by Raymond


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 else.

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.


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