Friday Flashback #5

As summer winds down — admit it, with school starting yesterday it’s  over — let’s look back at the original Compo Beach concessions stand.

Compo Beach pavilion - concession - 1933

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrisman)

This 1933 photo shows the forerunner of what many longtime Westporters remember as “Chubby Lane’s.” The food stand was located where the volleyball courts are now. Beach stickers were not needed for parking.

For the past 20 years, Joey Romeo has taken Compo (and Longshore’s) food service to new levels. But if you recall Chubby’s — or “Louis Stone’s Compo Beach Pavilion” — click “Comments” below, and share memories.

67 responses to “Friday Flashback #5

  1. Light blue button down shirts and dark blue shorts, that was the uniform at Cubby Lanes. I can still feel the sand on the floor under my barefeet when I was lucky enough to have enough money to buy French Fries at the beach.

    • x Patricia Graves – Yes the sandy floor! Thanks for that vivid memory! I miss charcoal broiled everything (at Big Top also). The scent & taste of charcoal broiled burgers cannot be replaced. (Sorry gas & wood chip favouring people…).

    • Steve Doig SHS '66

      Yes, the uniform! Thanks for that memory, Patricia!

  2. Like many of Coach Paul Lane’s athletes, I learned how to cook burgers at Chubby’s place. Hot work in summer weather, but it was a job a teen could get. Much harder for kids these days to get summer jobs.

  3. Chubby Lanes is an important part of my childhood memories – thanks for posting, Dan !!!

  4. Sorry to tax people w/ the following request. I no longer live in Westport and haven’t been to Compo & the concession since 1989 (whilst visiting for one day only from the Lower East Side NYC). If volleyball courts are now where the concession stand was – where is the concession stand / building? (+ I’m curious what it looks like).

    A photo in a recent CT Post article on the present owner showed the sign for his place on a red brick wall (presumably on the bath houses or lifeguard station)? Can someone please explain this to me and/or provide a photo. I am like Rip Van Winkle here – so your explanation will be illuminating.

    I remember when the Westport firemen had an annual clambake in the unpaved (hard packed sand) area in what became the large paved center parking lot (if that is still there & not something else as well). This was in the 60s & perhaps very early 70s. It was btw still done the Native American / traditional clambake way of digging a large hole & layering the food (presumably w/ seaweed but not sure if our firemen still used that. The seaweed created the moisture – steam & flavour. If you’re just boiling things in a large stock pot it’s not really a clam ‘bake’! Perhaps a clam ‘boil’…).

  5. Before Chubby Lane’s, does anyone remember the old public bus line (CRL Bus) that used to stop at the pavilion up until 1950’s? Living close to the beach, I remember it bringing folks to the beach every day.

    • x Ginny Clark – This is so interesting. I remember in the 60s – some people still had a one car family and would wait until Saturdays to go shopping downtown (when many more women were stay at home moms) – as their husbands had the car all week for work (and shops all closed at Six before their husbands got home).

      So this bus makes a lot of sense – to enable women & their children to get to the beach all week. Btw: that is what created the sense of community on Saturdays downtown when people would run into each other (women w/ families having to shop on Saturdays) – as a 94 year old Westporter wrote of in a recent 06680 article. Someone answered that people can use a car & drive to get to shops now so it’s the same. It really was a WHOLE different thing. (Difficult for some to understand the difference apparently).

      This was also great for the elderly & people w/ disabilities. When I was in JH (72-75) they instituted the Minibus which went to the beach (Compo). I was there almost everyday in 1973! Then when I was in HS (Staples) it was stopped. I wonder if the Minibus still exists and if it goes to the beach again.(Compo and/or others).

      Thank Heavens my mom & dad each had a car! Nothing like saying as a child in Westport: ‘Can we go to the beach?!’ – then on the spur of the moment piling into the car w/ four children (3 beside myself) and my grandmother: who was born in the 1800s & still wore a cherry print sundress to the beach – & always sat in ‘the shade’ under a large beach umbrella (part of the haul along w/ thermoses & diapers etc.) for her ‘skin’! Remembering w/ love Oma <3

  6. I remember Chubby Lane’s from the late 60’s & my four kids loved it.
    We stayed on the beach till we saw the sun set; with multiple families & all had great fun & lots of good laughter.
    Will never forget those wonderful summer days & nights.

