Historical Association


Memories & Photos

Joan (Shermet) Fuller: Posted on Saturday, January 07, 2017 11:55 PM

I'm a little younger than others who have posted here, but Woodmont, CT is in my soul. My grandparents, Leon and Rita Shermet, owned a summer house in Woodmont. I don't remember the exact street, but I know if I went out the front porch and turned right, it led me about 4 blocks to the beach. The house was my sanctuary, my safe place, and holds the most magical moments of my youth. I believe that my grandparents moved there somewhere around 1960. It was an enclave of many of our Jewish family and friends. When I was 5 my mother died and shortly thereafter my father remarried and we would go there on the weekends to spend time with "Bubby" and Grandpa. It was the first place that I was allowed to roam freely - usually from 6 am until it was dark - because I knew someone or was related to someone on almost every block. My cousins' grandmother, Molly Kampner, was a baker who on Wednesdays would make sticky buns. All of us kids (a group of about 5-10, depending on the week) would sit on her porch and wait for her to bring them out on a tray with a pitcher of milk. Talk about heaven - I've never tasted any as good. I remember the fields of gladiolas that we would pass and the stands where we got some for my grandmother. I also remember the farms with fresh vegetables and fruit that we would give to my grandmother for meals. Most of all I remember how simple life was. Swimming, riding my bike, hanging out on the porch at night listening to my grandparents and parents playing bridge. I remember my little room upstairs with the "It's a Small World" curtains and pink rosebud silk comforter that was always so cool after a hot day at the beach. I remember the little grocery store by the beach (but unfortunately not the name of it) where my brother and I would buy popsicles. I also remember having my first kiss by the breakfront at the beach and being so scared of it I ran home and refused to leave the cottage all day! It was my retreat from the city (NY) and I loved every moment there. Sometimes, my grandmother would leave us the cottage for a few weeks so we would get enrolled at summer camp in Milford. If anyone remembers my family I would love to hear from you.

Add Comments

Leslie Hecht Eudowe: Posted on Thursday, June 16, 2016 4:58 PM

From infancy I was visiting family on Hillside Avenue. My greatest memory of that time was walking across the street in my water shoes with my grandma and my tante in their black bathing suits to go take a "dunk" in the water. I can still see them in my mind and it always makes me smile. Then there were the summer days spent on Anchor Beach with teens from all over the area. Those were the best summers ever. Harmless fun at the beach with a bunch of great people - many of whom I still have contact with. And little did I know that as an adult I would bump in to a guy who visited his relatives on Hillside Avenue those same years I was visiting and we would get married and end up living on Hillside Avenue as a family. Talk about coming full circle!

Add Comments

Arlene Levitt Weyler: Posted on Monday, November 03, 2014 9:32 PM

My family is from Meriden, CT where I grew up. Our summer home was at 43 West Cherry St. Born in 1931, I remember the Anchor Beach life each summer being the highlight of my life. My cousins, Myron and Paula Yudkin lived on the same street along with the Brenner, Grodd, Gelbert, Zaientz, Perlin and Lebov families. Does anyone remember the Tobak soda fountain and pinball machines at the corner of Village Rd. and Kings Highway or Peterson's Food Store, Sussmans Variety Store or the little Post Office that we went to daily to collect our mail? My grandfather,, Harry Gordon, who was a scrap iron dealer in Meriden, CT was involved in the start of the Woodmont shul . He walked there every Saturday with my dad and uncles to observe the Sabbath. I met the love of my life on my 13th birthday in Woodmont. The late, Dr. Morton Weyler and I were happily married for 61 years until his death in 2013. My memories of Woodmont are endless and beautiful and will never be forgotten.

Add Comments

Francine Rogers: Posted on Sunday, October 12, 2014 1:36 PM

I, too, spent every summer in Woodmont at 36 Merwin Avenue, since I was about 6 years old. That was in 1952. My NY friends stayed in Parsky's Hotel on the Long Island Sound. The Grove family owned the big house across the street from our house. My friends were from New Haven and Ansonia as well as other towns. Those were the best memories of my life as well. I will look for my photographs of bagel beach as I was always taking pictures. I knew the Gitlitz family who owned the bakery in New Haven and I used to have hot brownies at midnight! They were great.

