Remember When: Downtown Shopping

Welcome to week two of “Remember When…” The response to our first column was overwhelming and very entertaining! While some of us lamented the loss of The Texas, Peking Restaurant and Letterman’s Bakery, others had fond memories of Ash & Naunas, Moyer’s soda fountain, and Herr’s. And check out the comments to find out what folks are saying is the connection between Charlie’s, Stuccio’s, and Grotto’s pizza. I still haven’t figured out what the name of the bakery on the corner of West & Main was, though… All that and more are still open for discussion at: “Remember When…Main Street Eats.”

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For this week’s column, I’m taking the lead of one of our readers, Dave Henrichs. Last week Dave wrote:

“Remember the huge portrait of J.C. Penney (the man) that used to hang over the stairwell of the Main Street store? I’ve often wondered what happened to that picture….I wonder if it is still in Bloomsburg somewhere….”

I remember being quite intimidated by that painting and nearly tripping several times in an effort to keep my eyes on it while going up or down the stairs as a child. It was one of the first pictures I saw where the eyes had that uncanny ability to follow you wherever you were.

Remember When…Downtown Shopping

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Cole Camplese has this downtown shopping memory:

“Remember that we had a Sears downtown that was multiple floors? The part I remember the most was the catalogue pickup area in the basement. We’d order my St. Columba uniform from the Sears Catalogue and then go to the basement of Sears to get it after they called!”

I remember that basement well, Cole. My memory is of standing in line with my Sears Wishbook, looking at all the toys, waiting for our turn at the window to get our packages.

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Melanie Strickelis was impressed that at Woolworth’s:

“…you could get anything…real goldfish, parakeets, hamsters, clothes, shoes, food, keys made, anything you needed!!!”

And Jeremy Harvey remembered this about the old five and dime:

“I remember saving up my weekly allowance to buy 45s (records) at Woolworth’s. Some favorites I bought include Eddie Rabbit’s ‘I Love a Rainy Night’ and Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney’s ‘Ebony & Ivory.’ I also remember buying albums at Record & Jeanswear.”

Jeremy, I bought the K-Tel “Rock 80” 8-track at Woolworth’s! And I learned how to decorate my walls by taping album covers on them from Record and Jeanswear!

What was your favorite record shop in town? Woolworth’s? Record and Jeanswear? What about Pro Audio or Record Review?

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Remember all the clothing stores that used to be on Main Street? Que Pasa, Jolly Jean Giant, Racusin’s, Arcus Dress Shop, Eudora’s Corset Shop…and what about The Small Mall?

And how many shoe stores did we have? J.S. Raub’s, Endicott Johnson’s…what else was there?

Kristin Camplese remembers a male employee at J.S. Raub’s:

“…who was very friendly, not too tall, and had very curly hair.  Anyone remember him?”

I think I do but he never helped me. I was always helped by a nice, white-haired lady, but I only remember her name as Winnie because that’s what she always called me. I had a yellow shirt with a small embroidered logo of Winnie the Pooh holding a balloon…I probably only wore it once to buy my new school-year sneakers but I was “Winnie” for ever after that to her. Does anyone remember her real name?

I got the fastest pair of sneakers in the world from her one year. They were so awesome that, after walking uptown to watch the new Superman movie at the Capitol with my grandmother, I ran leaping home, convinced that I too, could fly.

Speaking of the Capitol…well, that’s a whole other “Remember When…”

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Have anything to add? Comment on these memories or add your own “Downtown Shopping” memories below. Have other topics to memorialize? Write to us at: jenralston@thebloomsburgdaily.com

-Jen Ralston, The Bloomsburg Daily
Photo Courtesy of Jack Edwards

44 thoughts on “Remember When: Downtown Shopping

  • October 22, 2011 at 9:28 am
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    Are you thinking of Edwards Bakery? Corner of Main and West Streets?

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    • October 22, 2011 at 11:32 am
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      If it was on that corner until about 1977 or so, then that’s the one! Thanks, TSCM!

