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!

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

I had no idea when I posted last week’s photo (at right and in larger size below) that it would trigger so much reminiscing! This photo was taken in 1966.

Youth Centre, located at 975 Farmington Ave., was either gone by the time I first visited West Hartford or else I just don’t remember it because I was neither a child nor a parent in the early 1980s, but this image of what seemed to have been a very popular store brought back a outpouring of memories from many of our readers. (Even my husband, a West Hartford native, recalls his mother buying most of his clothes there.)

Liz Gillette commented almost as soon as last week’s column was posted: “Youth Center was where the Toy Chest is today on Farmington. The Toy Chest moved to that spot from across the road where the Elbow Room is today. When I was a kid we shopped for clothes at the Youth Center and at the LaSalle Shop, where Briccos is. Next door to the Youth Center, to the West, was Sage Allen. Up the street at Luna Pizza was Carlson Shoes. All your 1960’s back-to-elementary-school needs, right in the Center! By the time you were in Junior High, you shopped the Acorn Shop, the English Shop and Casual Corner, all on LaSalle. This was quite a new and stylish building at the time. I think there had been a gas station in that spot in the 40s.”

“Two or three stores down was Hilliards candy and a bakery. I loved Hilliards candy almost as much as I loved Dino’s!” added “Linda.”

“And, on LaSalle there was also Simmons Shoes,” Amy Frey added.

Rob Rowlson had a few more former area shops to add to the list: “Think Liz sits with her computer set to ‘early warning’ incoming ‘We-Ha’ photo … once again she has it correct… except she forgot Diana Lee Shop and Powers and oh ya, Langley’s … (Red Hanger Shop) for the guys.”

Dianne Rechel – you should have included a photo with your comment! “I’ll do you one better- anyone STILL have their cardigan sweater which they purchase at Youth Center in 6th grade? and it still fits?! Another quality garment from West Hartford Center … A friend just brought me a box of truffles from the Hilliard’s in North Easton, MA, so that tradition continues.”

“My mom would take me here to get my school clothes every year. The changing rooms were downstairs right under the stairway and I always remember getting a bit jostled when I was in the dressing room and someone would come down the stars hard and fast,” added Lucien Grillo.

There were plenty of comments on Facebook, too – many from former customers like Linda Levinson and We-Ha.com Creative Director Joy Taylor. Here are a few highlights:

Lisa Petersen provided a wealth of information from her own experience working at the store from 1973-76. “Youth Centre on Farmington Ave. Clothing store for children -infant to juniors and boys too. Toy Chest is there now. I worked at Youth Centre for senior year in high school and two years of college. Mr and Mrs Berson owned it. They drove an Olds Delta 88 that I remember having to drive (as a new driver) to the big stockroom at the Bloomfield store. And, Mr Berson always called me Elsa (after the lion in the Born Free movie I guess). Great co-workers: Rosalie, Shirley, Sophie, Ann, Winnie and of course Mr Carlow. Good times for me as a young worker… I folded enough Danskin tops, shorts and pants to last me a lifetime! Slippery things! It also cured me of liking lollypops after finding Dum Dums all over stuck to all kinds of things.”

Lucretia Klieback said she worked at Youth Centre, too.

“Monogrammed crew neck sweaters…. so cool, never got one. Still bitter,” commented Trish Melley Nelson.

“They carried Chatterbox brand stockings, perfect for skinny legs of 7th graders,” added Debi Goldman Cooper.

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

I hope to be pleasantly surprised by how many of you remember the business shown in this week’s image (at right and in larger size below).

Who knows where this is?

Who knows when it was taken?

What is in this space now?

Do you recall ever visiting this business?

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.

Like what you see here? Click here to subscribe to We-Ha’s newsletter so you’ll always be in the know about what’s happening in West Hartford!

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society

Youth Centre, shown here in 1966, was at 975 Farmington Ave., the current location of Toy Chest. Courtesy Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society


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  • THOMSON’S FLOWERS on South Main Street just south of the Park Road intersection. Home today of senior apartments, right behind CVS. CVS was formerly Franks Supermarket and prior to that was Popular Supermarket. Across the street was Hamerlin’s (spell?) 5 and dime, Sedgewick Market and the neighborhood pharmacy….

    • Rob is exactly right. THe picture shows the retail greenhouse that was on South Main Street. The apartments behind CVS were where the growing houses were – and there were a lot of them. Many years ago the Thomson’s owned most of the property that is now Bonny View Road and the surrounding areas. THey sold off the property and it was developed into much of the Webster Hill neighborhood.

  • You beat me Rob! And you have the same memories as I do!
    Ed, do you know if they had fields where they grew flowers or vegetables in the back? I wonder if the Noah Webster house has a very old picture. Without all the trees, you would be able to see Hartford from there.
    My 1880’s map indicates that a Paul Thompson had a residence on the corner,(the big house on Park?) and across the street where Hammerlin’s (ditto – sp?) was. The surrounding area shows numerous “sheds, stables, or barns”.

  • Hammerlunds 5 and 10 was a great place to go…I still have a door ornament of ‘Rudolf’ that was my moms…Thompsons was an amazing place…I got all my flowers from there until they closed. Sometimes I miss my ‘little’ town….

  • So much fun to find this site. I am looking for a photo of The Acorn Shop on LaSalle. I worked there as a teen in the early 60’s. Any info about that?

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