Category Archives: Friday Flashback

Friday Flashback #270

If you’ve ever …

  • Spent 20 minutes crawling from I-95 exit 17 to the Cribari Bridge, on traffic-filled Charles Street and Riverside Avenue
  • Spent 20 minutes trying to decide where to have dinner in Saugatuck: Rizzuto’s? Tutti’s? Harvest? Tarantino’s? Romanacci’s? Viva? Bistro du Soleil? The Whelk? Or a dozen or so others?
  • Rented a kayak, bought some ice cream or fresh bread, or visited another local merchant near the river
  • Taken a train to or from New York, or picked up or dropped off someone at the station
  • Looked at the concrete 4-story office building across from Luciano Park and thought, how the hell did this ever get built here?

… then you’ll be amazed by this week’s Friday Flashback.

It shows a Saugatuck we can’t even imagine.

Long before I-95 slashed through; before the Italians made the community their own; before, even, the factories and wharves along the river hummed with activities, this was what Saugatuck looked like.

Maybe.

Postcards have been known to stretch the truth.

But this Saugatuck scene looks nice — wherever it was.

Meanwhile, if you think you can identify the spot where these cows grazed, click “Comments” below.

Or just add your own Saugatuck memory.

Friday Flashback #269

Our very first Friday Flashback — back in August 2016 — featured the Pine Knoll Inn.

That was the long-ago boarding house — and before that, a home owned by the Kemper family (whose tannery and orchard are now the Westport Country Playhouse) — that was torn down in the early 1980s.

Today it’s the site of Playhouse Square.

This was the photo. It was quite a cool looking place:

But now — thanks to James Gray — we’ve got some photos of what the boarding house was like inside.

According to a brochure James sent, it was “lighted by electricity.” It featured “hot and cold water in each bedroom,” and “open sanitary plumbing.”

A boarding house bedroom …

But wait! There was more!

Pine Knoll was “delightfully cool in summer, and having a southerly exposure, is remarkably pleasant in winter. Steam heat, run by Nokol, assures and even temperature at all times.”

… and the dining room.

It was “an ideally located place for those wishing to commute to New York.”

Plus “there are churches of all denominations, public schools, and the Bedford Y.M.C.A., all within five minutes’ walking distance.”

Prices were available “on application.” The telephone number was “Westport 308.”

Friday Flashback #268

A little feature of “06880”‘s daily Roundup is a song (or three) at the end.

It may be linked to an artist’s birthday. A historic happening, that day in history. Or a random connection to one of the stories in that particular Roundup.

It takes a bit of digging to find those birthdays and historic events. But most of the songs to accompany them pop into my head fairly quickly.

I’m no music expert. But I was fortunate enough to grow up knowing Sally White.

I first met her when I was about 12. Sally ran the record department at Klein’s, the downtown department store located for decades where Banana Republic most recently was.

She had plenty of famous customers — Dave Brubeck and Barry Tashian, to name two. But she always had time for me.

Later, she opened her own shop, a few yards north on Main Street. Because it was hers alone, Sally’s Place was even better than Klein’s.

Her customers were equally famous — Keith Richards and Mary Travers were regulars — but she still always had time for me. And everyone else.

She knew what we liked, and either had it or ordered it. She also knew what we would like, even if we didn’t know it at the time. Casually but insistently, she got it in our hands.

I thought of all that last week, when a photo of Sally surfaced on social media.

Sally White, at Klein’s Department Store. Her customer — Terry Coen — was a Staples High School student who became a noted record promoter. Like so many others, he learned a lot from Sally. (Photo courtesy of Steve Baldwin)

Thank you, Sally. Plenty of people comment on my Roundup selections of the day.

But you were my professor, at the College of Musical Knowledge.

(To read more on the closing of Sally’s Place in 2013, click here. To read tributes after her death in 2017, click here.)

Friday Flashback #267

Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of stuff from old-time Westport.

But I’ve never seen this:

(Courtesy of James Gray)

But not only have I never seen this — I’ve never heard of any of it.

Not Pecos Porkers.

Not Saugatuck’s Pecos Livestock Company.

I haven’t even heard of a Westport’s phone number that’s just “138.”

If anyone knows anything about our town’s apparently once-flourishing pork industry, click “Comments” below.

And if you have any clue why an advertisement for porkers would include a well-dressed lady and 2 horses, add that in too.

Friday Flashback #266

From time to time, our Friday Flashback visits Fountain Square. That’s the Post Road/Main Street intersection. Early in the 20th century — dominated by a large fountain (aka horse trough) — it’s where townspeople gathered to conduct business, socialize, and water their horses.

It was also known as “Hotel Square.” Prior to construction of the YMCA in 1923, the Westport Hotel stood on the corner.

Last weekend, Gitta Selva went to a flea market in New Milford. She bought a plate that depicts Hotel Square. The seller found it while cleaning out her mother’s house in Westport.

