Continuation of Lyle (Corky) Larkin remembers:
Frankford Avenue was paved with cobblestones (So many streets were paved this way) at this time and was the main shopping area for the northeast portion of Philadelphia. Within a four block area you could do your grocery shopping, take care of your dry cleaning, buy a new pair of shoes or have the old one‟s repaired, while you waited. One of the places was named, “Vitacolona’s Shoe Repair” These shoe repair stores had sit down booths about three feet high with red leather seats and each booth had a door. The idea was to give the customer a feeling of privacy while having their shoes off. The “Cobbler” would be sure to have magazines or a newspaper handy (usually the Philadelphia Inquirer or the Bulletin later came the Daily News) to keep you occupied while he repaired your shoes.
After getting your shoes repaired you could stop in one of the many soda fountains and get a banana split, chocolate nut sundae or root beer float. At one of the candy stores you could purchase some penny candies Grade A Bars, Snowcaps, Maltballs, Licorice Babies, Coconut Potatoes, Mary Janes, candy cigarettes, cinnamon potatoes, jaw breakers, pills on a strip or rock candy or perhaps just go down the long row of glass gallon jars that stood on their sides with shiny metal lids, and under the careful scrutiny of the shop owner, fill a bag with “penny candy”.
You could go to any one of the many car dealers and purchase a Packard, Kaiser- Fraiser, Studabaker, Hudson, Henry J, Willys or a Nash. Where are these cars today and don‟t you wish you had kept yours? How about a beer for a nickel, a new suit at Krass Brothers or Edco Youth Center or a dress, at Charming Shoppe, fill your prescription at Antwissles Apothecary at Harrison St.
Perhaps it‟s time to get your hair cut at one of the many fine Barbers. All you had to do was look for one of those red and white candy striped poles out front and you knew you got to the right place. Inside, the first thing that hit you was the aroma of “Bay Rum” cologne. These shops were always immaculate with their black and white checkered tile floors and big red leather special chairs. There was always one reserved for the kids down at the end with a booster seat that had chrome handles to straddle the chair.
The barbers took not only great pride in their work but also in their uniforms. They wore white smocks, heavily starched and never the same one twice. When the kids finished having their hair cut they almost always got a Tootsie Pop as a reward for sitting still. I‟m sure many of them got the reward in spite of their antics. Buy some flowers, have lunch, get new glasses, shoot pool, go to the movies or have a cut stitched up at Frankford Hospital on Wakeling St., it was our main hospital. Lastly you could pay your respects to a departed friend on Harrison St., which somehow became the street of Funeral Parlor‟s for this particular neighborhood.
Then there was always the old man with an organ grinder mounted on a pole, which acted as a stand for him to rest the organ on while he turned the hand crank that played the music. He walked up and down the avenue with a trained monkey riding on his shoulder. This cute little animal had a collar around his neck with a long chain attached. The monkey‟s outfit was a pair of red and black checkered pants, red vest, yellow silk shirt and black top-hat. The monkey would dance to the organ music while the old man turned the crank and when the music was over, the monkey would beg for coins from the crowd by walking around with it‟s hand extended. As you put a coin in his hand, he would tip his hat and give the “Loot” to his owner.
To be continued…