Only in Greenwich

IN celebration of the seventieth birthday of this magazine and its forefathers, we invite you to join us on a journey down Memory Lane. Here are seventy highlights from the history of our dynamic town—each focusing on a Greenwich resident, Greenwich issue, Greenwich crime, Greenwich loss or Greenwich victory. All are part of the makeup of who we are, and all have landed on our pages.


1940s

A DECADE OF PEARL HARBOR, GLENN MILLER, JACKIE ROBINSON AND THE FIRST POLAROID CAMERA

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

1
1947

The Greenwich Social Review, now GREENWICH magazine, made its debut—all twenty black and white pages of it (counting covers).

2
1948

WGCH-FM, the first Greenwich radio station, began broadcasting at the top of the Avenue at the Pickwick Arms Hotel with its antenna on the roof.

3
1948

When it was still legit to advertise cigarettes on television, John Cameron Swayze, host of NBC’s first televised newscast, invited us to join him hopscotching the world for headlines on the Camel News Caravan.

4
1948

Millionaire socialite Henry J. Topping Jr., known as Bob, became the fourth of Lana Turner’s seven husbands. (He proposed to her at “21” by dropping a ring into her martini.) Not to be outdone, his brother Dan, owner of the New York Yankees, had six wives—one of whom being figure skater Sonja Henie and another actress Arline Judge, who eventually wed both brothers.


1950s

A DECADE OF CIVIL RIGHTS, ELVIS, MARILYN, POODLE SKIRTS AND THE FIRST CREDIT CARD

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

5
1950

Ada Cantavero opened the doors of her store in the little white house by the Riverside train station and started doling out penny candy— “What can I get ya, Hon?”—and teaching generations of children the wait-your-turns, the no-foolin’-arounds, the watch-your-mouths and, above all, the thank-yous. Yup, that was Ada.

6
1950

Ethel Skakel married Bobby Kennedy at St. Mary Church with his brothers John and Ted serving as best man and an usher (respectively). She would bear eleven children and allegedly put up with her husband’s extramarital affairs because, said she, “there was no tradition of monogamy in the Kennedy clan.”

7
1952

The Augustine family started farming out on King Street. Though he lost a leg in a tractor accident a while back, Farmer John with wife, Kathy, run the oldest produce farm in town and still harvest the world’s yummiest veggies.

8
1952

Dick Nye won his first Bermuda Race in Carina, the first Class C boat to ever win that race. He would go on to victory in two more races to Bermuda, three transatlantic races and two Fastnet races off England—surviving the 1976 Fastnet, during which nineteen competitors were killed in a violent storm. He would become commodore of Indian Harbor Yacht Club.

9
1953

President Eisenhower appointed Clare Boothe Luce—actor, author, editor, war correspondent, Congressman and wife of Time-Life founder Henry Luce—the first female ambassador to Italy. She would be followed by many other U.S. ambassadors from Greenwich, including Frank Forsberg (Sweden), Joseph Verner Reed (Morocco), Craig Stapleton (France and the Czech Republic), Charlie Heimbold (Sweden) and Charlie Glazer (El Salvador).

10
1953

Parking Meters were installed on the Avenue where, with the addition of other pay stations, they now gobble up $1.6 million a year in quarters while law enforcement officers (i.e., meter maids and men) keep a sharp eye out for scofflaws.

WE WILL DO THE MATH FOR YOU
$1.6 million equals 6,400,000 quarters and weighs over 50,000 pounds

11
1958

Little in stature but big on vision and ferocious on fundraising, Claire Vanderbilt ran the Historical Society’s first antiques show; then as president from 1987 to 1998, sometimes dressed as Sarah Bush, she went about putting the organization on the map. Wouldn’t she be thrilled with the vast new campus in the works?

12
1957

A group of local characters including Bernie Yudain, our forever favorite journalist and wit, founded the all-male Harpoon Club for the sole purpose of preserving our town’s sense of humor. Ever since, honorees from senators and weathermen to police chiefs and priests have felt the point of its spear at a rollicking annual dinner.

13
1958

After cutting a wide swath through the trees and homes of Greenwich and being rerouted to save the Historical Society (thanks in large part to RYC Commodore Cliff Hipkins), the Connecticut Turnpike (I-95) opened, destined to become a driver’s nightmare. Now the feds want to put a high-speed railway along our lovely Connecticut coastline. We say they’d be on the wrong track.