Add Comments

Dr. Peter Aaronson: Posted on Thursday, October 18, 2012 12:30 PM

My Grandfather, Harry Aaronson, came to this country as an infant in 1882 from Poland with his parents Harris and Pauline Aaronson. My Grandmother, Sadie Hartenstein was born in New Haven in 1886. After getting married they lived in New Haven but summered in Woodmont. In 1912 my grandfather opened a pawn shop and jewelry store on Congress Avenue in New Haven diagonally across from the start of Legion Avenue. Legion Avenue was the heart of shopping for Jews in the Hill section and Kensington Square area of New Haven. My father Larry Aaronson was born in 1912 and my Mother Ruth Finklestein Aaronson was born in 1913 to Bernard and Lena Finklestein who were in the scrap metal business in New Haven. Although my paternal grandparents eventually separated they spent their married summers in Woodmont and continued to do so thereafter. After separating my grandfather lived in a house on the corner of Hawley Avenue and Village Road (in those days called Cherry Street) and my grandmother purchased a store front home in the little Center of Woodmont on Village Road. On the ground floor she opened a general store and sold everything from women’s dresses to Toys and home goods. I especially liked going into the store and many times walking out with a toy she had given to me. She lived with her sister Hilda Hartenstein on the second floor which housed an old coal stove which heated the area and an ice block refrigerator. In the 1926 my grandfather was one of the founding members of the Hebrew Woodmont Synagogue. My grandfather and other members of our family belonged to Bnai Jacob on George Street in New Haven and attended services there in the fall, winter and spring. However, it was impossible for them to travel back to Bnai Jacob during the summer while living in Woodmont. Having no place to worship he was influential in organizing and founding the Woodmont Synagogue. My father Larry Aaronson purchased a home at 7 chapel Street in 1946 and over the years made improvements to it to eventually make it a year round house. My brothers Dr. Arthur Aaronson and Dr. Robert Aaronson and spent all our summers at the house on Chapel Street and spent our time swimming at the Anchor and Horse Shoe Beach, climbing on tank rock, fishing, and boating. Other members of our extended family including my aunts and Uncles, Archie and Pauline Thalberg, Joe and Adele Aaronson, and Eli and Ann Lettes summered in Woodmont. All my cousins were there as well as friends from New Haven and new friends from as far as West Hartford and Middletown. They were wonderful and memorable times spent with family and friends. What was always special to me was the little seasonal synagogue my grandfather played such a big part in organizing. I heard today, October 16, 2012 that the synagogue caught fire. I have heard that thankfully the Torahs and other special scripts and documents were saved. This afternoon I took a ride out and all the memories of my youth returned and I was saddened as I viewed the little synagogue. I also felt somewhat guilty that it took a tragic incident to bring me back to a place I had not visited for about 40 years. I hope that the building can be restored and this very special historic place can serve as a place of worship for the Jewish people once again.

