Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Christmas in Town

I know I've addressed this before, and I will address it again because you just don't know how I miss this.

Santa arrived in Runnemede on a fire engine the day after Thanksgiving, and he was driven to his "throne" which for several years was in front of the firehouse -- when the fire house was located on The Pike. Then, he was moved to in front of the Municipal Building between 4th and 5th Avenues on the Pike.

I went to visit Santa, not because I believed he would get me anything, but because I would get a free candy cane. I tried to go a couple of times each season, but Santa was too smart for that and ALWAYS knew I had been there before. So much for anonimity. Remember a few days ago I mentioned my popularity -- here was one instance when it wasn't good to be popular!

Santa's "house" had music playing all day long, and I could just sit there and listen to the Christmas music, but it was cold in Runnemede in December, so I opted out of that activity.

Back to our small town. I wish I could remember which year Marston's Jewelry store opened up, but that was one of my favorite windows, not that I'd ever get any of the jewelry on display in those windows. As I walked back toward home from the Santa house (when it was at the Municipal Building) I would pass this store and just gaze. At that time there was a grocery store (with wooden floors) across the street, and on the same side of the Pike (that would be the southwest side of Third Avenue and the Pike). And while they had lots of windows, there wasn't really much they could do with food to make it festive. I moved on to Joe's (the ice-cream store) and then on to Leap's Supermarket (which later became Binkley's 5 & 10). He had lots of windows, too, and at least there was a tree in one of them, and they had colored lights all around the inside. As I walked down the Pike toward Clements Bridge Road, where I would cross over to our side of the Pike, there was the post-office. I crossed the pike there, and there was a store, which became a vacuum cleaner store, but at the time I was a kid, I'm pretty sure it was the Firestone store (it sold tires and other car supplies).

Now at this point, I had a choice, I could head east on Clements Bridge for two blocks and cut through the church yard to home, or I could go north on the Pike to Second Avenue, then head east two blocks to home. Mostly I headed north on the Pike so I could see some more windows.

As I ambled forth, I passed Dinks -- that was sort of a general store. There was a restaurant next door, maybe it was called "Weber's". Then came Brogan's hardware store. He had neat "gifts" on display in his windows, then came the bakery (maybe that was "Weber's"), and then came the taylor -- Mr. DeCeccio? And then came Pitt's drug store -- he has beautiful gifts on display in his window -- perfume sets (remember Evening in Paris?), wallets, key chains, hankies). Who'd have thought a drug store would carry such nice gifts.

Moving onward, I crossed First Avenue, and on the corner across from Pitt's was a shoe store, then came Jake's 5 & 10. Great store, not well decorated window. Then came the firehouse, which might or might not have had Santa, but while it was one the pike, before it was rebuilt on Second Avenue, they played music over loud speakers during the season. Then, I'd cut through the Gulf Station driveway, and head east on Second to home.

I missed a few shops that were on the Pike between 2nd and 3rd, but one was a bar, and one was a barber shop. The other store, was something different every year, it seems like. I don't think any business ever set up in that shop (the building is still there) ever lasted for more than a few years.

The Pike was also decorated with something on the electric poles, but my mind is dim and I don't remember what they were. Maybe it was lights strung across the Pike?

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