1960s

A DECADE OF VIETNAM, JFK, BEATLES AND THE FIRST MOON LANDING

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

14
1960

Greenwich Country Club burned to the ground for the second time. The first was in 1895, but in the interim, a fire destroyed the gazebo in 1910 and the east wing in 1929. The area between Doubling and Stanwich roads was known as Electric Hill because Thomas Edison had created the world’s first completely electrified home there for Edward Johnson. The club historian suggests it should have been called Incendiary Hill instead.

15
1964

Muppets creator Jim Henson, who with wife, Jane, introduced the world to a new form of puppetry, moved into a house once owned by Impressionist John Henry Twachtman on Round Hill Road. A few months ago, Disney fired Henson’s successor as the longtime voice of Kermit the frog and announced that Matt Vogel will be filling Kermie’s webbed shoes. Hope Miss Piggy approves.

16
1965

The landmark case of Griswold v. Connecticut established the right to buy contraceptives in our state, so Greenwich residents— whether married or single—no longer had to drive over the border to Nan Rockefeller’s clinic in Port Chester to get supplies. Among other wonderful things she did for us, she also founded the MEWS, a dream house for the elderly.

JUST FOR THE RECORD
Today, besides pills, there are dozens of different options for birth control, including sponges, patches, shots, condoms, spermicide, caps, diaphragms, implants, the morning-after pill and, oh yes, abstinence.

17
1967

The Therapeutic Music Organization became known officially as the Grace Notes, and the talented ladies have been running around town, the White House, the Empire State Building and sundry states singing their way into our hearts and souls ever since.

18
1966

The RTM approved its largest appropriation ever—$9,800,000—for a new high school near Put’s Hill. Designed by a California architect with little regard for New England weather, it featured lockers too small for coats, a flat roof that leaked, rooms with no doors and windows that didn’t open. But it’s still standing and our kids are still graduating.

19
1968

Our quaint old Greenwich train station at the bottom of the Avenue was razed to make way for Greenwich Plaza, a hefty corporate complex that some people still grumble blocks the view of the Sound. For better or for worse, we became a city at last.


1970s

A DECADE OF WATERGATE, THE OIL CRISIS, JAWS AND THE FIRST COMPUTER

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

20
1970

Seeking peace and quiet in Greenwich, Robert Motherwell set up shop in a stone carriage house on North Street, working alone at night in his 100-foot-long studio and destroying any paintings he felt inferior. Today a major Motherwell goes for millions. It is said that he was one of the few abstract artists who didn’t do himself in with drugs and drink.

21
1970

With unoccupied cars rolling backwards down the Avenue, threatening to wipe out both pedestrians and police officers directing traffic, the town fathers wisely decided to make the street one-way—south, thus putting a positive spin on the expression “downhill all the way.”

22
1972

It was a sad day when a big lead ball took its first swing at the Pickwick Arms, and after 100 years at the top of the Avenue, it came crashing down to make way for an office complex. The hotel had hosted many a wedding for celebrities like Rita Hayworth who flocked to Greenwich to avoid the five-day wait period to be hitched in New York.

JUST FOR THE RECORD
Sold at Sotheby’s—Pablo Picasso’s sculpture Tete de femme (Dora Maar) went for $33.6 million in 2007, Edward Steichen’s photograph The Pond—Moonlight for over $2.9 million in 2006 and Robert Motherwell’s Red, Cut by Black for $2.7 million in 2014. Motherwell, who had a passion for red, pointed out that “any red is rooted in blood, glass, wine, hunters’ caps and a thousand other concrete phenomena.”

23
1974

Uranium millionaire Joseph Hirshhorn and wife, Olga, had to move dozens of massive sculptures from the grounds of their Greenwich estate to the new Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington. At 3,904 pounds, Rodin’s The Burgers of Calais was too heavy for a helicopter to lift off its base, so a crane wrestled it onto a flatbed truck in their driveway.

24
1976

Our figure-skating champ Dorothy Hamill brought home the gold from the Olympics, along with a new haircut copied by women all over the world, before signing up for the Ice Capades and marrying, if ever so briefly, Dean Paul Martin.

25
1975

Popular fifteen-year-old Martha Moxley was bludgeoned to death with a golf club in Belle Haven. It took twenty-five years to convict young neighbor Michael Skakel, a cousin of Ethel Skakel Kennedy, and he is still in and out of jail contesting the charge.

26
1977

With his Complete Book of Running, Jim Fixx really got us going and, in fact, is credited with starting America’s fitness revolution. Ironically, he died of a heart attack at age fifty-two while jogging.