Add Comments

Mrs. Beverly Pava: Posted on Tuesday, April 24, 2012 11:27 AM

If you ever walked down Hillside Avenue in Woodmont, then you passed a white cottage on 133 with the sign "TA-KIT-EZ". It was in that cottage on the beach that I spent every summer from 1929 to the early 2000's. I recall my parents wheeling me in the carriage all the way to to the VILLA ROSA on Sunday evening for ice cream sundaes. During the week my dad was back in Springfield working, so this was our treat. Most days we swam and had"cookouts" on the beach in the evenings. All we needed to do was run over to Allinson's and buy the hotdogs and marshmallows! We did all our marketing at the three stores around Sloppy Joes. Sometimes, we would walk to the anchor to the general store and the library! I recall performing at the Milford Summer Theater when I was older. Who needed camp? We had our girlfriends and the neighbohood boys to hang out with. We had the Capitol Theater in Milford and Savin Rock for entertainment. When Sam and I started dating, he would come to Woodmont on Sundays with my sister Milly and her husband who were driving down for the day. It was on the rocks at the anchor that we got engaged. After we married and had our boys, they too enjoyed each summer, learning to swim, sail, motor boat, and best of all take long hikes with their dad on Saturday afternoon. Friday evening and Shabbos they all went to shul and it was in the Woodmont shul that they honed their skils at reading the Torah and davening. Sunday morning breakfast at shul was an experience. The women prepared while the men davenened and then all enjoyed breakfast together. Aaron Katzman, then President, awarded our son Jeremy a lovely plaque for his participation in shul activities! It still adorns his shelf. The yearly card parties were fun for kids and adults. I even remember when the shul had a yearly dinner! I wrote a history of the shul when we celebrated the 75th year. Moses and his wife Vivian tell us that they got engaged on the rocks at the anchor (shades of his parents). It was in Woodmont, twenty years ago this coming summer that our family got together to wish our oldest son and his wife and five children farewell, as they made Aliyah to Israel. The cottage on Hillside Avenue was a retreat for the Fein Family, the Kimball family and the Pavas. We hope you remember us, we have certainly never forgotten Woodmont. When we were happy, we wold dance around the dinner table. There were squabbles when three or four or five women tried to cook in the ktchen at once. We celebrated simchas and mourned losing family members. 

Add Comments

Mr. Lee & Mrs. Lillian Liberman: Posted on Monday, January 30, 2012 12:24 AM

Mr. & Mrs. Liberman with portraits of themselves in their youth

Mr. & Mrs. Liberman with portraits of themselves in their youth

Lee: 1942 was my first summer in Woodmont. I lived in Springfield, MA. My brother-in-law’s mother had a cottage right behind Sloppy Joe’s. I came down one summer from Sunday to Sunday. I stayed at Mrs. Wixman’s place where I paid $15 for room and board for the entire week! She served 3 delicious meals a day.

Lill: It was a cloudy day and I had nothing to do, so I decided to take the trolley to Woodmont and spend the day with my girlfriend Pauline whose family had a cottage there. My mother said, “S’balt gein a regen—it’s going to rain soon.” I said, “Who cares?” I went to Pauline’s cottage and her mother was there with her sisters, so we decided to go to the beach. That’s where I met the love of my life. He threw a pebble at me to get my attention. We started talking, and I thought he was nice. I remember he asked me what I do for excitement. At that time we had Savin Rock so I told him about it. He asked me if I would care to go with him. I said I have to ask my mother—I was 16! My mother said I could go if Pauline came, too. So she brought a friend and all four of us went to Savin Rock. We spent some dates walking back and forth to the Anchor. A year later in the beginning of 1944, we were married. 

Lee: I was in the Service for 3 years. I was overseas for a little over a year, shortly after we got married.

Lill: I went to Woodmont from as far back as I can remember. When I was really little, Papa didn’t work on Sundays, and that’s when we went to Woodmont. We’d park at Platt’s, and there was a little shed and cottage. It cost 10 cents to park and that allowed to you change in the shed which had a shower. For 15 cents, you could change in Mrs. Platt’s own house and use her toilet. We’d spend the day at the beach which was so full, it was hard to find a place to sit. My mother would make food on Friday. She’d make “gedempte fleish,” roasted meat with potatoes, and heat it up on Sunday morning, and wrap it with newspapers and blankets. When we’d eat at 2:00 p.m. it was still piping hot. Even after the sun went down, we stayed. Everyone would sit around at Platt’s…I remember the mosquitoes killing us, and everyone would slap at them. We’d stay until 8 or 9 at night. They had soda in a big barrel which cost 5 cents.

I was very friendly with Ruthie Glickman. Her father Mr. Glickman had a row of bathhouses, and for 10 cents you got a key and could use the bathhouse to change into your bathing suit. They had a little shack in the front with candy, ice cream, and soda. Sloppy Joe’s was right near there and would be open until 3 in the morning! The Stuart House was across from Sloppy Joe’s on the water. They rented out rooms and had a communal kitchen. Each family would get one shelf in the refrigerator. My Tante Ettel and Uncle Myer used to stay there with their 2 children, and when I would join them, it would be all 5 of us in one room! During meals, I remember how people would say, “einmetze hot geganvet di putter” (someone stole the butter) and everyone would act like they were deaf, and say, “Not me.”

