You Are A Westporter If…

The other day, a friend made a confession.

“I’ve only been here 10 years,” she said. “I’m not really a Westporter, am I?”

Bill Clinton once famously explained, “That depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”

The definition of the word “Westporter” seems similarly slippery.

Here’s what I think. You’re a Westporter if:

You give directions using a landmark that no longer exists. “Take a right at what used to be Dairy Queen” works. So does “Woody’s” or “Swanky Frank’s” — because, as real old-time Westporters know, they’re all the same spot.

Little Barn logo

You lament the changes you’ve seen since you’ve been here. That can be the demolition of the Compo Inn or the Victorian house on Gorham Island; the closing of Klein’s or Sally’s Place (bonus points if you know how they’re related), the end of the Arrow, Jasmine or the Blu Parrot. You’re even a Westporter if you moved here in June, and are sorry the Red Barn closed a month later.

You can’t believe how rude people are today. It’s amazing, you say, how much more self-centered are compared to the 1950s/1970s/1990s/2000s/2013.

David Pogue driving video

You are able to compare today’s young athletes to yesterday’s. It doesn’t matter whether the name you use is Nooky Powers, Cannonball Baker, Steve Baumann, Lisa Brummel, Lance Lonergan or Jon Baumann (not related to Steve) — if you toss out a reference like that, you’re a Westporter.

Lisa Brummel at Yale

You can reference a weather event. The Hurricanes of 1938 and ’55; the Nor’easter of 1993 and Superstorm Sandy all count. The key is to mention how much snowier/rainier/hotter/colder things are/are not compared to the “old days.”

Black Duck in Hurricane Sandy

That’s my bar for Westporterdom. We’re a big tent. We welcome everyone.

If you’ve got other ideas, hit “Comments” below. We want to hear from you — whether you’re a Westporter or not.

 

163 responses to “You Are A Westporter If…

  1. My grandfather bought 7.2 acres on the Post Rd in 1917 for $5,000 dollars, with no money down, and a 5 percent Interest rate which was outrageous back then! Supposedly, the town offered him land at South Turkey Hill Rd for free, if he’d pay the taxes. He turned it down due to the steep slope of the land, which was useless to a farmer. The family farmed the purchased property until 1953. Then we built the golf range and Westport Lanes. Those are deep roots, and even though I have lost contact with everyone in town, in my heart, Westport will always be my home! Thanks to Dan, I can sit in Washington DC, in a Starbucks, as I’m in now, and reminisce!

    • Does your family (Backiel) have ties to 148 Cross Highway? We live there now!

      • My uncle, Adolph Backiel, did own a farm on Cross Higway in the early 1950s and perhaps in the 1940s. He owned Backiel’s Roadside Stand on the corner of South Maple Ave and the Post Rd. Our family also owned the Stage Door restaurant on the Post Road nearby.

    • Ed Shaughnessy

      I went to Assumption School in the late 70’s and used a Stew Leanard’s bag for a book bag…

  2. Really nice piece, Dan! (And you clear up whether or not Melissa Joan Hart is a “Westporter” or not.)

  3. F. Scott Fitzgerald lived here for three months in the 20’s and he’s considered a Westporter.

  4. Or if you complain about that new “Harder Parking Center” behind Main Street along the river…

  5. David Loffredo

    You went to at least one school that’s either a) no longer a school, or b) has been renamed and the former name has been recycled on another building somewhere else in town.

    • Harriet Wolfson Flehinger

      Yes…I went to Long Lots JUNIOR HIGH in the early 1960s. I entered first grade at Coleytown when the school opened in 1954, after kindergarten at Greens Farms. I’m REALLY a Westporter although I now live in Manhattan. My parents donated the Wolfson Streamside Preserve on Bayberry Lane, just below the Merritt Parkway.

  6. Joyce Barnhart

    Several years ago, Katie Chase and I were discussing how to get somewhere in town when we realized that if you could follow our directions you wouldn’t need them. You would have had to live in Westport about 10 years to know the landmarks we were referencing, including the Pink Parlor and Winnie the Pooh.

  7. You are a Westporter if you remember the Playhouse before it was air conditioned , the Cafe De La Plage ,Chez Pierre , the Big Top , bringing dates to foreign films at The Fine Arts cinema followed by dessert at the Ice Cream Parlor’s third location and if you have taken one of Dan Woogs fascinating Westport Tours sponsored by the Westport Historical Society and if you own an etching of Compo Beach by the Dean of Westport Artists George Hand Wright !

  8. And Sally started her record shop in the back of Klien’s (next to the toy dept)!

  9. Since I read this I’ve been trying to find some reference to the cornfield that used to be on North Avenue just off Long Lots. You could buy freshly picked corn in the barn that adjoined the field. I miss that, and the Remarkable Bookshop, most.

  10. Rippe’s. They also had a farm stand on the Post Road, where the Harvest Commons condos are now (that’s where the name came from). In its final years, the farm stand on North Avenue was called Buster’s. And, in an homage to its past, some of the homes on that road (called Greystone Farm Lane) feature faux silos.

    • Tsk, tsk Daniel. The field you reference was part of the farm of Charles Mills. His house still stands there on North Avenue. The field stretched to the Hezekiah Mills house, also known as “The squatters house”. George and Henry Rippe only purchased the land in the 1920s

      • Thank you Dan and Jacques. With all that information I found these links…
        http://connecticutbarns.org/upload/state_reg/SR-barn_Westport_NorthAvenue_29_No.35994.pdf

        http://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1047&context=yc_pubs

        Dan, I also found your comprehensive 06880 blog about Jacques’s family.
        so the links are probably old news for the both of you but, what the heck.

        I miss the sight of that cornfield as the sun went down.

        • I have seen both of those documents before. The first one, about the barn, is annoyingly incorrect about the family. First, he was Hezekiah Mills, with no known middle name. I don’t know where the “Allen” keeps creeping in, but he was a Mills, not an Allen. Second, Betsey was born a Batterson, not a Taylor.

