Friday Flashback #346

Traffic often backs up on the Cribari Bridge. Drivers can wait quite a while to turn onto Riverside Avenue.

Things were not as bad in 1962 — even without a dedicated right-hand turn lane.

Instead — as Gail Comden’s photo shows — there was a gas station. (In fact there were several in Saugatuck. Now there is one.)

(Photo courtesy of Gail Comden via Facebook)

Just north of the gas station is Mansion Clam House. After several decades, it became Parker Mansion. Now it’s vacant.

What’s next? Another restaurant? A business or real estate office?

Or a teardown, to help ease — somehow — the traffic that plagues Saugatuck?

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22 responses to “Friday Flashback #346

  1. Holy cow! I have absolutely no recollection of this. If anyone should know, what year was that gas station structure removed from that corner? Thanks.

  2. That’s a great nostalgic photo! Could be Mayberry!!
    Does anyone know what was in the small place next to the Clam House? (Now the pizza annex.) Is that a maple leaf-shaped sign over the door? Very curious!
    And thanks for a great down memory intersection!!!

  3. Larry Roberts

    I believe there was “Tony’s Gulf Station” at the rotary where Saugatuck Road meets Riverside. Or maybe my memory is off on that?

    • Yes, that’s right, and Tony Festa—a very nice guy—ran it. He later relocated to the Post Road (where Vautrin is now).

  4. photo was originally posted to a FB page (“Westport Connecticut Old Photos from the Westport of our youth” – great page) – lots of info there, including from people who owned and/or worked at the gas stations located in that spot. I believe the time and place in this photo is the Boccanfuso’s Garage, and I think the Cribari family owned that spot before them. And then there were subsequent gas stations located at that spot.

    • Indeed, it was Boccanfuso’s…then moved to Post RD and now an
      overpriced rug store with vacant annex.

  5. Great idea, Dan.
    Maybe the town should purchase some of the land and add a lane or two?
    Something needs to be done as just this morning the car in front of me didn’t notice the traffic officer, who was standing on the sidewalk, as they were probably not a regular and would not turn as the officer waved and I tooted politely. I can’t blame them as I too could barely see tha officer blending in with the pole and the lot behind. Could we also need a painted black circle for the officer to stand on in the middle of the traffic? City like traffic needs city like solutions, and don’t forget the whistle!
    Just a thought!

  6. Tom Duquette, SHS '75

    Wow Dan, that’s a blast from the past. I remember that gas station and the Tony’s Gulf that Larry Roberts mentions above. When I worked at my dad’s hardware store in Bridge Square he and my uncle sometimes would send me over to the Mansion Clam House for softshell crab sandwiches (I preferred a burger). Saugatuck was a different place back in those days.

  7. Sharon Saccary

    You think the bridge is bad How about the Wilton Road intersection with the post road and riverside avenue. A complete nighmare. And now more apartments on wilton road. Something should be done to fix that traffic light.

  8. Tammy Guarente

    I remember 4 gas stations on Saugatuck. Tony’s Gulf at Riverside and Saugatuck Ave. With a rotary there. The Bridge Street has station, Mobil across from the fire house and Texaco on the corner of Charles and Franklin Streets.

  9. I believe Bill Cribari operated the gas station

  10. Easy pull out from the gas station cause everyone let you in ‼️

  11. Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66.

    Last stop to take a leak before Port Chester.

  12. the Mansion was an “Old Westport” classic. Went there ever since I was a little kid in the 1950’s. There was a long serving waitress named Madeline with wavy dark hair and a hoarse voice. She always made sure that everything was the way we wanted it, even when I was young enough to get a Roy Rogers cocktail. The paper place mats which explained that the name came from the “bloody mansion house” the Lord Mayor of London’s residence. The fried seafood combination with onion rings, clams, shrimp, scallops, and flounder filet (and calamari if you asked) was an unbeatable splurge. I can still smell it and feel the heat rising from the plate stacked with goodies. Really miss that place. Not to mention Boccanfuso Bros. gas station and garage next door, with their Plymouth drag racer parked in the lot. I bought my first car – a 1962 “bathtub” Corvair from them for $125 – suck it up Mr. Ralph Nader. Those guys could fix anything with an internal combustion engine and were willing to work early and late to get it done. “New Westport” has lost something and that corner typifies the change.

  13. IIRC (and I often don’t, as the years wear on), the Mansion Clam House was founded by Ernie Varina (sp?), who had been the chef at the Clam Box when I worked there summers as a busboy, host, dessert guy, salad guy in the late 50s. Don’t think I ever ate there, though. The end of the Clam Box was, for me, the end of my Westport youth.

  14. There was also a gas station right about where Match Burger Lobster is now. It was an Esso station and owned by Angelo and John. Angelo was in the Navy with my father. It was across the street from The Jockey Club, Franny’s, Riverside Barber and Lousie Pramers liquor store.

  15. Michael Calise

    A wonderful run of history, locations and people who made Saugatuck the unique and enjoyable place it was. There were hundreds more now lost in the passage of time, but not in the minds and hearts of all of us who experienced it, not just in Saugatuck but throughout our magical community. In this instance the tidal wave of change deserves no honor!

  16. Mary Ann Batsell

    I believe the gas station next to the Mansion was
    taken down when they installed the temporary
    Bridge Street bridge. the little annex next to
    the Mansion was several different businesses,
    at one point it was a fish market run by Necia
    Verina (one of his daughters) and her friend
    Alison. I’m not positive but I think that was where
    Saugatuck Bait & Tackle was at one time and for
    several years it was Julian’s, Italian cuisine and
    great pizza!! But no matter what goes into the
    Mansion building it will never replace the
    Mansion! I have great memories of the
    delicious food (the Captains Platter) &
    as a teenager when with friends we would
    go out on the Sound for the day we’d
    eventually dock at the Mansion and
    get take out for our trip home on the boat.

  17. Next to the Mansion then a Dr office the picture that shows the office gas station they not showing a two bay garage also gas station across the street a stake house viva did not exist

  18. Peter Kelley, Centerport NY

    In the early 1950’s, from my memories as little 7-8 year olds living across the river, my friend Rod Hurtuk and I used to walk down to the gas station at the bridge and throw old rusty mufflers from the junk pile in back if the station into the river next to the bridge. We’d pretend there were divers below the water as the mufflers bubbled their way to the bottom. There was a candy store next to the Mansion building where we’d buy our candy, mainly baseball card bubble gum among other treats. Would that I still had those baseball cards today!

  19. Thanks for this, Dan. This is how I remember Saugatuck. And I remember Saugatuck as my home town more strongly than “Westport” in many ways. In important ways. John and Lou Santella were my first barbers. Lou remembered me when I walked in for my last cut there one day at random 20 years out of Staples. Irv Pike had just left, he told me. Bobby Cotroneo. Augie and Carol (cousins). David Anastasia. Paula Cairo (sigh). John and Henry Luciano, with whom I traded handshakes and fists for several years, Chris and Dominick Boccanfuso, who worked on boats, bicycles, mini-bikes and cars of mine, and always invited me back in the shop and taught me just enough about that for me to be dangerous with a wrench, frozen shiners from the barge when the snapper blues were running, and sand worms for flounder from the Cribari Bridge in February; Peter’s Bridge Market; Minuteman Cleaners with my dad every Saturday, and I got to keep the treasured shirt cardboards; Pin Money Shop; Gault’s, from who’s tanks we got oil, on whose field we played baseball and whose gravel pit we got caught and chased out of; The Arrow: best pizza and more Nisticos than you could throw an open field tackle or a cross-body block at on more football fields from Compo Beach to Doubleday to the (then new) Staples: Tommy, Louey, Cicc’, who else? Geez how come every kid who ever rang my bell on a football field was a f______ Nistico? No wonder the building has their Dad’s, or uncle’s, name. Manero’s: a latecomer.

    Anyway: Thanks, Dan, and gracie tanto, Saugatuck.

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