27
1977

Ruth Sims became the first woman ever elected First Selectman and the first Democrat to serve as such in seventy-five years. Not only did she buck the tide in our heavily Republican town, she also went on to win a second term. Glass ceilings are meant to be broken, what?


1980s

A DECADE OF CHARLES AND DIANA, CATS, BLACK MONDAY AND THE FIRST MOBILE PHONE

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

28
1980

When the Mianus River Bridge fell down in the middle of the night, cars and trucks plunged into the water and people lost their lives, including the driver of a stolen car who reportedly gave his would-be rescuers the finger when they yelled for him to stop.

29
1980

Businessman Peter Brandt, a devoted polo player, bought the 1,481-acre Conyers Farm for $18 million. With the prized backcountry land being sold in ten-acre lots, the community attracted plenty of high-profile residents like Ron Howard, Allan Houston, Ivan Lendl and David Stockman, and brought big-time polo to Greenwich. Thank heavens we said “not in my backyard” in 1946, when the United Nations wanted to locate their headquarters on the tony Greenwich property.

30
1980

The old mill in Glenville, which ground up Peruvian bark for fever medicine in the 1790s, produced blankets during the Civil War and became the American Felt Company in 1899, was transformed into a little village of shops, restaurants and condominiums.

31
1986

After heated debate and a couple of board resignations, the Greenwich Boys Club bit the bullet and started taking in—gulp!—girls. Today the young ladies make up nearly half of the 1,667 members of our Boys & Girls Club, have contributed enormously to its top-notch reputation and proved yet again that there is nothing like a dame.

SO WHAT’S NEW? NOT POLO.
Invented 2,500 years ago as a cavalry training exercise, the game hasn’t changed much over the years. Riders have included Clark Gable, Walt Disney, FDR, Winston Churchill and, more recently, Prince William and Brad Pitt.

32
1987

Peter Malkin founded Greenwich Green & Clean, raising our level of pulchritude even higher with hanging baskets of impatiens and gussied up pocket parks—all this, plus Rene Anselmo’s daffodils on North Street, McArdle’s crocuses on Put’s Hill, our Land Trust ’s 745 acres of preserved woodlands and marshes, and the Tree Conservancy’s trees planted all over town.

33
1987

Adopt-A-Dog launched its “Putting On the Dog” event, finding loving families for homeless canines and felines. Today it draws thousands (including Judge Judy) to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park each fall to enjoy contests like Biggest Lapdog, Best Tail Wagger and Pooch That Can Smooch.

34
1988

Celebrating its 100th birthday, Riverside Yacht Club beat out both Indian Harbor and Belle Haven by one year.

35
1989

George H. W. Bush, who met his future wife, Barbara, at a Christmas dance at the Round Hill Club in 1945, was elected President of the United States.


1990s

A DECADE OF COLUMBINE, HARRY POTTER, OJ, POKÉMON AND THE FIRST GENE THERAPY

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

36
1991

Lowell Weicker Jr. was sworn in as the first independent governor of Connecticut since the Civil War. Our former first selectman and four-time U.S. Senator, he led the effort to uncover Nixon’s role in Watergate, for a time earning the wrath of fellow Republicans. Now, like the rest of us, he’s following with interest Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation.

37
1992

Said to be the second busiest library in New England, Greenwich Library received $25,000,000 from the estate of Clementine Lockwood Peterson, widow of U.S. Tobacco CEO J. Whitney Peterson. It was the largest gift ever made to a community library in the United States.

38
1992

Jim Carrier, with the help of Scott Frantz, started Salute to Veterans, an annual Fourth of July celebration that left us breathless as Navy SEALS hung from helicopters circling the high school, war veterans came onto the field to unfurl a giant American flag, and our children learned to put their hands over their hearts and take off their hats. Sadly, it is no more.

39
1992

GHS grad Steve Young, star quarterback of the San Francisco 49ers, was named the Most Valuable Player by the NFL and would be again in 1994. He was later elected to the Football Hall of Fame.

40
1993

Musical renaissance man Rob Mathes, whose friends include the likes of Elton John, Bono, The Boss and Vanessa Williams, held his first annual Christmas Concert, giving us a “reason for the season,” which continues to this day in the PepsiCo Theater at SUNY.

41
1993

A spruced up Bruce opened its doors to an astonished Greenwich citizenry. The $4,500,000 expansion had doubled the space in the museum and turned it into a contemporary high-tech home for world-class exhibits, all part of Director Peter Sutton’s grand plan. And guess what? He’s at it again!

