Tag Archives: Ice Cream Parlor

Roundup: Wildfires, Ice Cream Parlor, Staples Sports …

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Westport Fire Department chief Robert Yost has returned from a 2-week national assignment, supporting wildland firefighters in Minnesota.

He calls this “an incredible training opportunity in large-scale incident management. Connecticut is not immune to a wildfire or large-scale natural disaster. We need to be just as prepared as our western counterparts. As the fires continue to burn, please keep all the firefighters out on assignment nationwide in your thoughts and prayers.”

When Yost arrived, the Greenwood Fire was 6,000 acres and 0% percent. During his deployment it grew to 26,000 acres, directly threatening the town of Isabella.

Yost was the medical unit leader trainee responsible for the entire incident, along with 7 fire line medics, 2 medical ATVs and 2 incident ambulances.

Chief Robert Yost at Greenwood Fire briefing.

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Yesterday’s “Unsung Hero” story highlighted a Saugatuck Elementary School custodian, hard at work cleaning drains after Hurricane Ida.

Now we can put a name to his dedication. He’s Al Orozco, head custodian at SES. As several readers — and staff members — noted, he is a gem. And well deserving of his Unsung honor.

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Butzi Moffitt — who as Butsy Beach owned the original ice cream parlor on Main Street in the 1950s — stopped in to Cold Fusion on Tuesday. The new gelato shop is just a few doors down from the first Ice Cream Parlor (where Brandy Melville is now).

Butzi — 93 years young — brought owners Eric and Kelly Emmert an original menu from 1954.

Bitzi Moffett shows Eric Emmert an original Ice Cream Parlor menu.

The menu.

Butzi — who also owned clothing stores on Main Street — was joined at Cold Fusion by her daughter Maggie Moffitt Rahe, a teacher at Coleytown Elementary School. Butzi also brought a photo of herself, outside the first shop.

From left: Amy Greene, and Bob and Butzi Beach, owners of the Ice Cream Parlor.

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The Staples football team’s home opener is tomorrow (7 p.m.). It should be a great game — the opponent is former coach Marce Petroccio’s Trumbull High — and getting tickets has never been easier.

Click here to purchase online; then have your phone ready to show at the gate. You can also click on the QR code below:

You can make Friday a Staples sports doubleheader, too. At 4 p.m., the boys soccer team hosts Ridgefield, in their 2021 season opener. Admission is free!

Reese Watkins, for the Wreckers. (Photo/Brian Watkins)

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The Westport Artists Collective’s pop-up shows pop up regularly. They’re eclectic, inspiring — and fun.

The next one runs from Wednesday, September 15 through Sunday, September 19 (2 to 6 p.m., Westport Country Playhouse). There’s an artists’ talk that final Sunday, at 3 p.m.

Like any pop-up, it will pop down quickly. Be sure to get there before it goes!

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Westport-based Fairfield County Writers’ Studio’s fall classes will be held via Zoom — at least for now.

There are some intriguing ones. Topics include Writing for Children; LGBTQ+ Workshop; Writing Your Memoir; Creative Writing; Novel Writing, and Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror.

Click here for details, and registration information.

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Among all our woodland creatures, we tend to overlook squirrels. They’re the Muzak of our backyard lives.

But Jamie Walsh captured this intriguing shot, reminding us to not overlook every living thing in our “Westport … Naturally” world.

(Photo/Jamie Walsh)

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And finally … today is September 9 — 9/9. Which means, of course:

 

 

 

Roundup: Commuters’ Coffee, Brook Cafe, Cold Fusion …

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The variety store at curve, where Riverside Avenue becomes Railroad Place — once known as Desi’s Corner — will soon become “Uncle Leo’s.” A small sign says simply “Steam Coffee Tea.”

There’s no indication when the renovation will be done.

It’s good news for train riders, who have been without a coffee shop on that side of the tracks since Commuter Coffee closed in 2018.

Let’s hope — for Uncle Leo’s sake — that there are soon actual rail commuters for his “Steam Coffee Tea.”

(Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

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First,  Cold Fusion hung the Remarkable Guy — a remnant of the long-ago book store across Main Street from the new gelato shop — on its wall.

Now it’s paying homage to another iconic ancestral neighbor.

The original Ice Cream Parlor was a few doors down — where Brandy Melville is now.

It moved twice, eventually ending up on the Post Road diagonally across from the Westport Country Playhouse. That’s where it was in 1966, when this ad appeared in a Playhouse playbill. Longtime Westporter (and, no doubt, longtime Ice Cream Parlor fan) Paula Schooler gave it to Cold Fusion.

In addition to the Ice Cream Parlor’s brunch, lunch and dinner offerings, and penny candies (“the largest assortment under the sun”), the ad touted Terpsichore. That was the restaurant’s discotheque — “Westport’s first” — with “Go-Go Girls in their Bird Cages.”

From ice cream to gelato — and go-go girls to #MeToo — we’ve come a long way, baby.

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One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic is that the New York Times wedding announcements are a lot more interesting.

When fewer couples got married last year, the paper began writing actual stories out of how they meet, and how their relationships developed.

Here’s the lead in one “Vows” story in the Styles section yesterday:

On a summer evening in a previous century, Garrett Foster, then 27, summoned up his courage and entered a gay bar for the first time. At the Brook in Westport, Conn., which, until it closed, was the oldest continually operating gay bar in the country, he laid eyes on Brian Murray, then 31. Mr. Murray had once been a regular, but that was his first night there in a while. Their connection was immediate.

“I knew I was going to spend my life with this man,” Mr. Foster said. What he couldn’t have guessed, was that he would legally marry him someday.

That marriage was July 13, 2021 — 31 years to the day after they first met. Click here for all the details.

Brian Murray (left) and Garrett Foster. (Photo courtesy of New York Times)

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Haslea is the name of  Jeff Northrop’s new aquaculture company operating on Sherwood Mill Pond. After testing the concept a few years ago with Hummock Island Shellfish, he began developing a more streamlined approach to growing bivalves on the oyster grounds that have been in his family since the 1700s.

Haslea plans to use the Mill Pond not to maximize production, but as an R&D pond for selective breeding oysters for disease resistance. It’s part of a larger natural oyster restoration along the coast they’re working on.

The company — including chief technology officer Luke Gray of MIT — has provisional patents for a new fully robotic growing system that could produce oysters for 1/10th the cost. It’s for offshore sites, and will not be used in the Mill Pond.

Co-founder Jonathan Goldstein moved to Westport recently, to help Jeff. He was previously with Compass in New York.

Chief operating officer Roberto Aguaya Diaz moved from Texas, where he postponed his MBA to help build Haslea. His family has an aquaculture background, with shrimp farms.

Aquaculture in the SherwoodoMill Pond.

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“Native species do attract monarchs,” says Morgan Mermagen of today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

She hopes this photo — and others like it — to plant with those ideas in mind.

(Photo/Morgan Mermagen)

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And finally … I don’t know how, but I missed a big anniversary. It was 40 years ago yesterday that MTV began broadcasting. The first video was, as everyone knows …

 

Friday Flashback #238

The news that not one but two gelato shops are coming to Main Street is mouth-watering. They’ll be packed, and add plenty of life to downtown.

But they won’t be the first such places.

In 1954, the Ice Cream Parlor opened where Brandy Melville is now. It was an instant hit. Fred Cantor found this story from that year:

Several years later, the Ice Cream Parlor moved to Compo Shopping Center, where Cohen’s Fashion Optical is now. Its final location was on Post Road East just past Colonial Green, in what is now an office building.

Generations of Westporters remember the Ice Cream Parlor’s wrought iron chairs, penny candy, ice cream concoctions, and the “Pig’s Trough.” If you finished it, you didn’t have to pay. It was $69.95 half a century ago. That’s serious money.

