Mickey McHeran gave a good account of local businesses in her book Wissinoming,
my hometown. The chapter that deals with businesses is reproduced below:
GHOSTS OF WISSINOMING PAST
Old-timers, or as they may prefer, long
term residents, still recall when:
Avenue was called Dark Run Lane, then Faust Street, prior to its present name.
were used for refrigeration in the winter months during the Depression Days.
The bank at
Torresdale Avenue and Howell Street was located at 5912-14 Torresdale Avenue, now the
location of Ovations Academy of Dance. It was the Oxford Savings, then the Corn Exchange
Bank, and had a large brass ear of corn outside. It
moved to its present site and was called the Guard Bank & Trust Co., then Girard Bank,
prior to its name of Mellon Bank.
The American Store Co. (ACME) and the
Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (A&P), the former painted yellow and the latter
red, did business on Torresdale Avenue at various locations from Howell Street to Higbee
The grocery store at 4611 Howell Street
was F. W. Schussler's, then a Frankford Grocer's establishment, also Bell's Market, and
currently Shop'N Bag. Store clerks added a
customer's bill with paper and pencil and reached for items overhead with a long handled
device that snatched the article from its perch on the shelf. Much of the stock was in bins and scooped into
paper bags for the purchaser.
Butcher shops sold meat and grocery
Louie's Chinese Laundry was at 5910 Torresdale Ave.
Bookmobile serviced our town since we never had a library.
It would stop at appointed destinations at regular intervals to dispense
and collect books.
weekly newspaper, "The Wissinoming Schedule," was published in 1889 by Joseph
Smith. This was followed by, "The
Advertiser, " published by the Merget Brothers until destroyed by fire in 1902.
years, another weekly newspaper called simply, "The Journal, " was edited by
John L. Merget. His son, Louis Merget
succeeded him. It contained local news, advertisements, and contests with prizes for the
winners. The office was located in the former
home of Louis Merget at 5703 Torresdale Avenue where contest winners converged to receive
Movie, nicknamed the Fleabite, was located at 5917 Torresdale Avenue now the site of the
State Store. It was owned by Joseph C. James
and John L. Merget and was the place silent movies were shown in the pre-talkies era. Miss Bessie James was the part time piano player,
providing background music for the "picture shows." David S. K. James was the ticket taker.
last show on Saturday evening, the interior was set up for Mass for the Catholic
parishioners living in Wissinoming. Later
this congregation erected St. Bartholomew's Roman Catholic Church and adjacent buildings
at their 5600 Jackson Street location, which is considered upper Frankford. The Convent, housing the nuns who taught at the
school, was once located at 4523 Vankirk Street. The Rectory was at the 5703 Torresdale
The Northeastern Theater was at 6033
Torresdale Avenue. Saturday afternoon
matinees were crowded as every child who could afford 10 cents admission attended the
"Northy." Our first exposure to
people and places outside of Wissinoming's boundaries was from the seat of our- choice in
this magic carpet atmosphere of the movies. We
were thrilled by the weekly episodes of the "serials," the mystery stories,
comedies, cowboy films (now called westerns), and the early days of Mickey Mouse and other
cartoons. Today all evidence of a motion
picture theater has been replaced by a repair shop. Burger Motors occupies the premises.
Men and their ever-present guards, from the House
of Correction came through the streets in wagons on their way to work on various municipal
Dry Goods Store was at 5830 Torresdale Ave. having moved from the 5900 block, and supplied
many Wissinomingites their first pair of shoes, "store bought" clothes, and
Goudy's notion store where ladies
purchased their needles, thread, and other sewing supplies was at 4621 Howell St.
Truitt's Roofing establishment was located at 4618 Howell St.
Store did business at Torresdale Ave. and Howell St. where the Mellon Bank: building now
stands. Strunk's Drug Store catered to the
folks at that end of town at 6019 Torresdale Ave., and "Doc" Blumfield's Drug
Store operated on the west side of Torresdale Ave. north of Vankirk Street. The Drug Store, now Wissinoming Pharmacy at 4203
Comly Street, was owned by Mr. Harrison, the pharmacist.
