by Sue Carol (Pincelo) Farrell


Do you guys remember going to McCrory’s on Broad Street? When I was a kid my mom and I would go shopping downtown and always stop at McCrory’s for a charlotte ruesse and a stop at their fabulous candy and nut counter. Even after I was married and had my four boys I would stop at McCrory’s candy counter on my way home from work and buy the kids a treat if I had to take the bus home. They would get so excited. When They were all little I would take them on the bus to Downtown and they could stop with me themselves. It was like a special outing for them.

I like to stop at Bamberger's too. Whatever was upstairs in the regular departments, you were sure to find in the basement at a reduced price. The basement was where most of us working people did a lot of shopping. The malls today are nice, but there was something so special about going downtown and going from store to store.

My first part time job was in McCrory’s and I made .87 ½ cents an hours. Can you imagine the kids of today working for such an amount of money? I worked everyday from 4 o’clock till 9 and Saturdays. I worked in the Fabric Department and back then all the fabric was on these big bolts. You had to pick them up, measure and cut. It was a job that could give you muscles. But that was another time, wasn’t it?

Do you also remember the cart on the same corner as McCrory’s that sold the hot chestnuts? They were great on a cold winter’s night. Does anyone remember the rag man who came around with his horse and wagon looking for rags from everyone and the knife sharpener who for a fair price would sharpen all of your knives and scissors for you. Then there was the man who sold bleach and if you made a mistake and put too much into your washer it would eat your clothes up. But we all knew how much to use because we had been using it for so long.

Then there was the man with the fruit and vegetables and every housewife on the block came out to see what was good to buy that day. And if he like you particularly well or you were a very good customer a couple of free pieces of fruit found their way into your bag. I think that every neighborhood in the city had one of everyone of these men.

I tell my grandchildren about these things as I also told my children and I can mesmerize them with some of the stories. The one thing that they cannot understand is that we got a small coke for a nickel and a large coke for a dime. I went to Ratner’s and bought my father his cigarettes for eighteen cents and you could get six pieces of candy or a couple of bubble gums for one penny. They also could not understand a trolley until I showed them one on the computer. I have ridden on one, but they did not stay around too long by the time I knew what they were. You could get ten cans of evaporated milk for only one dollar and today that is about the price of only one can. Sales at the Grocery stores were also ten cans of vegetables for a dollar.

When I went to the diner across from where I worked, I could get a cup of soup for a quarter and a bowl of soup for fifty cents. I know that some of you out there remember these things. A big treat for me was going to Olympic Park. My parents would take me often. They loved to play the games while I loved to ride the rides. The day after I graduated from Sussex Avenue School in June of 1954, all of us kids when to Olympic Park. We all had a wonderful time. Who knew that if would finally be closed down.

We also used to go to Twin City Skating Rink, Rotunda Pool across from Branch Brook Park. Ten cents to swim and I always had ten cents to buy something from the truck in front of the park. We liked to stop at Boys Park on Orange Street and watch the old men play Bocce Ball.


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