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20 Towns in 20 Days: Branford

Branford in the 90s and now
Published: May. 10, 2022 at 6:23 PM EDT
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BRANFORD, CT (WFSB) – Eyewitness News is headed back to the 90s in Branford!

The green is where graduation takes place in town every year.

We’re going to take you back to what it was like to be in Branford in the mid-90s.

Jeff Raab and Dave Malick have been good friends since their days at Branford High.

They are part of the Class of 1997.

“We probably met, when did we start, ‘94?” Jeff said.

“I’d say Freshman year,” said Dave.

“Yeah, Freshman year,” Jeff said.

“We’re still super close with 80% of the guys that we hung out with when we were 15 years old, and now we’re going to be 45 before you know it.”

Even though they’ve been out of high school for 25 years, the memories are as fresh as ever.

“No internet,” Dave said.

“The world was different, the world I feel was a simpler place for us, y’know I remember it was such a big thing, I had my own phone line,” Jeff said.

If you didn’t have your own phone line, it’s very possible you had a “beeper.”

“If you wanted to get a hold of me, give me a code or something, you’d punch in your phone number followed by 1 or 2 digits that I’d understand,” Dave said. 15:29

Some of the coolest cars on the scene were Saabs, Punch Buggies and Jeep Wranglers.

“I drove a Chrysler Conquest TSI,” Dave said.

“I had my mom’s, I think it was a Geo Prism,” said Jeff.

The music that could be heard blaring from high schoolers’ cars?

I’d definitely say Dave Matthews, but like the Grateful Dead was really popular in Branford, still is, like Phish,” Jeff said.

“I remember going to a lot of Jimmy Buffet concerts at the Meadows.”

To get tickets to those shows you went to Strawberries.

“Which was a record store on Branford Hill, they sold tickets to the Meadows,” Jeff said.

“I remember sleeping on the sidewalk overnight to get Metallica tickets,” said Dave

For TV shows they watched 90210 and Saved by the Bell.

“Starter jackets were big back then,” said Dave.

“Abercrombie and Fitch, Gap, Structure which is now Express, J.Crew,” Jeff said.

Jordans were the biggest sneakers.

They had solid footing thanks to strong role models in town.

“Our friend Jeff Maloney, his father was the principal, Mr. Maloney. “He taught us you can’t spell community without the ‘u’,” Dave said.

“We looked up to him,” said Jeff.

Just as Bayside High students had “The Max” to hang out at, Branford high had Ashley’s Ice Cream.

“I think Ashley’s Ice Cream has been here forever, right?” Dave said.

And from sweet to subs.

“Joe Serious, he owned Serious Subs in the center of town, so if we didn’t go during the day we’d go after school and grab some grinders,” Dave said.

“I remember when I worked at TG’s Mini Golf, people would y’know go and play some mini golf,” Jeff said.

One popular spot that isn’t around anymore is the movie theater.

“Yeah, movies. Branford Movies was right down the street,” Jeff said.

For these two ‘97 grads, their world revolved around sports.

“Down at Stony Creek there were basketball courts we would just hang out there and play all day,” Dave said.

Dave played basketball for Branford and Jeff was a baseball player.

“This wasn’t here, the baseball field was completely different, home plate was over there. Now it’s over there, now there’s a scoreboard, there’s nothing like that 25 years ago,” said Jeff.

Including these tennis courts, which used to be a gravel parking lot for underclassmen.

“Did somebody just name it girlax?” said Jeff.

“I don’t know where that name came from but it was called, “girlox”,” Dave said.

Right near the “girlox” was a path leading to a lunchtime staple: Frankie and Johnny’s.

“We used to leave school during lunch to go get a dollar slice; $1 for a slice of pizza,” said Dave.

“Yeah, it was good pizza,” Jeff said.

We took a walk down memory lane to check out the old location.

And not too far from the pizza shop was 7-11, which is now a veterinary hospital.

Jeff and Dave admitted it’s hard to recall some places.

“I think b/c we never left, and things are being built, it just kinds of blend in together,” Dave said.

“Every year blends together,” said Jeff.

Branford in the 90s