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      • October 22, 2011 at 12:10 pm
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        Yep, got confirmation from Jack Edwards that was in fact his Grandmother’s bakery!

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  • October 22, 2011 at 10:55 am
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    Oh, for a google street view of Main Street back in the day!

    I loved the Bloomsburg Woolworth’s as a kid – particularly the pets and the little “electronics” section with the chord organs. You certainly could get anything there. Somewhat fitting that Dollar General is now in the same general location, with a similar marketing philosophy. (I can’t quite remember – didn’t Woolworth’s encompass what is now DG and Phillip’s/Cloak & Dragon? I do remember the rear entrance from the town parking lot, which now leads to Phillip’s Emporium.)

    Too bad that the drugstores are all gone – Eppley’s, Rea & Derrick…

    Interesting google result searching for Eppley Pharmacy. Rea & Derrick seems to have been swallowed up by CVS.

    I remember shopping for a suit for my sister’s wedding in 1974 – at Racusin’s and Al’s Men’s Shop (which of course, amazingly, is still there!). Googling for Racusin (Racussin?) had a link to bentonnews.net, but very little information:

    “Bernard Racusin ran a clothing store in Shickshinny when we were growing up. We remember the store, along with the Racusin stores in Bloomsburg, Berwick, Edwardsville and Freeland.”

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    • October 22, 2011 at 11:15 am
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      My dad apparently worked at Racusin’s for a summer. Going to try to get him to chime in with his memories! Wasn’t there a big “R” in the terazzo sidewalk where it was on Main St? And isn’t it still there … or is that my memory failing me?

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      • October 22, 2011 at 11:31 am
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        It’s still there. Now the entrance to Ready-Go-Burrito.

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      • October 22, 2011 at 11:38 am
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        And Jake Racusin was always there smoking a big cigar!!

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        • October 22, 2011 at 11:51 am
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          Was it Eudora’s that had the pug dog on a velvet chair?

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          • November 3, 2011 at 9:38 pm
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            no, that was racusins(sp) that had the pugs. i was petrified of those dogs. my mome worked at Eudoras for the holiday seasons.

      • October 22, 2011 at 2:39 pm
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        Kris, the man at the shoe store was “Paul” but cannot recall his last name.

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        • October 23, 2011 at 5:51 pm
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          That was Paul D’Orazio. He had a great laugh and was very friendly. He also had a good voice and participated in the occasional hospital local talent fund raiser shows where anyone could take part and the hospital staff,ie especially the docs were encouraged to participate in acting very silly in sketches. Paul had a great sense of humor and was always willing to clown around in these benefit programs.

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          • October 21, 2012 at 8:56 pm
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            The little lady with the white hair commented on above was JoAnn, Paul D’Orasio’s wife. The guy with the curly hair first name was Rick, and there was a long black haired very petite young woman who worked there, whose first name was Susan.
            I myself worked @ Rea & Derrick’s lunch counter from 1974 up until CVS took over and closed all of the lunch counters.

    • October 22, 2011 at 11:43 am
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      Harry, I’m just impressed that there is a Google street view of Main Street today! Woolworth’s definitely took up that corner where Dollar General is now and probably Philip’s as well, if you remember the rear entrance. It didn’t extend any further than that, did it?

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    • October 22, 2011 at 12:02 pm
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      And on the subject of Woolworth’s: how many parents lamented their placement of the toys and the pets so close to each other?

      The deal was always struck thus:

      “I want a Mad Libs.”

      “We’re not here to buy games.”

      “Can I have a finch?”

      “No. They’re too noisy.”

      “Can I have a hamster?”

      “No. They’re too messy.”

      “Can I have a goldfish?”

      “No. You won’t feed it.”

      “Can I have a Mad Libs?”

      “Well, alright.”