  7. Sure do remember Chubby Lanes!

  8. I can still taste those charcoal cheeseburgers and the onion sauté we topped them with. Ground sirloin from Charles’ Market…so good! I worked for several summers at the yacht basin full time and that was my summer diet. I remember Chubby and George grilling them. If anybody has the onion recipe I’d love to see it!

    • Yes they used very good quality beef for a burger place! (As did Big Top… the same owners at least for awhile).

    • I believe the meat came from Charpentiers’ butcher (across the Post Road from Chubby Lane’s 2nd restaurant — the butcher shop is now Border Grille). Charles’ Market was on Main Street.

  9. Sylvia Robinson Corrigan

    Recalling Chubby Lane’s in the 60’s, I remember the great hamburgers, the sandy floors, and most of all, the wonderful bouncing slam of the screen door behind you as you walked out with your coke,hamburger,and fries!

    • Yes – the wooden screen door! Thanks for that memory. I miss those and the old wooden doors in shops downtown w/ a brass bell at the top (Welsh’s Hardware & Remarkable Bookshop etc.)… along w/ being sternly reminded by the older Mr. Welsh & others to ‘Please shut the door’. The springy screen doors at Compo & the Fish & Chips place on the Post Road were a solution to constantly reminding children…

  10. Of course I remember Chubby’s. I wore the blue “uniform for two summers and one winter on the Post Rd. My first job and I loved it. I have the postcard you posted today. I also have a very bad photo of folks waiting for the bus line. Ladies in long dresses and big hats. maybe there was a streetcar first?

  11. Yes, Patricia’s right, it is a postcard from way back in the day. For fans of Friday’s Flashback who like vintage postcards/pics of Westport, I highly recommend William Scheffler’s book, “Westport and Weston Connecticut,” part of Arcadia Publishing’s Postcard History Series. It has this postcard and a ton of others postcards and pics, including one of Chubby’s other location on the Post Road.

    • x Fred Cantor – Thank you: I want to see / get this postcard book now. (I just bought a postcard online to give to the WHS).

      • Bill Scheffler

        Thanks, Fred, for the shout out — the book is available at the Westport Historical Society ,and all profits go to them. Buy two!

  12. I felt like I was one of the “cool” kids when I got a job at Chubby Lane’s and got to wear the uniform and hang out legitimately there – and well remember the burgers and french fries. We also started at one point walking down the beach and taking orders from where people sat, but I don’t think that worked out too well. Does anyone else remember that?

    • x Eloise McGaw – I vaguely remember people being served on the beach – not nec. people walking around taking orders. Perhaps people sometimes placed a large order & then the kids working there would bring it to those people (rather than making a mom stand in line w/ babies & toddlers)?

      This makes sense as the same owner owned Big Top for awhile and in the early 60s Big Top had servers that would bring the food to people’s cars (or to the few tables they had in front). Car hops I think they were called (I was preschool age in the early 60s – so not positive about the name). Someone once told me they were on roller skates! …though I didn’t remember that.

      I do remember them (at Big Top) VIVIDLY though because a boy/young man server fainted whilst bringing a full tray of food to someone – the food flying. I had never seen anyone pass out before so it stuck w/ me. (Probably dehydration re. the hot ovens in summer & lack of fluids).

    • x Eloise McGaw – I hope my post wasn’t misunderstood to appear as though I didn’t believe you! Of course you worked there & remember taking orders on the beach itself. I was just trying to concur w/ what memories I had of that.

    • Yes — early and/or mid-’60s, Chubby’s employees would walk up and down the beach. They’d take orders, then relay them to the concession stand via walkie-talkie. They’d give the approximate location, and the color of the balloon that they tied to a beach chair or umbrella. Then another employee would deliver the food. It sounds as cost-inefficient as it probably was, which is why it did not last long.

  13. Doris Levinson

    I still miss the sound of the screen door slapping closed. And having coffee at the table outside on some mornings.

    • I had no clue they ever had coffee. I only remember the ice filled cups w/ the plastic lids & straws w/ soda & other typical mid-century beach fare. (And remember paper straws People? We should return to those – for the environment… recycled this time).

      I hope it was iced! (Although I do love a hot cup of take-away coffee on a grey autumn or winter Connecticut beach).

  14. Thanks for bringing back some nice memories of growing up in Westport in the 60’s – 70’s 🙂 I think we were so lucky, kids today will never know what they missed…

  15. 🙂 Excuse me everyone: but if the previous concession stand (1960s/70s/80s incarnation) has been replaced by volleyball courts – where is the present concession stand? (In a brand new building – or in the old lifeguard building?). Does anyone have a photo? (I can’t find one online). Thanks.

