Tag Archives: Paul Kowalsky

Friday Flashback #167

If you think the back entrances to Main Street stores — the ones on Parker Harding Plaza — look bad today, be glad you were not around in the mid-1950s.

Before the parking lot was built, the Saugatuck River lapped up against those stores.

The landfill changed downtown — and the river. It must have been quite a project. Jim Ezzes shares some photos of the construction.

The Westport Hardware building at the far left is the current site of The Gap.

A bit further south.

Paul and Mary Kowalsky — whose construction company created Parker Harding Plaza — stand next to an earth mover.

After 44 Years, The Hair Place Heads Out

When Betty Cabral and her husband Joe opened The Hair Place, they were the 2nd tenant in the Post Road strip mall after the anchor: Grand Union.

Their lease with owner Paul Kowalsky was sealed with a handshake.

Grand Union became Shaw’s. Now it’s Fresh Market. Dozens of other merchants came and left.

The Hair Place stayed.

Until now.

On July 31, Betty will close her long-running salon. The rent is going up — way up. There are new common charges, for the parking lot.

Financially, it’s just not worth it.

Betty Cabral and her brother, Carlo Palmer. He helped install the paneling -- 44 years ago -- with Betty's husband Joe.

Betty Cabral and her brother, Carlo Palmer. He helped install the paneling — 44 years ago — with Betty’s husband Joe.

Betty is a native Westporter. She and her brother, Carlo Palmer, grew up on Richmondville Avenue. She attended Bedford Elementary School (now Town Hall), Bedford Junior High (now King’s Highway Elementary) and — in 1955 — Staples (now Saugatuck El).

Like her brother Carlo — an industrial arts instructor at Staples, and other towns — Betty became a teacher (business education, at Stamford’s Rippowam High). She left when her children were born, then returned to work at Katharine Gibbs.

Her husband Joe was a 5th grade teacher in Stamford, but the Cabrals wanted to invest in a franchise. McDonald’s was too expensive, so they chose The Hair Place.

They opened in 1969, hiring a manager to run things. But they soon realized they had to be there themselves.

Hair PlaceWhen Joe died of pancreatic cancer, Betty took over. She prided herself on serving entire families — men, women and children. She’s now on her 3rd generation of customers.

“This is my home and my family,” she says with pride.

But it’s a home she’ll soon leave, after 44 years.

She is not sure what she’ll do next, but it will be something. “I can’t do nothing!” she says.

She extends a hearty “thank you!” to all her loyal customers, and many staff members.

“I’ve made so many good friends here,” Betty says. “I’ve had so many good experiences. It’s been wonderful.”

So has she.