26 March 2009

A Sobering List

I was browsing on the South Brooklyn Network, where Red Hook expatriates reminisce about the good old days on the waterfront, when I came upon a thread in which people were remembering the various small, family-owned businesses on their individual blocks. In this day, when Red Hook is best known as the home of Fairway and IKEA, the exchange gave me pause. Read:

Harriet: I think we were so lucky to have had all the wonderful Mom and Pop stores in our neighborhood now a days all the Mom and Pop stores are disapearing because all the giants who can buy in large quantities and sell things for less money are snuffing them out.

On my block alone Richards Street we had so many stores I can't remember them all and forget about Van Brunt Street they had double the amount. Lets see who can remember the names of some of them. On Richards street there was Volpie's, Mabel's candy store, John's Deli, Larrys Laundry, the Chinese laundry, Pop's Heros, Sweginnes Liquor, Dougherty's Bar, the shoe maker, Buddie's cleaners. On Van Brunt Street there was my favorite Tony's Pizza, Gambadell's Ices, Friedman's, A&P, Cullen's Bakery, mmmm good. Ok Peeps help me out if you can remember more of them. God Bless.

Bobbie (Arlene): I don't know how far back your talking about, but here goes: Van Brunt St—Mester's Fish Market, Davidson's Pharmacy, Trunz Butcher Shop, Meyer's Candy Store, Patsy's Fruits & Vegetables, Willems Ice Cream Parlor, a Barber (sorry, can't remember the name. Sal's Butcher Shop, Taffy Dicks, Pimpenelli's Bar, Lombardi's Grocery Store. Oh well, add these to your Van Brunt Street list. I'll keep working on it.

Richard St: You're right, there wasn't too much—Rosenman's Deli, Duh! I can't remember any others that you've already mentioned. By the way, my husband's Grandfather & Uncle owned the Shoe Maker. I'm still thinking.

Paddy Finucane: Skippy Cleaners, the store next to Hans' (thrift shop w/the Captain,); Frank the barber, Sam's.

On Van Brunt, Ally's grocery store, Manti's, Laub's, Mary's, the fruit stand guy (can't remember his name)

Tom Galvin: On the corner of Pioneer and Van brunt Sal Afee's grocery store. On the corner of Pioneer and Richard Andy's candy store across the street from the old Pioneer movie.

All those small, independent shopkeeps in one small, tight area. And today there's barely one business a block on Van Brunt and almost no businesses on the side streets. Not one of these businesses survive today. Leastways, I don't recognize any of the names, and I pass down those streets at least once a week.


Andrew Gardner said...

That's amazing. Red Hook has changed considerably even since I moved back to Brooklyn almost 6 years ago.

My first memory of Red Hook was when I worked at Macy's as a teenager in the mid 1970s...there was a floor manager named Mrs Pettuchi, and she lived in Red Hook. I asked if it was a bad neighborhood, and was told that it was only a bad neighborhood if you weren't from there. A couple of years later (probably 1978 or 79) my friend David took me to Jee Joes pizza for "oregano". Of course it wasn't really oregano!!!

Unknown said...

My Great Grandmother owned SWEGINNIS LIQUOR STORE . When I was very young we lived above it with Nanny (Elizabeth Gillen),Gran (Helen Harkins)Mom (Ellen Sweginnis)Dad (Norman Fanning) was stationed overseas. I have very fond memories of living/visiting there. My Mom and Uncle Bobby grew up there.