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  • October 22, 2011 at 11:48 am
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    Taking a little virtual tour down Main Street this morning on Google map’s “street view” I thought of another one:

    Remember when Cole’s Hardware was on the corner of Main and East (where ReMax is now)?

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    • October 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm
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      Cole’s had a distinct odor (fertilizer, perhaps?) and a distinct sound. We always entered through the back entrance, down a wooden ramp and into the back aisles where the floor was also wood; it was fun to make it thump and creak.

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    • October 22, 2011 at 1:49 pm
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      I spent a ton of time at Cole’s. Like Fritz, I loved the ramp and can also still remember the smell! They had a very nice little selection of toys in there — I actually rounded out my original Star Wars collection with a few additions I talked my parents into getting me while they were shopping for routine items. Cole’s was where I bought my BBs for my Red Rider — amazing that I needed them given I lived on East Street!

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  • October 22, 2011 at 12:46 pm
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    I loved to visit the old Coles on Main & East as a boy. I remember running up and down the ramp next to the cashier. It made a great sound. The remax office moved to Market St plaza. Apparently Google Street View is out of date. Now it’s a nail salon on one side and FuJi sushi on the other. Does anyone remember the gas station where the Bloom Diner now sits?

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    • October 22, 2011 at 3:56 pm
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      The sounds of Coles: the ramp and the key-making machine in the back.

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    • October 24, 2011 at 12:01 am
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      I remember the gas staition well. My older brother Jim I delivered newspapers (The Harrisburg Evening News) in Bloomsburg as kids in the early 60’s. The newspapers were dropped off at the gas station. On cold winter days when the papers were often delivered late, I played the pin ball machines that were to the left inside the front door, spending my profits (a nickel at at a time) before they were even made. It was great to be in out of the cold.

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    • October 24, 2011 at 8:44 pm
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      I would have forgotten all about that gas station if you hadn’t mentioned it.

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  • October 22, 2011 at 4:03 pm
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    As a college student in mid 80’s, a favorite was “Ma” Neufer’s bar. It was a basically like a room in a house. You left tips on the floor…on purpose. Once, some girls thought they’d help by picking up the change and giving it to her and she scowled, “GIT yer hands off my tips”. Nothing like that place.

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    • October 22, 2011 at 4:24 pm
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      Thanks, Matt! We’ll definitely have a “Watering Holes” edition in the near future and that will be great contribution to it.

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  • October 22, 2011 at 10:56 pm
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    A former boyfriend worked in the paint department of the downtown Sears. He told me stories about men who would come in and say something like, “The wife sent me over to get some paint. She wants to paint the dining room.” My boyfriend would say, “What color did she have in mind?” And the guy would say, “Blue.” Then he’d take the guy over to the paint sample color display to show the gazillion variations on blue. And the guy would just go pale. “Uh. I guess I better go back home and bring her back.” Apparently something like this happened with some frequency.

    (Also– I miss the lunch counter at Rea & Derrick’s! And yes, Woolworth’s was in the space now occupied by both Dollar General and Cloak and Dragon. Woolworth’s had a lunch counter, too.)

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    • October 23, 2011 at 12:32 am
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      It seems that so many of the downtown stores had lunch counters. A different mindset then, I suppose, and prior to the explosion of fast food franchises.

      This also makes me remember the Grant’s store, just north of Bloomsburg on Route 11 (aka Columbia Boulevard) – a sort of prototype of the big box store. It also had a large lunch counter. That is where my family purchased its first color television.

      After Grant’s demise, it became a Kmart, and is now the local branch of

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      • October 23, 2011 at 2:33 am
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        I don’t remember Grants but I do remember Ames. K-mart was my first “real” job.

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        • October 23, 2011 at 1:03 pm
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          K-mart had a restaurant, too. Remember that?

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          • October 23, 2011 at 3:14 pm
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            My Grandmother always would want to go to K-mart to eat beer battered fish. Of all the places we could have taken her, K-mart was her favorite. Rest in peace Ethel Smith.

