Friday Flashback #327

On Wednesday, a community menorah was celebrated near the front steps of Anthropologie.

It was a joint effort of Westport’s 4 Jewish congregations: Beit Chaverim, Chabad, Temple Israel and The Conservative Synagogue. The candles were lit by Bill Mitchell, a longtime participant in our town’s interfaith efforts.

It’s been nearly a decade since that handsome Tudor building in the center of town has been a go-to spot for furniture, clothes and home items.

Newcomers may not realize that for over 80 years — beginning in 1923 — the spot for our annual community menorah was the site of our town’s YMCA.

You know: the Young Men’s Christian Association.

(Photos courtesy of Dick Foot, former Westport YMCA executive director)


6 responses to “Friday Flashback #327

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    The irony is breathtaking. Simply breathtaking.

  2. During my junior-high days I remember playing both basketball and badminton at the Y. It’s possible I played basketball also when I was a student at Coleytown El.

    And, I’m not positive about this but I think the Y had a nice pool table too—and that it might have been in a room with a TV where I vaguely recall having watched the last part of “The Game of the Century” between Notre Dame and Michigan in the fall of 1966.

    I engaged in these various activities with, among others, my next-door neighbor Big Al Bravin (whose dad owned Achorns). And I’m pretty sure Big Al can remember that my high-arching shot occasionally hit the ceiling of the Y gym. (Incidentally, Big Al and I both were Bar Mitzvahed at Temple Israel and we simply thought of the place as the Y.)

    • Russell Gontar

      Fred, you are correct. The Y had a pool room just up those main steps to the left. My dad would take me there in the evening for a couple of games of solids or stripes. They also had a billiards table there. The pool tables were ancient and gorgeous and it was always pretty guiet up there in the evening. I also took some arts and crafts classes in the basement which one entered through a small entrance that was actually on Main street, right across from West Lake (or the Liverpool shop, if you prefer).

  3. I recall the pool tables in the basement with the entrance on the main street side (late 50’s). Almost every day I’d walk from junior high on Riverside Ave (the old Staples) to the Y to shoot pool before going home. I think they had 3 tables.

  4. Thanks for the postcard photo credit today.

    To provide further context for the lighting of the community menorah in front of the former YMCA building . . . .

    YMCA symbols incorporated into the facade of the Edward T. Bedford Building remind observant passers-by of the origins of this prominent downtown Westport edifice.

    Terra cotta inlays appearing on the brick facade include the equilateral triangle, an ancient symbol of the Trinity. When Luther Gulick designed the Y’s logo, and the body-mind-spirit interpretation, he was echoing the famous Christian “great commandment”: ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”

    In the Christian context, the circle is a symbol of eternity or God’s eternalness (without beginning or end), or of God’s perfection.

    The shield carries shorthand for a particular identity – in liturgical art each of the twelve apostles has a shield (or several shields). Peter’s shield shows crossed keys, an inverted cross, or a rooster.

    The torch represents “Christ, the Light of the world”. The oak tree symbolizes strength and longevity and firmness of faith in God.

    Finally, there is the “legend of the dogwood”, which tells of the peculiar magenta staining of the flower’s white petals as representing the blood of Christ.