Most of these had marble soda fountains.
They also were the places one took the film from their Brownie Box Cameras
to be processed, and went for "free" advice about illnesses.
McCormick Co., Inc. at 6114 Torresdale Ave., now chiefly an industrial supplier, was a
local hardware store dispensing a complete 1ine of tools and paints. Two others, Kalinger's Hardware, later to become
Stenger's, at 5925 Torresdale Ave., and Keck's, subsequently owned by Mecke's Hardware at
5936 Torresdale Ave. served the community for many years.
self-styled security guard, armed with a flashlight, nightly checked the doors of business
establishments on Torresdale Ave. as a safety precaution. The children nicknamed him,
"The Two Bit Cop," alleging the merchants paid him that much for his services.
Trucks were seen in Wissinoming
displaying signs reading, "For Goodness Sake Drink Castor's Coffee."
River at parts between Comly Street and Robbins Avenue were clean enough for swimming.
residents paid a "Poor-Tax" of $1.40 per-year
People placed signs in their windows
that designated what price block of ice they wished the iceman to deliver.
indicated "LACE CURTAINS DONE UP" and either "WATKINS" or "LARKIN
PRODUCTS SOLD HERE."
Park was filled to capacity as Dr. Francis Everett Townsend, an Illinois born physician,
proposed an old age assistance program in the depression days of the 1930s addressed this
large gathering on one of his publicity stops. He
came to seek support for his Townsend Plan that concentrated on the needs for old age
insurance that was later to become a factor in the 1935 passage of the Social Security
Act. Dr. Townsend was perhaps the most famous
national figure to visit the Park.
Curtis' Saloon established around 1910, at the southwest corner of Torresdale Ave. &
Comly St., was the only tavern in town. It
has remained in continuous operation under various owners throughout the years.
" a cross between sherbet and ice cream, was sold at Torian's Candy Store in the 6100
block of Torresdale Ave. near Devereaux St. on the southwest side.
Merchants closed their stores at 1
P.M. every Wednesday and 4 P. M. on Saturday.
buy fruits, vegetables, fish, clams, and oysters at Sweeney's Market, 6001 Torresdale Ave.
at Comly Street. Here Bess, Bud, Myra, and
Mr. Sager would bag your purchases, clean fish, and shuck oysters, and clams. At Easter the store and adjoining pavement would
be lined with colorful potted plants. Christmas
brought forth wreaths, grave coverings, and poinsettia plants at the store, and trees
filled the front and rear yards at 4714 Comly St. One
walked across the needle-strewn ground, and aided by an overhead light bulb, selected a
tree to tote home on your shoulder. Mr. Sager
resembled a cowboy with a downed steer as he trussed up the tree for you.
4707 Howell Street initially served
as a storehouse for Van Osten Brothers Ice Co. It
later became a butcher shop, and for many years was home for Schieber's Fruit and
Vegetables Market. Currently Dongal Products
Co. occupies this building.
employees of Quaker Rubber Co., Comly St. and the Delaware River would wave to passersby
during their lunchtime. Pedestrians could
watch the freight trains being loaded with rubber products on the railroad siding.
Telephone Company, with their Delaware Exchange, was used exclusively for business calls
in the Wissinoming area.
Lindell, Jr.'s long established printing business was at 4808 Comly Street.
Printery was located on Walker St. prior to moving to the rear of 5922 Torresdale Ave.
Yard listed its address at Comly St. & Pennsylvania Railroad. Here it dispensed coal of all sizes and lime to be
used for whitewashing cellar walls.
