Recalling Syd's in the 1950s: French Fries and Cute Guys

by Sara Friedman Fishkin


Syd's, a landmark on Chancellor Avenue, was famous for hot-dogs and French fries. Located on the opposite side of the street from the Weequahic High School, it was a few doors down from the corner of Summit Avenue and Chancellor. Perhaps it was a doublewide store because I recall walking in the door, going a distance back and then turning to the right to get to the counter. There was music playing, from perhaps a jukebox or a radio. The counter was long with backless barstools, but most times I would stand. Behind the counter were guys tending to the fries, bubbling away in huge those deep mesh metal baskets.

The hot-dogs were the big attractions though and I usually ordered sweet relish, which they called "sweet works." I seemed to go through phases. For long spells I ordered mustard and sauerkraut but later got the true culinary calling "hot dog with sweet works, please." Of course they were juicy and good but too filling for an after-school treat. So, I discovered my true love very well done French fries. They came in a small brown paper bag and were accompanied by a wooden fork. The smell was heavenly, the taste perfection. I poured salt into the hot bag and then dumped in ketchup. Who knew from cholesterol? Prices? No idea.

In the late 1950s, besides the food, it was a great place to meet (cute) guys. One day, after school, one of those very cute boys struck up a conversation with me while I was waiting for my fries. He was very tall, very handsome in a "rough" way, and dressed great. Now keep in mind this recollection is from the eyes of a 17 year old girl. I had always seen him around the neighborhood, after all the Weequahic section, especially for those who lived around the high school, wasn't that big. But it was exciting to think that this "hunk" was talking to me. Well, he was quite nice. In fact, he drove me home in his most spectacular white 1959 Chevy convertible with turquoise interior. Ah, those were the days, my friend.


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