Working at Bam’s I have memories
of people I’ll never forget. I often wonder what happened
to all of them. My name is Raymond Rudy and I started in 1967 in
Dept. 912, first floor women’s clothing dept. Then I entered
the United States Air Force. I returned in 1972 and was assigned
to the third basement. I stayed at Bam’s when I became a Newark
firefighter. George ? was the boss, Sofie Bellino was the expediter,
Mary was in the Office and good old Fran Neri, who always had a
bow tie on with the loudest sport jackets. I remember Nelli and
Carol Ware Markers and Ann the Ticket Maker. Then there was Curtis
A Checker and I think Ann Johnson was the Head Marker. I can’t
forget and who could forget the great Rudy Jarasar. Rudy and I had
so much fun at work, all the girls loved him. The rest of the names
I’m fuzzy on. So I’m hoping this memory will bring back
names all throughout the store. I remember Mr. Parhahan, who was
in charge of receiving, shipping and return to senders. Like I said,
the people where really special and were always there when someone
had a problem in their life.
Christmas was a special time with a Christmas Party up on the 9
½ Floor cafeteria. Down in the 3rd basement we had a ball
having our own Christmas Party.
I was Deeply saddened to read of the passing of Mary Carney. I
worked with Mary in the 3rd basement shoe receiving dept. She worked
in the office processing the paper work. We always had Mary laughing
and playing jokes on each other. I will always remember her laugh
and smile. She never had a harsh word about anyone. I’ll miss
you Mary, may you rest in peace. Thanks for your friendship.
Many people that I met through life worked at Bambergers in Newark.
I remember the small escalators that ran from the 1st basement up
to the upper floor. Just the 1st basement was open to the public,
but the basements were behind the walls, out of service. I remember
a room in the ceiling of the eight floor that was a maintenance
room. You had to walk the ceiling to get into it. Also in the 3rd
basement there were rooms with large ventilating motors to service
the air supply. You could walk through them and come out somewhere
I remember George Krill very well. He worked in the 3ed basement
sending out packages. I can hear his voice like it was yesterday.
Like I said, the workers at Bambergers where the greatest, but they
really took a beating from the company in the last few years and
then the closing of the store. The big shots never knew what they
had and what the city lost when they closed.
I remember the restaurant on the tenth floor. It had all wood paneling.
Bam's also had a restaurant on the 1st basement that had access
from the corner of the store at Halsey and Bank Streets. You went
down a circular stairwell to get to it.
What happened to Bambergers was that it became a mail order service.
As the people moved to the suburbs they ordered from the mail catalog.
Most of the in store shopping was done during the lunch hours. Shoplifting
was also a problem that resulted in closing of different entrances
and having Newark Police Officers at the doors. Also street venders
were competing with Bam's All this resulted in a loss of revenue.
Also the Newark, Morristown and Princeton stores were unionized
and they wanted to get rid of the union.
Few people knew that trucks were put on elevators and lowered to
the 4th basement to be unloaded. There was not much room to move
around but they were down there. UPS usually left a truck down there
alone to be loaded with packages. The 3rd basement had an incinerator
to burn the paper and boxes that were sent down in chutes. The mail
order packages were also sent there in the chutes. A tube system
was used throughout the store to transfer documents. It was a similar
system to the one that Home Depot now uses. They also had a bell
system to alert managers to call in for a message.
During my time the 1st basement was the budget department. The
butcher shop had the best meat. Later it was more to the 1st floor
near Washington and Bank Streets, next to the Hot Dog Stand.
Remember the orange soda in a cone cup? The soft ice creams was
to die for. What about the candy dept. on the first floor. That
was the greatest. The original Bam's was the Orbachs building, till
the present Bam's building was built. This was done in two stages.
The front was built first and goes from ne basement to the 9th floor.
While down in the 1st basement you could go through the budget furniture
dept and come out on Academy Street, one block away. At one time
there was a tunnel connecting the Orbachs building to the 1st basement
of Bam's It was blocked up a long time ago. What a view from the
9th floor roof. The employees could go out and sit there.
I saw on the news last week that they found air raid rations in
the Brooklyn Bridge. Well, Bam's had their share of air raid rations
in the stairwells. I remember seeing them on the eighth floor stairwell.
Also they had two stairwells where were fire exits that were made
to let the smoke out. They were on the Halsey and Washington Street
Sides. They were open to the outside using bars instead of windows.
This allowed the smoke out. Few employees knew of them to my surprise.
The building had sprinklers all throughout. I was on the Newark
Fire Dept. so they had me walk the stairs during the fire drills.
I caught all kinds of people not in the stairs during the drills
and not going to where they were supposed to report. I asked them
what they were doing there and they said “Who are you?”.
Well when I told them who I was they moved real fast to where they
were supposed to be. At times I would enter closed stairwells and
I would find people sitting in them smoking or just talking. These
stairwells were to have the doors closed at all times. I tried to
explain to them that if a fire broke out smoke could enter or exit
the open door trapping people above. You hate to push people around
but sometimes they need a kick in the ass. Fire can move real fast
and the smoke will take you down real quick. So wherever you go,
take a minute to look for a way out. Don’t wait until something
happens. By then it will be too late.