A Fair Look Backward

This weekend — as it has since 1907 — the Yankee Doodle Fair entertains thousands of kids of all ages. (Mostly kids.) (And their parents.)

Pam Ehrenburg — Pam Blackburn, as she was known in her Yankee Doodle-going days — has unearthed some fascinating old photos. All were taken by her father, famed magazine photographer George Barkentin.

They show the fair on what appears to be Jesup Green — or perhaps the topography of the sponsoring Westport Woman’s Club was different 60-plus yeas ago. (Pam believes the images were taken in 1952.)

Some of the fashions are different. But in many ways, the Yankee Doodle Fair is timeless too.

This looks like Jesup Green -- with National Hall (then Fairfield Furniture) in the background, across the river.

This looks like Jesup Green — with National Hall (then Fairfield Furniture) in the background, across the river.

A classic Ferris wheel.

A classic merry-go-round.

This is noted writer Parke Cummings. He may have walked over from his home on the corner of South Compo and Bridge Street. He owned a tennis court -- still there -- that was open to anyone who wanted to play or learn.

This is noted writer Parke Cummings. He may have walked over from his home on the corner of South Compo and Bridge Street. He owned a tennis court — still there — that was open to anyone who wanted to play or learn.

Marjorie Teuscher and her son Phil. Her husband -- a doctor -- owned real estate downtown, including the building that is now Tavern on Main. Phil -- now all grown up -- still lives in Westport.

Marjorie Teuscher and her son Phil. Her husband — a doctor — owned real estate downtown, including the building that is now Tavern on Main. Phil — all grown up — still lives in Westport.

Pam Blackburn -- who sent these photos from her father, George -- is shown here with her sister Perii and their mom, Jessica Patton Barkentin.

Pam Blackburn — who sent these photos from her father, George — is shown here with her sister Perii and their mom, Jessica Patton Barkentin.

15 responses to “A Fair Look Backward

  1. SRH530@aol.com

    That’s a Merry-Go-Round, not a Ferris Wheel…. Sarah Cell 917.658.6935

  2. Bonnie Scott Connolly

    Parke Cummings was such a nice man. I never played on his tennis courts but he used to take me to the Norwalk Skating club on Saturday mornings where I took lessons.

  3. Joyce Barnhart

    I always feel sentimental about the fair. As it is this year, when my children were the right ages for it, the fair and the end of the school year usually coincided so it was a great start to summer. I’m inspired to take a walk around this year and maybe get some cotton candy.

  4. Lynn U. Miller

    WONDERFUL!!! Thank you so much for sharing these fantastic images of the beloved Yankee Doodle Fair.

  5. Jack Whittle

    Fantastic, and timeless, pictures from Westport’s Yankee Doodle Fair. Love this stuff.

  6. Fred Cantor

    Like that commercial says, “Priceless!”

  7. wish Parke were around to comment on the current political brouhaha,
    and life in general here in Amerkuh ca.2016… he was eloquent, funny, and always right on ! as good with the punch line as Lenny Bruce !! great to see
    him in that picture…i remember that day .

  8. Sharon Paulsen

    I’m so sentimental about Yankee Doodle, going to the fair as a kid (1970’s) and a teenager!

    I love these vintage images! Charming.
    Wasn’t this about the time of the “Famous Artist’s School” group? Rod Serling and gang?

    Thanks Dan! (hope to see your “after” pics from this years fair too).

    • Dorrie Barlow Thomas

      Hi Sharon! I’m pestering you via Dan’s blog (sorry, Dan!) for a completely unrelated reason. Our 30th SHS reunion is coming up and you’re listed as MIA. Do you know about it? Feel free to write me if you need more info. Dbt22@sbcglobal.net

      • Sharon Paulsen

        I always wondered why I never hear about the reunions, LOL!
        Damn, 30 years. Suddenly feel old – ugh!
        I’ll email ya soon.
        Thanks Dorrie!

  9. Jacques Voris

    The fair was held on Jesup green way back when, so said my mother just last night

  10. Arline P.Gertzoff

    ‘Earlier the fair was held at the now Kings Highway Elementary School. Have the pictures that clearly show where it was.They had pony rides and rides in carts and lots of cracker jacks Little tents for booths.. Will be going Sunday .for my 69fair.First time was in a stroller. When they sold books I bought Lady Chatterley’s Lover for a dime.The very properly dressed lady gave me a funny look so I said I was buying it for my mother. I still have the copy. Here’s to Yankee Doodle.

  11. Sally Campbell Palmer

    As I read this I can see a pencil portrait of me age 13 or 14 that my mom had done by Robert Skemp at the Yankee Doodle Fair at what was then Bedford Jr High in the early 50’s. The fair was a highlight of the summer.

  12. William Adler

    I have happy memories of the fair dating back almost this far. I certainly recall the cotton candy. Marjorie Teuscher was a great tennis player and friend of my mother, who herself was a 1950s Westport tennis star. They traveled to Romania with my dad to see the Davis Cup circa 1973.

  13. Katherine Bruan

    wow.