NFBNJ-Seniors] Remember those days in the 60's in New Jersey? a walk down memory lane

Jane Degenshein jdegen16 at
Sun Jul 14 10:34:28 UTC 2019

Hey Guys
As promised, I said I would send a few goodies during the summer  so here is 
one of them.
this is something to ponder.
Remember when. . .

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of
sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries
are only that of your imagination.

You've moved into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas.
You've just crossed over into . . . Wait there's a sign post up ahead --
your next stop . . . New Jersey in the 1960's!

It's an era when space became the new frontier, TV showed us the world, and
music gave birth to rock and roll. The country was jubilant as both World
War II and the Korean War finally came to an end. GI's returned home and
started families and the "baby boomer generation" was being born. People
watched "What's My Line?" and "I Love Lucy" on black and white TV's in their
living rooms. If you could afford a car, the average cost was about
$1,500(and you could fill it up with gas for a whopping 19 cents a gallon.)
If you didn't own a car, the bus was 15 cents and the bus driver would
happily make change for you from the silver metal coin changer he wore
around his waist. Frozen treats were 5 cents for a double stick ice
popsicle(sky blue was a favorite flavor) and 10 cents for a chocolate
covered ice cream bar, pizza was 15 cents a slice, a small coke was a
nickel, a hamburger was 20 cents, French fries were a dime, a haircut was 25
cents, and for 50 cents you could go to the movies and watch a double
feature with 3 cartoons plus you had a chance to win a prize in the "stooges
race" if your numbered stooge came all the way from behind and pulled ahead
somehow in a bathtub in the last second.

But what I remember mostly about North Jersey in the 60's was a very deep
sense of community in all of our neighborhoods. One of the main reasons for
this sense of community were the drug stores, candy stores, ice cream
stores, and the luncheonettes. The corner drug store served as a pharmacy, a
soda fountain, a gift shop, and a neighborhood meeting place. At the soda
counter you could order a cherry coke or a vanilla coke the "old fashioned
way." The soda jerk would put the cherry or vanilla flavor in a big wide
mouth Coca-Cola glass and then put in something that made it fizz and
bubble(I still remember how it would always tickle my nose.) There would
also be a cherry smash on the menu too which was basically cherry syrup and
seltzer(but it was so good.) And of course there were egg creams(it's a
shame most of our grandkids have never even heard of an egg cream), frappes,
and ice cream too.

The ice cream would be scooped out of these large canisters and served on
the counter in silver metal bowls. The sign on the wall behind the counter
said "French Ice Cream Hand Packed"(. I always wondered why we had ice cream
in North Jersey that came all the way from France but anyway it was always
very rich and creamy.) You could order an ice cream sundae, a root beer
float, or a black and white ice cream soda too. When I was a little boy, I
would always sit on one of the high stools by the counter with my legs
dangling in the air because they didn't quite reach the floor. Of course
being a kid I would keep spinning around faster and faster until my mother
would finally yell at me "Stop it already David! You're making me dizzy."

In the back of the store would be the drug section. There always seemed to
be kind of a dusty medicinal smell back in that part of the store. The
druggist(they were called druggists back then and not pharmacists) knew
every doctor in town and would take enough time to answer all of your
questions. Everyone working in the drug store back then knew most of their
customers' by name. The staff was always friendly and there to help you any
way they could. The corner drug store was also almost a mini department
store. You could buy all sorts of small items there and even a notebook and
a protractor for school as well as a "genuine spaldeen" ball. You could also
have your pictures developed right at the drug store(no digital pictures
existed in those days.) All you had to do was drop off your Kodak camera and
presto in a week or so all your pictures would be ready for pick up!

The neighborhood candy store had all sorts of different kinds of candy. And
against the wall would be the comic books, newspapers and magazines. The
Archie and Superman comic book pages were always a little bent in the
corners because kids would always read a few pages from them before they
were "politely asked" to return it back to the shelf. There was usually a
big red metal cooler for soda in the back of the store too. In those days
there was no refrigerated soda in the candy store. So you would bury your
hand in the ice chunks and ice cold water and feel around and then pull out
the exact soda bottle you were searching for(a cream soda, an orange crush,
a ginger ale, or a cherry coke.)

