Friday Flashback #361

As the Westport Inn bites the dust, and a new college football season looms, longtime “06880” reader and amateur historian Fred Cantor suggests a confluence of those 2 events for our Friday Flashback.

Fred found this fascinating ad from the October 3, 1960 Yale Daily News:

At that time the Yale football team attracted large crowds — including folks who drove up from the tri-state area.

Owners of Westport’s then brand-new “motor hotel” figured they could snag some of the traffic, on the way to and from New Haven.

Back view of the New Englander Motor Hotel. In the front, the Post Road is not visible; beyond it is an artist’s rendition of Long Island Sound, actually a couple of miles south.

The copywriter was right about both bowling (the Backiels’ Westport Lanes was a few hundred yards down the Post Road; it’s now the site of the Bevmax shopping center) and skating (a rink was nearby in the opposite direction, though it was hardly “beautiful”; it remains today, as the indoor Westport Tennis Club, behind the new Tacombi restaurant).

I’m pretty sure though that the lounge was not “famous.”

And — even allowing for less traffic then than now on the “Connecticut Turnpike” (I-95) — there’s no way to make it from Westport to the Yale Bowl in 20 minutes.

As for “Dine well!”: Westport had its share of restaurants.

Among them, right next door to the New Englander was Bob Charpentier’s Bantam:

What a menu: Steaks. Chops. Lobster. And frogs [sic] legs!

Bantam Restaurant.

A few years later, Bantam became Chubby Lane’s — Westport’s first $1 hamburger place.

Bob Charpentier opened a butcher shop across the street. He supplied the great meat for those great Chubby’s burgers.

Charpentier’s Butcher Shop is now Border Grille.

And the Bantam/Chubby Lane’s/Ocean House (and other restaurants)?

Today it’s the site of Willows Pediatrics.

(If you enjoy our Friday Flashback feature, please consider a contribution to “06880.” Any amount — in 1960 or 2023 dollars — is welcome! Just click here. Thank you!)

15 responses to “Friday Flashback #361

  1. Fabulous Friday flashback when Woogie and Cantor get together.
    It’s always fun and a perfect history lesson.

    • Dave, thanks. I’m still trying to figure out an appropriate storyline to work our 9th-grade Rec League championship hoops squad into a Friday Flashback.🤨

  2. Ocean House had the best salad ever!

  3. speaking of football and motels, just a mile further east at the Fairfield town line on Route 1 the Pequot Motor Inn had a tower with a TV antenna. It was able to pick up Hartford TV broadcasts which carried Giants’ and Jets home game that were blacked out in the local markets until the rules were changed in 1973. The Pequot advertised itself as being the most convenient (closest to NYC) place to watch Giants and Jets home games and the rooms were sold out and the parking lot overflowing on home game Sunday afternoons. But fans had to bring their own because back then there were no beer or liquor sales in CT on Sundays.

  4. I dunno. With the 70mph speed limit on the Connecticut Turnpike at the time, perhaps one could make it from the Yale Bowl in 20 minutes. My dad would’ve been up for the challenge!

  5. Great fun to read – especially as it is my neighborhood!

  6. Mary L Schmerker

    Oh the memories! If my memory is correct the out-of-town guests and Charlie’s family stayed at the New Englander in 1966 when we were married. The Rehearsal Dinner was at Bob Charpentier’s Bantam Restaurant. I feel fairly certain that The Bantam was originally on Elm Street just off of Main Street. My Grandmother frequently went there with Mr. Sylvester Foster and occasionally I was invited to have lunch with them. Wonderful flash back memories for me today.

  7. I saw Rodney Dangerfield downstairs when they had a comedy club there. He lived close to Southport beach. That was quite the discovery, Fred. Also, in my extremely humble opinion, the Arrow had the best salad!

  8. Mary Ann Batsell

    Great memories, I remember the New Englander, the Bantam,
    Chubby Lane’s (best burger ever!), the Ocean House, great seafood!. This was all just down the street where I grew up and
    my brother and I would every so often go through the woods
    (now Shadow Lawn Dr.), to sneak a swim in the motel pool.
    next to the skating rink there used to be trampolines, so you had
    skating, bowling, restaurants and trampolines. I’m not sure when
    the driving range went away but that was there too at one time.

  9. Clearwater 9-3595. Give me a call. If I’m at the golf range, call me at Clearwater 9-9108.

    • Jack, naturally I remember the 259 prefix from growing up which I vaguely recall associating with the Greens Farms side of town. Do you know the origin of the Clearwater name? Thanks.

      • I’m not sure the origin of the Clearwater name, but I should be able to rule out Long Island Sound’s water!

  10. Linda Pomrerantz Novis

    For a brief summer,(1994) I then played solo piano at the Ocean House,there..(the movie ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ had just opened at Fine Arts I,downtown Westport,and I then played all the songs from the movie; most of that summer,Everyone then singing along, at their small bar, there….:-)

  11. yes, Jack, the Arrow did have the best salad, although it may have been a tie with Manero’s with gorgonzola. Both salads came out promptly and were crisp and very cold, just barely above freezing.

  12. Wow, no resort fee!

What do you think? Please comment! Remember: All commenters must use full, real names!