42
1995

A seriously ambitious (and overweight) law student from Stamford made waves trying to get into Greenwich Point for a jog (said he), leaving us awash in legal proceedings and later forced to admit non-residents to the beach—for a fee.

43
1996

Newly diagnosed with stage-four breast cancer, Mary Waterman and friends, including Cecile McCaull and Lucy Day, sat down at Lucy’s kitchen table and founded the Breast Cancer Alliance. Since then, BCA has awarded $20 million to researchers and programs for the cause and has had to put a giant tent over the Hyatt parking lot to cover the crowd of 1,000 at its annual luncheon.

44
1996

Insurance fraudster Marty Frankel got bored handing out black Mercedes-Benzes to his friends, so he took off for Europe with duffels full of diamonds and the FBI hot on his heels. They got him.

45
1999

Tragically, we lost Carolyn Bessette and her sister Lauren when the plane piloted by Carolyn’s husband, John F. Kennedy Jr., crashed into the Atlantic off Martha’s Vineyard on their way to a Kennedy wedding in Hyannisport.


2000s

A DECADE OF 9/11, FACEBOOK, SPONGEBOB, HIP-HOP, GOOGLE MAPS AND THE FIRST IPAD

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

46
2000

The TV show LIVE! With Regis and Kathie Lee ended after twelve years, but Kathie Lee Gifford and Regis Philbin are still friends and still live in Greenwich. By the way, Regis, once called the hardest working man in show business, holds the Guinness world record for the most time spent in front of a television camera.

47
2002

The YMCA sold Calf Island for $6 million because it needed money to pour into its Olympic-size pool that actually came up short by a few inches and lots of bucks. But in any case, it’s a popular spot to take the plunge, especially with its diving boards, which are hard to find these days.

48
2003

Billionaire hedge-fund manager Edward Lampert was kidnapped in the parking lot of his Greenwich office and got sprung two days later after his captors used his credit card to order out for pizza.

49
2003

Over in their sleek new headquarters, the chief considered doubling the size of the police force in order to fill all the office space. But they had plenty of room for Diana Ross to serve out her Arizona drunk-driving charge for twenty-four hours in her own cushy hometown jail.

CENTER OF ATTENTION
Formerly Longacre Square, the midtown area where Broadway meets 7th Avenue was renamed when the New York Times moved its headquarters there in 1904. Some 330,000 pass though Times Square every day, 460,000 pedestrians on the busiest days and a cool million to see the ball drop on New Year’s Eve—a billion worldwide, that is. It is indeed the “Crossroads of the World.”

50
2005

It’s been twelve years since George Allen Smith IV went overboard (literally) on his honeymoon on the cruise liner Brilliance of the Seas. They have yet to convict the Russian mobsters who pushed him into the Aegean, then videotaped themselves laughing about it afterward. GREENWICH magazine broke the story and got top billing in Times Square.

51
2006

Talent manager Scooter Braun, son of two Greenwich dentists, discovered twelve-year-old Justin Bieber on a YouTube video, talked him and his mother into flying to the U.S. from their humble Canadian home (their first plane ride), introduced him to the big shots of hip-hop and helped turn him into the most sensational teen singer in the world.


2010s

A DECADE OF KATE AND WILLIAM, HAMILTON, HOVERBOARDS AND THE FIRST DRIVERLESS CAR

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

52
2010

A police officer was removed from traffic duty on the Avenue at Lewis Street near Betteridge, Manfredi and Steven Fox jewelers in order to create a more level playing field for high-end thieves.

53
2011

The infamous estate called Dunnellen has been inhabited by a series of ill-fated owners. But one elderly resident, a Maltese named Trouble, turned out to be very lucky indeed when his mistress Leona Helmsley died and left him $12 million. (That was $2 million more than she had given to Greenwich Hospital in 1999.) Trouble didn’t think she was the Queen of Mean at all.

LOOKING FOR CHANGE?
Throw an eye on our own hometown over the years. Besides the post office becoming Restoration Hardware, Woolworth’s became Greenwich Library, Conde Nast became the Hyatt, Finch’s Drug Store became Starbucks, Putnam Trust became a restaurant and the movie theater, an Apple store.

54
2011

Inspired by Ray Dalio’s trip to Spain, the fledgling Greenwich Town Party took flight for Roger Sherman Baldwin Park to become a giant sellout each May. It now draws 5,000 community-spirited residents, some on boats and in kayaks, to listen to musical celebrities like Paul Simon, James Taylor and Steely Dan.

