Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Main street continued

I started yesterday by describing in my feeble way a partial picture of Runnemede's main street -- the Black Horse Pike. I shall continue my dialog by heading north on the pike, starting at Clements Bridge Road. If you all want to see a map of Runnemede click on this link.

On the corner, was the Misses Dodge's house. It was an old house, two story home, and Camilla and Josephine Dodge lived there. When I knew them they were very old -- at least 70 plus -- maybe not quite that old, but they were really elderly. Miss Camilla was the lady who would click her tongue in derision whenever she saw a woman or girl in "pants" -- man's clothes. Not a good thing. I know I avoided her at all costs whenever I had on overalls. Miss Josephine was the sweetest lady ever. She always had some candy for the children, and she was a Sunday school teacher at our church. I remember Miss Camilla more than Miss Josephine. And yes, they went by those names for as long as I knew them.

Moving north on the Pike we came to what was the post office. I know this because I spent a lot of time there, and went to get the mail with my father on many occasions. Next to that was a deli -- the best deli ever. When it went out of business in the late 50s, we started going to Vince's (on Clements Bridge just next to the railroad tracks) and his shop was a good replacement for the best deli (always crowded) ever. The smell -- oh my! I can still smell those pickles, the salami, and other garlic-infused goodies that were all over the shop.

Now is where my mind becomes muddy. I don't recall any other buildings -- although I'm sure there were either homes or something -- until you came upon Mr. Leap's super grocery store. He, too, had a pickle barrel. But his grocery store was just that. He carried the things you COULD get in the deli (like cheese and lunch meats), but he didn't carry the good Italian bread that the deli carried. Mr. Leap's store also had the other things that no deli ever carried, like cereal, coffee, Wonder bread (which my mother never bought and which we kids really wanted), some frozen foods, which were a new-fangled thing -- you know like peas, spinach,, green beans. Until we tasted frozen peas we didn't know what real peas tasted like. Peas weren't something you could get fresh very often, and canned peas don't taste like peas. I don't know what they taste like. I guess they just taste like canned peas. Mr. Leap's store was on the corner of the Pike and Second Avenue, across from the gas station, and two blocks down from our house.

I'm going to walk up (going north was up, going south was down) the Pike another block. On the NW corner of Second and Pike was an empty lot. Then you came upon Joe's soda shop. And boy were those soda's good. He had a regular soda bar in the back of the store, and magazines in the front. In between were all sorts of goodies. School supplies, kiddie jewelry, etc. Loved that store. Then next to Joe's there was another grocery of sorts.

What I can't figure out is why Runnemede had so many grocery stores. The one on the corner of Third (next to Joe's) had a lot of floor space, but not so much food.

And my mother shopped them all. I guess she thought it was her duty to help keep them all in business, and with four children, she certainly bought enough food. And mom bought something every day, it seemed like. Actually, I -- me, myself, and I -- did the buying from the time I was six or seven, mom sent me to one or the other of the stores for something. And when I started getting my dime allowance, I did my own shopping (usually a pickle was included in my weekly shopping).

On the NW corner of Third Avenue was Marston's Jewelry store. Actually, I think that store went in later, but I remember that corner always having a jewelry store on it.

I have one more "main street" dialog which I'll post another day.


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