. A. David Wunsch

    I wonder if anyone besides me recalls a car dealer/repair shop called European Motors. It was on the Post Road near where it crosses West Parish Rd. I used to visit there in the early 50’s and saw some amazing machines, e.g. a large yellow convertible the size of a fire truck (Italian made, Isotta Fraschini ) that had belonged to Rudolf Valentino in the 20’s. Also saw a Lagonda and an Auburn.
    ADW Staples 1956

  4. Joanna Triscari

    Wow! These photos are so great to see for us ‘new arrivals’! Westport was and is a great place to live!

  5. Jack Whittle

    That MobilGas picture almost looks like an effort to recreate the Saturday Evening Post cover of the same spot.

  6. These photos will be saved. I loved revisiting my old home town. Motoring on Merrit Parkway was a beautiful photo – can’t imagine that happening today! Thanks again.

  7. When my family lived in Queens (back in the 1950s and early 1960s), friends of ours would occasionally take “a drive in the country,” which consisted in part of a drive on the Merritt and getting off at Exit 41 to have lunch or dinner at the Red Barn. That photo depicting an empty Merritt Parkway does look inviting for a Sunday “drive in the country.”

  8. Dale Eyerly Colson

    The “railroad car” diner was Muriel’s.

    • Many hours spent in the back playing $.10 pinball machine and eating $.15 fries.

    • Michael Calise

      Muriel’s was a later rendition. It was originally Jack’s Diner owned by the Papageorge family of Fairfield. It was a 24/7 diner “Jack threw the keys away” They made the best rice pudding this side of the Saugatuck River. Lee Pappageorge, a nephew and owner of Oscars on main street, has the rice pudding recipe locked in a safe somewhere.

  9. Wendy Cusick

    I remeber Barker’s then Ames. Westport Hardware asked if I remember the Mobil gas station I do and Dan does have a more modern shot of the Mobil station. Also remember State Police Barracks!

  10. I was thinking about Barker’s just yesterday: “Pay Less for the Best!”
    …used to tag along with my Dad on Saturday mornings, hoping he’d let me buy a chocolate bar at the check out!

  11. linda pomerantz novis

    Growing up in Weston,my mom always took us to Mac’s Meat Market
    (corner of Post Rd. & North Maple)..remembering the bologna,there & Max indeed loved to
    talk..(I’d never heard an Irish brogue up until that time…)

    These are all great photos!

    • Mac’s Meat Market was legendary. Mac was very entertaining, really fun for kids, and he always gave us samples of the bologna before we bought it. Mac’s cat had kittens there in the back room and we took one home one day. His cat was all white and our kitten was as well. There was sawdust on the floor at Mac’s and he is a treasured memory of the “old Westport.” What happened to him, if anyone knows?

  12. Jean Whitehead

    Great photos, thank you! I’m pretty sure the “sawdust on the floor” market was called Charles–there was also a tree growing in the middle of the floor.

  13. James Ezzes

    I dont know if people know that the current site of news stand/ store on the corner of Railroad Place was the first Post Office in Westport.
    Dan: I have some amazing pictures of the building of Parker-Harding Plaza when the town filled in the river with the rubble when I95 was being built.

  14. THANKS, Jim — send ’em along!

  15. Morley Boyd

    The images of the foreign car dealers are beyond belief. If I make it to heaven this is what I expect all the parking lots to look like.

  16. Audrey Doniger

    Jean is right–it was “Charles Market” and it was close by to a store called “Trudy Gary”.,where i bought my 2 little girls beautiful girly dresses—-until hippie times came and out went all the dresses and they did their own shopping at a place (can’t remember the name) in the alley way and up a steep flight of stairs next to Westport pizza—-i’m sure many of your boomers will know the name.—-by the way Dan,this is great for exercising the brain for all your very senior readers—Play On !!!

    • Thanks, Audrey! And if you meant “down” a steep flight of chairs, that was Functional Clothing. Used jeans, etc. — great place!

  17. The place in the alleyway was the original Rachna of India which replaced Stan (Yolles) TV Repair Shop. Prior to that it was Phil Tully Real Estate. By the way, I have an old photo post card of the original post office that Jim Ezzes mentioned.

  18. You’re right, James. That place was called Rachna of India. I worked there for a while way back when.

  19. Dan – The photos are great. I think I’m new to the party. We only moved to Westport in 1977, but I do remember Gristede’s, and Welsh’s Hardware, which was almost my first stop after moving here. I told the owner (whose name I have long forgotten) my next door neighbor sent me. I gave him my name and immediately got a house charge. And when we arrived we had a Saab that was serviced at Chapman Motors, on the Post Road, across from what is now the “other” Starbuck’s.

  20. Roy, you qualify as a “native”!