55
2011

It was announced that the Greenwich Avenue Post Office building where we’ve been buying stamps since 1917 would now be leased to Restoration Hardware, where we can buy fancy furniture— a sure sign of progress.

56
2011

After the ball was over and the white gloves and Lester Lanin hats packed away in tissue, the Junior League ended its thirty-three-year tradition of thanking heaven for little girls by sponsoring the Greenwich Cotillion.

57
2012

A young Greenwich teacher named Kaitlin Roig saved the lives of fifteen first-graders by barricading them in a tiny bathroom during the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Newtown.

58
2012

The winds blew, the waters rose, trees fell, houses burned and power lines hung crackling overhead as Hurricane Sandy swept through town, leaving us freezing in the dark. That is, except the clever ones who packed up their cats and dogs and everyone moved into the Hyatt. How many towns have that option?

59
2013

Longtime bullying victim Bart Palosz, a quiet, gentle fifteen-year-old, ended his life with a self-inflicted bullet; and four years later his family’s lawsuit against the town is still languishing in court.

60
2015

The yearlong celebration of our town’s 375th birthday put a new name on Neighbor-to-Neighbor—more like neighborhood-to-neighborhood. Spearheaded by event chair Davvide Strachbein, a multitasking expert, it included ten historic tours of our communities —from Old Greenwich to Byram to Glenville and in-between—conducted on foot, bicycle and bus to impress us with our past.

61
2015

At age nine years eleven months, Max Lu, a Whitby student, became the youngest American to reach the rank of chess master—a whole three years younger than Bobby Fischer did. He can play blindfolded, take on several opponents at the same time and recreate famous matches from memory.

62
2015

Three savvy ladies—Carina Crain, Wendy Stapleton Reyes and Colleen deVeer—made us a big-screen mecca by founding the annual Greenwich International Film Festival. We can binge-watch movies all over town, bounce to the beat of singers like rapper Flo Rida and applaud the humanitarian work of such honored artists as Renée Zellweger.


present

A YEAR OF OPIOIDS, WOMEN’S MARCHES, CYBER-ATTACKS,
LA LA LAND AND IRMA

And here is what was happening in Greenwich …

63
2017

Founded in what is now Old Greenwich long before our nation was born, the First Congregational Church celebrated 350 years of history, which included an enlightened minister who so angered the Ku Klux Klan in 1931 that it burned a cross in his front yard.

64
2017

Police in California finally caught up with the tattooed fitness model (sometimes nude) who managed to rob the same Chase Bank in Riverside twice in two days and a gas station in Cos Cob.

65
2017

What with one of our numerous billionaires in the process of selling forty-three acres of land to Brunswick School, the campus may rival the size of nearby Westchester Airport—but promises to be a whole lot quieter.

66
2017

Rumor has it that ever since town workers clearing brush in Helen Binney Kitchel Park came across some grisly human remains last spring, the police have had an eye on Binney Pond in the long-overdue process of being dredged. But no word yet on the missing head; just a whole lot of turtles, one with a two-foot waistline and weighing in at 100 pounds.

67
2017

God was so impressed with the great job that Rachel and Chris Franco and friends have done restoring historic Innis Arden Cottage and other sites at Greenwich Point that this summer He or She hung a double rainbow over the Beach Ball, their annual fundraiser.

68
2017

After much ado, the Board of Ed finally approved a new start time for high school and middle schools, so students get to sleep later in the morning. Suppose the kids will go to bed later, too?

69
2017

Over weekends, Peter Tesei is home spending time quietly polishing his crown for his coronation, having broken John Margenot’s five-term record as First Selectman by becoming the first in Greenwich history to serve a sixth. See what can happen if you get bored with banking?

TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
… at our coat of arms. You’ll find a windmill representing the Dutch; a horse’s head, Greenwich once being called Horseneck; a plow for farming; a clamshell for the shorefront trade; a ship with crossed anchors after the Greenwich, England, coat of arms; and the Latin motto for courage and thrift.

70
2017

Our Crystal Ball Award goes to Hope Hicks, President Trump’s recently appointed communications director. In 2002, when she was in eighth grade at Eastern and an aspiring actor, we ran a cover story on Hope and her sister Mary Grace, teen models. At the end of it, the budding “Hope-ster” mused:
“If the acting thing doesn’t work out, I could really see myself in politics. Who knows?”

 

 

share this story

© Moffly Media, 2008-2022. All rights reserved. Website by Web Publisher PRO