Another one from my brother Richard Moore
During the late 1950s and early 60s I would look forward to a very special weekly event , every Thursday morning i would walk over to Mitchells bakery and get the deal of a lifetime . I would be awake early waiting with great anticipation for my mom to hand me 50 cents and two , yes . two paper shopping bags , usually the bags were from A+P or First National , the two giant grocery store chains at the time.
Later ,shopping would also be done at Star Market or Johnny’s Foodmaster . Armed with my gear i would head out toward Vine Street At the corner of Park Street and Somerville Avenue was Barker’s Drug store where we would get our weekly dose of penny candy so as to keep all the dentists in the area in business .
Barker’s drug store was old school as far as those things go . Everything in there was dark brown ,the soda fountain , apothecaries , floors and the ceiling wasn’t too far from being brown either , just a slightly lighter shade of it . Mr Barker ,as far as i could figure was about 120 years old and he always stayed in the back of the store watching the Red Sox at a volume that could be heard miles away. I fully suspect he was an alcoholic as the place always reeked of beer yet none was sold there . I think he was supporting ‘Gansett beer to the fullest extent .
Nonetheless it was our primary source of comics , sodas and the aforementioned penny candy . Later it was completely changed to the Kramer drug store ,complete with fluorescent lights and bright Formica counters of white and orange instead of the old school globe lights and dark foreboding woodwork .
Just after Barkers was the Embassy Lounge , a local watering hole . I only went in there once with Bill Courtney after i got home from Vietnam , the owner was a good friend of Bills and evidently my money was no good there , i left quite intoxicated and somehow didn’t spend a dime , some people appreciated a veteran .
Farther down Somerville Ave and across the street was the Continental Cafe another local watering hole but one with some pretty darn good food . My dad told me a story once when he and my mom went in to eat and some guy wanted to arm wrestle him . Now , i have no idea how good or strong my dad was at arm wrestling but I never saw him lose . Evidently this guy harassed to him to the point where dad finally gave in and and the battle ensued and of course dad dropped the guy like a bad habit …way to go dad .
Back on the other side of Somerville Ave again where we started this journey was Razzaboni’s grocery , a mom and pop kind of place that was famous for only one thing …the pickle barrel ! For 5 cents you got to fish around in the big old wooden barrel for the biggest dill pickle you could get . Usually by the end of the month the pickings were pretty slim and on the first of the month it was a race to see who would get the biggest pickle out of the mother load in the new barrel .
If the new pickles didn’t arrive on the first there was much disappointment . If it was a school day , usually home was bypassed and sometimes even a footrace was involved , we took our dill pickles seriously !
Now we finally come to Vine Street the destination of this epic adventure , walking past Saint Anthony’s church on the left I carry my two paper bags and 50 cents jingling in my pocket all the way to the end of the street to the right and thee it was …the Mecca of baked goods . I never entered the building, we were told to go to the side of the building where there was a small alley and a barred gate . One would think it was prohibition and we were buying booze at a clandestine meeting place. I took my turn in line and impatiently waited. At last it was my turn and the baker approached and took my money and bags from my sweaty little hands. I believe these were day old goods or extras that weren’t needed for delivery, either way it didn’t matter, there were pastries there.
Now the baker went over to the racks and shelves and picked out assorted items and bagged them, all the while i could see what he was doing and i kept my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be boring stuff ….like bread. Nervously waiting, I can see him toss in ….donuts ! Woo hoo ! Aw man ! two loaves of white bread , yuck . Now its …coffee rolls and a jelly roll! jackpot!! ding, ding , ding . What now ? A loaf of Scali bread ? well it does make for some good toast , with peanut butter and butter of course . Aha ! Two more treasures , cookies , yeah baby one is chocolate and the other …drum roll please ….macaroons ! sweet ! Who s the man , I am !
I thank the baker flashing my soon to be cavity riddled teeth and head out briskly for home clutching but not squeezing too hard my gifts from heaven . When i arrive home I and I alone unload the bags , slowly , in front of my brothers and sisters with much oohing and ahhing from the peanut gallery . All is right with the world that day , who would think that such a simple thing would be remembered in such detail 50 years later ? but those were the kind of things that meant so much to us , our life’s little pleasures .
My family as well as neighborhood friends are all writing stories about the life and times we had together back when… This is one of my contributions and i hope you liked it.
I used to go also but I thought it was a quarter when I went. The stuff to us never seemed stale. They did give you a heck of a lot of stuff. It was near enough to the back of our row house that we believe that was where we got all the mice from. He talks about my dad and if you saw him he was strong. At work they called him paws because of the size of his hands. His arms were bigger and tougher than many body builders. I personally know how strong he is when he corrected us. Richard usually got the worst of things as I was the innocent one.