Nyack 50 Years Ago

A quick look back at Nyack in 1961

1961—50 years ago. 

I was 16 and got my first job selling shoes in Endicott & Johnson on Main Street. It paid $1.25 an hour and five percent of my sales. 8141 was the stock number of our biggest seller—men's wing-tipped oxfords, $25.99 a pair. 

The store was next to us on the left was Wagshal's, and on the right Ferrara & Boasie Fruits and Veggies. Lulich's Bakery across the street made the best crumb buns. Also across the street was Charlie Sing's Jewerly Store; Charlie was long-gone and the store was run by his two maiden sisters. They would pay me a buck to carry in stock boxes and take out the trash.

Nyack was a retail center in those days with two supermarkets: A&P up on Rt. 59 and Grand Union downtown. And there were a great many shops where you could purchase just about anything you needed: ladies went to Kerchman's, Ellish, Mae Moons, Van der Waldes and Anne's hat shop. Men could find their clothes at Neisner's, Lucky's, Zabriskies and two Army and Navy Stores: Eagle and Paul's. Endicott & Johnson has competition in shoes with Glynn's, Herbet's and National Shoes.

Listening to the radio was big back then. H-O-A (Herb Oscar Anderson) on WABC and Jack Sterling on WNBC filled our mornings. In the afternoon it was Peter Tripp (known as "the curly-headed kid in the third row). Much to the chagrin of our parents, rock and roll was blasting from our new little transistor radios.

I also enjoyed reading the funnies and learning the philosophies of life from Pogo, Nancy and her boyfriend Hugo, The Cisco Kid, Maggie and Skeets, Brick Bradford and Felix the Cat.

1961 was the beginning of the slight loosening of our Victorian morals as national sex scandals began breaking in the Nyack Journal. Van Der Waldes on Main Street was showing the latest fashions with hemlines well above ladies' knees, and a Magic Cling Bra for $2.50 was advertised along with a "Little Black Dress" for only eight bucks. Television was in most homes by then and tuned into Peyton Place (was that shocking) along with Ed Sullivan, Perry Mason, Bonanza, Have Gun Will Travel and Gunsmoke. Miss Kitty even had cleavage now!

One could hop a Red & Tan bus into NYC for only 50 cents. Tickets were only $10 to see Richard Burton, Julie Andrews and Robert Goulet in Camelot; Tamy Grimes was starring in The Unsinkable Molly Brown. And if Broadway was beyond my budget, I could still take in a movie at the Rockland Theater on North Broadway—Carol Lynley, Jeff Chandler, Eleanor Parker and Robert Sterling were starrring in Return to Peyton Place, and tickets were just a dollar. Was that movie ever racy... well, at the time.

A short drive down Rt. 303 to the drive-in and we could watch Marlon Brando and Karl Malden in One Eyed Jacks. At the Rockland Drive-In in Monsey there was a double-feature: The Curse of the Werewolf and The Shadow of the Cat. A bunch my friends would pile in the little 48 Nash Rambler I bought for $50, and we probably went through a case or two of the bubbly watching a flick.

If movies were dull, I could drive over to King Pin alleys, where Tommy Armano feature three games of bowling for $1.50—including the shoes, of course. Nyack was home to a number of car dealers, too... each ready to sell you a "ride." Nyack Buick at 222 Main St. featured a new Buick Special with an automatic "tranny" for $1,875. Dad bought one of those. Down on Burd Street, "Pop" Gambetti was ready with a new Nash-Rambler Classic for only $1,695; Manley had Chevy Impalas for $2,875 full of bells-and-whistles, and Faulkner Ford up on Rt. 9W had a two-door 54 Fairlane hardtop for $295. If you decided to fix your old heap, Daley Tire on Rt. 59 had Hi-Miler tires for $19.95.

This was all 50 years ago ago—the Nyack of my youth is no more. I can't walk downtown and buy a suit, or a pair of shoes. It's hard to find the groceries I might need. One thing I can still find though is a bit of the "bubbly"; Nyack is still home to a number of watering-holes.

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Nyack 51 August 28, 2011 at 02:03 PM
Rocky moved to Cornwall and opened a pizzeria. There was also an A&P on Broadway just south of the YMCA
Carlo Pellegrini November 22, 2011 at 12:45 PM
Jim, the Nyack Chamber of Commerce is celebrating its 55th Anniversary in January with a cocktail party and Broadway show tunes from the last 50 years. I would like to invite you to be my guest at that event. I met you when you came to the Nyack Rotary Club to speak. It was my first meeting about 7 years ago and you talked about Oom, the Omnipotent, and someone in his employ who, I believe, was the first animal trainer to pair a tiger with an elephant. I could have that wrong, but I was very impressed by your historical focus. Since then, I became a Director and former President of the Nyack Chamber. Would love to have you come to our celebration. I would like to also recommend to our Board that you give a short presentation on the history of Nyack. Let me know. Carlo Pellegrini
Donna Schmidt November 22, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Love your stories. Thank you for sharing Nyack's history.
James F. Leiner November 22, 2011 at 06:42 PM
Carlo, thank you...I am flattered....Depending on the date, I would be flattered to attend as your guest. I hope the night is not Jan 8....I would be honored to present a short talk on the history of Nyack....you can reach me at Gentle505@aol.com or 845 406 0056 Jim Leiner
willina June 08, 2014 at 05:20 PM
Who is Tommy Armano? My family owned the King Pin and I've never heard of him.


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