Friday Flashback #188

For years, I heard about a long-ago song: “I caught her in the kitchen playing Westport.” 

Pearl Bailey sang about Westport.

Pearl Bailey sang about Westport.

I still haven’t found it. But several years ago, after I mentioned it, an alert “06880” reader sent me a website called “Folk and Traditional Song Lyrics.” They contained the words to a song called, simply, “Westport.”

Inspired, I searched for a YouTube video of the song. I couldn’t find one.

But here — from “Take Five, A Julius Monk Review, ca 1952-1954,” are the lyrics.

According to the website, they come from an original cast record by Pearl Bailey and Will Holt. The version is “somewhat doctored” by R. Greenhaus.

There’s a little ranch house in the vale,
Pretty little ranch house up for sale;
All the shutters drawn,
Tenants all gone
And thereby hangs a long, unhappy tale.

‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport,
A game indigenous to suburban life,
Where you take a wife of whom you’re not the husband,
While someone else’s husband takes your wife.

Some people may claim that the name of the game is Scarsdale,
Or Beverly Hills, or even Shaker Heights,
But commuters from Manhattan call it Westport.
And it’s the game that some of our local leading lights play
To while away those cold Connecticut nights.

Now in that little ranch house used to dwell
An advertising feller and his Nell.
Two kids and a pup, living it up,
And everything was sounder than a bell —
‘Til he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Between the washing machine and thermostat.

This is not the Westport kitchen the song refers to.

This is not the Westport kitchen the song refers to.

The husband thought it really was an outrage.
Said he, “You might at least remove your hat!”
Well, they may play it that way in Great Neck,
While in Levittown they’d never think it odd.
But there is not an architect in Westport
Who’ll ever forgive the cad that said, “My God! Sir.
I must have got the wrong cape cod!”

Since they are no longer groom and bride,
Quoting from the Sunday classified:
“Are there any takers
For three lovely acres
Of peaceful old New England countryside?”
‘Cause he caught her in the kitchen playing Westport
Which would ordinarily be a cause for gloom;
But though the sanctity of wedlock’s on the downgrade,
Currently housing is enjoying quite a boom!

And while they defame the name of the game in Boston,
Where naturally they think it’s a dirty shame,
In the green and fertile pastures of suburbia
The local dealers in real estate acclaim
It the best thing since the FHA, hey,

Westport is a grand old …
‘Midst pleasures and palaces …
Westport is a grand old game.

23 responses to “Friday Flashback #188

  1. Leslie Riback

    What does “somewhat doctored” mean and who is R. Greenhaus? Is he the alert reader?

  2. Rozanne Gates

    I actually have the Pearl Bailey recording. A while back, Chris Coogan and Suzanne Sheridan sang it at one of the restaurants that was then located at the Westport Inn. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant but it was around 2000 or 2001.

  3. Peter Barlow

    I’m trying to remember the name of the supper club singer who originally sang “Westport.” It was someone much less known than Pearl Bailey who sang it later.

  4. My goodness, I don’t know Westport is such a naughty town, with a song to immortalize its reputation.

    Dan, how come this is not in your book? It should increase the book sale.

  5. Roseann Spengler

    Hysterical Dan. Brightened my day. Thanks.

  6. Wow! The stuff of legend. Drop the house keys in a hat, and pick your swap.

    Anyone see “The Ice Storm”?

  7. Isabelle Breen

    I saw the Ice Storm! Looked like styrofoam pellets bouncing and blowing around the patio.

  8. Here’s another song in the same vein, called “The Wives are in Connecticut,” that also mentions Westport. https://www.lyrics.com/lyric/7438009/Cyndi+Lauper/The+Wives+Are+in+Connecticut

  9. Elizabeth Devoll

    Pretty darn good lyrics!
    I think it needs to be re-recorded,
    Like the Great Neck shout out too!

  10. Before social distancing was a thing, there was once a completely different way to welcome newcomers to Westport; key parties. I’m not going to say any more in order to protect the guilty.

    • Peter Gambaccini

      I somehow never knew about them until they were depicted in “The Ice Storm,” set in New Canaan. I was out of the loop.

  11. Deb Rosenfield

    Here’s the link to Pearl Bailey singing the song. It’s downloadable on Amazon for $.89. Also, there’s a sample of the song you can listen to for free. https://www.amazon.com/Westport/dp/B007L0ZS7C

  12. Deb Rosenfield

    And, Dorothy Loudon singing the song at The Blue Angel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQdJCLVd-zQ

  13. And here’s a story from WestportNow saying that Jim Naughton sang it at Lincoln Center in 2019: https://westportnow.com/index.php?%2Fv3%2Fcomments%2Fjim_naughton_delights_lincoln_center_crowd_with_westport%2F