Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Shops along the pike

I was thinking the other night about the Hobby Shop that was next door to the Borough Hall (the old one between 4th & 5th Aves.).  Dad and Mark and I liked to make models -- dad loved to build model ships and Mark (my brother) and I preferred working on airplanes.

I have to admit that sometimes we got frustrated, especially dad because the ships had a lot more small parts than the planes.

I think about the only thing the Hobby Shop had to sell was models and glue, the kind of glue that was later to become the halucingenetic of choice of kids in the early 60s.  Airplane glue was the common name and it was "ingested" by sniffing. 

I was also wondering how many of the shop owners along the Pike and other places in town were able to eke out a living and keep from going under.  I know Leap's Supermarket was often very crowded, and it really was the only grocery store in town that wasn't a deli.  It was also during these years the only store that had a frozen food section.  Frozen foods were a new commodity in the 40s and early 50s.  The deli located next to the Post Office (the old one on the corner of the Pike and Clements Bridge) was always, and I mean a-l-w-a-y-s busy.  You HAD to take a number.  There was another grocery store, sparsely furnished and really an over sized deli, around the northeast corner of the Pike.  That store was always empty, or I just hit it right.  I was my mom's "personal shopper". 

Some of the stores were:

Palumbo's Bridals -- never busy.
Marsten's Jewelers -- never busy.
Freddie's -- always busy
The Barber Shop -- always busy
Jake's 5 & 10, when it was on the Pike busy, when he lost his lease his little shop in his home, not busy.
The optometrist -- well appointment(ed) -- took the place of Jake's
The shoe store -- served the town well
The taylor shop -- Dad used this shop often.  Mom didn't really have time for mending.
Webber's bakery -- best cream donuts anywhere, ditto with the cinnamon buns -- ran out of baked goods by noon.
Runnemede Supply -- what can I say -- it was the only hardware store in the area for many years.

Most of these stores lasted until the late 50s, early 60s.  Then there seemed to be a downward trend in stores along the pike.  Closures because shop owners were getting old and retiring or passing away seemed to be a monthly event. 

One more thing -- I also remember when you didn't need an appointment to see the doctor.  You just went to Dr. Fessman's office, or Dr. Palmisano's office, walked in and waited your turn.  We went to Dr. Fessman's because he was closest until he died suddenly, then we stayed in town and used Dr. Palmisano until my mom died, and that was a lot of years.  In later years, of course, you needed an appointment. 

Oh, yeah, Dr. Fessman was known to show up at our house when we children got some contagious disease to put the "notice" on the door warning other Runnemedians(?) that there was a nasty disease in our house and they should stay away.


No comments: