Friday Flashback #89

Last week, I posted a real estate listing for 222 Hillspoint Road.

That may not ring a bell. But this name for the property does: Elvira’s.

For 2 decades, the little store opposite Old Mill has been a big part of the beachfront community. It sells groceries, sandwiches, salads, pizza, gyros, ice cream and coffee, sure.

But it’s also a community center. It’s a place to meet, greet, eat; share gossip and snacks; hang out and hang loose.

Which makes it a far cry from its predecessor.

Kenny Montgomery’s store.

Kenny Montgomery owned the store, before the Yiozonakos family. He relocated there from the corner of South Compo and Greens Farms Road, when I-95 was built.

He sold the basics: milk, eggs and cigarettes. The store was dusty, and smelled bad. You went there only because you had to. (Or, if you were a kid, to see how much you could steal.)

That’s why — though the official name was different — everyone who grew up in Westport back in the day called it Grub’s.

But there’s another side to Kenny. When he died, he left hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Westport YMCA.

The store was a fixture at the foot of Compo Hill for many years. Long before Kenny — or so the story goes — the only telephone in the area was located there. When the phone rang the owner would walk outside, and bellow the name of whoever the call was for.

Today, of course, you can call Elvira’s on your cellphone, and have your order waiting when you arrive.

As for tomorrow — who knows?

Another view, from even longer ago.

9 responses to “Friday Flashback #89

  1. SIGH.
    When my husband and I decided to move to Westport in 2008, it was because I had spent my summers here at Compo Beach from 1959 to 1966 (when most of the houses were still just little cottages without A/C or heat).
    One of the things that delighted me the most was that Peter’s Bridge Market and the Mansion Clam House and Positano’s (Cafe de la Plage to me) and Elvira’s (Old Mill Market) were all still here!!
    And now they’re gone. In 10 short years.
    What a crying shame.

  2. Love the postcard. Does anyone know when the Old Mill Store opened? Thanks.

  3. Christopher Jones

    When Kenny moved along with his assistant “Harry” an older gentleman who reputedly had attended Harvard Law School (and we students at Saugatuck Elementary believed it) he occupied his “new” store at the Old Mill because he knew it well. It was owned and operated by his mother, and was slightly grungier than Kenny’s original. We kids did grab candy when the opportunity was right, but even then we felt guilty because Kenny was a very nice (somewhat unkempt) man.

  4. Clearly, and thankfully, Kenny was a more complex man than his image presented. As a kid, while snapper fishing on the Old Mill bridges, I went to Grub’s to get a soda. I’ll never forget the image of Kenny scooping wet dog food out of a can with his fingers and then slapping it on the sidewalk right in front of his store to feed the pigeons. So, now you had to wade through a flock of pigeons and navigate the mess on the ground just to get in where things weren’t much better. Even as a kid it was a little mind-blowing.

  5. So, Dan. Is the property now residential or commercial? Confused how the status may have changed? Thanks

  6. Alexander See

    Back in the ‘50’s the Compo Hill neighborhood was a fabulous place for free-roaming kids, and Kenny’s was Grand Central. Yes, it may have been on the grungy side, but we didn’t notice or care. We were there for a higher purpose – to meet up with each other and enjoy our popsicles, Hostess Cupcakes, Devil Dogs, Table Talk pies, two for a penny candy, and every wrapped confection a kid would want. Not to mention the big tank in the back loaded with soda of all kinds floating in chunks of ice and frigid water. In summer we would arrive in bathing suits and bare feet. In winter we would sled from the top of Compo Hill and cross Hillspoint by Kenny’s and almost onto Old Mill Beach. When Kenny’s mother was in charge, we called the store “Mrs. Montgomery’s”. Later it was “Kenny’s”. We never called it “Grub’s”, perhaps because we were taught old-fashioned respect. Harry, an old-timer, was often there to mind the counter and keep a wary eye on any youngsters who looked like they might pocket their candy and “forget” to pay for it. The store changed over to Elvira’s after we moved along to life after high school.

    Sandy See

    Sent from my iPhone

  7. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70

    Remember it well. After having been there once, wouldn’t have gone near it with a ten foot pole.

  8. Jake the Locksmith had a great story about Kennys. Back when he was younger he had two daughters 4 and 5. It was a hot day and when Jake and the girls drove past Kennys they asked Dad if they could get an ice cream. They knew Kennys was the place to buy Fudgsicles and Creamsicles always a nickle. He pulled off the road in front of the store and the girls went in. He waited , but they didn’t come out. So he said I better go in. He found the girls standing in front of Kenny waiting patiently for Mr. Montgomery to wake up.

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