    • Joey’s by the Shore is located just past the lifeguard shack, on the way to the cannons. Joey Romeo does a great job providing excellent food, beach umbrellas and other beach gear, and more. He also runs the concession at Longshore. Here’s a link to a photo:

      • Thanks Dan 🙂 Around the time you posted this response I’d just found an explanation along w/ a photo of where the newest concession stand Joey’s… is – in the refurbished brick bathhouses. (Which I had not known were renovated).

        I guessed that they were in some portion of the bathhouses – from seeing a sliver of a photo earlier (of Joey’s… sign) showing those iconic arched brick doorways.

        Btw: after searching all over the net and coming up w/ nothing – I read/saw the above explanation of renovation of bathhouses & Joey’s in a 06880 post of yours made on 18 August 2011!

        Off the point slightly: I guess Big Top (at the time I referred to – early 60s) was called Chubby Lane’s also earlier? Or did he call the Post Road place Big Top & the Compo place Chubby Lane’s. (I only remember the name Big Top for the place on Post & Roseville).

        • Big Top had nothing to do with Chubby’s. I don’t think the owners were the same either.

          • Thanks. I’m confused though – as somebody here wrote about working at the Post Rd. place for him also. (& for years I heard it was the same owner). So I guess it was called Big Top AFTER it was called Chubby Lane’s and had a new owner (?). Happy Labor Day weekend.

            • No, Zoe. Big Top was at the corner of Post Road and Roseville (now McDonald’s). Chubby Lane’s was on the Post Road past Maple Avenue, toward Southport (now Willows Pediatrics building). There was no connection between them, in any way, shape or form. None. The end.

  16. Michael Calise

    Great picture Dan. I remember it well. The next concessioners were my Grandparents, Michael and Catherine Calise who ran the concession for over ten years (30’s & 40’s along with my uncles and aunts and many Staples Students With direct access from Compo Beach Road it was a very buzy place as even non beach goers frequented the place

  17. Dan, I remember Chubby telling folks that the meat came from Charles Market on Main St. Maybe the meat for the Post Rd. restaurant came from Charpentiers. Maybe someone knows where Chubby and or Swifty (chief chef) are now?
    Zoe, my old photo is about 3000 miles away from where I am now. Next time i’m back east, I’ll look for it.

    • Chubby now lives in Delaware.

    • x Patricia Driscoll – Thank you so much – but please don’t trouble yourself. I was referring to a photo of the newest & present concession Joey’s… not the older one (which I remember vividly).

      I guessed & then found a 2011 post of Dan’s – that it was in the renovated brick bathhouses… and then Dan answered & posted another link.

  18. Btw Dan – re. the earlier string of posts of yours I just read on Chubby Lane’s – one of which included a description of the uniform: “knee socks”? For everyone?

    • Blue knee socks, navy shorts, blue pants. For everyone. Chubby wore them too.

      • Very cute 🙂 I hope there are photos of this for posterity People. Don’t burn them. Somebody above broke the rules & took their knee socks off – as they described feeling the sand on their bare feet whilst working.

        • Correction: I just reread that post and realised she was describing OTHERS wearing the uniform & herself feeling the sand on her feet whilst a customer. We can all calm down then: apparently nobody removed their ADORABLE knee socks whilst on the job.

  19. Linda Lane ( Chubby's sister )

    chubby first opened at the beach he bought the meat from Charles meat market when his business got too big for Charles they had to refer him elsewhere for the hamburger meat.

  20. @ Dan re. Big Top misinformation. Sorry – I never knew of the other Post Road address. When my brother’s girlfriend worked at Big Top – she was told that it had the same owner in the 60s as the beach concession Chubby Lane’s. And then w/ people writing of the Post Road here I thought that’s what they were referring to. (Especially when no one corrected me when I wrote ‘Big Top’). I said it was confusing re. ‘on the Post Road’ I didn’t say you were wrong about that.

  21. Before Chubby Lane had the concession my grandfather ran it early 50’s. The service was either inside or outside. Raising and lowering those heavy window coverings was old real fast. Putting sticks into milky ways and freezing them, the penny candy counter where I worked…and the bus dropped several of the young people that worked there. I may have a picture of the inside if I can find it. Thanks for the great memory. Linda Dinsmore Tufts

  22. No one wore knee socks at the Pavillion. Loafers, no socks. At the Post Rd. we wore knee socks. Yes, Chubby too.

  23. Nancy Powers Conklin

    I worked at Chubby’s at the beach in the summer of ’67. It was my first real job and I loved it. When school started in the fall I moved up to the restaurant on the Post Road. Chubby was a great person to work for and we had as much fun working as we did even cleaning the place. Great memories of that time in my life.

