The comments in Italics were contributed by Pat Dawson Lauder, RowaytonKid of the 40s, 50s, and 60s and co-founder of this website.
by Nan Lauder Eckfeld
When I was growing up, my hometown of Rowayton was really just a fishing village of about 2,000 people, located on the Five Mile River. The river ran south into Long Island Sound. On the northern end of Rowayton Avenue was a Baptist Church and a Methodist Church. Our ancestors had attended the Methodist Church for generations, but my parents belonged to the South Norwalk Congregational Church, “up town” as we called South Norwalk. On the west side of Rowayton Avenue heading south along the river, our “downtown” had Soybel’s drugstore, Stephanak’s grocery store, the barber shop, the Post Office and the Library. That was the main shopping center. A few blocks further south on the east side of the street was another small grocery market called the First National, and next to it was Louie’s News Stand, a great little store that sold newspapers, magazines, candy, toys and various assorted must-have sundries.
I feel like I should be carrying a cane and bent over with a hand on my back when I talk about Rowayton back in the 40s, but thankfully I am not there yet. I lived a block away from my grandfather’s boat yard, Rowayton Marine Works, and I would always find an excuse to pop in to say hello, pet the cat, check out the activity on the river and give grandpa a hug, which was generally followed by the gift of a penny or two. That was big money for a little kid and that wealth allowed me to stop at Louie’s News Stand only a hop-skip away on the corner of McKinley and Rowayton Avenue. Louie’s was a sliver of a store with well-worn wooden floors and jammed packed with newspapers, magazines, basic grocery needs, sundries, toys and candy. The main attraction there for me were the M&Ms out of the penny candy jar – 10 for one penny. In those days we could stick our filty mitts in the jar, grab a handful, count them and put back the overage!!! My, my, times and health laws have changed, but we all survived and built up our immune systems in the process. Pat Dawson Lauder
Across the street from these stores was the gas station. Rowayton also had several beaches and boatyards.
The new, brick, one-story elementary school was several blocks from “downtown” and opened a couple of months after I began Kindergarten. Buses took the older children to junior high and high school “up-town.”Read More