          There is a rather loopy relationship between that house and the house everyone has been referring to as the Rippe’s. Hezekiah and Charity Mills had a son named William Henry Mills. He married Elizabeth “Betsey” Ann Batterson. She being the Betsey above. Betsey had a sister named Sarah “Sally” Batterson. Sarah married John Mills who was Charity’s younger brother. One of John’s son was Charles Mills. It was Charles who built the house on North Avenue everyone remembers as Rippe’s.

          • The house I grew up in was a bit further up and on the other side of North Avenue from the Rippe’s orchard. Our house and the one next door had, we were told, been “twins,” built by related families (maybe brothers?) in the late 19th or early 20th C. Ours had been added onto and revised and what not, so the shapes of the houses were a bit different when we had it (and ours has been more than doubled by subsequent owners…). Anyway, the family in the “twin” house next door was named Mills. It seems to me that they were of the original family, but I’m not certain. Their lot was bigger, maybe a couple of acres (though I’m not much good at estimating lot sizes), and they were still farming it a bit in the late 50’s, 60s and on. I recall grandparents, and grown children/spouses living in the main house. There was a smaller, newer house built behind that was the home of another child and family. (I remember a litter of puppies at that smaller house when I was about 8 or 9 years old… but I digress.) Might the twin houses have been part of the Mills (later Rippe) farm, or were they some other distribution of families and residents?

            • Did you or a sister date a Massachusetts state trooper in the 1970s? I will explain more about the houses later

            • The story you heard about the houses is true, but there were more than just twins, there were at least triplets, and maybe even quadruplets. At one time the houses at 54, 58, and 66 were all the exact same when they were built. The house at 62 may have been the same, but that is not certain anymore.
              By the second half of the 19th century Charles Mills (1833-1909) owned most of the land on the first part of North Avenue, from Long Lots road to about Staples on both sides. He had eight children, including five sons. He gave to four of his sons four acres each, one acre wide and four deep. The eldest, Charles (1857-1945) was given the land at 54 North Avenue. Then Albert was next at 58 North Avenue. Edward was at 62 North Avenue, and finally Leroy at 66 North Avenue (the house numbers are for the modern reader, they weren’t numbered until 1958 when they built the new Staples). The fifth son did not get a share that we know of, he already had a big 30 acre farm on Cross Highway. Edward quickly sold it the land to Rollin Stoddard, so he most likely never lived there. He went to Easton and was First Selectman there. He also originally developed Mills Street off the Post Road. Robert was Selectman in Westport for 4 years (1913-1917). The “small house” (48 North Avenue) in the back was built by Homer Mills (1898-1981), who was the son of Charles, in 1943. The story goes that since it was during the war, and building materials were in short supply, Homer scrounged enough to build the house.
              When Charles died, his widow Edith continued to live in the house at 54 until her death. Also living there was her daughter Mildred. Mildred never married, but she was engaged to George Rippe for many years. The same George Rippe that lived in her grandfather’s house at 17/19 North Avenue.
              The “farming” you refer to was my grandfather’s (Homer) garden. It was only about one quarter acre, nothing like the scale of farming they used to do. But it did provide a lot of vegetables for us to eat. Do you remember all the blackberries that used to grow between the garden and your old house? We used to get enough out of them that I never ate commercially produced jelly until I was at least 10 years old.
              (As an aside, my “do you remember” was when a lot more people in Westport harvested their own foods, and wild growing foods)

              There is a story that has been told to me, by people that were there, about that garden, my grandfather, your mother, and certain Massachusetts State Trooper…

    • Brooke Miles-Prouten

      Buster’s farmstead! Right across the street from where I grew up. I remember seeing Paul Newman pull out of there in a little old convertible one time…I was so excited to see him! (about 1991)

    • Rippe’s was up North Avenue from Long Lots a bit. They did grow corn in there, and apples. The fields backed up on Burr Farms School (extra points for going to a school that only existed for a handful of years?) and cutting across the fields on the walk home included pilfering a couple of apples through the years. They were excellent apples. The Rippe’s house was on the North Avenue property and was briefly subdivided into apartments in the early ’80s and we had the attic floor for a year or so.

      • Looks like I get those extra Burr Farms points, Jill! And yeah, we “borrowed” our share of apples on our treks between High Point Road (via Staples) and Burr Farms.

      • Rippes Farm Stand was on the corner of N. Turkey Hill and Post Rd. across from the Sportscar Club of America. They also had apple orchards there

        • It was. And it was patrolled with a bit more enthusiasm to prevent the “borrowing” of the apples!

          • Michael Pettee, Saint Paul, MN

            Hi Jill!!
            Enthusiasm indeed! As Jill knows we lived right next door to the orchard on North Avenue and we would gather as a group and descend on the orchard. And Mr. Rippe, well we called him Old Man Rippe, and I didn’t know his name was Henry, would come out with a similar amount of enthusiasm and chase us off. Rumor was he would shoot at us with a shotgun with rocksalt in the shell, but truly I never saw that and I think the gun part was Westport’s version of an Urban Myth.

            The “You Know You’re A Westporter” landmarks from when I was a kid would include the Ice Cream Parlor in its location next to Food Fair, Burr Farms School and the Long Lots Junior High addition as fire-proof innovations (the Long Lots addition burned to the ground), fifteen-cent cones at Carvel, Fine Arts for 35 cents, and even the crazy squiggly-straight line they painted down the middle of the Long Lots Road hill one year (does that count?). Oh, and Thunderbird drive-in near S&S Dugout.

            My dad claimed he went to 78 different Back-To-School nights in Westport.

    • Mmmm… Fresh pressed apple cider from rippe’s…. It’s one of the tastes from childhood I really miss…

  11. Dan, was there ever a statue similar to the minute man on the Post Rd. near Clam Box, on the island of grass where the traffic crosses over from Post Rd. to go up Long Lots Rd.? I could swear from my child hood that there was. Am I remembering something that was never there?

