West Hartford’s ‘Thursday Throwback’

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Test your knowledge of West Hartford history with this ‘Thursday Throwback,’ courtesy of the Noah Webster House and West Hartford Historical Society.

By Ronni Newton

It’s Throwback Thursday (#tbt), and time to take a look back into West Hartford’s past to either stir up some memories, reflect on how much things have changed, or both. And if you have no idea, we love the photo captions, too!

First, there’s one quick request from the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society: They are always looking for photos of West Hartford people and places! If anyone has photos to either donate to their collection or allow to be scanned, it would be much appreciated. Please contact Curator Sheila Daley at [email protected] or 860-521-5362 x17.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Last week’s throwback image (at right and in larger size below) is a great one – and it really shows how much West Hartford Center has changed in the nearly 50 years since this photograph was taken. The original image showed the date – June 1966 (or it really said “JUN 66” – on the border of the old-style photograph, but I had to crop that out so we wouldn’t give too much information away.

Many people immediately knew exactly where this was:

“Southwest side of LaSalle Rd. looking south. Might have been an A+P there 40 years ago. Across from, say, Herb’s Sporting Goods,” Robert Farr commented on the article.

Liz Gillette responded with some more details: “Yes, LaSalle where Starbucks is! Kevin Galvin and Colonial Hardware were there before. Legend has it that the lanes, which were in the basement, are still there. They have been used as storage for the shops above for many, many years, but they are still there. I seem to remember bowling there, duckpin balls. We did most of our Sat afternoon bowling in Bishop’s Corner, but I do remember these lanes. I also remember the A&P where Beckers is now. The Garden Center was next door. It was a treat to go there and pick out plants for terrariums that were all the rage in the early 60s. I don’t personally remember any of the business’s shown in the block. Interesting how they appear to be ‘household’ type businesses as opposed to straight-up retail or restaurants.”

“This is on LaSalle Road where Starbucks is located now. I remember bowling in those lanes as part of the St. James’s YPF group. We’d walk from the church,” added Lisa Petersen.

Alas, Rob Rowlson, who recently retired as West Hartford’s director of Community Services, dashed the hopes of anyone who has been hopeful that the bowling alley might make a reappearance: “Last I looked the lanes were removed or being removed. Served as storage space for the WH Chamber’s/Center’s holiday pole decorations for years. The lanes had 2 or 3 pinball machines (sure I would know that) an the place was a great hangout for teens as long as there were no ‘problems.’ Yes, Starbucks, Colonial and A&P Grocery …also, A&P Package Store, separate building … bet you forgot that!!!”

“They had trivia machines there too (lost a lot of quarters there …),” added “Anne.”

Karen Roche was likely one of those who was dismayed to receive Rob’s information. “Yesssss … I say bring it back!!! It is underneath the businesses from what I heard. Starbucks side,” she commented on Facebook.

Sarah Rommel said on Facebook that the bowling alley was accessible through a doorway in the alley. Diane Brenker thought the bowling alley was owned by Don Griswold and his family.

“We had a blast there. It was good, inexpensive fun,” wrote Michael Kirven about the duckpin bowling alley. It was just $1.05 for three games on Saturday mornings, said Linda Levere.

Janet Scott, in a Facebook comment, added even more detail about some of the businesses that once graced this block: “LaSalle Road … from the far left, Skendarian’s Furniture & Upholstery, W&J Scott, Inc. Floor Covering & Tile, Sherwin Williams Paint, Bruno’s Hair Salon.”

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

For this week’s throwback (shown at right and in larger size below), we travel to another part of town. Who remembers either one of these businesses?

When do you think this photo was taken? I love the cars, which could definitely provide a clue to date the photo.

What is in this space now?

Please share your memories below!

Thank you to the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society for providing us with the images. For more information about the organization, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org.

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Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

LaSalle Road in West Hartford Center, June 1966. West Hartford Lanes were below the store currently occupied by Starbucks. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

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  • North side of Farmington Ave, west of Whiting Lane and about opposite the former Plant Jr. High School, which is now WH Housing Authority. I like what the town has been doing to improve the area with the reconstruction of Farmington Avenue..

  • Superior was THE place to buy potato chips while walking home from Plant JH school! Now we can get international foods in several stores along this little block.
    As for year it was taken, with the not-new-looking Rambler or whatever it is, and the VW bus, I will guess 1966.

  • That particular corner of Farmington Avenueand Walkley Road, was where I grew up, from elementary school at Whiting Lane, junior high at Plant, through high school at Hall. We lived at 32 Walkley Road, and got our groceries at Superior Food. The people who owned the store, Hy and Faye, were good friends. They, and produce man Paul, are even in some of the Hugh archival home movies! I would meet my friends at Vanderbilt Drug, the store in the other side of Stoughton Pharmacy, to get candy, comic books and sodas. My first job at age 13 was cleaning the counter at Vanderbilt’s. That whole corner is a part of our family’s past.

  • I don’t know what possessed me to take this stroll down memory lane, but I’m glad I found this post. As a child I remember being taken to Superior Foods where my mother shopped for meats and produce in the early 1970s. I have such fond memories of Hy and Faye and Paul… Such nice people who all doted on me. I wish I could find some interior views of the old market. I also vaguely remember going into Stoughton’s. Did it have a soda fountain?

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