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
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