    • Yes — it was the doughboy statue, which now stands proudly on Veterans Green, across from Town Hall (former Bedford Elementary School). It was moved (probably 30 years ago?) to be given a more prominent spot. It was kind of lost there on the median by the Clam Box (later Tanglewoods, now Bertuccis), across from Torno Hardware (once the House of By’s). I don’t know anything about the doughboy statue beyond that, like who sculpted iti and why. But I’m sure some of our alert “06880” readers do.

  12. The Crest. The Red Galleon. Purcell’s (the saloon on PRE). The Penguin. Lloyd’s Lumber. Toll booth between X16 and X17 on the “Thruway.” Bill’s Smoke Shop. The “deliver your order to your blanket” by the kids from Chubby Lane’s at the beach.

  13. Does the Davey Jones restaurant ring a bell?

  14. Dan Backeil my dad built his first house on old road 1949 and I believe it was next to your grandfathers house I use to go over and try to sit on the tractors one day he had to lift me off the tractor I was hanging by my suspenders ,only about 61 years ago I still love mechanical things,,,thanks for the memories

  15. Thanks Dan.
    I love to say my Grandmothers house was the old IHOP. She never wanted to go to IHOP and then one day we talked her into it and the place mat read: WELCOME HOME.
    Also I find my self thinking of mom when I pass Tiffanys. She was born on the second floor of the old Ships restaurant in 1924.
    My mom and dad were graduates of Staples High School in 1941. My mom played piano for the chorus and dad was the President of their senior class and played football and the other “two” sports back then. I love looking at that year book. Funny as all heck!!!! Have a great holiday Westporters, new and old!
    Always with a Happy Healthy Harmonious Holiday Song, Heidi List Murphy

  16. Just got the back story on the Baron. Quite interesting. Did you know he offered to give the Winslow property to the town for free? Later he felt dissed by the 1st selectman and retracted the offer. Some of the rest I’m not allowed to repeat.

  17. How about three weeks. Back in the mid eighties when I was Second Selectman with Marty Hauhuth we used to make Christmas Eve visits to the Men’s Shelter. At that time it was in the Vigilant Fire House on Wilton Road.
    While chatting with the guests one lamented the big houses being built on the Gault Little League site on the Saugatuck River. He was complaining about P&Z decisions and he had only been living in Westport for 3 weeks.

  18. Robert Mitchell

    I’m a newcomer, only 18 years. We moved here from Ridgefield after four years of driving to Westport to go to the movies. Then we got here, and they promptly closed all four of Westport’s movie theaters. Never to reopen. Meanwhile, Ridgefield has a nice new movie theater next to the Library.

  19. How about where Duck Haven, Bedford El and Big Top were?

  20. Lesley Anderson

    I was in junior high when I 95 was built. The big trucks used to drive through town, not the volume of today but they made a racket. Kids rode their bikes on it before it opened and the police weren’t looking.

  21. John Shaughnessy

    Don Svedlow from Nautilus behind the bowling alley, Ships, the “old” library, Serendipity, Tanglewoods….

    • Serendipity was only open for about three months. It opened where Beethoven’s formerly was, then a Chinese restaurant followed, then a fitness center. It’s just been torn down, awaiting new contruction. Probably another bank.

  22. Great piece Dan – your observations are never more spot on than when one hears “Westport has changed so much” or “Westport was so much better in the old days” – I find it amusing to ask what time period the speaker is using as a reference point; the answer varies from the 1950’s up to the early 2000’s. And as the recent piece on Melissa Joan Hart revealed, you’re Westporter if you live in Westport and identify yourself as a Westporter. With that said, there is probably a distinction that can still be made between being someone who is “a Westporter” vs. someone who “grew up in Westport” (i.e. a “Townie”) – the perspective one obtains from growing up and attending schools / playing sports / exploring / coming of age in a town simply cannot be acquired simply by moving here as an adult.

    I’ll see you later at Westport Pizzeria, you know,where S&M Pizza used to be, next to the old Tack Room and across the street from the old Post Office and where Town Hall was . . .

    • So would someone who moved here as an adult and lived here for 30 plus years, be less of a Westporter than someone who grew up here and moved away at age 20 and never returned?

      • You’re all Westporters (and everyone gets a trophy), but only one can claim to have “grown up in Westport”

        • My father was born in the Backiel farmhouse in 1918 and never lived more than two and a half miles from where he was born. He was literally born in Westport! There’s a true Westporter

          • Can’t argue with that, Jack. There are those Westporters, who belong to that smaller group of people who grew up in Westport, whose last names ring a familiar bell – I recall attending Burr Farms Elementary school with a sweet girl named Cassie Burr, who lived in the Burr house right there on the corner of Long Lots and Burr School Road. I would love to meet a Coley or a Bedford someday. I do, however, have the pleasure of being able to count Gaults and Kowalskys among my hometown friends.

          • My mother was born in Westport…
            My grandfather was born in Westport…
            My great grandfather was born in Westport….
            Before that there was no Westport, but…
            My great-great grandfather was born in Greens Farms…
            My great-great-great grandfather was born in Greens Farms…
            My great-great-great-great grandfather marched off to serve under General Washington from Greens Farms…
            Well, you get the idea 🙂

            • You’re almost back to the seven original Bankside farmers of Green’s Farms who had their farms positioned in seven ” long lots” reaching out from the beach area. Thus, the origin of the street named Long Lots Rd.

              • I do go back that far, to Daniel Frost, just not in the direct line.

                • Nancy Hunter Wilson

                  Or, are you really from Lower Canada?

                  • I am from Westport 😉 But my mother’s family, the Mills family, has lived in what would become Westport since no later than 1745. Before that they lived in Stamford no later than 1687, and before that they were in York County, currently Maine, but then Massachusetts since no later than 1637. There is a branch that went to Canada a few hundred years ago, but that was Nova Scotia.

