Friday Flashback #356

Here’s a great image of the Post Road — then called State Street — from the 1940s.

(Photo/Peter Barlow)

The far left shows the area where Capuli restaurant and Pastificio are today. Further east is the 2-story building that houses Field Trip jerky. Beyond that was a gas station; now it’s Finalmente and Jeera Thai.

Peter Barlow was a teenager when he took the shot. He stood where Connecticut National Bank — which eventually morphed into Bank of America — would later be built. Back then, it was trees and grass.

Peter explains: “I took this picture with my drugstore camera, hastily because I wanted to catch that station wagon which was already obsolete.

“It was probably a Ford. But I never knew, because the 2 x 3 inch photo was soon lost — only to be discovered recently when it could be enlarged in my computer.

“What I see now is some vintage architecture on the other side of the street. I have always been curious about that building with the main part and entrance set back with two sides jutting forward to make a triangular patio. This concept is still there, but modified.

“At the time of the picture, this was J. Vaast Cadillac & Olds. The triangular patio may have been for parking cars, since there is a car there in the picture (a rather elegant sedan, with an encased spare tire in the fender well. But it’s a Chrysler, not a Cadillac.)

“Immediately down the road we see a jewelry store, a Western Auto store (with the 9-shaped sign), a restaurant and gas station.

“Not long after the photo was taken, the Cadillac & Olds dealer moved up the Post Road where they would be for 60 more years (in the spot where Terrain is now).

“Western Auto also moved up the Post Road near Rayfield Place, and became a favorite ‘guy store.'” (Concidentally, today it is 5 Guys.)

“The building with the triangular patio became home to 2 photographic shops, an Army Navy store, S & M Pizza (!) and many others.”

(Most “06880” readers’ memories are not as long as Peter’s; he’s in his 90s. But if you recall that stretch of the Post Road — from any era — click “Comments” below.)

(Friday Flashback is a weekly “06880” feature. If you like it — and/or anything else we do — please consider a contribution. Click here — and thank you!)




19 responses to “Friday Flashback #356

  1. Peter, thanks for sharing. You have unquestionably captured a slice of Westport history. Just curious: at what age did you start taking photos around Westport? Thanks again.

    • Peter Barlow

      Hi Fred. I forgot to press the reply button. My reply is further down.

  2. Richard Alley

    When I moved into town in 1952, I remember trading at Western Auto when it was opposite the Post Office. Cafe Barna was there and also bowling alleys where I set up pins a few times. Jerry’s gas station was next door.

  3. Beth Berkowitz

    Love hearing and “seeing” the history of westport! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Jana Ireijo

    Love this – thank you for sharing!

  5. Peter Barlow

    Hi Fred. I didn’t have a particular interest in photographing Westport except for some oddities like the Schlaet’s boathouse. Most of the time I was a painter. Then I got interested in boats and began taking photos of them to work from. Some time in the early 50s a local firm hired me to take a lot of photos of Westport buildings for a real estate brochure. That’s where some of these 06880 views came from.

    • Fred Cantor

      Fascinating, thanks.

    • Seth schachter

      Peter – Thanks for continuing share your amazing collection capturing Westport – way back then ! Dan – thanks for posting !

  6. Peter Kelley, Centerport NY

    WesternAuto on the Post Road was always my go-to store for the small parts and tools needed to keep my old jalopy of a 51 Ford running, back in the late 50s and early 60s. I still have and use some of those old tools today. And then there was La Joie’s junkyard in South Norwalk for an unending supply of small and large used Ford parts that my friend Rod and I would install to keep that car on the road…. $110 borrowed from my mother had paid to buy that chariot, in which my friends and I plied the roads leading to school, Staples canteens, the Crest drive-in, the cannons at the beach, and of course Port Chester.

    The Post Road, like much of Westport these days, is probably unrecognizable with most if not all of those businesses long gone. But fond memories do prevail!

    • Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66

      I remember Western Auto up where Volvo is now? Got my first bike there. When the Mitchells contemplated moving from Colonial Green, folks told Billy Mitchell he was “crazy” to move that far from downtown. “Nobody is going to go that far to shop at your store.” Now, they come from NYC. The Post Road is cluttered with commercial outlets from the Norwalk border to the Fairfield border.

  7. John Kelley

    I remember the decor of Western Auto in the 1960 era being of Playboy pinups. The bowling alley was built around 1958, though the Bakheils, who owned it, post to this site and might offer corrections.

    • I’m told there once was a bowling alley at this site. Across from The Post Office. Jack Backiel’s father and Uncles built the Bowling Alley you’re remembering but that was on the Post Road between Mills Street and Maple Ave

  8. Mary L Schmerker

    I lived in Westport or had family living in Westport from before this picture was taken until the 1980’s. The coupe on the right infront of the 25 mp h sign could have been my Dad’s although his was a darker color. My mother had a Model A Station wagon. Hers would have been a little newer as the sides in the picture look like they are wooden. Hers was all black medal. So I loved the picture and have many memories. similar to the ones above.La Joie’s in Norwalk was m junk yard in Norwalk was mentioned. I am sure that my brother and his Downshifter friends frequented it on a regular basis!

  9. Mary L Schmerker

    Sorry about the typos above. I am typing on a small device and messed up but I think everyone will get the drift…..

  10. Westport music was there in the early 80s, i took lessons.

  11. Arthur Wynne Vaast

    Dan, Great picture of my Father’s and Grandfather’s business.
    The front entrance ramp to the service arer was in the middle of the building, the Parts dept. was behind the right side storefront windows, and the single car show room was on the left.
    The rear entrance to thes parking area and service garage was via Church Lane.
    Although I was quite young at the time, I can recall memories of following my dad as he walked me around to see all the various operations and functions inside the building.
    In the lower right area of the photo, the Coupe in front of Peter’s car was most likely parked there that day by my Grandfather, Jules W. Vaast, Sr. I can see the New Car Dealer’s license plate number XA 291. That’s the license plate my grandfather always used. His son, Jules Jr. was my father.
    Fun stuff!
    Wynne Vaast

  12. Carl Addison Swanson, Wrecker, '66

    I moved here in 1952, right before the hurricane hit, and to be honest, I don’t recall Westport looking like this? This looks like it is out of the 1920’s.