My friend Lois used to spend summers at the Poli Estate as a companion to a young girl whose parents rented one of the estate homes. It was all very private, but I did go in once, and I remember how beautiful it was, especially the marble floors. I remember that there was a wedding on Abigail St. Mrs. Lettick’s niece married Arnie Saslow outside Mrs. Lettick’s home on the beach.

Lee: Mr. Lebov, a carpenter who did some work at the synagogue, lived near the Poli’s and he had an elevator in his house, which was a novelty.

Lill: After we got married we came to Woodmont in the summers. For several years, we rented a cottage on Sperry Court, off of Merwin Ave. We had a living room, kitchen, and 2 small bedrooms. We had 2 children at that time and we were all in one room, and my parents—who, when they heard we were renting, said “mir kumen eichet” (we’re coming, too)—stayed in the second room. Our neighbors were Gella Rogoff, the Avigdors, and Lillian & George Kerson. We’d spend our days on the beach, of course. We’d get up in the morning, and the kids would play a little on the porch. Then we’d all go and sit on the beach and stay there the whole day, moving a bit for the shade.

People would rent their cottages in the wintertime to ensure that they would get a cottage. Many, when they left on Labor Day, already left a deposit for the next year. If they didn’t, the cottages would fill up. It seemed as if everybody was in Woodmont.

Lee: The HCW was a real old-fashioned shul, with wooden floors, stained glass windows, and wooden benches. We’d go on Shabbos. In New Haven, we lived on Button St. We bought our house for $25,000—we paid $99 a month for our mortgage and taxes.

We went to Woodmont from the 1940s through the 1970s. At the end of this period, the Jewish community there was dwindling. The older generation had kept everything together as a family unit, and once they were gone, things fell apart. Joining country clubs became popular, Momauguin was an attraction, and people in general looked to go elsewhere for the summers. The last time we were there was with all three of our children. Our oldest daughter Anita was married and she came with her husband, Danny.  

Add Comments

Mrs. Sonia Goldberg: Posted on Wednesday, January 25, 2012 11:04 PM

I was born in 1934, and at the age of just one month old I spent my first summer in Woodmont – and I’ve spent every single summer since then in Woodmont with just one exception, the summer my grandfather passed away. Benjamin Rosenthal (Benjamin St. is named for him) built our cottage in 1924 where Merwin & Edgefield Avenues meet, two doors away from the Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont. Mr. Rosenthal told us that before he built the cottage, that spot was called “Back Beach,” so it seems that the area was covered in water. Our cottage was first owned by Mr. Ruderman (see his daughter Frances’ memories post on this blog) for 10 years, and then my grandfather bought it.

We spent our days enjoying the beach. We’d go often to Anchor Beach. My father had rowboats and motorboats and we enjoyed using them in the water. We became best friends with the people that would rent next to us. There used to be volunteer firefighters and they had a whistle that blew at 12:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. My mother used to say that we had to come back for the 12 whistle and we’d better be home by the one at 6. When I was little (during late 30s and 40s) there were no houses on Seabreeze Avenue. it was a big open field, and a man would come on Sundays with ponies and give pony rides. I liked to watch the ponies. We had a group of about 10 boys and girls on the beach and we had more nerve than we should have. We used to see Mrs. Poli outside her mansion tending to her garden. One day we asked if we could walk out on her pier, and she told us that we could if we’d be quiet and behave. And we did! After we left, we laughed at our nerve. 

When the war was over in August 1945, I was 11. There were boys that worked in Sloppy Joe’s and there was a big bench on the side of the building where people would wait for the trolley. Everyone was so ecstatic that the was over and they made a fire to celebrate. Mr. Rosenthal’s grandson ran into his “barn” and got his wheelbarrow to throw in the fire. The bench from Sloppy Joe’s went in and they were looking for more things to throw in to feed the fire. Everyone was so happy and the fire burned for 3 days. When I got old enough I worked for Mr. Leibowitz who had a laundry service. I would take in the laundry I would sort it right next door to our cottage. These were all great years. My teenage years were so happy and we always had such good times in the summer. I made wonderful friends, first from New Haven and then from other areas where people would come from.

