Category Archives: Friday Flashback

Friday Flashback #254

Since the 1960s, the Post Road East/Roseville Road corner has been known for food.

First Big Top, then Roy Rogers, now McDonald’s — it’s where generations of Westporters have stopped for a quick (first real, then heavily processed) meal.

Previous generations headed to that spot for some slow, important work.

Blacksmith shop next to Roseville Road around 1925. it was torn down in 1928, as part of a road rewidening project. The Linxweilers moved their operation nearby. (Photo courtesy of Peter Morris)

A blacksmith shop stood for years by the unpaved streets. It was owned by the Linxweiler family. Their residence — a few yards west on Post Road East, next to the Fresh Market shopping center — still stands. It’s now part of Homes with Hope’s supportive housing program.

From blacksmitih to Big Top to McDonald’s: progress? Or regress?

Friday Flashback #253

Everyone knows that traffic — including the Merritt Parkway — is worse than ever.

We’d give anything to go back to the good ol’ days, when traffic flowed like …

… well, anyway.

The photo above (courtesy of Anthony Dohanos) shows what happened after a washout collapsed an entire section of the southbound pavement. The Merritt was closed between Westport and Darien, with delays of up to 8 hours.

Okay. That was unusual. This is more like what we dream of:

 

Friday Flashback #252

I hadn’t thought about Westport’s State Police barracks for years.

But within 24 hours, 2 photos of it landed on my screen.

For several decades, State Police Troop G was headquartered in Westport. They occupied a handsome brick building — now the site of Walgreens.

Convenient to both I-95 (via the Connector) and the Merritt Parkway (Roseville Road), their sirens sometimes gave local drivers a scare. But — as “staties” — they didn’t care about us. They used our roads to race to more important places.

Troop G moved to Bridgeport in the 1980s. At the time — as Westporters loved to note — they were located diagonally across the Post Road from both a gay bar (The Brook) and strip club (Krazy Vin’s).

Troop G barracks. Bonus shot: a Minnybus. (Photo courtesy of Clint Vogel)

The photo below is much older: 1939. Motorcycle officers posed in front of the station. Behind them — across the Post Road — we see the bones of what became the Clam Box restaurant (later Bertucci’s, now Shearwater Coffee, Ignazio Pizza and One River art school). Long Lots Road rises behind it.

That’s a lot of cops, for a very quiet time.

(Photo courtesy of Allan Converse)

Friday Flashback #251

Can you go back home again?

Staples High School Class of 1977 graduate Russ Gershon tried. Well, at least he visited his mother, and some of his old, ’70s-era stomping grounds.

Burr Farms Elementary School, the Westport Library, S&M Pizza, Remarkable Book Shop, Ye Olde Bridge Grille — all are now demolished, closed, relocated, or otherwise unrecognizable.

Burr Farms Elementary School then …(computer image by Steve Katz)

… and now.

Russ turned those memories into a clever, compelling video. Whether you remember the people (and making junior high jokes about “S&M Pizza”), or have absolutely no idea what Russ is talking about, you’ll love his film.

But the best part is his homage to a place that’s still around (and will be for the next 60 years too, god willing): Gold’s Deli.

Let’s just say, Russ’ takeaway is delicious.

Click here for the video.

Friday Flashback #250

So many Westport businesses start out in one place, then end up another.

From Earth Animal and Calico (very recently) to Mitchell’s (now at its third site) and (Viva Zapata (original location: Post Road near the current Playhouse Square), even the most established establishments have wanderlust.

Generations of Westporters remember Sport Mart on Main Street. Before that though, it was in Sconset Square. (The shopping plaza was then called by the much more normal local name “Sherwood Square.”)

(Photo courtesy of Paul Ehrismann)

After moving a few hundred yards west in the 1960s, the old Sport Mart became many things.

But the first place where Westporters once bought tennis racquets, skis and other sports equipment has returned to its roots.

Today it once again serves athletes of all abilities.

These days, it’s Fleet Feet.

