Tales of West Broadway, Part IV: One fine Sunday morning just recently, Sue Brown very nicely inquired, “Have you thought of using an old city directory? We have some at the Pratt House.”
An old city directory? I pondered….A good idea. I’ll have to get one.
Then came the dawn! Duh! What about the 1948-49 City Directory I have sitting right on my own bookshelf! History at my fingertips! West Broadway addresses of our past all listed in numerical order just for the looking up!
If that wasn’t enough to get excited about, another good friend, Virginia Carr Arnold, called a day or so later and said she has a 1953 city directory she’d be glad to share. Wow! Not one but two old city directories to help refresh our collective memories!
But before I delve into those old directories, I’d like to tell you Nelson Richard’s story. When he was a kid he lived up over the Market Basket at 125 West Broadway, the last building on the block. He said they used an outside stairway attached to the back of their building, around on the Second Street side. There was no parking lot back then.
“I spent four years on that corner,” he said, “1946 to 1950 and remember walking to Oak Street School and going past the Woolen Mill’s dye shop on West Second”.
He said there was a hut-size taxicab stand next to the Market Basket and wedged in between the curb and sidewalk and in the space that would someday become a parking lot, there was a small luncheonette, a little ice cream stand, and two houses. An ice house stood off the street, too, and Mike Reynolds owned a two-story barn behind his hotel on West Broadway.
The ice cream stand was first owned by John Hartnett, who sold it to Buddy Allen. They sold Eskimo pies and other ice cream treats and you could buy hot peanuts for a penny. The luncheonette, owned by a Mr. Potter, burned down from a grease fire May 5, 1950, Nelson said. He remembers it well. And when it was torn down, the other building went too and the parking lot took their place.
He said Bill’s Restaurant on West Broadway was usually crowded and he compared it to Mimi’s today. He said the Victory Restaurant used to be where the Foursome Diner is on the corner of West First Street, but it also burned down, sometime in the 1940s.
Matty’s Grill was on West First. “The greatest steak sandwich around for 50 cents and draft beer for a dime,” he recalled.
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