Some landmarks I recall: The Villa Rosa trolley stop was an ice cream parlor, and comic books were sold there. Sloppy Joe’s was called the “Orange Blossom” before it was Sloppy Joe’s. When I grew up in Bagel Beach, it was already called Sloppy Joe’s and was a very popular hang-out. I remember that there were tables outside on Hillside Avenue. We’d come at 6 p.m. to stake out a place…there was a juke box and people would dance. It was filled mostly with teenagers. We made our own good times.

Chain’s Cottages is where the Surf Village Clubhouse is now. Mrs. Finkelhoff from Springfield had a building with rooming houses right across from HCW, where the Tri-Beach Community Center is now. The first floor had stoves and refrigerators: a “koch-alien,” and the rooms upstairs were rented out for the summer. The people that came were from New Haven, Waterbury, and New York. She had a big family and one son, Fred Finkelhoff, was a producer in Hollywood. Whenever he wrote a play, the titles were painted onto the steps inside the boarding house. 

Some people I remember from my youth: On Gilette street there was a man he owned a horse and would dress up like a sheik with a “shmatte” on his head and he would ride down the hill on his horse. The fish-man was Italian, and he’d come in an old truck and would wrap the fish in newspaper. One day a week he’d come up from New Haven to Woodmont. Bert Parks, an actor and singer who was famous for hosting the Miss America telecast, would rent a guest house from the Polis. I also knew Milly & Larry Feurman who owned property not far from our cottage. Rabbi Shuchotowitz lived on Sherman Avenue in New Haven. He came to Woodmont for Shabbos several times in the 1940s and he’d stay at our cottage. He was also the rabbi who married us. I remember Pearl Baker who came often to the shul. They lived up on the hill. Her mother would come back from grocery shopping and get off the bus with all of her bundles. I remember her going up the stairs with all her bags. Pearl would go in the middle of the street and put up her hand so that her mother could cross! 

My family was very involved with the Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont. My grandmother was an invalid and could not attend services, but she insisted that they sit her in the yard on Saturday mornings so she could hear the prayers from the shul a couple of doors away. In fact, the two front doors of the synagogue building each have a window with an inscription dedicated to each of my grandparents, Rose and William Erlichman. My sister Rose-Billie was named for them.

I attended the Sunday Hebrew school at HCW. Mrs. Max ran the Sunday school and was a dearly beloved teacher. She lived in a cottage on Burwell, and I remember that she had a fish pond. We would put on plays. One year, we wore long dresses blue with silver stars pasted on. We marched in with wooden bowls—I still have my bowl that I used in that play! I can still picture her in my mind. I went to the Sunday school through my teen years and then after Mrs. Max passed away, the school closed.

Every year, the ladies’ auxillary had a card party to raise funds for the shul. It was the social event of the season! They held a raffle and usually my father would obtain the prizes for the winners. The benches in the shul used to be brown. Mr. Lebov who lived on Abigail St. was a builder/contractor. He put down carpeting and had the benches painted white. (Since then, the carpeting has been replaced and the benches have been replaced with chairs.) The lions that grace the ark are from a little shul on Greenwood St. in New Haven. My son William used to blow the shofar at the shul on the second day of Rosh Hashana. His Hebrew teacher was Al Halprin who taught in New Haven. He was the chazzan (cantor) for the High Holidays at HCW for close to 10 years in the 70s.

We still have our cottage in Woodmont (the very same one my grandfather bought—not much has changed) and enjoy coming to the beach each summer and being with friends.  

