29 November 2012

The Jeweler Browns of The Bronx

The slender, old-fashioned-looking Brown's Jewelry & Gifts is indicative of the kind of store you find all over the older parts of Riverdale. I'm not sure if it's because of the challenges posed by the area's hilly terrain, but many shops here take up relatively little real estate. Because of this, Riverdale sometimes resembles an old English town or, at the very least, a New York of sixty years back.

Brown's traces its history back to the days following World War II, when B. Brown's Jewelers was orininally located at Westchester Square. That location still exists. This Riverdale Avenue location seems to have been founded in 1997. I'm guessing the sign (not the awning) dates from the original location. set the focus for today's Riverdale location.

That history notwithstanding, I found a Jan. 1, 1924, article in the New York Times about a holdup at a Bronx jewelry store owned by Bernard B. Brown. This Brown was a tough old bird. Three robbers stormed his shop on Tremont Avenue and demanded he open the safe. He refused, slamming the safe shut, and leaping over the counter to grapple with the main gunman. The other two were so startled that they fled. The robber managed to free his gun hand and deliver three bullets into Brown's gut and run to his getaway car. Several people heard the ruckus, including a taxi driver, and gave chase, but they lost the robber's trail.

Brown, meanwhile, was rushed to Fordham Hospital. A detective asked the jeweler if he know he was going to die. "I'm not going to die," protested Brown. "I'm going to be all right." Then he died. 

Could this Brown somehow be related to the Browns that opened up the Westchester Square shop twenty years later? The article said he lived with his wife and three children. 

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