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The first ‘convenient’ stores

April 30, 2011
By HOWARD RILEY (hjriley@adelphia.net) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Long before we ever heard of "convenience" stores, we had stores all over Saranac Lake that were much more convenient than today's convenient stores not that the modern stores are not classy and neat. We are trying to see how many times we can use the word "convenient" in the first paragraph because one definition of "convenient" means "being near at hand."

Now, didn't all the old neighborhood grocery stores exactly fit that description? Talk about near at hand? Let's take a stroll through Saranac Lake in the early 1950s. How far did any kid have to walk when his Mom sent him out for a loaf of bread and a quart of milk? In most neighborhoods, maybe half a block; although small towns never measured distance by blocks.

If you lived at the beginning of Park Avenue, Keene Street or Upper Broadway you would probably go over to Higgins Upper Broadway Grocery at 226 Broadway (owned and operated by Sharon Bishops' parents.) Maybe you would go to Charlie Bryant's Market at 165 Broadway if you lived past Ampersand Avenue. Turn up that steep hill to Prospect Avenue and you would find the kids from French Hill and that area running to pick up groceries at the Prospect Market, better known as Ruthie's; it was owned and operated by Ruth Mullen.

Continue a five minute walk down Broadway and one could pick up groceries at Gladd's Deli at 125 Broadway; the Deli was later owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. David Martelle.

Walk down Broadway and turn left at the corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Broadway and the Drutz Super Market was at 4 Broadway (now the #1 Chinese Restaurant).

Over on the corner of Bloomingdale Avenue and Church Street Extension was Mullen's Cash Store at 19 Bloomingdale Ave. Percy Mullen ran the store with his elderly mother. The counter where you placed your groceries was in the rear, right side of the store. Percy would ring up the cost, put the money and the slip in a pneumatic tube and send it about six feet up to a room with a wide opening, directly behind him, where his mother sat and handled all the money. She would make the change and send it back to Percy in the tube. It was probably very efficient for the day but his mother was so close Percy could almost hand the money to her. Those of you who remember this store will also remember that Mrs. Mullen had a type of palsy that caused her to have an uncontrollable tremor of her head.

The Oxford Market at 73 Broadway (a stone's throw from the Drutz Market) was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Effenbach; many will remember their daughter Ruth and son Mark who worked with them. About three doors down from the Oxford was the A&P Store at 54 Broadway, where the Enterprise is today. There was a building next to the Enterprise where the Floyd H. Greene had an insurance office listed as 59 Broadway. Next door at was the Saranac Lake Supply Super Market owned and operated by brothers, Bernard and Richard Mullen.

The IGA Store Super Market was at 69 Main St., later Meyer's Pharmacy and soon to be opened as a restaurant by the brother's Joe and Ken Lawless, owners of the famous Downhill Grill in Lake Placid.

Their Dad, Jack, my cousin and high school chum, has recently moved back to Saranac Lake. He was a former Saranac lake village manager and at one time owned and operated E John's Lounge at 90 Broadway, now the location of Rusty Nailso it would not surprise me if, once in a while, one might see Jack around the new restaurant.

Now down Main Street we had the historic Charlie Green Market where Charlie added up the grocery purchases by pencil on the side of a paper bag; reached up for cans and boxes with a long pole topped with pincers that looked like a claw; sometimes to grab the item and sometimes just to topple it from the shelf to be caught by the free hand. I worked there a short while carrying boxes of groceries to nearby homes and cure cottages.

I remember only two delivery services; one was Eddy Norman, a little guy who would load his pickup truck and run with the boxes of groceries everywhere he went. The other was PDQ (pretty dam quick) delivery service run by a Mr. Pratt who had a bad limp.

Marty's Grocery was located at 62 River St. and Donnelly's Grocery was at 104 River St. Turn onto Lake Flower and Ted Demar had a grocery store at the corner of Merrill Street and Lake Flower; almost next door was Manfredo's Grocery at 110 Lake Flower Avenue, later Don's Grocery.

The Perry family had a grocery store in the front section of their home at 8 Park Place. Clifford Bruso had a grocery store at 4 Payeville Road. I don't remember this store but it was listed as so in a 1956 telephone book.

Bob's Gas and Grocery was in Lake Clear; Howard's (Thomas) Market was located in Lake Colby.

 
 

 

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