Category Archives: Friday Flashback

Friday Flashback #99

The William F. Cribari bridge is all over the news. Plans are meandering and/or plowing ahead for reconstruction. Meanwhile, emergency repairs will begin soon.

And there’s a brouhaha over the recent spate of rush hour closings, in order to accommodate a boat moored just north of the swing span.

A discussion rages in the “06880” comments section: Is the 136-year-old bridge historic? Or just old?

You be the judge. This photo — sent by Carmine Picarello — comes from Eve Potts’ great book, “Westport…A Special Place.”

We’re not sure what the future holds. But whatever a renovated or new bridge looks like, one thing is sure.

It won’t have trolley tracks.

Friday Flashback #99

At first glance, this photo looks unremarkable.

Fred Cantor took it in 1977, he thinks — during the Great Race. That was the fun, funny and often alcohol-infused event in which people dressed in costumes, created their own vessels, ran from Taylor Place to the river, jumped in their watercraft, raced out to Cockenoe Island, filled a bag with garbage (the cheaters already carried pre-packed trash), then rowed or sailed or whatever-ed back to shore.

Meanwhile, Main Street merchants held sales. This was the scene outside Remarkable Book Shop. The stalls were always outside, but on this day they attracted huge crowds.

(Photo/Fred Cantor)

The Great Race is (regrettably) long gone. But this weekend the Fine Arts Festival returns to Main Street. It’s a great show.

Unfortunately, few Remarkable-type stores anymore offer something else to all those art-lovers (though Savvy + Grace is worth a trip from anywhere).

Also this weekend, the Westport Library hosts its 26th annual Book Sale. Those squintillions of volumes make this Remarkable scene look, well, unremarkable. But whenever and wherever people buy books, it’s a good thing.

Finally, this Friday Flashback raises the question: Now that Remarkable Book Shop is gone — and Talbots too is a long-ago memory too — will anything ever take their place?

Friday Flashback #98

The house by the Sherwood Mill Pond footbridge leading to Compo Cove is being raised. You can see the work from Old Mill Beach — and far beyond, at Schlaet’s Point on Hillspoint Road.

It’s an iconic Westport site. Originally a grist mill — destroyed at least once by fire — it has been a private residence since the early 1900s. Like its predecessor, the home straddles the water.

Here’s what it looked like in the early 20th century:

Don Willmott found this postcard — with “Compowe” misspelled — in a box belonging to his father, artist Al Willmott. There’s a note on the back, from “Nina” to “Francine.”

It reads:  “Father and I went to Compo Beach today. It was lovely. I wish you could have gone with us. I think this is a pretty card. We had some fine ice cream in Westport.”

Another postcard from the same area and era — this one without any misspellings — comes courtesy of Mark Krosse:

You can’t see the “old mill” that gave the beach and neighborhood its name.

But you can sure tell that the scene is timeless.

Friday Flashback #97

One of summer’s many pleasures is miniature golf (though these days it’s called mini-golf).

You can’t find a course in Westport, of course. The 2 I remember from my youth — both on the Post Road — were long ago transformed into the Regents Park and Lansdowne condominiums.

But there was a 3rd miniature golf course (and driving range) here. Tophat was located on Hillspoint Road, just over the railroad tracks on the right as you head to the beach.

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

It sat opposite the Penguin — the old jazz club that eventually turned into a spooky apartment building. You can see the Penguin in the background above — and you can click here for that Friday Flashback, posted last August.

Tophat occupied a special niche in Westport history. And — I am told — more than 60 years after it closed, golf balls still occasionally find their way to the surface on the lawns of the homes that now fill the site.

So what happened to the Penguin?

It too was demolished. And became condos.

Friday Flashback #96

Yesterday was the first day of summer.

Today is the last day of school.

Soon, we’ll see scenes like this at Compo Beach.

Well, sort of.

Westport artist Stevan Dohanos used our beach as the inspiration for this painting.

I’m not sure if the Good Humor man was ever allowed to hang out where he did.

But the raft is totally legit.

Back in the 1950s and early ’60s, several of them were anchored off shore.

Kids did actually what the models are doing in Dohanos’ work. And a lot more.

Which is probably why there are no more rafts in the waters off Compo Beach today.

Friday Flashback #95

Alert “06880” reader Carol Gluckman sent along this 1980s-era t-shirt.

The owner may have loved all those stores, restaurants and more.

But unless you’re a beach, high school, institution or neighborhood — or were very lucky — today you’re just a memory.

Click “Comments” below to share your memories of any of these golden oldies.

Friday Flashback #94

A couple of days ago, I posted a photo of the end of a well-known house.

Toni Cunningham’s Soundview Drive home — familiar to every Compo Beach goer, and the longtime unofficial headquarters of the Compo Beach Improvement Association — fell to the wrecking ball this week.