                  • I can only assume at this point you are obliquely referring to my first name, which appears to be of French origin. It is from my father’s family, which are Dutch. Neither my paternal nor maternal families have French or French-Canadian origins.

            • Terry Santella Anzalone

              Wow! Any pictures?? Can they be posted here?

  23. My parents have been in Westport for 41 years and sent 5 kids through the public school system. I’ve watched things go and come. I have a list of restaurants that I’m dying to try (although favorite new arrivals are Bartaco and Shake Shack).

    My brother seems to still know everyone in town and I can still walk into Oscar’s and be told whether or not my parents have arrived yet. Monday, my oldest (7-year-old) son announced that when he’s done with school, he’s going to move to Westport.

    I am definitely a Westporter.

  24. Mark Dickinson

    You went to Staples when it was 9 separate buildings.
    Worked in the strawberry fields that used to be on North Ave.
    Went to “Nickel Night” at Pumpernickel Pub.
    Ate at Farm Shop or Athena Diner.

  25. You are a Westporter if you know/remember that Saugatuck Elementary Schoool was originally Staples High School and Kings Highway Elementary School was Bedford Junior High School. If you look real close at the Kings Highway Elementary School letters high above the main entrance of the school, you can see the outline of the Bedford Junior High School letters.

    Jeb Backus

  26. Robin Weed Whitbread

    I grew up in Westport and moved away at age 20, but it’s still home to me. I remember when the town dump was where Levitt Pavilion is now.

    • And next to that dump was a Little League baseball field — right in the heart of downtown. (There was of course another Little League field on Imperial Avenue, across from the Gault gravel pits — now the Gault housing development). I always thought it was interesting that sportscaster Jim Nantz lived on the site of former athletic fields.

  27. West Lake Chinese at the corner of Post Road and Main Street. The Mobil Gas Station on Main Street. I worked at the Fine Arts 1 when it was owned by Nutmeg Theaters, it was the only Fine Arts and the movie was “The Producers.” As I recall, tickets were 35 cents for kids and 60 cents for adults.

  28. Jennie Pickering

    I bought Prince’s 1999 tape from Sally at Klein’s…..the future!

  29. How about the Nike Missle site on North Ave, which spawned Max Shulman’s book “Rally Round the Flag, Boys” which morphed into the movie starring true Westporters Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward.

    • They are “true Westporters” because they moved here after discovering Westport while making the movie! And they never left. Their contributions to our town are immeasurable.

  30. Kevin Gillespie

    Thanks Dan! My father had an office above Baskin and Robbins in the early 70’s. I remember going to lunch with him on Saturday’s, across the street at The Pickle Barrel. He would let me walk to Carousel afterwards, while he checked in to his office for 1/2 an hour or so. We then met for an ice cream. Always loved some of the shops around there; Marameko, The Paint Bucket, The Tack Room, The Music Room? Other old memories of eateries and shops in town and off Riverside Ave. Kreeger & Sons, Aspasia, Pancho Villa’s, Town Squire Diner (fries with gravy), Bon Appetite, Pearls…and so on. Many great memories from my youth. A lot are with you as well Dan Woog. That first travel team, C division, Greens Farms practices and games on the field looking across the Post Road to Parsell’s, before Geiger’s. You’re a huge part of Westport’s youth soccer. Thank you for those great years.

    • THANKS, Kevin — those were definitely the days. Hard to believe we’re now the same age!

      • And riding my bike (everywhere), getting a goalie cleats at Schaffer’s (for your team), and gum at the Smoke Shop next door. Well put, Kevin; Dan, you WERE Westport’s youth soccer (and only a few years older than us as well!) Thanks for bringing up great memories – and reminding me that everywhere I worked as a youth are all long gone…Yield House, Fine Arts IV, La Bibliotheque…

    • Trish Underwood Jones

      I have lived in the South since moving from Westport. Every time I run acres French fries & gravy I order them. They are few & far between and Southerners look at me strangely and say it must be a Yankee thing. I could never remember wher I started eating them. Thank you!

  31. When we moved to South Compo, right next door to Parke Cummings’ tennis court, in 1948, our big adventure was to walk down to Kenny’s store on the corner of Bridge Street to by Devil Dogs, penny candy, and to reach into the big cooler he had for cold sodas. This was years before I-95 displaced Kenny and his whole operation moved down to Old Mill.

  32. You’re a Westporter if you remember when Norwalk HS and Brien McMahon were in the Eastern Division of the FCIAC while Staples was in the Western Division. And, of course, you’re unequivocally a Westporter if you read “06880.” (Is there really any better standard than that?)

  33. Wendy Kramer Posner

    Hey, remembering Ken Montgomery (and his mother) is the true test for Westport DNA!
    How about adding Miss Comer’s Friday night dancing class at the YMCA – receiving line, white gloves, and all? Those were REAL Westport days!

  34. $935.94 yearly property tax for my 1st house a block up from Mill Beach.

  35. Terry Santella Anzalone

    My mother was born here in 1907, and there are still two of us living in Westport– plus my son! I’m in Saugatuck right near where my mother was born. We had relatives, from both sides of the family, that grew up here since the 1800’s.

  36. Debbie Wilson Hoult

    How about riding bikes to Christie’s on Cross Highway and being greeted by Christie? La Crêpe…..Country Gal for clothes…..gymnastics classes at the old YMCA….the magnolia tree at the Westport Women’s Club…the blackout of autumn 1965 when car headlights were used to illuminate the interior of Chez Pierre. Even though I love in the UK, I’m still a Westporter!

  37. Karen Bulakites Gibbens

    I might not be a true Westporter::: But I do have roots there,Steve Davidson wrote about Bill’s Smoke Shop,That was my Grandfather, My husband and I went to Conn in 1985 for our honeymoon, I took him to Westport and he had his 1st soft shell crab at the Clam House, We also had pizza at Westport Pizza which back in the 60’s was the 2nd Bill’s Smoke shop, Walking in there I was taken back to the 60’s and Sunday Mornings after church,My late father sitting in the window and my late uncle cooking my hamburger,
    Thank You for all the memories.

