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Magical Moments of Youth
FULL CIRCLE!
HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE
Best Memories of My Life
REFLECTIONS ON WOODMONT AFTER THE FIRE

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Magical Moments of Youth

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.

FULL CIRCLE!

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!

HIGHLIGHT OF MY LIFE

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.

Best Memories of My Life

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.

REFLECTIONS ON WOODMONT AFTER THE FIRE

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.

WE HAVE NEVER FORGOTTEN WOODMONT!

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. 

WE MET AT BAGEL BEACH & NOW MARRIED 68 YEARS!

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.
 
Lee & Liilian LibermanMr. & Mrs. Liberman with portraits of themselves in their youth
 
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.

OVER 70 SUMMERS IN WOODMONT!

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.

MY TIME AT WOODMONT

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.

WARM COMMUNITY

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.
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