Pigtail Alley

by David B. Seal


Just like Charles McGrath, I grew up close to Pigtail Alley. I Lived at 17 Humboldt Street where we moved in 1938 when I was five years old and stayed until 1957.

Roseville Ave Grammar School, K through 6th grade;
Some of the teacher's names I remember are; Miss. Obertritor (sp), Miss Kelly, Mrs. Bentley, Mrs. Price and the principal, Mr. Bergman.
Sussex Ave. Grammar School; 7th thru 8th, Mr. Vitotello (sp) was my teacher, Miss Poindexter was the principal.
Barringer High School; 1947 -1951 I served in the U.S. Navy 1951-1954

Pigtail Alley was our playground, I had many fist fights there and after the fight we became very good friends and all was forgotten. In the winter time when it snowed this is where we would ride our sleds, if not there, it was Dickerson hill (Street) that was paved with red bricks. The sled ride would start at the top of Sixth or Seventh Street and end near First Street. After the ride down you would stop at each intersection on the way back up the hill, checking to see if there was any crossing traffic coming, if so you would warn the rider at the top of the hill, or stop the car if the rider was on his or her way down. We would do this for hours and go home frozen to the bone.

The picture of pigtail Alley exiting out on to Myrtle Ave. and looking at Orange Street brought back fond memories. On the left of Myrtle Ave. and Orange Street was the White Market, a butcher shop and vegetable stand owned by father and son the Felaso (sp). The White Market was previously the Atlantic and Pacific Co. (A&P)

Going up Orange Street toward Roseville Ave I remember some of the places of business, on the right was Sinoway (sp) an optometrist, on the left was Botholdt’s Dinner. To earn money I peeled 100 pound bag of potatoes for a penny a pound at the White Market for Botholdt’s Dinner.

Continuing toward Roseville Ave on the right was a candy store, Davidsons. They had penny candy, five cent bars, soda fountain, newspapers, magazines, cigar, cigarettes and pipe tobacco. The big thing was the game of chance, for two cents you would pick from a box of chocolate covered vanilla cream candy (white was a loser), if you picked one that had a pink center you won a five cent candy bar. For seven cent you got a frozen nickel Milkyway bar and what about those malted milks, milk shakes, ice cream sodas for a quarter and egg creams for ten cent.

Continuing on there was a jewelry store, then a florist, Rupp’s. On the corner of Roseville Ave and Orange Street was the Wonder Bar & Grill a popular place to eat and drink. I remember Mr. Bergman the principal going there for his lunch. Diagonally from the Wonder Bar and Grill was Whelan Drug Store and above it was the Chinese restaurant Moy Bing’s. The White Market used to supply meat to Moy Bing’s.

Leaving Roseville Ave and Orange Street heading towards East Orange (the other way). On your right you came to Bathgate Place. On the corner of Bathgate Place and Orange Street was Uncle Sam Shoe Store, Grand Union, Tivoli Theater, Palm soda shop & luncheonette. In my teens I spent a lot of time at the Palm. The boy and girls would listen to the juke box, drinking soda, and talking loud. The owner would chase us out after a while, he said,”We were occupying all the booths and there was no room for the new customers”.

You would receive your allowance for the week of twenty-five cent and head to the Tivoli Theater for a Saturday afternoon matinee to see two serials, fifteen cartoons, an “A” & “B” picture. No one came to chase you out at the end of the show. If you were late coming home your mother was there to get you. To save money for a candy bar or pop corn you would lie about your age, eleven or under was eleven cent, twelve and over was twenty cent. You prepared yourself by remembering your birth date that put you at eleven just in case the cashier asked.

The police patrolled the area on foot and kept us under toe. They knew your parents, if you were doing some wrong they would tell them, if not by the patrolman one of the neighbors would tell them. Our parents would not tell the neighbor to mind his or he own business, but thank them. When you got home there was holy hell to pay. Not today!

Sunday mornings (age of 9 -12) I would go out with my homemade shoe shine box made from an orange crate to earn money by shinning shoes, somewhere along Orange Street, between Humboldt and Roseville Ave. The men on their way to the churches would stop to get their shoes shined. After church services were over I headed to the local taverns to get the men that I missed or who were late for mass. The taverns were, The Clipper Ship, Wonder Bar, and The Annex, the others I can't remember. After having earned between 5 to 10 dollars at a nickel per shine, I would go home for our Sunday dinner.

As if it was yesterday I remember most all the stores on Orange Street.
H&B (Harry and Benney) Grocery Store
Katz Dry Cleaners
Coleman’s Funeral Polar
White Market
Rupp’s Florist
Davidson Candy Store
Uncle Sam’s Shoe Store
Tivoli Theater
A&P Market
The Roseville Bakery
Woolworth's 5&10 Store
Kresge's 5&10 Store
Grand Union
Fish Market at West Market and Orange Street

Games we played:
Kick the can
Red light
John ride the pony (buck-buck)
Hop scotch
Jump rope
Pick up sticks
Stick ball in street
Two hand touch football
Marbles: potties, line, square, and circle, and an old sock to carry them in.
Baseball and basket ball at St. Rosa Lima play ground
Card games played on someone porch: Knuckles, Hearts, Gin Rummy, Go Fish, Old Maid, War, Poker, and Solitaire.


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