  38. Marcy Anson Fralick Staples Class of 1970

    I only lived in Westport for six years (1964 -1970), moving there from Arlington Heights, IL; but I spent 6th grade at Burr Farms Elementary, and 3 years at Long Lots Jr. High. I went to The Remarkable Book Shop, studied at the library, bought 45’s then albums at Sally’s, ate dinners at Mario’s, the Clam Box, The Peppermill and hung out at the Big Top. I still have a yard stick with Brooks-Hirsch’s logo on it, even though I shopped at County Gal and The Selective Eye, and called the parking area Harder-Parking! I was in a bowling league at Westport Lanes (still have my pin for a score over 200). I took ice skating lessons at the indoor ice rink, and was a member of Greens Farms Congregational Church. My mom is buried in their cemetary. I used to go to the NInes, and spent three years at Staples. Then, I left for Colorado and have only been back twice ~~ 1980 for my 10 year Staples reunion, and 2010 for my 40 year reunion. Seeing Westport again in 2010 with the McMansions, Main Street lined with stores usually seen in Malls, and the loss of the community feel was really sad. I was almost sorry I saw it, because it tainted my memories of the cozy, small town feeling Westport had for me.

  39. You’re definitely a Westporter if you had lunch at Ed Lee’s, bought your groceries at Gristedes, went to Klein’s to see Henry, bought a sweater at Greenberg’s or Shilepsky’s, bought someone a present from Steve and Susan Silver’s father, and spent Sunday sitting on the rocks (pre-sand) at Compo.

  40. Ken Montgomery was a large, portly, balding, red faced man with hairy arms and a filthy apron that covered his ample stomach. My mother said he looked like a character out of Dickens.
    ADW Staples 1956

  41. Mary Schmerker, Staples 1958

    I am really late in response so I will say thanks for the memories. So many are the same as mine. I’ll add, you are from Westport if you sigh with relief
    when you get to exit 17 on I 95 and cry when you think the Bridge Street Bridge might go the way of so many of the other things mentioned in response to this post.

  42. Do you remember Chubby Lanes at the beach? Ordering food and getting a balloon so the young Chubby Lanes employees dressed in Bermuda shorts with matching tops would know where to deliver the order?

  43. Scott E. Brodie

    Played or sang in a Staples musical performance? Westport never felt more “Currier & Ives” to me than when I was caroling on Main Street with the Orphenians. Or perhaps that sinking feeling at Grand Central Terminal when you realized that your train back to Westport had been delayed or cancelled! — Scott.

  44. David S Rintoul

    Taking a cooking class at Cook’s Corner, and leaving baseball practice early to go to it. My teammates never seemed to mind me going!

  45. your a westporter if you remember the name of the gas station Riverside and Saugatuck

  46. Nancy Hunter Wilson

    … if you spent twelve formative years there, yet haven’t been back in twenty-nine years, and still can’t forget every precious memory of the place.

    Cheers!

  47. Frank Zack’s mens clothiers, Walt’s Gas Station (Mobil at Main and Myrtle),
    sitting on the porch at Cedar Point Yacht Club, soda fountain at Dorain’s Drug Store (and Dora), Al at Gristedes, movie on Saturday afternoon at the Fine Arts….

  48. The ladies of,the Westport Young Woman’s League had a weekly tennis game at Park Cummings court . he enjoyed watching us play and occasionally stepped in when we needed a forth. Nice man!
    Also my son was Rocky the rooster at the playhouse!

  49. Does anyone remember the corn fields (before Barkers and Stop and Shop)across the post road from the Westfair Pharmacy?

  50. How about when it was called “Ed Mitchell’s” before they dropped the “Ed?”

  51. If you remember the Golf range on Hillspoint Rd., The Penquin across the street. The Jockey Club. The Canterbury Restaurant. The Red Gallion. Dr. Solway. The Post Office on Railroad Place. Nash’s Warehouse. Fireworks on St. Anthony Day.

  52. I loved reading these walks down my Memory Lane. Yes to Burr Farms Elementary School….and I remember Grandma Burr well. She lived in the gorgeous Burr home on the corner of Burr Farms and Long Lots. Her son and family lived in the Red Salt Box on Burr Farms Road right behind the big house. Mrs. Ellaison was the crossing guard; walking down the hill to get foot long hot dogs at the DQ, since they had real grills to cook their food and could operate during electric outages! Grass Roots and The Bridge; Swimming lessons and tennis at Longshore; Rippe’s; and even though it wasn’t in Westport, going to Stew Leonard’s when it was just a farm stand! Ed Mitchell’s before they moved…I think they were next to a Dry cleaners close to down-town. The Mini Busses to get everywhere and bikes. It was very bittersweet when my parents moved up the road about 5 years ago and the old phone was disconnected. I am one that grew up there, attended Burr Farms, Long lots and Staples, and I still consider my roots there, even though I moved away many years ago.
    Thanks for the memories, Dan, and I look forward to more, beginning with the Candlelight next week! Of course, I will be coming ‘home’.

    • Oh…and the fair that they used to have in the lot before it was Waldbaum’s and the Fine Arts theaters….and the family trip to watch ‘That’s Entertainment’ when it was new!

      • Great call on that carnival (Waldbaum’s is now Barnes & Noble). That once-dusty field was the site of a carnival every May. When I was in 8th grade at Long Lots, they hired some friends and I to help put together the rides. Looking back, I’m horrified we did that — but we (and the carnies) thought nothing of it at the time. I can’t believe no one got killed. We were paid, I think, in free admission to the fair.

  53. My husband and I moved here in 1998, so we aren’t Westporters. That said, I learned a lot about old Westport from listening to stories told by my former neighbor, Ruby Brotherton, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 95. Ruby married Ellis Brotherton and moved in with Ellis and his parents at 131 Sturges Highway. According to Ruby, Ellis told his mother that he wanted to build an indoor bathroom since Ruby was from Bridgeport and was used to having indoor plumbing. Ruby told me that her mother-in-law got very angry and said, “If the back house is good enough for me, it’s good enough for your new bride!”