          • October 25, 2011 at 1:43 am
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            It’s funny that you mentioned K-mart’s restaurant and that Debra mentioned about the fish lol. I was just sitting here thinking about going there all the time with my grandfather, Earl Hock, and his girlfriend, Helen, when I was little. Every time I spent the night at their house on weekends we would ALWAYS go there for dinner. RIP Pap, I love you!

      • October 24, 2011 at 8:46 pm
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        I actually have about a dozen spools of thread that still have the “Grant’s” tag on them–and that’s been gone for quite a while.

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  • October 22, 2011 at 11:49 pm
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    The man in J S Raub was Paul D’Orazio and the blond woman was his wife, Joann. Paul always called her Blondex around their friends and was always joking around. The younger man who was in his 20s was Rich Dewalt. Paul and Joann lived on Old Berwick Road and are both gone, and Rich lives near Chicago.

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    • October 23, 2011 at 2:34 am
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      Wow. Thanks, Dot. So strange to find and lose Joann in the same sentence….

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  • October 23, 2011 at 11:30 am
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    I remember the old elevator at Eudora’s, there was a man who actually ran it, took you to the orthodontist office upstairs.

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    • October 23, 2011 at 1:05 pm
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      That’s right, Laurel! I got my braces from that doctor and the elevator man never spoke a word in the entire two years I had appointments yup there.

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  • October 23, 2011 at 8:28 pm
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    I have to say, I loved Letterman’s Bakery (I believe it used to be where Balzano’s is now) I would BEG one of my brother’s to walk me up there for a ‘tractor tire’ doughnut…I believe it was simply a french cruller. And I also loved going to Ash and Naunas on East street for a REAL cherry coke straight from the soda fountain!

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    • October 23, 2011 at 8:43 pm
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      Ash & Naunas had the best comic book selection, too!

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    • March 31, 2015 at 11:16 am
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      I think you mean Bush’s where Balzono’s is now. Letterman’s was on Market and Third Street

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  • October 25, 2011 at 8:33 am
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    My Grandfather worked in the basement pickup dept at the Sears in town. I remember him bringing home the big cardboard boxes from the refrigerators for us grandkids to slide down the hill on.

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    • October 25, 2011 at 10:28 am
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      Marie, my grandmother worked in the basement for a time, too! I always thought it should allow us to get through the line faster but it actually kept us there longer, so she could stay and chat with the ladies behind the desk.

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  • October 28, 2011 at 11:35 pm
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    Shoe stores. Remember Brands shoe store on west main street. Remember Shear and Sharpings. They had a machine that you put your foot in and saw an X-ray of you foot.Ladys name was Marie.

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  • November 4, 2011 at 12:25 pm
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    Does anyone remeber the name of the general store on 5th and Catherine St? Wellever’s maybe? I remember spending my lunch money there every day on the way home from the elementary school.

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    • June 9, 2015 at 9:11 pm
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      Unless I am very mistaken, Stewart’s bakery was in the alley between fifth and sixth and main and Catherine. They fronted on sixth but the bakery was on the alley. My hose was 220 e fifth and I spent a lot of time there. Oh the aromas from that place. Mr Stewart lost one of bacon th legs to diabetes, maybe n the sixties or seventies. Then because s wife continued. I do new t know for how long. Since I have not been back tomorrow Bloom since the nineties, I have lost touch. Another place, now gone, was Carter’s on East st. James st up from fifth. Harris’s store was on the corner. Kind of a general store and sporting goods. Buckelew Chevy Cadillac(sp ?) Was on the south corner. And a across the street was Hummel’s bar.
      Regarding the store on fifth and Catherine. It was Oliver’s. Owned by Frank well over and his wife. Daughter Nancy. Originally just the small wilson oxen building but then he expanded and built the finder block addition in the 50’s. They lived in the white house just north of the store. I see to buy 25 cents worth of Lebanon Bolognese and sit on their step s and eat it.

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