From about the age of ten and through my teenage years, and later after I got married, I spent summers at Woodmont. Woodmont was a Jewish teenage hangout. We would go there (from New Haven) for the day, return, and then go back again at night to hang out at Sloppy Joe’s. They would run the open-air trolley in the summer, and we would take it to Woodmont, or drive the car. All of my friends were in Woodmont during the summer.
I remember the triangle (property) of Sloppy Joe’s being “jammed” – you couldn’t walk across it, it was so full of people. We would just mill around and talk. Inside, there was a counter in a horseshoe shape and some booths around. Sloppy Joe’s was famous for its raspberry-lime drink, and for its sandwiches, which were 35 cents. This “hangout” drew people from all over. We would sit on the beach all day. It was a whole group of friends, boys and girls…I can’t explain it but I just knew everyone! There was the Sauter House, which we all called “Slaughter House,” and half a block past it is the part of beach where we used to swim. At night we’d picnic on the beach, and then we’d go swimming again in the dark.
I was in the Army for three years, and I served in Europe. (My unit, the 87th Infantry Division, was the main liberator of Buchenwald.) During the entire time I was in the Army, I came home only once, during early summer. The fact that I made a point of going to Woodmont in the short time I was home illustrates how important Woodmont was to me.
My parents were Eva (Swift) and George Bargar. Both were originally from Russia. In 1947 my father bought a cottage on Highview Ave. My wife and I (and later, children) lived there during the summers until 1955. It was a 3 bedroom cottage and had a huge screened-in porch across the width of the house. We had card tables with card games going on every night. We would always get a lot of company. People would come for the weekend and say, “Oh, it’s great here—I’ll stay for the week! I remember the house being so full that I often had to sleep outside on the glider. We had a huge oak table that could hold 15-20 people around it.The second floor of our cottage was one big room, and my parents rented it to friends of theirs—a couple with a ten-year-old boy. This family lived in New Haven during the year, and they were very friendly with the Lenders. The Lenders had a cottage on Burwell Avenue. Marvin Lender was at our cottage almost every day. At nighttime, Harry Lender loved to play cards and Sam Lender would come over, too. I have twin sons and a daughter. In 1953, for the twins’ first birthday, Harry and Sam Lender made two huge, oversized bagels for them. In fact, when my son’s son turned one, I went back to Marvin Lender and had an oversized bagel made for him. And when my great-granddaughter was one, I went to Bruegger’s and showed them the picture, and they did it for me too! So it has sort of become a family tradition.
We went to Shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur if it was early [in the year]. My father was very religious and went to Shul on Friday nights and Shabbos morning. I didn’t go often, but I remember the stained-glass windows and some pictures on the walls. When I think of Woodmont, I think of good times. Some of the landmarks I remember are Glick’s Stand which sold newspapers and cigarettes; Allinson’s Grocery; Barrel’s Rock—we’d swim out to the raft; Anchor Beach, where we went with the children when they were little; and the restaurant across from Sloppy Joe’s which was owned by Phil Casman, well known as a basketball referee.
Woodmont was an important part of my life--there’s no question about that.