    Ruby and Ellis were married in 1957. I was stunned to learn that there were houses in Westport without indoor plumbing at that time.

    • THANKS, Elaine — great info. You will also be stunned to know that before Parker Harding Plaza was built in the 1950s, and the Saugatuck River ran right behind the backs of Main Street stores, sewer pipes from some of those stores emptied directly into the river. Ugh.

  54. Here is a question for you true Westporters:

    If you want to enter the Barnes and Noble shopping plaza by car, you have to enter from Post Road or Church Street. It is not possible to enter from Morningside Drive. Was this always the case? I recall going to a toy store where Bassett Furniture is currently located, and entering the parking lot from Morningside Drive. My husband says that my memory is faulty, and there has never been an entrance there. Who is correct? Thanks!

  55. Joyce Barnhart

    Your husband is right. The neighbors in Greens Farms were adamantly opposed to an exit from the Waldbaum’s shopping center onto Morningside Drive South and across from Greens Farms School . It was never allowed. There was a possible shortcut at the far end of the lot, but I doubt that was used; it was a very steep drop from the street and had large rocks in the way.

    • Hi, Joyce,

      Thanks for letting me know. (I hope I didn’t drive over that dangerous shortcut you mentioned. Yikes!)

      Elaine

      Elaine

  56. My family has owned a house on Woodside for 61 years. After 27+ great years in Weston and retiring, my wife and I updated the place and moved in. One of my “new” Westport neighbors has known me since I was 4 or 5 years old and another childhood pal stayed in the hood all these years. We are very happy. Bottom line, IMO: if you are from Westport and lucky enough, you actually, really, truly, honest to god…..can go home again.

  57. Barbara Sherburne '67

    I can identify with so many memories people have mentioned. I also went to Burr Farms Elementary School and remember a music teacher whose name was Mr. White. When I attended Staples (possibly even earlier than that), we would frequently go downtown after school to go to the library, Klein’s and other places. I remember this shop that had the best white chocolate around and also rock candy on a stick. It was on Main Street. What was the name of that store?

  58. Does anyone remember a blacksmith shop in Saugatuck in the early ’50s? I have a vague memory of going there with my father several times and seeing a blacksmithing pounding on molten metal on an anvil.

    • This has been a very interesting exchange today! I enjoyed going back in time as others referenced different places from the past that are long gone! These places only live in our memories, and when we die, the ability to make the past come alive like today, will die with us! Thanks for the memories!

  59. I remember Calise’s small market on the Post Road, Franklin Simon in the Compo Shopping Center, Barker’s on the Post Road. Chubby Lane’s on the Post Road where most of my friends worked. The Newman’s would come in with their small children often. Burying Hill Beach was so great and never crowded. I went to Greens Farms Elementary School, then Long Lots Jr. High before we moved and then I went to Bedford Jr High and then on to Staples. We used to ice skate on Ericson’s Pond off of Greens Farm Road I think. I also went to Miss Comer’s dance class where I learned the cha-cha! I loved to go to the Peoquot (sp) Harbor in Southport. And as kids we walked everywhere, hanging out at various friends homes, many of which had fallout shelters. I will always treasure my years in Westport…

  60. I’m not from Westport but live on the border in Norwalk. I spent a lot of time (and money) in Westport. Even worked in a couple Westport spots. Just finished reading the comments I remember a lot of these places and the farms before they became housing/condos. My parents loved going to the Flower Farm the Nursery. I was still going regularly until one spring day my mother and I drove down the driveway and it was gone! I really miss the Flower Farm. Main Street area the Grocery store, the greeting card shop (I still have a figurine that someone bought me from there), Westport Hardware, Remarkable Book Shop, Talbots, Acorn Pharmacy, Onion Alley,Movie Theatre, the Westport Library when it was in the Starbucks/HsBC bank spot Klein’s all 3 stories with typewriter repair in the back 2nd floor, 3rd floor of Kleins was storage for Office Supplies, Office Furniture and Electric Typewriters. When Staples and Barnes and Nobles (old waldbaums) moved in 1991 it started changing Kleins. Riverside Ave area Saugatuck Post Office, Bridge St Market, Derosa’s Restaurant, Barber, across from Derosa’s the Coffe shop. Gault”s Oil Tank. Construction and Repair of Bridge St Bridge with added turn lane which used to be Boccafusco Brother original spot before moving to Post Rd which is now Mr. Nadar Rug Shop and Subway. Boccafusco still own the property. Their kids run a popular repair/towing/auto body shop in Bridgeport on Dover St. I make the trip to see them to work on my car. Post Rd area Wright Street Office building remember seeing it being built, auto repair shop which is now a Chase Bank (corner of Kings Highway/Post rd), Saab dealership now Mimi Dragone Classic Cars, National Hall was a Furniture Store, across from Saab/Dragone a group of stores and deli had a Unfinished Wood Furniture Store (my parents bought a desk there still own it), Mini gold course which is Landsdowne condos, Apple Orchard on Post Rd, Barker then Ames now Stop and Shop, Toy R Us Plaza Post Rd now Home Goods had a Shoe Town and So-Fro Fabrics (name changed to Joanne Fabrics), across the street in the now Art Gallery was the Yarn/Craft and Knitting Store miss these places. Clapboard Hill area the 12 acre farm with animal and corn farm. Hey…not bad for the ‘kid’ next door. 🙂

  61. I lived in Greens Farms for 24 years and still miss it. I had six children and until this day they are thankful for the excellent education they got in Greens Farms School, Long Lots and Staples. I am now 93 years old and have many happy memories. I live in Florida now but have been back several times and saw many changes but the old Westport will always remain in my heart. Thanks Don Woog foe the memories. Good job.
    Patricia Muskus

