Ten Minutes with Joan Silbersher
A local legend
Photo by Joseph Henry lipstein
Joan Silbersher could easily be described as a Pound Ridge living legend. Founder of the Pound Ridge Tennis Club and the Pound Ridge Holiday Market; the original publisher of The Country Shopper; and owner of Antiques and Tools of Business and Kitchen, Silbersher, 89, is an outspoken Democrat who says, “I like to keep politicians on their toes, and many residents appreciate it.”
What brought you to Pound Ridge?
I was married and living in north Stamford. My late husband was a cantor, and we figured there were enough temples around he could always get work. One day I saw an ad for a place in Pound Ridge. We bought a piece of land bordering the Mianus River in 1959 for 4,500 smackers.
You’ve had a lot of celebrities pass through the door of your store. Who are some of your faves?
I keep a list. Andre Agassi. Steffi Graf. Andy Rooney. Mark Harmon. And of course my neighbors Martha Stewart, Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, Amy Irving, Tom Brokaw, Ralph Lauren, Stanley Tucci, Ernie Anastos. Also Brian Williams and Helen Christiansen. And the former host of “Antiques Roadshow,” Chris Jussel, who wrote about me in the New York Times in ’99 when he said my shop memorializes America and is his favorite.
How has Pound Ridge evolved over the years?
The nice thing is it hasn’t changed much. There are two reasons. One is we’re far away from a railroad station, and distance inhibits growth. The other is we’ve had a conservative government all these years that has rejected ideas for improvement. They obstruct all kinds of things. That’s why it hasn’t changed.
Why did you open your shop?
I had a newspaper, The Country Shopper, I started with my daughter, Ricky. Then I got a rare cancer. I had the surgery and decided to sell the paper while I was recovering. I heard the people who were renting the corner property where my shop is now were going to stop doing what they were doing. So I moved in. That was 1989.
How did you get involved with the Pound Ridge Tennis Club?
When I moved here, I was a ranked tennis and platform-tennis player, and there was nowhere to play tennis. No public courts or park. But a neighbor, Maisie Kohnstamm, built a court. She was extremely generous allowing the use of it. I became the social director. One by one, I found good tennis players in the area, and I set up a schedule. I decided with this group to form a steering committee, and we found land and bond holders and started a club in 1964.
You mentioned the cast and crew of the HBO series “Girls” was filming in your shop?
I got a call from someone who said he was a big shot at HBO, and they’d like to film at my shop. I said, sure I’d love it. They came at eight in the morning and filmed all day. They say it will be shown when the new season starts. I’ve never watched the show. I’ve heard it’s racy.
With the election looming, would you care to cast a prediction?
I don’t watch or listen to the news enough to say. But I believe moderate thinking will take over, and that means Hillary.