I would go to the candy store to buy all of my baseball cards too. What a
great deal - you got five baseball cards for a nickel! These were Topps
baseball cards with that pink square of hard bubble gum. You could spend all
day playing with your baseball cards too. I put baseball cards in the spokes
of my Schwinn bike with clothes pins and then I had a bicycle that sounded
like a motorcycle(varoom! varoom!) If I had too many duplicate cards of the
same baseball player, I would trade some of my cards with my friend(I'll
give you a Mickey Mantle for a Duke Snider.) Each year I tried to collect
every player from every major league team(who knew then that my dear old
mother was going to throw them all out on me!)

But let's get back to the candy again. There were candy buttons(those little
candies on wax paper that you would pull off with your teeth), there were
long red and black licorice sticks, plus Bonomo Turkish Taffy(vanilla,
chocolate, strawberry, and even banana flavors!) and Cho-Chose. Then there
was this powdered fruit flavored stuff in a flat envelope. You would hold
your head back and pour some of this fine powder on your tongue and it
magically "effervesced." I really liked the grape flavor(one day my best
friend told me he heard that the powder was actually radioactive - and I
said "wow" and that somehow made it seem even better.) And do you remember
the candy necklace jewelry? You would put one around your neck and then
stretch it and eat one of the candies. And of course we wanted to be all
grown up so we would buy candy cigarettes too. I would let one dangle from
my mouth while I occasionally "took a drag." Then I would start talking
tough like Joe Friday on the "Dragnet" TV show. I also loved the little
watermelon slices, the spearmint leaves, and the Swedish fish too. And who
could ever forget those little wax bottle shaped candies stuck together and
filled with that super sweet colored liquid(I still remember chewing the
empty wax bottle until it fell apart and it got crumbly in my mouth - yuck!)
And my mouth still burns when I think of those red hot "atomic fireball"
candies. And to this day I don't know how I didn't break a tooth on one of
those huge round "Jaw Breaker Gumballs!"

Some of the candy stores sold ice cream bars too. Dreamsicles were raspberry
sherbet on the outside with vanilla ice cream on the inside. Creamsicles
were orange sherbet with vanilla ice cream. There were ice cream
push-ups(you would push up from the bottom and then more ice cream would
magically appear on the top.) We had two stick ice pops(sky blue was always
a cool flavor), and "Bungalow Bar" ice cream. And of course there were
Country Club Dixie Cups(chocolate ice cream on one one side and vanilla on
the other side) which always came with a little wooden spoon.

North Jersey in those days also had many small eating places in the
neighborhoods and especially close to all the schools too. These were often
called luncheonettes in North Jersey in those days. There was usually a
lunch counter or a few small tables there for a quick meal. But just as
important it also was a meeting place for kids to hang out. You could stop
in for a tuna sandwich or an egg salad sandwich with lettuce, tomato, and
mayonnaise on a hard roll. And the sandwich would be so fully stuffed that
when you bit into it, the entire contents would start to slide out from the
other end. Yes it could be a little messy sometimes but it was also sooooooo
good. And then you would wash it all down with a Coke, Pepsi, Dr Pepper,
Root Beer, or a Cream Soda.

Yes times have changed but memories last forever. So close your eyes for
just a minute and imagine being that little kid again back at your
neighborhood soda fountain in North Jersey spinning around on that counter
stool with your feet dangling in the air as you waited for your "cherry
smash." And the next time you speak to your grandchildren or to your great
grandchildren, please be sure to tell them just how very "sweet" it was for
you growing up in North Jersey during all those wonderful years.********

 Keep Smiling,
Janie Degenshein
Happiness isn't having what you want, but wanting what you already have!
Facilitator of ECHO (Eyes Closed Hearts Open)
state affiliate board member
President of the senior division of the National Federation of the Blind of 
New Jersey
President of the Technology division of the National federation of the Blind 
of New Jersey
NFBNJ Newsline co-ordinator
jdegen16 at
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