Friday Flashback #248

Staples High School’s graduation next Thursday returns to the football stadium — a nod to the lingering effects of COVID. The potential for bad weather, construction of the fieldhouse and an ability to better control crowds (and teenagers) drove graduation indoors decades ago.

As the Class of 2021 receives their diplomas, the remaining members of Staples’ Class of 1956 may remember their own graduation, 65 years ago.

To help them recall their high school years — and to show how much things have changed in 2/3 of a century — here’s a look back, through the pages of the 1956 Stapleite yearbook.

Four of the nearly-200 member graduating class are shown below. David Wunsch is now a frequent commenter on “06880.”

The “Senior Preferences” list contained several (presumably) inside jokes. Favorite soap?!

Student organizations included the SSO, Senate (“which made “good progress on the parking problem and tried to curb the smoking”), and a Student Court.

Two popular — but now long-defunct — clubs include the Projectionists (to show movies in classes) and Rifle (which competed in NRA matches).

Finally, a look back at the junior prom of 1955. It featured a live band.

Friday Flashback #247

As traffic builds once again in Saugatuck, many drivers are stuck on Charles Street. They have time to look at Tarry Lodge, and wonder about its odd configuration on that tight lot.

Did it used to be something else?

Of course! Everything in Westport was once different.

Tarry Lodge — and before that, Abbondanza — was once Esposito’s service station.

In this 1929 photo — posted to social media by Deej Webb — it was the place to go for “No-Nox” Gulf gas, tires, ice cream, tobacco and “provisions.”

A taxi service operated there too. The phone number was 418.

As with many old photographs, there are questions. Are those the Espositos posing in front? If so, did they always dress that way? If not, who are those customers, and where were they going?

What about the little kid hiding shyly in the doorway? He (or she?) could still be alive today — though nearing 100.

Esposito’s was around for a long time. Here’s a view from the mid-1950s. Still a Gulf station, by then it offered storage, washing and lubrication.

You can really see the bones of Tarry Lodge in the photo above.

You can also see I-95 behind it — midway through construction that sliced through the neighborhood.

And contributes to the heavy traffic at this same spot today.

Friday Flashback #246

Westport’s Memorial Day parade is a small-town classic. And photos like this are classic too:

Mimi Rossell Wolfe posted it to social media the other day.

It’s from 1967 or ’68, she says. Her mother was the Cub Scout leader.

Over half a century later, some things have changed. Traffic on Main Street is one-way (and the parade no longer takes that route). The Mobil station is Vineyard Vines. Sport Mart is — I forget.

But crowds still line the sidewalks. Cub Scouts still march. (A few) kids still ride their bikes.

See you at Monday’s parade. Be sure to take photos, to post on whatever replaces social media in 2075 or ’76.

Friday Flashback #245

One of longtime Westporters’ favorite activities is trying to remember the names of all the restaurants that preceded a current one.

Take Hudson Malone. Most people knew the spot at the corner of Main and Canal Streets as 323; before that, Bogey’s, Oliver’s, Stone’s Throw, and a few others.

But it takes a special resident to recall Maud Chez Elle.

Even then, who remembers that the French-named restaurant looked like something straight out of the French Alps?

(Photo courtesy of Dick Stein)

Which, come to think of it, was a bit like another French restaurant: Le Chambord.

Popular a decade or so later, it is no longer a restaurant of any type.

Today, Le Chambord is the site of ASF Sports & Outdoors.

C’est la vie!

Friday Flashback #244

The real estate boom that began in the first days of the pandemic shows no sign of slowing.

Newcomers are not just buying. They’re renovating their properties. So are longtime residents, who — stuck inside their homes for months — decided to finally redo their bathrooms, bedrooms and kitchens.

Do you know how long you have to wait for a marble splashback these days?

Things were much simpler a couple of centuries ago.

Westport historian Deej Webb found this fascinating of the way we once lived. It’s a great shot, of a different time.

Deej does not know where this home was located. But he’s betting that someone in Westport does.

If you’ve got any idea, click “Comments” below. Ideas about where the home was, that is — not about any renovations needed.

PS: Looking at  the 2 folks in the doorway, someone might be able to date it too.