If you grew up in 1950s, ’60s or early ’70s Westport, this photo means everything to you:
If you didn’t, it means nothing.
Vista is a town — or hamlet, I guess — in New York, just past New Canaan.
Vista Market was about 3 yards over the border.
It sold alcohol. So did plenty of places in Fairfield County, of course.*
But back in the day, the drinking age in Connecticut was 21. New York was 18.
You get the picture.
Generations of Westport teenagers spent untold hours racing to Vista, then roaring back.
The winding roads, the dark nights, the beer… it’s a wonder anyone lived to tell the tale.
From 1972 to ’82, Connecticut lowered its age to 18. The idea was to keep kids from making the risky trip to Vista (and Port Chester, an equally dangerous lure).
Another reason: to keep all those tax dollars here.
In 1984, Congress passed an act that effectively raised the national drinking age to 21. (It didn’t say so explicitly. But it punished any state that permitted alcohol purchases and possessions under that age, by reducing federal highway funds by 10%.)
When that happened, Westport teenagers found new, even closer places to buy beer and liquor.**
A generation of kids never knew about Vista Market. It’s been years since I’ve heard anyone mention a “Vista run.”
But somehow, the store survived.
Vista Market is still there.
* Except Wilton.
** Including several places right here in town.