Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Marty's Corner

Photo by Haley Steyer, age 9
On the corner of the street I grew up on lives a treasure trove of memories. Growing up, we referred to the series of storefronts as Marty's Corner, even though that was the name of just one of the shops. Whether going to Marty's for italian ice or IBC rootbeer or to Ernie's (later Adrian's) for groceries or a grinder, a trip to Marty's Corner was always an event.

When we were very little, my sister and I used to walk or ride bikes to Marty's Corner with one or both of our parents. Every time we went to Ernie's I hoped to talk my parents into a child-size box of animal crackers, cheese tidbits, or chocolate snaps.  

Eventually we earned the privilege of going to the corner ourselves. Sent with money and a list, we'd go to Ernie's Market to pick up groceries, and with the change could treat ourselves to something from Marty's. 

Walking into Marty's, the grown-ups sitting at the long counter would pause their conversation and glance your way. A glass case held chocolate bars and candy, with another rack of candy next to it. There were racks of chips and other snacks, comic books, novelties, coolers of ice cream, sodas and other items. Figuring out what to get was perhaps one of the most difficult decisions of my childhood. I must have bought hundreds of packs of Bubble Yum - especially Bananaberry Split and Rockin' Raspberry. 

A dance studio moved in a few doors down from Marty's, and my sister and I took dance and gymnastics lessons there. I'll never forget the first walk home by ourselves in the dark when we ran from street light to street light - although neither of us would admit to being the least bit scared. 

Another highlight of Mary's Corner was Naugy Pizza. How Ray made such wonderful pizzas in such a tiny place is beyond me, but I'll always remember his friendly smile and how he cut the pizzas with a machete...at least when we came to visit. His bacon pineapple pizza remains the best pizza I've ever eaten. 

As we prepared for gatherings at our house, I often heard the phrase, "Amanda, could you make a quick trip to the corner for a couple things?" The couple things would turn into half a dozen before I got out the door and often return trips were necessary. This caused the adoption of the "there is no change" concept, as I felt the need to be compensated for multiple trips and managing to balance a gallon of milk on my handlebars and a bag of groceries between my legs as I biked home for the third time. 

My Dad once drove to the corner to fetch our neighbor, Steve, from the barber shop because his wife was in labor. On another occasion, after arriving home from school to an empty locked house and without a house key, I walked to Marty's to use the pay phone. I grabbed a catalpa tree leaf and seed pod from the tree that once graced the property to use in my sixth grade "leaf report." A rain cloud once chased me all the way home from Marty's - I could see the rain trying to overtake me as I ran home with a paper bag full of necessities. 

Trips to Marty's took on a new meaning when I stared bringing the kids I babysat there on walks. By this time Ernie had retired and Adrian was continuing the tradition of friendly neighborhood service.  New memories with a new generation - yet the memories were remarkably similar to those of my childhood: deciding which treat to get, hoping there would be fresh Portuguese rolls on Adrian's counter for sandwiches, and children begging for a box of animal crackers. First pushing a stroller, then pulling a wagon, then chasing after bicycles, I trekked to Marty's Corner  hundreds of times over Rachel and Myles' young lives, as I'm sure my parents did with Jennifer and I. 


Marty's is closed now. Many of the storefronts are empty. My hope is that someone will see the value in the corner store and start anew the tradition of the neighborhood store so that other children will grow up with magical memories of Marty's Corner. 

8 comments:

  1. Thanks for the memories. I lived on North Hoadley Street from 1969 to 1985 and remember Marty's and Gawait's (SP?) market.

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  2. Wonderful memories. I went as a child in the 50's from the upper end of Quinn St. and my daughter and I lived on Fern St. during her young years - 2 generations of Marty's Corner people!

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  3. I live 6 house down from Marty's. The neighborhood cried when the store closed.

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  4. It's great to hear from others who hold fond memories of Marty's! Thanks for your responses. I grew up on Quinn Street and my parents still live there.

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  5. I too grew up there. I lived on Quinn until I was 24, from "68" until I moved out in "92". My mother still lives in the same house, and we have seen so many different businesses come and go. A new market just opened a few weeks ago, which made me happy to see, but the days Ernie, Adrian Leo the barber and Rays Pizza, are definitely fond memories.

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  6. I found this website by looking up "Tidbits." I feel sorry that my kids are not familiar with corner stores or corner store prices, such as taking a quarter to the store and coming back with 25 pieces of candy. Memories I will never forget!

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  7. Thanks for all the wonderful replies!

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  8. I also lived on North Hoadley street loved going there all the time. My dad and I got our hair cut at the barber there all the time. So sad when i moved really miss it thanks for the memories

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