Bergen Street

by Bob Lasher


My name is Bob Lasher. I lived on Bergen St from 1950 till 1960 above the stores in between the Universal Food Market and the firehouse and right across the street from the Park Theater. The number was 1024/1026. The three stores were Goldstein's Shoe Repair, Horn's Hardware Store and Heineman's Radio and TV Repair Shop.

Walter Heineman was my step dad and owned the building. There were two apartments upstairs. Walt used to sell records and repair radios before TV became popular. He had listening booths in the store and sold the 78 rpm records for 79 cents. Then along came the little 45 rpm records with the big hole in the middle. As time went on, TV repair and antenna installations took up most of his time and records were no longer much of a money maker, so the records were discontinued. I used to help a bit in the store, but not all that much as it was closed a lot as Walt was busy making house calls and carting the heavy tv sets back to the store when he could not repair them on the spot with a changing out of a small tube or so.

Mr Goldstein at the shoe repair shop never said much. I still remember the smell of his shop from the glue and polishes and god knows what else he used to repair the shoes. I also remember the giant lathe machine with brushes and other devices for trimming the soles to the right size. I did not go in there much because old Mr. Goldstein did not seem to like kids.....or anyone else very much. He spent all his days alone unless he had a customer in there. I never knew his first name!

Mr. Jack Horn had the Hardware store. He was also not too friendly to kids. I don't remember going in there much at all! It was a typical hardware store, pots and pans, screws and nuts.....Not much else to say about that.

The Fire house was always a pleasure to me. Being a kid, I looked up the those guys but never had the urge to be a fireman like them. I remember a few of them would always be sitting out front with their chairs leaning back against the building just watching the flow of folks and cars go by on busy Bergen St.

I had a special relationship with most of the firemen and if they were on their way back from a call going down Hunterdon St. and I was walking home from Peshine Ave School, they would always pick me up on the fire engine and take me home. I felt like such a big-shot on those occasions.

My bedroom looked out on the second floor of the fire house and I could see into their sleeping quarters with the narrow cots and the top of the pole they used to slide down to the engines. Many a nights sleep was interrupted by the clanging of the bell (a series of clangs that would indicate the box that was pulled.) There was a huge list of the codes and the corresponding box to tell them where to go. The lights would automatically come on and I would run to my window to see them run to the pole, grab on and disappear as they slid to the fire engines down below. They let me slide the pole many times.

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