Westport History, Black Duck Mystery

Alert — and history-minded — “06880” reader Scott Smith writes about many subjects.

The environment, Long Island Sound, Longshore — they’re all subjects for his wide-ranging interests. Today he tackles something a tad bit different. Scott writes:

You never know where you’re going to come across Westport history. Let me share a favorite piece of 06880 memorabilia, though it may appeal to only those who frequent the Black Duck Café — and even then only to a particular subset of customer.

I stopped by the Duck recently. It was ages since I had a Big Top Burger stuffed with bleu cheese — a specialty of the house long hailed as Westport’s best dive.

A Westport favorite, for decades. (Photo/Chou Chou Merrill)

The burger was delicious, just as I remembered. But one thing was missing, I realized, after a trip across the slanted floorboards to the men’s restroom.

Gone from the wall to the right of the sink was a framed photo I noticed upon my first visit to the Duck more than 25 years ago. Guys, you know which one I’m talking about: a grainy color print of 2 young women arm in arm in the tropical surf, wearing big smiles, matching Black Duck Café t-shirts and teeny-weeny black bikini bottoms. It was the original wet t-shirt pic, or at least Westport’s iconic version of the genre.

I always figured the photo was from the 1970s, perhaps of 2 bartender friends. The water looks tropical. A snapshot of beach babes on spring break in Florida?

Back at the bar, I asked the bartender: “Hey, what happened to that photo in the men’s room. You know, the one…?”

“Two young guys took it,” she said, anger mixed with disdain. “Brothers. We know it was them because you could see in the security video one of them walking out had a big square object hidden under his shirt.”

She said she knew who the 2 kids were and had even called up the older brother, asking for it back. He told her they had left it in Norwalk, on the sidewalk outside a bar, but then it rained and the picture got all wet and yadda yadda yadda.

“Anyway, it’s gone. Must be a year now,” said the bartender. “I mean, why would they do that? The frame was even screwed into the wall. Besides, those girls are old enough to be their grandmothers.”

Just another day at the Duck.

I asked if she had a copy, but she said no, at least not a good one. What I didn’t add is that I was pretty sure I had a photo of the picture, taken years ago.

Don’t ask me why. Perhaps the storyteller in me thought of sending it to “06880,” to see if anyone knew who the 2 omen were and what their story was.

One thing’s for sure: In the years since I first saw that photo, I’ve gotten married, raised a son, grown gray and bald. Old enough to be a grandfather myself. Those 2 women never changed at all though, forever smiling squintingly at the photographer and fetchingly for all the world — or at least a very small part of —to see.

I found the image on my cell phone after scrolling through a thousand photos. Here it is.

The picture on the bathroom wall may be gone, but the mystery remains. Who are the Black Duck girls?

I can only hope they have had wonderful lives. They’ve certainly brightened mine.

(Nothing says “Westport” more than the Black Duck — or “06880.” You can support your hyper-local blog by clicking here. Thank you!)

15 responses to “Westport History, Black Duck Mystery

  1. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70

    How appropriate that you posted a photo credit by Chou Chou on Mother’s Day. She is, and always will be, the quintessential wife, mother, daughter and the greatest classmate Staples Class of 1970 ever had. Happy Mother’s Day Chou!!!!

  2. charles taylor

    Perfect article, history, pretty girls gone wild. Petty crime and Black Duck lore!

  3. Dave Donnelly

    I think, just maybe, that these young women are from Staples Class of ‘83 or ‘84 as one of them told me about being in the photo when we worked at William S. Ribs on the Post Road.

  4. That is Mary Skully and her best friend Joyce.

  5. Jan Carpenter

    Scott should get that printed and framed and put back!

  6. I think I know that photo better than anyone. I dated Joyce, the brunette, and married Mary, the blonde. They were the popular original barmaids!

  7. That picture hung next to the cash register for 30 years. It was the only pic not of Pete’s racing Black Duck boat. He’s lucky Mary isn’t local because if she knew it was in the men’s bathroom.

  8. This may be the most hyperlocal story of all time! Now we just need some memories from Joyce and Mary.

  9. The brunette is Joyce Pettit (sp?) ..Hat tip Sue Munck Zaleta…

  10. Great memory of a Westport bar restaurant (we ate there every Thursday night before the pandemic). Not bragging- but I never went to the bathroom there and never saw that picture!!

    But I recall- on the wall in the dining area, where you walk in- a plaque signed by Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The Duck never fit any of those categories (maybe the last)!

    Hope no one “liberated” that bit of memorabilia on their way out!!

  11. I am pretty sure the attractive young lady on the right is Debbie Sands, she was my best friend Timmy’s older sister.

  12. I spent 30 years hosting karaoke at the Duck on Tuesday nights and saw that picture how many times? (Doing the math is a little scary…). I always wondered who those women were so at long last mystery solved! And I took the picture in this post of the group singing…staff from Tarry Lodge who used to come in after the restaurant closed. In a galaxy long ago and far away……………

  13. Hailey Schleifer

    I’m the bartender you’re referring to, and that photo is NOT the one we were talking about! That picture was taken with Pete Aitkin (the original owner of the Duck) up to Lake George when he moved in November. The picture we were talking about was the blonde in the bikini above the urinal. Either way, the boys stole classic Duck property!

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