Way Back When ... 1948
Published 9:30 am, Friday, September 16, 2016
Since 1948, twins Dominick and Chris Boccanfuso have lived on Saugatuck Shores in the same house. When Chris married in 1983, he bought the house next door. When their dad Giuseppe bought the property in 1948, there were only a couple of houses on Saugatuck Shores and most of the residents were summer people. All the houses then were on a gravel road and the beach came up to the houses. Saugatuck Island was all marshland.
The twins were from a family of eight kids, so every chance they had, they were outside. In the early 1940s, before they moved to Westport, they lived in the Hell’s Kitchen area of New York City. They were always very industrious and at 7 years old they would buy copies of the Daily News for three cents and then sell them for five cents each.
At that time, their mother opened a savings account for each of them, so they could save money for their future. They loved working and making money as kids. They shined shoes, sold balloons at parades, sold lemon ice on the street and washed windshields.
In 1954, there was a big nor’easter and people’s row boats were damaged by the storm. People were giving away their broken boats, and Chris and Dominick would take them, repair them, and then rent them out for $2 or $3 a day. Back then, people would fish for flounder, or flat fish, which is fillet of sole when its cooked and served at the table. At one time, they had a fleet of 14 rowboats which they had tied up in front of their house.
The Boccanfuso brothers always loved cars. In the early 1950s, they had a rowboat for sale and a guy from Norwalk who owned a Packard dealership swapped an old 1940 Packard that needed work for a pristine boat that they had renovated.
They were too young to drive, so they started fixing up the old car and hanging around the local gas stations. They went to Saugatuck School, and after school when they were about 12 and 13, they would go to an Esso gas station on Riverside Avenue to sweep floors and learn the business. In 1954 that gas station closed as Interstate 95 was being built.
In 1957, a friend of Dominick asked him to go into a business partnership for a new gas station. Their dad insisted that Chris join the business too, and Chris started showing up. Their friend said that there was not enough profit for three partners, so their dad bought them their own business on the corner of Bridge Street and Riverside Avenue.
Boccanfuso Chevron existed from 1959-1970 in Saugatuck until they moved and became the Boccanfuso Brothers on the Post Road. They closed their business in 2014.
When they were cleaning their office out in 2013, they found some old packs of pepper seeds, so instead of planting flowers in front of their house, they planted the peppers. The peppers were a big success and they have been planting five types of peppers ever since.
The Boccanfuso twins have always worked hard and did everything themselves from an early age. Today they plant and grow their own tomatoes, peppers, and basil, as well as make their own wine, vinegar, tomato sauce and pepper relish. They put a lot of care and pride into their garden. Everyone in the neighborhood knows them as they are very generous and kind. Chris and Dominick cook and eat dinner together every night. The Boccanfuso brothers are a slice of the old Italian traditions of Saugatuck.