Add Comments

Mr. Marvin Cohen: Posted on Tuesday, January 24, 2012 6:50 PM

I would take the bus to downtown New Haven and then transfer to the bus that took me to the beach at Woodmont. I would have enough money fortunately to rent a locker and get a sandwich at Sloppy Joe's. I met many of my friends from school there during the War years. If I was lucky there was always someone that I knew who had a car and gave me a ride home. One season my sister Sylvia Portoff and her husband Jack rented a room at one of the beach hotels, I think there was only one, and I got to visit with them. I always envied those that were able to rent or had a second home in that area. Later on, as I got older, I would swim at the beach known as the Anchor. It was there there I met my wife-to-be. Old Savin Rock was also a place that many young people and families could attend. It was not far away.

Add Comments

Mrs. Phylis Medvedow: Posted on Thursday, January 19, 2012 1:36 PM

I’ve spent summers at Woodmont since 1936, when I was six years old. We were five sisters, and camp was too expensive; coming to Woodmont and renting a cottage cost us about $100 for the summer. Some years, my parents rented a cottage near Sloppy Joe’s; when we didn’t have a cottage, we’d come up to spend the day. We lived in New Haven during the year.

My earliest Woodmont memories are of our cottage across from Sloppy Joe’s. For lunch, we had lettuce and tomato sandwiches on bread with mayonnaise. I remember how we’d make a platter of these sandwiches, eat them, and then go to the beach. My mother and aunt would sit on porch and talk while we played on the beach. I also recall digging holes in the sand and roasting potatoes.

My parents were Anna Skolnick & Lois Kronick. They spoke Yiddish. My father was religious and he would go to Shul in New Haven. We were traditional. Later, when we moved to Clinton St., I remember people coming around to collect money for the Shul (Hebrew Congregation of Woodmont). I went there for services once.

There are some people that I remember from my youth in Woodmont: The ice man would come around once or twice a week. We would hang a sign in the window if we wanted ice and he would carry it inside to the refrigerator. It was important to be here when he came and not to miss him. There was also the Good Humor ice cream man–summer began when he came around. When we rented on Merwin Ave., about 40 years ago, our neighbors loved ice cream. Their dog even had an account with the ice cream man!! There was also the elderly man fondly called the “Mayor of Woodmont,” who lived in the convalescent home on Hawley Ave. He used to walk back and forth all day along the beach.

I remember coming down here from New Haven when we didn’t have a cottage. Usually, we’d take a ride at night to Sloppy Joe’s, have a sandwich, and then go back to New Haven. The Anchor was the popular meeting place. Every promotion day [the last day of school], my sisters and I would go to the Savin Rock amusement park and enjoy the rides. It was affordable fun! Some of the people I was friendly with were Claire Abrams, Patty Merkel Levy, Ina Hodes, Lanette Rudin Bletchman, and Joan Kalik Bailey. Dicky Jacobs was a classmate of mine.

My sister Stella married Sydney Leventhal at the Pembroke Hotel in the Borough of Woodmont. There were over a hundred people at the wedding! Mrs. Wixman was the Kosher caterer, and I recently found her bill from my sister’s wedding—the knishes were 10 cents a piece! I married Leon A. Medvedow. When he was younger, he spent summers in Momauguin in East Haven, CT. A lot of Jews would go there for the summer. When he was a senior in high school, he lived with sister in Morningside, and we’d walk down to the Anchor together.

After I married and had children, we rented different cottages each summer, usually in the Beach Ave. area. Some summers we had our own house, and other summers, we rented together with other couples. We joined the surf club with our kids. It was great for the children as they had company, and so did the adults! My children were into sports, and they were good swimmers. The children would also keep busy by having talent shows. One year for Woodmont Day, my husband was head of the pie throwing contest. There were many pies left and they were all thrown at my husband! When the children were small and I didn’t work, we’d stay on the beach until very late. Later, when I was working at YNNH, we’d come here and go swimming after work.

We eventually purchased a house on Clinton Street and spent about 26-28 summers here, and then 15 years ago, we decided to move to one house permanently and opted for the beach. I’ve watched Woodmont change from a summer colony to a year-round community. The old houses on the waterfront were gutted and rebuilt into mansions. Summer folks became year-round folks. When I think of Woodmont, I think of a warm community. When I would come to the top of our hill on Clinton St., the stressful day instantly disappeared and pleasantness took its place. The beach was totally therapeutic.

Add Comments