The Speakeasies

It drew high rollers from the entire New York area- “Shaped like a boat, with life preservers, portholes, and other boating decor, white tablecloths and a crystal chandelier in the upstairs dining room,” its frequent guests included George Raft and James Cagney. (1) It also had elaborate dance bands and a gambling casino (2).

VETROMILE IS IN MORE TROUBLE

Former Proprietor of Miramar Inn Tells How Wife Beat and Choked Him

Bridgeport, September 24- Tales of attacks with knives and revolvers by his wife, Matilda Rupen Vetromile, were related in Superior Court today by Dominic Vetromile, once proprietor of the notorious Miramar Inn as he pressed his suit for divorce on the grounds of intolerable cruelty and desertion.

Vetromile, who told of his wife showering him with beer glasses, choking him and dragging him by the neck from the presence of customers in his saloons, and finally of her forcing him to make over a half interest in his property to her while she poked a revolver to his ribs.

The Norwalk Hour of September 25th, 1925 shows that The Miramar remained newsworthy for years to come. The Miramar at the time of my childhood was now known as The Penguin, a dilapidated restaurant decorated with a cheesy nautical theme- lobster pots and buoys and netting hanging from the ceiling- badly lit, dark and foreboding and rumored to be a whorehouse. Parents warned their kids which in turn were terrified of the place.

Miramar Inn has Two Charges to Answer; John H. Wheelers Private Stock Taken From Compo Inn

27 STATE POLICE, IN SQUADS, LAUNCH SUNDAY SALLY UPON INNS AND HOTELS IN WESTPORT AND FAIRFIELD AND CAUSE BIG SENSATION HERE

ARMY OFFICER SAID TO HAVE SQUEALED ON THE COMPO INN

Jake Levy, Owner of The Compo Inn in downtown Westport was the brother in law of Jack Rose. (3) Rose supplied the Levy’s of the Compo Inn with liquor. (4) The Compo Inn was the favorite ‘speak’ of Westport’s artsy and theatrical crowd and was run by Jake Levy and his wife Marion. Guy pen Dubois (of ‘work was an effort made between parties’ quip) painted her portrait which became known as “The Bootleggers Wife” (5). Zelda Fitzgerald once careened down the steep road of The Compo Inn on top of a car hood while hanging on to the hood ornament in front (6) and locals in their nineties recall being cautioned never to go there (7) (Lou White) due to its’ unsavory reputation.

Jake Levy was arrested for beating a night watchman. (8) which suggests the rough and tumble side of bootlegging. Marion Levy purchased the inn in 1919 and sold it in 1946 for $81,000 (9) – just short of a million dollars today.

Interview with Westporter Eve Potts : “I came into town in 1956. And I met a wonderful woman named Mary Wilson whose husband was a Pulitzer Prize winner-he had written the biography of Harriet Beecher Stowe. And she used to regale us with tales about was Westport was like in the early days. And although I am not sure she participated in any of the shenanigans that went on I remember her telling me the story of the Fitzgerald’s driving their car down the hill from the Compo Inn which was on the Post Road at that time on a hill across from Kings Highway School. And that Zelda would be riding off of the front fender nude-which I love- and I remember going back up and the Compo Inn was still here when I first was in town and I remember going out just to see what the place was like- it was up on a hill and it used to attract apparently all the New Yorkers because at that time the only way you could get from New York to Boston or anywhere else was on the Post Road and so everybody went right by there and that’s why they stopped there for dinner”.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1. http://www.westport-news.com/opinion/article/Woog-s-World-Scott-Zelda-and-Westport-all-41901 

2. Barbara Probst Solomon, 82.

3. Ibid.

4. BPS, 82.

5.Ibid.

6.Interview with Jerry Kuroghlian.

7. Interview with Lou White.

8. The Bridgeport Telegraph, Thursday Morning, September 13, 1923.

9. Norwalk Hour December 20 1946.

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