Bridgeport Memoir Writing

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Fond Memories of Growing Up in Bridgeport

Golden Memories of the City I Love

By Richard Sattanni

I have many fond memories growing up here in Bridgeport.  I was born and raised in the city’s Hollow Section.  Life was pretty simple then – not complex like it is today.  Somehow we’ve become a different type of society.  Most of all I remember my former neighborhood. The ethnic groups were quite diversified but yet no prejudice existed.  People respected each other regardless of race, color, or religious beliefs. There was a special bond among us.  Everyone contributed something to the life blood of the neighborhood.

I also remember many of Bridgeport’s great theaters of our city’s past. The marquees with their glittering lights added to the excitement as we waited to purchase tickets.  The Saturday matinees were great shows, and some of my favorite theaters were the glorious Majestic, The Globe, The Warners and the Rivoli.  Today the large movie complexes entertain us.  Unfortunately, the older theaters faded as time passed.

Shopping in downtown Bridgeport also was a pastime of mine.  I especially enjoyed shopping at H.L. Greens, Rudy Frank’s Record Shop, Walgreens, Sears, and Howlands, just to name a few.  It’s sad to think they no longer exist.  The giant malls changed our shopping experience as the years passed.

However, there are a few things that have remained the same, such as The Barnum Festival Parade. The Fourth of July brings with it the floats, the clowns and the marching bands for all to enjoy.  At least that tradition is still with us.

Other avenues of interest as a youngster here in Bridgeport were our parks.  Seaside Park, Beardsley Park with its’ zoo, along with St. Mary’s by the Sea in Black Rock.  Our city was known for its’ parks.

At one time Pleasure Beach was a mega center of entertainment.  It was our only amusement park.  The rollercoaster stood so majestically against the blue sky of summer.  The Spooky House, The Whip and the Humblebug added fun and excitement for the day.  Unfortunately, time changed it all and the amusement park no longer exists.

As I turn 71, I look back upon the different years of my life. I ask myself, “what changes will come tomorrow and will they benefit the residents of our town?”

Yes, Bridgeport has endured so many changes from structure to political bedlam and other changes too numerous to mention.  Bridgeport has taught me many things, especially about life. I’ve come a long way since my childhood –seen lots of changes, survived many challenges, and still I remain here.

One thing history can’t erase or take from me are the golden memories of the city I love.  As I travel through my former neighborhood, I can honestly recall many good times. Yes, like many others, I have a deep love of the city.

Special Events

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World War I Diary:100 Years Ago

What a wonderful gift! The staff of the Bridgeport History Center got an idea.  One hundred years ago, World War I started.   We wanted to do an exhibit.  Just after the initial thought, the phone rang.

I answered and heard the voice of Vincent Keating.  “Would you be interested in a diary and other things from World War I?”

“Would I?”  The answer was “YES!!!”

The Connecticut Post came into the library, and writer Frank Juliano and photographer Autumn Driscoll helped me document the occasion.  The scrapbooks, photographs and daily account of a young Bridgeport soldier in World War I is priceless.  The soldier was Vincent Keating, the father of Vincent Keating, Jr.

The items cannot be handled, but they will be on display and carefully transcribed.  After all, the diary made it from a young soldier’s bag across war torn Europe and back to Bridgeport.  We need to treat it with care!

 

 

Heroes and Villains

John F Kennedy November 6, 1960

President Kennedy in Bridgeport November 5, 1960

The crowd of 6,000 came to see then Senator John F. Kennedy.  The crowd,as estimated by Superintendent of Police Francis J. Shanley, cheered when Kennedy said that Connecticut was a key state in the election.

“The nation will have its eyes on Connecticut,” Kennedy told the crowd. …Continue reading

Films

Memorial Day Parade, 1923-1929

Memorial Day Parade in Bridgeport, Connecticut, 1923-1929

A film showing a 1920’s Memorial Day parade in downtown Bridgeport is significant in several respects.  At this time, the History Center has no additional footage depicting events, buildings, people, etc. in Bridgeport from that era.  …Continue reading

Bridgeport at War

Russell-Maguire-Gen-Harris

Auto-Ordnance Corporation

Tommy gun.  The name evokes different memories or thoughts in a cross section of people both in the United States and internationally.  Some may think of names that wrote the violent history of the twenties and thirties in this country: Capone, Floyd or Dillinger.  …Continue reading

Bridgeport at Work

Art Selleck center, Putnam Street Firehouse 1953

Art Selleck: A Tribute to a Fireman Historian 1920-2004

Arthur “Art” H. Selleck was born in Bridgeport in 1920, living there for five years before moving to Nichols. He attended Harding High School in the Park City,  since Trumbull had no High School at the time.  He would later recall witnessing a house fire as a youth in Nichols, …Continue reading

Women

Warner Brothers factory, Bridgeport Connecticut

The Warner Brothers and their Amazing Corsets

As doctors in the late 1800s, brothers Dr. Lucien and Ira De Ver Warner became concerned with the use of the corset in women’s fashion.  The corset was a piece of underclothing meant to give women an “hourglass” figure desirable at the time.  …Continue reading

African American Heritage

Michelle-Black-Smith

Black Bridgeporters

by Michelle Black Smith

In 1977, a dedicated group of African American teachers decided to record the history of Black Bridgeporters in the residents’ own words. The Afro-American Education Association (hereafter AAEA) petitioned the CT Humanities Council for funds and technical support. The introduction to the AAEA recorded history states “This project is a study of the changes in Bridgeport neighborhoods from the viewpoint of selected Black residents during the historical periods of World War I, the Depression, World War II, and the 1960’s.” …Continue reading

Maritime

Bridgeport Lighthouse

Bridgeport Lighthouse

The Bridgeport Lighthouse, shown here in 1930, marked the entrance to the Bridgeport harbor for about 80 years.

First constructed in 1871 by the federal government, it ushered in a dramatic increase in harbor activity. …Continue reading

Architecture

Jose DeRivera

Jose DeRivera

Most residents of Connecticut, when considering who were the earliest immigrants to this State naturally think mostly of the European countries.  If you asked anyone when the first Puerto Rican immigrant came to Connecticut, they would say, ” probably the 1950’s.” …Continue reading

Travel into the past and see what we can learn