Friday Flashback #344

As Westporters look forward to another beach season, now is a good time to look back.

Alert reader/amateur historian/avid pack rat Fred Cantor unearthed a 1963-era aerial view of Compo.

Click on or hover over to enlarge.

Among the differences 60 years later:

There were no docks in the marina (not yet named for Board of Finance chair Ned Dimes). A great summer job was piloting the tender boats that ferried sailors and guests to their crafts.

Wooden bathhouses sprawled from the brick pavilion to the wooden one. Only a few “lockers” still stand; part of the structure is now Hook’d. In 1963 beachgoers got their burgers from a concession stand, visible at the corner of the main parking lot exit and the start of Soundview Drive (where the volleyball courts are today).

Look at all that empty land around Compo Hill and Minute Man Hill. If only you had been around then, and bought some of it …

What do you see? Click “Comments” below.

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18 responses to “Friday Flashback #344

  1. Nathan Greenbaum

    Don’t see cannons?

    • The view is confusing at first because we’re looking North – that’s the South Beach in the foreground. The cannons are far out of the picture to the right. I see my little black powerboat that a lot of people remember – don’t actually recognize it, just know which one has to be it. All that open land at the top of the photo is amazing, because there weren’t any roads up there.

      • Your boat was “Focus” as I recall. I used to spend my weekends as a “dock rat” age 10-12 fueling boats, and assisting Jay Tormey and Allen Thorndike on the dock and with the Yacht Club members. No pay as I was a little kid, but about $15 in tips! Also spent a lot of time with Jay on the chase boat and occasionally with Mr. and Mrs. Remlin on the committee boat. This could never happen today. I remember you, your boat and your amazing photos like it was yesterday. Joe Vishnowsky (sp?) was the dock master. Good old days for sure!!

        • Joe dated by cousin who was born in 1933. I visited him in Miami Springs around 1976 after marrying someone else. He used to do a lot of bowling. He was a real nice guy. He was a bit broken hearted when my cousin didn’t want to get married.

  2. Just to clarify: the photo is from “A HANDBOOK FOR WESTPORTERS” published by the Westport League of Women Voters and given to my mom by the Welcome Wagon when my family moved to town in 1963.

    But the handbook was originally published in 1958 and the revised edition—given to my mom—was published in the fall of 1960. So I think the photo above was taken, at the latest in 1960, and possibly in 1958 or earlier. Thanks.

  3. Thomas D. Neilly

    Fred, Thank you for posting this great shot of Compo in the old days. It brings back a lot of good memories. My guess is all that open land belongs to one or more of the large estates that used to be up there. Does anyone know?

  4. India van Voorhees

    Love this photo. It’s from when my mother (and I) rented at Compo in the summer … when the houses were little 2 and 3 bedroom, non-winterized, non-airconditioned cottages and the concession stand was called The Pavilion and you could smell the grilling cheeseburgers a block away.
    I’m told my grandmother was the first to winterize her house, on Danbury, which I think was the 3rd one in on the left as you face the water. Sadly, it was sold before I was born – and, of course, has been torn down for something larger.
    But it was those memories from those summers that prompted me to move here about 15 years ago. To this day, I still get a frisson of happiness driving around the Minute Man Statue towards the harbor and the beach.

  5. I believe the cannons were added later–after they dismantled the
    nike sites.

  6. I grew up in Westport and graduated from staples in 1958 so this is so like I remember it. I thought that the cannons were “always there” or at least they go waaaay back in my memory. I would love it if someone has the correct information about when they were placed there. I can’t make out what I would call the club house at the Marina which in the early to mid 1950 had an enclosed look out on the top. During the Korean War volunteer airplane spotters maned it and would report on the planes flying overhead. I was once a long time ago one of those spotters. As India said, I always know I am home first crossing the Bridge Street Bridge then going around the Minute Man Statue. Thanks for the memories!

  7. Woogie…..if memory fails, and it always does. Was there a faloting swim platform and on south beach?

    • I have no idea what a “faloting swim platform” is, but there were rafts (2? 3?) to swim out to, and hang out on, anchored off the main beach. Long, long ago!

  8. I think he means floating swim platform.

  9. kathleen Dehler

    India van Voorhees comment just warmed my heart. Such a beautiful description of her younger days with those very touching memories.

  10. Well, if the photo *does* date from 1963 then our little Blue Jay, “Mirkury” #2239 is moored in the first row, about 5th from the end. Kind of catty-corner from Peter Barlow’s “f/16” over there in the center. Those were the days…!

  11. Very cool

  12. Gail Grunewald Arrowsmith

    I remember being the one person crew on a tiny sail boat in the winter. We raced in the yacht basin on the weekends. After the racing was over, we would have steaming bouillon and crackers in the club house. Fun but cold times.

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