Newton's Chevrolet Agency was at 5809-13 Torresdale Ave. in the 1920s. It had a large showroom on the first floor and
spacious apartments upstairs whose windows afforded the owners a vantage point to view
parades. Fleming's Pest Control now does
Louie's Chinese Laundry at 5910 Torresdale Ave. cornered the market on keeping white
shirts clean. He also astounded everyone with
his system of keeping customer's belongings identified by the Chinese characters written
on the packages.
aroma of fresh baked bread and rolls wafted through the air at Edinger's Bakery at 5800
Tulip St. Folks could watch the bakers bring
goodies from the oven and take home warm buns, rolls, and breakfast cakes.
two other bakeries. The one at 6108
Torresdale Ave. was operated by the Gober family and called Wissinoming Bakery. The other one at 5832 Torresdale Ave., started by
the Pichtlebergers, was later owned by the Kamms. Both
supplied pies and cakes in season and specialties upon request.
Eyre's store dispensed magazines, newspapers, smoker's supplies, and sodas at 6000
Torresdale Ave. It kept Wissinomingites
abreast of local happenings and world affairs.
Edgar F. Eyres, controlled the newspaper distribution from his home next door at 4627
Comly Street. Bulletin wagons with their
noisy steel rimmed wheels left his yard loaded to capacity and pulled by boys experiencing
their first bout with business after school hours. Most
of the homes in the area were serviced by this on-the-step or on-the-porch delivery. Mr. Eyre would make weekly collections and punch
the proper date on the customer's receipt card.
5&10 had its beginnings as Rainbow Electric and operated from various locations in the
5900 and 5800 block of Torresdale Ave. Starting
with tiny toys and novelties and a selection of electric lamps, it developed into a local
landmark merchandising 5&10 products, stationery supplies, greeting cards, and house
wares at 5810-14 Torresdale Ave.
corner of Higbee St. at 6018 Torresdale Ave. a store operated as a 5&10 for many
years. It stocked the products of Woolworth's
on a miniature scale, and catered to the needs of local residents who wished to avoid a
trip to Tacony.
Florist Shop was at 6014 Torresdale Ave. with huge display windows on both the Avenue and
Higbee St. Children always looked in the
windows to watch the goldfish swimming in a large aquarium.
Every Halloween the entire right side of the store was transformed into a
typical autumn scene with pumpkins, gourds, corn stalks, dried arrangements, and a
scarecrow presiding over this colorful exhibit.
apparel store was at 6100 Torresdale Ave., and featured the latest fashions in men's and
ladies' wear. The window displays on both
Torresdale Ave. and Benner Street were a haven for window shoppers bent on keeping up with
the latest trends.
covered the floors of the butcher shops.
Barber Shop and Jewelry Store was at 4709 Howell St. where one could get a haircut, shave,
and also purchase a watch or select some jewelry. Children
could pet the two beautiful collie dogs that chose Bob Young's sidewalk beneath the
sycamore trees for their daily siesta. The
grandfather's clock with its three sets of chimes was a great conversation piece for all
who visited this establishment.
representatives called at the homes leaving a catalog and giving the housewives a free
Horse drawn milk wagons from the
dairies of Harbison, Baldwin, and Supplee carried the drivers on their daily routes to
distribute bottled milk and dairy products.
Freihofer's and Bond Bread Companies
competed for the home delivery bread and cake business in similar vehicles.
The proprietors of bakery shops
generously sprinkled the sticky buns and cake icings with powdered sugar from a large
shaker before wrapping these goodies.
main source of heat, was sometimes delivered in canvas bags. These were emptied onto a
coal chute that funneled it into the homeowner's coal bin.
Enderlein Company began its gray iron casting business at Keystone and Benner Streets in
1924. In this building castings continue to
be made for industrial applications and for parts used in the manufacturing of machinery.
an Avery International Company, moved to Wissinoming from its lower Frankford location in
the 1920s. Founded in 1912, it operated at
Vankirk and Erdrick Streets until 1960 when it relocated to larger quarters at 7722 Dungan
Rd. In the late 1960s, Soabar became
affiliated with Avery International Co., long associated with fine quality label products. Manufacturers of labels, string tickets, and pin
feed tickets of all descriptions, Soabar also produces the machinery used in the
processing of these items. Many
Wissinomingites who were employed by the original company can be found among the work
force at this Dungan Road plant.
Lots of local taprooms, cafes, and other businesses are mentioned in Jack Ackerman's poetry.
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