  62. Rebecca Keller Scholl

    Great piece Dan. As a fifth generation Westporter I always find these quizzes fascinating, in part because I can usually recognize the references, and in part because, to me, they do not define my Westport experience. For me, growing up in Westport was about family and community, and that small town feel where people cared and looked out for one another. I knew that if I misbehaved on Main St., Harvey from the liquor store, or the pharmacist at Dorain’s would have called my mom before I even got off the Minibus. Growing up in Westport meant graduating from Staples, the same high school that my mother and grandmother graduated from, even if it was in different locations and configurations. Growing up in Westport meant feeling part of the community…pausing to stop traffic while escorting an older person across the Post Road, or risking missing the bus to help a scared child find their lost parent. I remember the big Nor’Easters, and black outs, but being a Westporter isn’t about remembering the year they happened or the damage to property that was for, it means remembering walking door to door with a box of candles to check on our neighbors and making sure everyone was alright. Being a Westporter is about caring about the community, at least it used to be, I hope it still is. I’m curious who remembers that Westport?

  63. Lauri Taylor Koch

    Thank you for the stroll down memory lane.
    I remember an article written in the Westport News “When a Kelly green light went out in Westport”. A lovely tribute to my Aunt Maureen.
    The amazing amounts of children trick or treating around the Compo Beach area.
    Late night parties at Compo when in high school.
    Staples football games, some endings quite questionable.
    My parents had their wedding reception on the beach at the top of Danbury Ave.
    The Italian Featival and parade. How we miss that.
    The Memorial Day parade down Main Street. My mom never missed it.
    I don’t live in Westport today though get back once or twice a year to visit family and friends. As Dorothy said, “there’s no place like home!”

  64. Joyce Barnhart

    Wendy’s mention of The Flower Farm reminded me of a memory of Westport that only a few might share, but it is an essentially Westport memory for me. Over the stone wall at the rear of our property on Hillandale Road, a short walk to The Flower Farm, was Alan Parsell’s tree nursery. As a city girl, I was thrilled to discover that there were pheasants living there. We thought they must have moved back and forth to the Askenback’s until both properties were broken into building lots and the pheasants’ habitat was destroyed.

  65. Wendy Kramer Posner

    2 AM musings – The La Normandie Restaurant, Jack Turnbull’s Town House for Dogs (when it was on Bay Street), and in the 50’s there was a stand that sold FRESH cut corn right off Greens Farms Road (on the north side between Compo Rd and Hillspoint). I can’t recall the name of the family that owned those corn fields. We lived at Compo and Bridge St. My mother had her own method of preparing the local delicacy. She’d set a huge pot of water to boil on the stove and we’d hop in the car to get “fresh” corn. The salted cauldron would be at full boil when we returned, cutting the time between shucking and eating. This practice that produced perfect corn on the cob. Downside – the fire department did not always approve and/or it has ruined me forever. No ear since has ever reached such perfection!
    And … Oscars, when it was a thin sliver of a market a few doors down on Main Street, with the man himself holding court at the rear. The pickle barrel was right in front of the meat case. (Not as seasonal as the corn!)

  66. Becky Schaefer

    You’re all carpetbaggers; how about a higher bar?

    You were on the losing side of the Pequot War.

    You have a family plot in the colonial cemetery. The church across the street may have been burned in Tryon’s Raid, but that’s the *real* cemetery.

    You’re still waiting to see whether the whole “Westport splitting from Fairfield” situation will pan out: after all, 180 years isn’t that long, considering.

  67. Remember Davey Jones Locker!
    And just down the street I used to buy a big bag of candy every Saturday morning at Frannys and fish for flounder off the Saugatuck bridge all day.

  68. Remember Davey Jones Locker!
    And just down the street I used to buy a big bag of candy every Saturday morning at Frannys and fish for flounder off the Saugatuck bridge all day.
    Those were the days!

  69. I’m not a Westporter, but throughout my whole childhood (in Easton) and into my young adulthood, my mother worked at Printemps – another ‘archived’ treasure! When I was little I’d often go to work with her and make myself useful running errands to Klein’s and the Post Office. Back when Westport was Mayberry I guess it didn’t seem crazy to send a ten year old girl out solo to go up and down and across the Post Road! As a teenager I went to movies where Restoration Hardware is now, played Qbert at Arnie’s, spent hours at Sally’s, and LOVED that little basement hippie shop on Main Street. What was that called? Now I teach in Westport and I can see that it is a lovely place to grow up, but oh, it has lost a bit of its individual, artsy, homegrown, local flavor!

    • Nancy Hunter Wilson

      Exactly the reason why some prefer not to return. Silly, but true.

      • Do other people have warm memories of visiting the town library when it was on the Post Road, very near to where it crosses Main Street? There were two very helpful librarians: Ms Street and Ms. Pitkin.
        ADW Staples 1956

        • Yes. The children’s library was on the second floor. There was a great (and very quiet) reading room a few steps up from the main floor, in the back (facing Main Street). And an enormous art collection opposite that, on the side near the river.

          • My children loved Piquot library on Beach street. It was the most beautiful building and I will always remember it. I nearly ran over Harry Reasoner . He stepped into the street without looking. My son was dating his daughter at the time. Another son belonged to the Westport Downshifters club. Paul Newman attended and helped the boys so much. After all these years my son still has the red club member jacket. Another trip down memory lane. My daughter (Linda Muskus) played many trumpet solos with the band and orchestra. I taught her as I also played trumpet when not very many females did. She advanced and took private lessons when I realized she was better than I was. Thank you all for sharing your memories.

    • I assume you mean “Functional Clothing” in the basement of Sweezy’s?

      • Wow – for the first time ever, Jacques’ memory is (I think) wrong. Functional Clothing was downstairs across from Swezey’s — but not in its basement. At least, that’s the way I remember it.