  24. Wendy Crowther

    I’m intrigued with the lowermost line on the sign in the above photo. It says, “Dancing Every Saturday Night.” Wouldn’t it be great to learn more about that kind of Saturday night in 1930s Westport? Aghhh…but it’s doubtful that there’s anyone still with us that might remember it.

    • People remember the stories of their parents – grandparents – greatgrandparents (& in some cultures longer… I have stories from Frankfurt going back longer!). Voila: some people have posted about dancing & music here since your post!

  25. Barbara Wanamaker

    Does anyone remember when the concession was run by Ewald (?) Wildfoster? There was a small room with a juke box where the teens hung out.

    • This is a great name!

    • PS: Ewald Wildfoster is referenced (w/ middle initial ‘K’) in both The Hour (Norwalk Hour) & a Bridgeport paper (I’ve forgotten which now) archived online. Something to do with “beach” (Bridgeport paper) & “retiring after seven years…” (Norwalk Hour – ‘The Way We Were’ column from 2010s which has bits of old news presented as a very long list / paragraph).

      The Bridgeport paper is a shot of the actual paper (which I can’t read on my tiny phone now). Trying to find his name in the Norwalk article / archive was a needle in a haystack situation. If one types in his name (general search) WITH his middle initial – one will get both links. (Without only brings up The Hour).

  26. I remember Compo when my Grandparents ran it, sitting at the marble top tables with the wooden swinging seats eating the macaroni dishes that my beautiful grandmother would serve. I was told by my father Dominick how they would bring in bands from New York City and hold dances there, until the neighbors started complaining about the noise. I am lucky enough to have one of those tables along with all the dishes and glasses and the menu’s which included a crab sandwich for 10 cents. My dad worked there until he had to go into the service during WW2 and came home with a purple heart. Found memories of a once great family…

    • x Kathy Calise – “Once great”? You’re still here! This is such a vivid description – thank you!

      What kind of pasta dishes?! (And for you as a child or for customers as well?). How great. When I was in Sicily the best food I had was in a little place on the sea (trad. pizza made separately for each person ordering – piled w/ veg. delicacies). So pasta on the shore makes so much sense.

      The marble tables sound like it was decorated like an ice cream parlour (which makes sense if ice cream was served).

      The dancing bit seems to answer the questions of other posters here.

      Think about donating some of those mementoes to the Historical Society…

      • Or decorated like an Italian ‘bar’ (= cafe / pastry shop / family bar). Those have marble tables traditionally.

      • Yes still here, the concession was not decorated as such, just had the signs on the wall, I remember the pails and beach shovels that they sold, there was sort of a back room where the dancing took place, and the macaroni and spaghetti as we were raised calling it was served to all the customers. I did approach the historical society at one time but they were not interested, they said they had enough items from the beach, so now everything will go to my children. Do I know you? I’m from the class of 59

        • Thanks for the descriptions! No you didn’t know me. I graduated in 78 & in 59 I was not on the planet yet. You probably saw me as a stranger a few years later toddling around. I just remember your family name from town. The Historical Society may still want the paper menus – as they don’t take space (?). I hope you’re still near a beach!

  27. When My daughter, Allison, was four, she ordered a “a hamburger wifout any meat.” That’s my best memory of Chubby’s and just tops the memory of the last delicious hamburgers in Westport. mmm

    • So cute! Perhaps she had learned what happened to the cows 🙁 And then – voila! – what followed was the veggie burger.

  28. Lynne Betts Baker

    I’m an Old Mill kid. We had Kenny’s but for real food we’d walk to Chubby’s. I agree with my classmate Steve Doig. Char broiled burgers (yum) but my fondest memory is banging of those screen doors. Even today I still love that sound. SUMMER.

  29. Liz Doyle Boyd

    George Swift aka Swifty died last week. When he left Connecticut he ran a lodge in upstate New York. He daughter still runs the love and it is a beautiful place. He was a great man, a hard worker, wonderful husband to Sue, and great Dad to 4 children

  30. So sorry to hear the sad news about George “Swifty.” I remember him as a wonderful man and boss.