A small portion of the Ice Cream Parlor menu. “The Pigs Trough” cost $69.95 — but was free if one person could eat it all in 3 hours. Above it was the “Staples Fruit Delight,” a large $2 sundae.

And of course, there was the menu, signed by everyone famous who ever enjoyed the Ice Cream Parlor.

Today’s kids are making their own childhood memories at Saugatuck Sweets — the modern-day Ice Cream Parlor.

Soon, we’ll add gelato shops to the mix. Here’s wishing them long, fruitful lives here.

And if they really want to win our hearts, they should add a Pig’s Trough.

Friday Flashback #201

Years from now, kids growing up in Westport today will look back with love on Saugatuck Sweets.

The Riverside Avenue hangout has it all: great ice cream, and plenty of other sweet treats. An inviting, we-want-you-here vibe. A plaza right on the river, with music and other entertainment. It’s a special go-to place for kids (of all ages).

Decades ago, the Ice Cream Parlor played a similar role. Pretending (in the 1950s, ’60s and ’70s) to be an “old-fashioned” ice cream shop, it was known for sundaes, a “pig’s trough” (if you finished it all, you didn’t have to pay), and penny candy like dots you licked off wax paper (seriously?).

It was a family spot, somewhere to go after the movies, definitely a date destination.

The pink Ice Cream Parlor on the Post Road, painted by Gabrielle Dearborn. It’s now a non-pink office building.

The Ice Cream Parlor had 3 incarnations. It started on Main Street, on the first floor of the building The Brownstone recently vacated (next to what’s now Savvy + Grace and the former Tavern on Main restaurant — back then, Chez Pierre).

The Ice Cream Parlor moved to the north end of Compo Shopping Center (now Cohen’s Fashion Optical). The final spot was on the Post Road just east of Colonial Green; it’s now a real estate office, opposite Quality Towing & Auto Repair.

In 1955, Seventeen Magazine used the first location for a photo shoot. I’m not sure what the story was. But these images — sent along by Brenda Pool — are either very iconic, or very ironic.

(Photos/Dennis Warsaw)

Friday Flashback #52

Today, the Friday Flashback turns 1 year old.

Since last summer, we’ve featured some fascinating photos of Westport’s past: The sanitarium. The Compo Beach bathhouses. Gorham Island. Ray the Good Humor Man.

To celebrate this anniversary, I wanted something truly iconic.

The cannons? Minute Man? Remarkable Book Shop? Big Top?

Nah. They’ve all been featured many times on “06880.”

The Minnybuses? Arnie’s Place? A bit too narrow.

Suddenly, it hit me. For generations of kids of all ages, nothing said “Westport” like the Ice Cream Parlor.

The final location, on the Post Road.

In 3 locations — Main Street, Compo Shopping Center, and finally the Post Road (opposite what is now Qdoba) — the Ice Cream Parlor served up a lot more than sundaes, wax candy and a Pig’s Trough.

It served up memories.

Mine are of wrought-iron chairs, more ice cream flavors than Howard Johnson’s, and jars filled with candy.

What are yours? Click “Comments” below.

An Ice Cream Parlor menu, signed by famous people who had been there.

It Was Ever Thus

Alert “06880” reader Ann Sheffer sent this along, from the “Exit 18” Facebook page. Lise Krieger wrote it for the Westport News. It could have been written in 2014. But the dateline was more than 20 years ago: March of 1994.

With the imminent closing of The Remarkable Book Shop, downtown Westport, as many of us knew it, is taking its final, dying breath. What used to be a unique town, filled with mom and pop stores, unusual gift and clothing shops, and family restaurants, has succumbed to the latest American disease: “malling.”

The much-loved Remarkable Book Shop (Photo/Westporters.com)

The much-loved Remarkable Book Shop. It was on the corner of Main Street and Parker Harding Plaza.  (Photo/Westporters.com)

Newcomers and younger folks love the new Westport – and why wouldn’t they? It has every chic clothing store chain that dress-alikes love to patronize. It has coffee bistros. It is expensive. Its parking lots are packed with Volvos, Jeeps, and Range Rovers. Westport is the place to shop and be seen. The mall transformation will be complete when a roof is erected over the entire area.

