In Sunday’s paper there was there was a retro article about a fire in my hometown that happened during the 1800’s – just a little before my time. Reading the article got me thinking about the town I remembered as a child.
It’s true that I didn’t live in the town but in a coal mining patch two miles away. Still, this was the town we went to for school, church, and shopping. It was what I would call a bustling town back then. Stores lined both sides of Centre Street for about three blocks.
Anything you wanted you could find in town – we rarely called it by its name…Mahanoy City. The school I went to was St. Canicus (the Irish school as opposed to the Polish school or the Lithuanian school) even though there was not an ounce of Irish blood in me.
I remember every first Friday my brother and I would ride the bus to town with my aunt who worked in a dress factory in town. We would go to Mass for first Friday and then head up to the Mansion hotel/restaurant where my brother and I would have breakfast before walking the three blocks back to school. All of the waitresses knew us by name and we knew them as well. My aunt had to go to work so she would just leave us there to eat.
On the corner next to the Mansion was the Embassy. If you wanted ice cream this was the place to go…milkshakes, floats, sundaes banana splits, burgers and dogs. They had it all.
Two doors down from the Mansion was George’s, another restaurant. Mrs. George was of Greek heritage. The food was always good but the biggest claim to fame there were her homemade peanut butter and coconut cream Easter eggs made only around Easter. She could not keep them in stock when she had them. Another big claim to fame of Mrs. George was that she was related to George Maharis the movie star. If you are old like me you know this name. If you are young just ask your parents who he was.
Shopping was a bit different in town. One clothing/department store that we went to was Guinan’s. We bought most of our clothes there. You couldn’t beat the quality and the price. One thing that made shopping easier was that this store had a club. Every week you would pay one dollar and get your book stamped. When you wanted to buy something you could use the money in your club to pay for the purchase. Each week the store would also pull a weekly winner from the names of club holders. Did anyone else have stores that had a club?
Across the street from Guinan’s was my favorite store, The Toy Store. That was its name. Any toy you wanted they had. As a kid this was a neat place to visit.
Town also had the 5 & 10 cent stores…F. W. Woolworth’s and J. J. Newberry’s. Both stores were neat. The one thing that Woolworth’s had that Newberry’s didn’t was a lunch counter. If you got tired shopping and wanted a quick meal you could eat and then continue shopping.
There was lots more to Mahanoy City than these things, but space is running out. Maybe I will revisit it in a future post. None of these stores exist any more except in my memories. Pity.