Friday Flashback #228

Westport knows John Videler as a brilliant photographer. He’s carrying on the tradition started by his father Cor, many years ago.

And we know the Gault area — between Imperial Avenue and South Compo — as a tight-knit neighborhood, filled with handsome homes.

But for many decades, it was a gravel pit. Gault — the company founded in Westport in 1863 — owned it. Every day from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., a crusher pulverized rocks.

In 1979, John was 16 years old. His father had given him his first camera. He headed to the gravel pit, not far from his home.

Today, John’s photos chronicle the beauty of our town. Four decades ago, he showed how we worked.

BONUS GAULT FEATURE: Across the street from the gravel pit — right on the river — was Gault Little League Field.

It took a mighty swing to clear the fence. 

But if you did, the ball ended up across Imperial Avenue, in the pit.

The Marauders, at Gault Park.

26 responses to “Friday Flashback #228

  1. It was 1976 and I put a picture of my home on South Compo Road in the window of my print shop Quick Copy across from the YMCA with a for sale sign under it. In walks Cor Videler, who I had never met before. Cor says to me “I want to buy your house”. I replied, you haven’t even seen it yet, and he says “I walk by it every day, and I want to buy it.” Within a couple of days, we had a deal, and I believe the Videler family still owns that house, which at the time had the scene above beyond the back yard at the bottom of a steep grade.

    The crusher didn’t run all day every day, but it was a provided a soothing rhythm when it did.

  2. I bought a lot of material from there. There were a few gravel pits in the general area.

  3. Cor Videler was a great Westporter. He and his wife were successful small business entreprenuers and fixtures in the community. It makes me happy to see John carrying on this tradition and continuting to celebrate Westport and the people who live there with his photography.

  4. Before World War II this area of Imperial Avenue was almost a moutain. At the top was a very tall pine tree which the Gaults (or someone) decorated each year with Christmas lights. The lighted tree was then visible all over town, especially from the Post Road Bridge. This was a “town event.” Probably discontinued during the war but it’s an early memory for me.

  5. Mr. Barlow, I believe it is shown on maps as Ball Mountain. That gravel pit, crusher and various sand and stone piles were my playground as a kid.

    • Jane Eason-Purdue

      But as the mountain got lower and lower, we started calling it “Bald Mountain.”

    • Dave, Janey, & Jimmy great to see your responses!! Say Hi to
      Anyone you see from OUR Westport, our home town. Be well, be safe!!

      Tom

  6. Great memories of the Gault gravel pit, but better memories of the Maurauders and our manager Bill Hodgekinson. He is the gentleman standing with guys and the Chevy convertible.
    Gault Park was the Westport Boys Little Leagues National League home park.
    Playing for the Maurauders, (a Westport Boys LL American League team) in the early ’60’s we played all of our regular season games on the field behind Coleytown Elementary.
    Thanks for the fun memories Dan!!

    Tom Wall

    • Geoff Hodgkinson

      Hi Tom,
      Thanks for remembering my dad. This photo was for a Firestone ad, ca. 1959. It was taken on a freezing day in January—the leaves on the trees in the background were airbrushed in. As you can see in the photo we’re all wearing spiffy new hightop sneakers courtesy of Firestone. As best as I can remember them, the players from left to right are: Johnny Bissell, Geoff Hodgkinson, hidden player, Bill Hodgkinson, unknown, Kurt Vreeland, unknown, Brian Hitt, Carl Swanson, Tommy McCarthy, and Brian Rossi.

      • Geoff,
        Thanks for the details!!
        Your Dad was a special man. Loved having him be my LL Coach.
        I played with Bill Reilly, Dana Stefenson, Brad Burnette, Mike Stroetzel,
        Alan Bravin, Artie Corrigan, Artie’s Dad, Bruce was your Dad’s assistant coach.
        My Maurauder years were ’62 – ’64.
        The special gift of the team and individual pictures and that years stat’s he gave us each year was incredible.
        Be Well!!

        Tom

    • Just for the record, Tom, it’s a Ford convertible not a Chevy!

      • Ed,

        Thanks, saw what looked to be the horizontal rear wings at the rear of the car. Not knowing the year of the photo, until Geoff told us the year. How do you know its a Ford and not a Chevy? ’59 Chevy convertibles (Impalas) had those wings. What make is the Ford? A Galaxie or Fairlane?

        Tom

  7. I hit three balls out of Gault field into the street my 12 yr old year, but Mike Krysiuk (my teammate on the Hornets) hit the longest one I ever saw to left field across the road and 30 – 40 feet up the hillside. Great memories

  8. Lesley Hodgkinson Anderson

    Another note, Bill Hodgkinson’s granddaughter Elizabeth Cullen, my daughter, married John Videler! They are currently married and live in the same house above the old land fill on South Compo Road.

  9. John Videler and the Gault gravel pit…didn’t we start a brushfire there one day with some fireworks?

  10. I remember the little league field–iit actually had a covered stand that one could imagine being a real stadium–well with a lot of imagination, but it sure was a step above bleachers. I never got to play there–only the teams in the best league played there. My team, I think it was called the Badgers, played at Bedford Elementary School and was coached by Mr. Silverstein, whose daughter, Jini, was later a classmate of mine. He died a year or so later in a plane crash in Belgium.

    When I last visited the place, the stands were leveled and it was a park. No place for little leaguers to aspire to playing in that is more than just bleachers.

  11. ‘Double Parked in the Twilight Zone’ by Carl Addison Swanson

  12. Great one Dan…loved all the comments ….we had it very good growing up in this town…it’s hard to explain to new residents what Westport really was like back in the those days…the best thing about our memories…no one can take those great times away from us…love these throw back posts…

  13. The Marauders were little league royalty. One of my oldest friends Jeff Stefenson who recently passed away was from a long line of Marauders. Dana, John and I think Michael all played for them. After school we would hang out in Jeff’s backyard and Mr. Stefenson would have us throw crab apples to work on our pitching motion and regale us with little league lore. We were 10 years old in 1970 and dreaming about making the majors and of course the Marauders. In those days ( not sure now) you waited by your phone hoping to get a call from the coach. Jeff made the Cubs and I made the Pirates and we were still happy. Not everyone can be a Maraurder.

  14. I see my brother and sister have replied but I wanted to add my two cents worth.. Many a time my friends and myself were chased out of the gravel pit by workers as you kids jumping off the piles of sand and varies sized stones that the crushed had created was just too much fun to worry about be caught again. I remember being amazed at how strong it seemed to with Bald Mountain disappear

  15. I remember very well some of the coach’s, like Bill Hodgkinson, Irving Russell,and Ed Murphy. These men were so kind. As many know, we had a lot of contact with the coaches, and although I was not the athletic one in our family, these men were so kind to all of us. They would be calling the house often,as Mom was the scorekeeper among other thing, or when we has an equipment drop on Webb Rd, (i think) or Loren Lane. We all spent many many evenings at the Coleytown field. Good memories.
    I was glad to see the picture of Tommy again. Thanks for posting Dan.

  16. Jay,
    I was one that had the job of chasing you all off of the sand pile, at the direction of Mrs. McCarthy. ( nothing personal )

  17. Gault Field was Westport’s Field of Dreams….only the best teams played there. Teams like Uly’s Commandos dreamed of playing there.

Leave a Reply