The inscription says it was reproduced from an original mural by Westport artist Robert Lambdin (1886-1981). It shows a street scene from 1875-1880, including the Westport Hotel.

There was plenty of action: well-dressed people bustling around a horse-drawn trolley, a horse drinking at the trough, others nearby at the hotel.

Lambdin’s mural hung in the Westport Bank & Trust building. Today it’s Patagonia — a few yards away from the scene shown on the plate.

The hotel is at the current site of Anthropologie. The trough is on Main Street. The white house behind it is where Patagonia is now. It looks quite a bit like the house that was converted a few years ago into the Spotted Horse restaurant.

If so, was that house moved later to its present site? Did Lambdin take artistic liberty with what he drew?

Click “Comments” below if you know. And if you are 100 years old and remember “Fountain Square,” we’d love to hear more!

Friday Flashback #265

The other day, I looked through some photos.

This shot — of a long-ago store in what was then Sherwood (now Sconset) Square — caught my eye.

(Photo courtesy of James Gray)

It was nothing special — just another local business.

But it got me thinking:

  • What’s happened to all our cool-looking, colorful stores?
  • Why don’t they have fun names anymore?
  • How come we lost all our paint shops?
  • And is this what is meant by “painting the town red”?

Friday Flashback #264

Here’s a flashback of a flashback.

Tobe Berkovitz posted this photo on social media. It first appeared in the Westport News. The date is unknown.

It shows 4 Westport youngsters — already grown, when the paper ran the image — receiving vaccinations, in the early 1960s.

The image was taken for an ad agency owned by Westporter Bill Backalenick. His children Paul and Lynn, and 2 Berkovitzes — Toby and Amy — served as models.

Were they being immunized against polio? Measles? Mumps?

Who knows. But whatever was in the vaccine worked. All 4 became healthy adults.

Friday Flashback #263

No bygone business has been mentioned more in “06880” than the Remarkable Book Shop.

The Main Street/Parker Harding corner store was a beloved, comfortable, meeting place. Whenever I need a reference point for a locally owned, customer-centric shop: Bingo!

But the Remarkable comes up in other ways too. There’s the Remarkable Bookcycle, a three-wheeled, mobile homage complete with the same pink color and logo.

There’s the Remarkable Theater, our downtown drive-in theater that takes its name directly — and fittingly — from that long-ago other entertainment option.

More recently, Cold Fusion Gelato — located opposite the former shop — hung the wooden “Remarkable Guy” inside, looking out on his old haunt.

And now Local to Market has opened on the book shop’s old site, offering food and crafts in a down-home way reminiscent of its predecessor.

But in all my references to the Remarkable Book Shop, I never knew that it was also part of a very popular children’s book.

The other day, alert “06880” reader Kerry Long spotted a Remarkable reference on Instagram. A user posted 2 images from Richard Scarry’s 1968 Random House classic, What Do People Do All Day?

There in the lower right corner — below drawings of a poet, artist and writer — was the Remarkable Book Shop.

A close-up shows that Scarry included the name of the proprietor: E. Kramer.

That would be Esther Kramer — the actual owner of the Westport store. (Regular “06880” readers know that the “Remarkable” name comes from “Kramer” spelled backward.)

So — decades later — the Remarkable Book Shop still lives. And not just on “06880,” but Instagram too.

Remarkable!

 

Friday Flashback #262

The more traffic clogs downtown, the more important it is to look back at bygone days.

Our “Friday Flashback” feature has focused on “Fountain Square” before. The Post Road (then called State Street)/Main Street intersection was dominated by a fountain. (Actually, a horse trough. “Trough Square” does not have quite the same ring.)

Well after a century later, we’re still finding “new” images of that old scene.

(Postcard courtesy of Seth Schachter)

Seth Schachter sent this along. It’s from well before 1923. The YMCA had not yet been built on the east side of the Main and State (now Anthropologie).

The bones of some of the buildings on the west — still standing today — are recognizable.

As for the trolley, the horse, the women’s fashions, and the fountain/trough: I wonder what the early 20th century version of Westport’s Downtown Association thought.

Friday Flashback #261

When Life magazine went looking for a mom-and-pop business to epitomize community involvement for its July 5, 1963 issue, it found one in Westport.

That’s not unusual: At the time, Westport was bursting with Time/Life editors and writers, and advertising executives at all the top shops.

Achorn’s Pharmacy was actually one of many local sponsors for Little League teams. (Though as alert “06880” reader — and former Little League player — Fred Cantor, who found this gem, points out, it was actually a “pop-and-grandpop”: the Main Street drugstore was owned by Murray and Henry Bravin.)

The Life text explains that the sponsor didn’t get to see his team play, because as an important part of of the community he opens early and closes late. Achorn’s, it seems, symbolized pharmacists and pharmacies everywhere.

Nearly 6 decades later, Achorn’s is still a Westport institution (though now at Playhouse Square). And local businesses continue to support Little League, softball, and countless other sports and youth activities in town.