That was a great place! First they were on 79 Atlantic Street, close to the Palace Theatre, later they moved to "1 Landmark Square," those shops in the Landmark Building that are actually on Broad Street, and the store finally morphed into Ritz Camera.
They did all kinds of services, such as repairing or cleaning your equipment, and there was a wonderful fellow by the name of Phil (I can't remember his last name and hope readers will help me out) who patiently spent time with me going over my slides, helping me decide on how to have them cropped for large prints. Some of these still grace my hallway, and my nature photos always made great Christmas presents.
Unfortunately, they are too large for me to scan and show here.
The Atlantic Market. Originally on Atlantic Street close to where Tresser Blvd. is now. Urban redevelopment sent the market (and his neighbor Karp's Hardware) to Hope Street. Ernst (as in Ernst Buggisch) Senior was the original "German butcher," and not only would he prepare German-style meat cuts, he would give you the recipe also. Good turkeys with the recipe too, come Thanksgiving. And then there was all that German imported food, especially around Christmas time. And he had a local baker at hand with excellent pastries. Later, he opened the Heidelberg, and I found this write-up in the Times from 1989: DINING OUT; 'Teutonically Inspired' Fare in Stamford. Alas, Ernst eventually retired to North Carolina. His son Ernst ran the market for a while, but then got into the restaurant business, and sold the store. It closed a few months ago, not much lamented. Now I'll have to hunt around for a decent Christmas Stollen …
La Bretagne in its heyday. We used to know one of the owners (name escapes me) when he was maitre-d' at the Country Kitchen. He and his partner opened the restaurant in the Town & Country shopping center, replacing a Chinese place. The best meal for my German boss Gottfried and me was the Steak Tartare. They would prepare it at one's table, with a choice of spirits … this of course was before the time that everyone became health conscious about "raw" food. And the cheese came always at room temperature. They catered Gottfried's wedding too. The restaurant later moved to the post road, close to the Greenwich border, and is still there today, under a different management.
The Country Kitchen on Long Ridge Rd. In the olden days, it had an excellent chef, and the then owner, a Mr. Sendele, was an even better one, which we discovered when we had booked a small but important private party and the chef was sick, and Sendele took over the kitchen.
While this is not actually Stamford, my very first dining out in this country was at Emily Shaw's. But then again, Pound Ridge originally was part of Stamford.
All this nostalgia thing, BTW, started when I posted Holding a book in one's hand before buying and Anne and I bemoaned the long ago demise of independent bookstores in Stamford, and we went on a roll talking stores in general. Although we are a generation apart, there are a number of places we both miss. Such as the Cheese Shop in the High Ridge Shopping Center…today, you'll have to drive to Darien to get the same kind of personal service, and it's closer for Anne than for me.
Back to independent bookstores: The Barrett Bookstore, now in Noroton, started out in Stamford, on Summer Street, in the free-standing building just below what was then the Stamford YWCA (of which I also have a memory, for another day). I was a steady customer there. The advent of the Mall drove the store to the High Ridge Shopping Center, to a cozy little place which David Rose took over from a little old lady who was ready to retire. And then came Bassett Books (now Borders), and that was soon the end it, and Barrett's moved to Darien.
The Phonograph Shop (click to enlarge and look for the Magnavox sign)
Similarly, the Phonograph Shop on 66 Broad Street, around the
corner from Summer Street, was an early casualty of the Mall. The
owners were James Perez and Richard Sorenson, though I don't remember
anymore who was who. But whoever it was, he was a friend in need! I'd
see a music review in the Times and would walk over to order the record, and
James (or Richard?) would say, "Oh, I got that for you already!"
Sherry, Wine & Spirits (click to enlarge)
Another friendly couple were the Rubinsteins, mother and son, who ran Sherry, Wine & Spirits on Bedford Street, about where the Capriccio Café is now. The son dispensed sage advise on wine; and over a cup of coffee or two, Mrs. Rubinstein and I would talk classical music, endlessly …
I've lived in Stamford a long time. Long enough to remember when this
was a place where independent storefronts could do well, before every
mall and shopping center in America became exactly the same.
was back then that Stamford had two side-by-side shopping centers:
Ridgeway and Town and Country. When I was a pre-teen, it was a huge
rite of passage to be unleashed on these shopping centers with $10 or
$20 of babysitting money burning a hole in your pocket. Eventually,
a more generic strip mall that is identical to those found in every other
town across America, with the world's most insane parking lot, and Town and Country was razed to become a hotel.
anyone who lived in Stamford back then probably has fond memories of a
few of the places within these centers—businesses that would be
unlikely to thrive in today's consumer climate, with high retail rents
that allow only big chain stores into accessible shopping center
storefronts instead of a more interesting mix of chain and indie. So
let's take a walk down memory lane; a walk that doesn't include having
to navigate the currently insane Ridgeway parking lot by car.
What kid or teen in the 70s or early 80s in Stamford didn't have ...
a customized iron-on t-shirt from The T-Tree in 40 Boutiques?
a fringed leather bag from ... that store that sold the fringed leather bags and western-style belts?
a pile of books and records to exchange for another pile of books and records at the Record and Book Exchange?
happy memories of Major the myna bird in the candy store?
a story of getting yelled at for peeking at naughty greeting cards in Pilgrim Stationery?
steady history of birthday cakes from the Cottage Bake Shop? (These
cakes, as far as my sisters and I are concerned, set the gold standard
for birthday cakes and have been unmatched since, though we are still
searching for an adequate replacement these many years later.)
job at at least one of the stores? (Me: Waldenbooks, plus a brief gig
selling kitchen supplies at a sidewalk sale for the culinary shop that used to be on Sixth
a first Major Embarrassing Purchase at Syl-May?
a thrill upon going in through the turnstile at Discount Records?
birthday party outfitted by paper goods at Paper Palace? (perhaps
stopping for fries at the lunch counter after making the stressful
choice of party supply theme)
a feeling of really, truly,
actually being in a streetside cafe in New Orleans or even --- gasp!
--- Paris! --- while having lunch in the cafe at 40 Boutiques?
a memory of sitting at a wee wooden table at the Union Trust, flipping through Little Golden Books while enjoying a lollipop?
pairs of shoes (and balloons) from Barry's? (Barry's was the last holdout from the Glory Days of Summer
Street shopping, but sadly the store closed in 2007, just before my son was
old enough to need his first pair of shoes)
a Halloween pumpkin or a Christmas tree from Franco Gardens?
deep fascination with the rolling conveyor belt that carried your
groceries out of Gran Central Market so you could pick them up out back?
an undying wish to ride the mechanical ponies outside Sears, no matter what your age?
What are your memories? Please share!
All photos courtesy of the Stamford Historical Society.