In February, I posted an item about the northwest corner of Degraw and Hoyt Streets in South Brooklyn, wondering aloud what the curious blue-shingled former storefront must have been back in the day.
I fished around the oldtimers were troll the South Brooklyn Network chat room, and found this out:
It used to be a grocery called Russo's. Mr. and Mrs. Russo lived in the back. My informant was a former delivery boy from the 1950s. He also said, when he worked there, it didn't have the blue siding, the windows were bigger and cornice was painted red. This news surprised me. Another source told me that that Russo sold the store in 1968 to "Jimmy the Arab," and then bought Pops Pool Hall on Second Place and Court Street.It sounded plausible. And my source seemed certain in his information; I even sent him a picture of the address. So I was satisfied, though I had learned nothing about the equally mysterious empty lot between 395 and 397 Degraw, just behind the corner storefront.
Then the other day, I received an e-mail that threw all my previous "findings" out the window.
Yes, there was a Russo's grocery. But is was on the southwest corner of that intersection. My new source knew this because her brother also used to work at Russo's as a delivery boy. She confirmed that "Jimmy the Arab" bought the store and ran it until the 1980s, and that until recently Jimmy's son worked at J&R Music in the City.
As for the shingled storefront on the northwest corner, my source said it was a coffee shop in the 1960s, owned by the Mignone family. They lived upstairs, and the entrace to the house was on the DeGraw St. side. The coffee shop was run by the wife Terri, from the Hoyt Street side.
It was more of a place that mother's gathered while the kids were in school. I remember playing in there when I was a little girl since my Mom was friends with Terri, and I knew the kids. The shingles were black for many years, and I believe painted blue after the Mignones moved. The gated lot (above) that is now used for parking was part of their yard where they had 2 beautiful Great Danes that were massive in size, but like little pussycats. When you look up at the building from the yard side, you can see that there was an extension on there at one time - they had a porch there.
Moreover, kitty-corner from the Mignones' coffee shop was a German bakery. Now I know the histories of all four corners of that intersection.