      • Functional Clothing! I’m sure that’s it. Thanks! Tiny place, pretty well hidden down those stairs in that dark alley…

  70. Bruce A. Jones

    Great stuff, Dan and everyone. Though I Ieft to move south over 45 years ago, and we finally sold the family property in 2011, to me, Westport will always be home.

    Re the earlier comments about Rippe’s: I worked at the farm in 1969 for a few hard months. Pay was $1.25 an hour, cash in an envelope every Friday. Some of the toughest pay I ever earned.

  71. Though not a native Westporter having grown up in Wilton (class of ’71), I do share so many of these memories. I remember sitting in our station wagon in my PJ’s eating whole belly fried clams at the Clam Box, my Dad got all his suits at Mitchell’s (at the original location first), one of my first jobs was at the ice cream parlor. I spent countless hours at Carousel, Klein’s, and the Remarkable Book Shop. And Max’s for calligraphy supplies. Chubby Lanes and Big Top burgers, and Ships for the best lobster bisque. But I haven’t seen mention of a particularly charming shop I used to frequent, Miss Plum’s Particulars I think was across from Christ & Holy Family then moved around the corner. I lived on Cross Highway for a number of years in the late 70’s/early 80’s and seem to recall there was a gas station on North Main run by a very nice young man who was wheelchair bound. Next to Coffee ‘An. Or is my memory tricking me?!

    • Does anyone remember the baseball batting cages directly behind the Stage Door restaurant, next to the Westport Golf Range? I think by 1963 they were removed.

  72. Harry Donenfeld

    I guess I’m a westporter Dan! The shot of the Black Dick under water is right next to what used to be Coastwise Marine, our marina. For many many years my father Irwin sat on the RTM as head of the public protection committee. I am a graduate of Coleytown Middle School and Staples High. We actually got three generations of Donenfeld’s through Staples! I sit here on the island of Maui and I guess even after 12 years here I am still a Westporter! Heck with Tunein (radio app for the non-computer crowd) I listen to 95.9 The Fox all the time. For those of you that are still there enjoy the town and live a wonderful life there for the rest of us! Peace & Aloha – Harry Donenfeld

  73. You know you are a Westporter if you have a Paul Newman siting story. My brother was 11 and shooting baskets at the Y. Paul Newman was rebounding for him. I asked my young brother if he knew who was rebounding for him and he said. “Uh, I don’t know, some old guy.”

    “That old guy is Paul Newman.” I replied.

    “You mean the salad dressing guy?”

    “Yes – the salad dressing guy.”

  74. You’re a Westporter if …
    –You know what private driveways to use for a good spot for the Memorial Day parade.
    –You know how to park legally
    at the beach during the summer without a beach sticker
    –You remember the fight to liberate Cockenoe Island and Longshore Park from private developers so that Westporters could use them.
    –You remember where the bowling alley and where Blockbuster Video used to be
    –You remember the three local Westport movie theaters.
    That’s all, folks!

    • Blockbuster Video? Oh, you mean that place that took over where Lloyd’s Lumber was?

      • Before that, it was Westport Builders Supply. Home town business like that were before the Home Depot era that helped squash small, local businesses. I remember in the Westfair Shopping Center, as it was called in the 1950s, Paul Zadoff had his drug store. ( Imagine calling Wesrfair a shopping center.) Businesses like his are a thing of the past due to the birth of Walgreens, CVS and the other chain stores.

        • True — but Colonial Druggist is still going strong. Achorn’s is doing alright as well.

          • And Torno and Westport Hardware.

            • If a business like Torno lumber owns their property outright, which I’m sure they do, they can compete. My comment really mirrors what has happened in the United States where hundreds of thousands, or maybe millions, of small family-owned businesses were destroyed by the Walmarts, Staples, Walgreens etc…of the world, that pay just above minimum wage!

              • The were more factors than just competition from large chains driving the process when smaller stores disappeared. Regulations tend to favor larger organizations that can afford the legal fees and the compliance requirements. In addition, there has been a significant turnover in population during the last three decades. The new residents seem to have different preferences from those of the earlier residents. But, a number of the smaller establishments remain, and some have thrived.

                And when the minimum wage is raised to $15, who do you think will be better able to absorb the costs? A large company that will spend money to substitute capital for labor, or a one off mom and pop establishment ?

                • I’m not sure you can accurately calculate how new residents’ tastes have changed. I don’t want to get into an economic debate, however, for a multitude of reasons, mom & pop businesses have disappeared in our country. Do they still exist? Absolutely they still exist, like Torno lumber. But the fact remains that the huge super chains have driven hundreds of thousands, if not millions of business out of business! I can’t see how that is a positive.

                  • Fair enough. I do see the changes in tastes manifest in the type of new houses that are built to accommodate the new residents. If the new residents had the same preferences as the old, would they prefer the new chain stores over the older small establishments? When you observe large chains have driven mom & pop out of business, you are making an economic argument.

                    • I sent a response, but it didn’t seem to post. Maybe Dan is getting sick of us and wants us to move on? LOL. Anyway, after 1957, after the thruway was built, Westport changed. It evolved from a farming community to what it is today. The affluence was reflected in housing. Before 1957, there was still affluence, but it was more localized, from what I remember. We should move on, unless someone else wants to comment. Jack

  75. I checked — couldn’t find it, Jack. Maybe you forgot to hit “Post Comment”?! Just kidding — probably a glitch somewhere in cyberspace…

  76. How about the great ice storm of 1973. I was working at WMMM news back then and, boy, was that some week.

  77. Just a quick comment on Klein’s….and Sally.
    In ’78, and ’79, buying an LP record was around $6 or $7. Back in those 8th grade, Freshman years, that was a purchase I didn’t take lightly. It had to have three good songs on it, minimum. Back then, if I wasn’t at Bill’s Smoke Shop playing pinball or getting a slice at Westport Pizzeria, I would go to the back of Klein’s and seek out Sally, not just for her input but to share time with her. She always made you feel like you were the only person in the store. Always pleasant, always informative and of course I followed her when she opened her own place up at the top of Main St. Loved her.