Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Monday, January 25, 2010

Main Street -- Runnemede 1950

Main street, of course, is The Pike (Black Horse Pike). After a conversation with my sister today, I'm ready to update you on THE STREET as it was in the late 40s, early 50s, more likely the late 40s. I would have been 6 or 7 then. I can always depend on my sister to bring back some memories, even though she is three years younger than I. And, of course, she remembers things I don't recall at all because of our age difference.

I know, three years doesn't seem like a big difference, but, believe me, it was. I was OLD, she was a BABY. We did very little together, except fight over the cleanliness of our room. But our remembrances of our tiny home town are so similar in so many ways.

So, here's The Pike as I remember it in 1950, starting on the eastern side of the Pike at Second Avenue and heading south toward Clements Bridge Road. Some of these shops were only in existence for a short period of time.

First was the Gulf Station, then the fire station. Next was an empty lot, full of trees and weeds, and I think it was the back yard of what was to become later on, Jake's Five and Ten. And yes, it was Jake, not Jack.

Then came Jake's 5 and 10 (which became an optometrist shop by the time I was in 6th grade). Next door to Jakes, on the corner of First Avenue was Finaro's shoe store. Mr. F was a cobbler, shoemaker extraordinaire. And he had one of those x-ray machines in his store. I do recall my sister and I loved going in there just to see our feet through our shoes. How neat was that.

Across First Avenue was Pitt's Drug Store, butted up by Mr. DiCecco's Tailor Shop, then came Weber's Bakery, then the hardware store. Dink's was next, but I think that was originally a small eatery, which I think was also owned by the Weber's. I recall that it was only one store wide, whereas Dink's was two stores wide, so it may be that Dinks was next to the restaurant before he expanded to the double width, and that the restaurant was next to Dinks butted up against the grocery store.

The restaurant had a very small menu, about six booths and maybe four other tables, if that many. I recall going there on a couple of Sunday's after church when I was very small, and it was just me, my mother and my father. Debbie, my sister was probably still on the bottle. She doesn't remember the place. I don't believe we ever went out to eat after she was big enough to cost my mom and dad money (except down at the Boardwalk, but I already wrote about that ).

Then there was on the corner of Clements Bridge and Black Horse Pike, still on the east side, the grocery store, which became a Firestone tire store, which became the vacuum cleaner store.

If you cross the street, and work your way up the pike, you'd find some other shops, buildings that changed hands over the years, but neither I nor my sister could remember all those buildings, or their uses, so I'm not going to talk about them for now. If I find out what their uses were I'll BLOG about them.

Just had to say that parking on the pike was not difficult back then, traffic on the pike was very light. Of course, not every home had a car yet, men were just getting home from the War (WWII) and houses were being built all over town. My dad was still bicycling around the town.

When I go home in a few months I'll take pictures of each and every building as they are now, and then I'll reconstruct how they were back when. I know a lot has been done to "reface" the main street (The Pike) in the last few years, and many of the shops will no longer be distinguishable in the new frontage.


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