It was a poignant shot (click here to see).

But there’s much more to the house than my brief summary.

Alert “06880” resident Tom Leyden — a longtime beach neighborhood resident — quickly sent along this photo. It’s from 1920 — and it shows the Cunningham house standing almost alone on the road.

In the distance is the vast pavilion — with a 2nd floor. It was the site of big dances and other gatherings, until a hurricane roared through

But wait! There’s more!

Tom also sent this photo:

He explains:

I have a record of 90% of the beach property owners, going back to the original ownership by the Bradleys in 1909.

They mapped their property into lots, mostly 50 x 100. Sam Roodner (of Roodner Court fame in Norwalk) bought up many of the lots, and sold them off during the early 1920s

The Cunningham property was an exception, as Irving Bradley sold to Lockwood in 1911. I’m guessing the house was built around 1915.

According to property records, the Cunningham family bought the house in 1945.

Tom and his family live on lots 88/90.

Paul Lane — longtime Staples High School football coach, who grew up on Soundview, and lives next door to the now-former Cunningham house — has a framed copy of the plot map above.

It hangs on the wall of his home, just a few feet from what is now — once again — an empty lot.

Friday Flashback #93

Earlier this week, I posted a story about Deej Webb’s great new book about F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald’s memorable 1920 sojourn in Westport. The central thesis is that those 5 months influenced everything else the famous author wrote — including “The Great Gatsby.”

Webb’s “Boats Against the Current” is filled with fascinating photos — notably several of Frederick E. Lewis’ 175-acre property that later became Longshore.

There’s this, of the mansion that we now know as the Inn at Longshore and Pearl restaurant:

(Photo/courtesy of Alden Bryan)

There were references too to Lewis’ lighthouse. It may have inspired some of the scenes in The Great Gatsby.

I’ve posted the photo below before. But I erroneously identified it as showing a big bash at Longshore. In fact — according to Webb — this is “a glittering summer party, complete with band, at the Lewis estate.” It certainly does look Gatsby-esque.

There’s also this fascinating map, drawn in 1921 by noted artist John Held.

Held included the lighthouse (right above the words “Long Island Sound”).

Check out the enormous boat sailing up the Saugatuck River, just south of downtown.

And — if you’re really eagle-eyed — you’ll notice that Held misspelled Bridge Street as “Brigde.”

What else stands out? Click “Comments” below.

Friday Flashback #92

In honor of Monday’s Memorial Day parade, here’s a look back nearly 50 years.

Ed Stalling posted this family home movie on YouTube. Shot in 1969 or ’70 on Riverside Avenue — mostly opposite King’s Texaco (now Sunny Daes) — it shows cops, veterans, the Red Cross, state police cars (with comical 1-bubblegum lights on top), Indian Guides, Little Leaguers, and the Long Lots Junior High band.

Very briefly at the end there’s a shot of the Long Lots band downtown, opposite the old post office (now Design Within Reach).

Half a century ago, the Vietnam War raged. Our country was torn apart — politically, socially and culturally.

But — as shown in the video — Westport had a great Memorial Day parade.

We will on Monday, too. See you there!

 

Friday Flashback Follow-Up: Where The Hill Is It?

When I first saw last Friday’s flashback — a shot of an almost-empty Westport road, circa 1930 — I was pretty sure it was taken on State Street (now the Post Road), looking east past what is now Compo Shopping Center, toward where the Humane Society sits today.

But I wasn’t positive. So I asked readers what they thought.

Over 60 comments poured in. Many agreed with my guess. But others ranged up and down the Post Road, and across town to places like Nyala Farm.

Someone even thought I was right, but looking in the wrong direction (the old IHOP would be on the left, with the fire station and then — yes — the Humane Society on the right).

Alert “06880” reader Tom Ryan took out his camera. He offers these 3 images, and some thoughts.

This (above) was his original guess — the same as mine. However, he says, “you can’t see the road bend left (at the top) in the current photo. I think that rules it out.”

Picky, picky.

Here’s his second shot:

It shows Post Road West looking east, with Kings Highway Elementary School just out of the frame on the right.

Tom writes: “This one looks good as well. But notice the angle of the right side of the road. Seems dead straight in the original photo but more angled in today’s photo.”

Finally — looking east on Post Road West, just past Whole Foods — there’s this:

Tom says:

“I think this is a match, mostly because of the angle of the right side of the road in both past and current photos. You can also see the curve left in the distance, and the slope of the road seems to be the same.

“Lastly, the stone wall on the left is still there, and about the same distance from the road as in the original photo (although you can’t see it here because of the trees).”

The mystery continues. There’s only one thing we know for sure.

There was a lot less traffic back in 1930.