For comfort, I want to blame this affliction on somebody. Is it the fault of the chain store operators for wanting to increase their bottom line? Is it the fault of the consumers who desperately need to conform fashionably? Is it the fault of town government which allows the transformation? Or is it the fault of store owners who sell out?

I guess no one is to blame, really. Main Street towns all over America are dying because they can’t compete with the shopping malls sprouting like chicken pox throughout their areas. Westport is simply staying in the race.

Back in the 1970s, a Mobil station sat opposite what was then Westport Pizzeria. Today, it''s Vineyard Vines.

Back in the 1970s, a Mobil station sat opposite what was then Westport Pizzeria. Today, it”s Vineyard Vines.

I grew up in Weston and spent much of my childhood on Main Street. I hardly go there anymore unless I absolutely have to. At the risk of sounding bitter, I hate the crowds, I hate the stores, I hate the entire atmosphere. Yes, nostalgia can be a powerful emotional force. I don’t want to accept Westport the way it is today; I want to remember it the way it used to be.

When my brothers and I were young, my mother shopped for our clothing basics at Greenberg’s Department Store. My brothers got their formal clothes up the Post Road at Paul Zabin’s, and I was outfitted for my party duds at Trudy Gary’s….

Often my father took me to town on Saturdays to keep him company while doing errands. I loved to visit my neighbor, Mr. Messex, who worked at Hartman’s Hardware Store. The worn wooden floor was always neatly swept, and the tools, hardware and garden equipment were always in place. The store smelled faintly of fertilizers and insect repellents. If Hartman’s was out of something we needed, my dad would visit its competitor, Welch’s, up the street.

Back in the day, there were mom-and-pop stores on Main Street. And 2-way traffic.

Back in the day, there were mom-and-pop stores on Main Street. And 2-way traffic.

My father bought his office supplies at Klein’s and was a regular patron of the record section before Sally moved to her own place. We often perused the bookshelves that sat atop crooked, wooden floors at Remarkable, and Dorain’s Drug Store, recently gone from Main Street, was the only place we knew for our pharmacy needs. My father knew the names of all of the people who worked in these stores, giving the Saturday trips to town a social air, as well.

Before fueling up at the gas station where The Limited now stands, dad would take me to Bill’s Smoke Shop for a treat. We sat at the counter and ate ice cream sundaes, and then I looked at the comic book racks while my father read the paper.

One of our regular dinner stops was Westlake, a dimly lit Chinese restaurant. If we were lucky, we were seated next to a window overlooking Needle Park. That was the name given to the hangout for hippies, and it was therefore assumed, drug-users. It was Westport’s answer to the ’60s counter-culture, and always made for interesting people watching….

Main Street 1976, by Fred Cantor. West Lake (left) had just closed.

Main Street 1976. West Lake (left) had just closed. (Photo/Fred Cantor)

There was a musical instrument store around the corner from Main, and when Baskin-Robbins went in across the street, a night at the movies took on new meaning. While my mother usually shopped for groceries at the less costly Stop and Shop, Westport Food Center and Gristede’s were there for forgotten items.

At night the greatest place to go for a bottle of wine and some live folk music was Grass Roots, which shared a wall with its rowdier counterpart, Ye Olde Bridge Grille. My parents often ate at Chez Pierre, while my friends and I stopped at competing pizza parlors, the Westport Pizzeria and S & M—both of which are still there, thank God….

One of the saddest deaths in Westport was the closing of the Ice Cream Parlor. The big pink palace was special for my brothers and me, a place where we bought bags full of penny candy from the turn of the century candy shop, ate hamburgers and ice cream sundaes in the ornately decorated parlor, and watched old 5-cent movies on the machines that hovered in the corner of the room.

The Ice Cream Parlor was a one-of-a-kind place, the kind of establishment that gave Westport its character. But it’s gone and soon its pink sister, The Remarkable Book Store, will be gone too. While the new Westport generation will have its Gap, J. Crew, and Banana Republic memories, mine will be of two pink ladies and a handful of one-of-a-kind shops.

Ice Cream Parlor

The Ice Cream Parlor, on the Post Road not far from Main Street.

 

And Here Is…The Ice Cream Parlor

Just as dessert is worth waiting for — so was this photo.

Since Sunday, “06880” has announced the opening of a new ice cream parlor in Saugatuck. Posted a Tracy Sugarman drawing of teenagers in the old Ice Cream Parlor. And added a menu, from the Westport Historical Society archives.

We searched all week for a photo of the iconic hangout.

Finally, we found one.

Ice Cream Parlor

This was the Ice Cream Parlor’s 3rd location, next to Colonial Green and across from the now-closed Getty station.

Nelson Morgan — a Staples Class of 1953 graduate, who calls himself a “Westport expatriate now living in Milford” — sent it along.

He said it’s from “the late 1950s or early ’60s.” I think it’s later. In the late ’50s and early ’60s, the Ice Cream Parlor was located first on Main Street (next to what is now Tavern on Main), then in Compo Shopping Center (the current site of Cohen’s eyewear store).

More telling is the sign above the door on the left. It read “The Rage Boutique/Clothiers.”

The shop selling “groovy” clothes was located underneath the Ice Cream Parlor. “Boutiques” were not “the rage” until the mid-’60s.

Penny candy and syrupy drinks in wax bottles upstairs. Fringe vests and go-go boots downstairs.

Was that a great place or what?

Ice Cream Parlor Games

On Sunday, “06880” reported on the return of an ice cream parlor to Westport. The post was illustrated with a snippet of a menu from the old, much-loved Ice Cream Parlor downtown.

Two days later, I added Tracy Sugarman’s 1950s drawing of teenagers inside the popular hangout.

Now — thanks to Kathie Bennewitz — I’ve got an entire front cover of the menu.

Ice cream Parlor menuBut not just any menu. Kathie — the town’s art curator — says this one was signed by dozens of actors.They performed at the Westport Country Playhouse. After shows, they crossed the Post Road for a treat.

Among the names: Elizabeth Taylor. Mike Todd.  Claude Raines. Sid Caesar. Eli Wallach. Kirk Douglas. David Wayne. Dorothy Gish. Gene Tierney. Bert Lahr. Doris Day.

Imagine the stories they could dish.

(The menu is now part of the Westport Historical Society archives.)

That Was Fast!

A couple of hours after posting this morning’s “06880” — wondering why there’s a “Remember When?” sign in the storefront of Saugatuck Craft Butchery, which expanded across the street — we’ve got an answer.

An anonymous — but tuned-in — Westporter says the new tenant will be an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor. Serving gelato.

That’s perfect. It brings back the much-loved “Ice Cream Parlor” concept. Its 3 incarnations — on Main Street next to the current Tavern on Main; in Compo Shopping Center where Cohen Fashion opticians is now; finally further west on the Post Road across from the now-vacant Getty gas station — were beloved Westport institutions.

The pink Ice Cream Parlor on the Post Road, painted by Gabrielle Dearborn. It's now a non-pink office building.

The pink Ice Cream Parlor on the Post Road, painted by Gabrielle Dearborn. It’s now a non-pink office building.

One of the best features of the new Saugatuck Center redevelopment is its emphasis on fun, local businesses — a kayak place, that Craft butchery, restaurants and a new gourmet market. The lone chain — Dunkin Donuts — blends in nicely with the rest of Bridge Square.

But this is not your father’s Saugatuck. Gelato is the new vanilla.

And — mamma mia! — it’s Italian, too.

A small portion of the Ice Cream Parlor menu. "The Pigs Trough" cost $69.95 -- but was free if one person could eat it all in 3 hours. Above it was the "Staples Fruit Delight," a large $2 sundae.

A small portion of the vast Ice Cream Parlor menu.