Those corner stores

On March 9, 2013, in Latest News, by The Somerville Times

del_ponte_3_webLife in the Ville by Jimmy Del Ponte

(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff or publishers.)

Our parents sent us there to get milk and bread. We could walk there. We would get ourselves some penny candy while we were there. It seemed there was a mom and pop store on every corner in Somerville.

This is another one of those “list” articles. I asked my friends to try to remember all the spas, corner, and variety stores in Somerville, past and present. I got so many responses I was overwhelmed.  Some are gone, and some are still here, just like everything else in Somerville. I can’t guarantee that the spelling is correct but hang on because, here goes!  I’m putting them out there the way I got them. If I repeat one, sorry.

Tonys’s (Y-Nots  is Tony backwards) on Morrison and Willow (now Neal runs it ). Tony’s (Hodgkin Spa) at Holland and Simpson, formerly Pete’s. Mitchells in Ball Square (Mitchell and his brother George). Dick and Ellen’s on Broadway. Richdale’s on Highland and Willow. May’s, Marion St. Paul’s, corner of Albion and Central (neighborhood kids drove the poor guy crazy). Bill’s on Conwell Ave., run by Bill Jr. and Raphael. Bill was the guy who owned it before Frank Sr. Joe’s Spa & Florida Fruit Market, Bow St. Union Sq. Johnny’s aka Thurston Spa, corner of Thurston and Medford (Johnny’s special subs!). Joe Izzy’s Glen Park (he kept his shotgun in sight.) Small’s at Medford and Trull. Maher’s Market, North St. Art and Joe’s, Highland Rd. Teele Square Convenience. 350 Food Mart on Broadway. Midnight Variety, Union Square. Tip Top Market on Pearl St. Pete’s,corner of Dane Ave. and Dane St. Oscar’s (Liberty Market), Liberty and Appelton. Rainbow Spa, on Broadway in East Somerville. Cedar Market, corner of Cedar and Summer. Walter’s at the corner of Holland and Claremon. Norman’s on the corner of Elm and Mossland, actually Elm Confectionary. George’s Market on the corner of Grant and Jaques, also called Bengie’s. Don’s at the corner of Medford and Central and Eliot Market at the corner of Medford and Tennyson. Sweet memories! Christy’s across from Trum Field. Kneeland’s, on the corner of Highland and Lowell. Everyone in the neighborhood worked there. Cliff and Lucy’s was further down Highland Ave. going toward the firehouse. Gatteni’s on Morrison Ave., near Highland Road. JRs on Cedar St. Skinder’s on Summer Street a couple of doors up from Kelly Park. Sunnyhurst Farms, corner of Central and Highland. Georges at the corner of Albion and Lowell. Jacks at the corner of Albion & Cedar. Tony’s spa on Somerville Ave. near St. Anthony’s. Store 24 (The Quick Shop), Davis Square. Silvia’s on the corner of Summer St. and School St. Mac’s Variety on Pearl St. Joe Spa’s on the corner of Summer and Wesley Park. Jack’s on the corner of Summer and Cedar. Georgie’s corner of Cutter and Highland. Arthur’s, corner of Claremon St. Chip’s, at the top of Broadway and Main Sts. Arthurs at Perry Park. Susi’s, Yorktown St. DiNitto’s, corner of Merrriam St. and Somerville Ave. Silvias, Summer and School. Aggie’s, corner of Pearl and Franklin. Mitrano’s and Sons, Broadway, across from the old Capital Theater. Tip Top Market  Pear l and Walnut. T&C, Laurel and Somerville Ave. Pioneer was on Washington Street next to Perry Park. Millers Market, corner or Pearl and Cross. J&S, Cross St. Bain’s, Berkeley and Central. Rainbow Spa on Broadway near Indiana Avenue. Mary Soglieros on Cutter St. (penny candy and dirty jokes!). De Young’s Variety, Cameron and Mead in the 1930’s. Albertini’s Spa Somerville Ave. Dick’s, Dimick and Waldo. Tom’s, corner of Beacon and Calvin. Al’s, Marion and Concord. Jessie’s, Concord and Springfield. Steve’s on Pearl. Dick and Ellen’s on Broadway and Corinthian. John’s on Broadway near Wallace St. Temple’s on Temple St. Al’s on Cross St. Irvings, corner of Lowell and Albion. Paul’s, Central and Albion. D & J outlet, Albion and Lowell. Pat’s Variety, Somerville Ave near Bradlees. Steve’s on Pearl Street. J&A Superette (Jessie’s), Springfield and Concord. Phil’s on Dane St. Ma’s Market, North and Conwell. Hilda’s, Washington St. Al’s, Washington St. Charlie’s, Linden and Summer. Harry’s, Prospect and Concord. Duke’s in Teele Sq. Mystic Farms, Ryan’s Variety, and Buster’s (sites unknown!).

They let our parents run tabs, and they gave us kids cigarettes to bring home. I know there are some we forgot, but this was truly a gallant effort. Thanks to everyone who helped out.

When my brother Joe, sister Christine and cousin Carol were kids our grandparents lived on Elmwood St. and we walked to “Jake’s” on Cameron Ave. We used to sing, “Going down Jake’s, gonna get a belly ache!” Good memories of good times.


20 Responses to “Those corner stores”

  1. A. Moore says:

    I remember when the 350 was built and people were a little upset it was going to be a 24 hour store. Just when they were getting started wit 24 hours stores here. There is a bunch more to be added. Problem is recalling the names. I remember the stores I just have to put the names to them. Joe will know the 2 on Richardson Street, he just told me a short while ago and already I forgot. Corner of Park and Somerville Ave. Freddie’s on Somerville Ave. Edgar and Jaques Street.
    I think it was MSN just this past week that had an article on mom and pop stores back on the rise, would be nice.

  2. Dorothy M. Lord says:

    I look forward to your column every week. Grew up in Somerville. Last address was on Elmwood Street. Ventola’s Variety store on Franklin St. E. Somerville was the place to stop by on the way to and from Prescott Elementary school. (5th and 6th grade-1938 1nd 1939)

  3. rick spinosa says:

    richdale, up the block from johnny’s, where the winter hill school is now

  4. Billy Richardson says:

    Mitrano’s and AL’S in East Somerville AWESOME article.

  5. j. connelly says:

    Jimmy, if that’s you doing the “Census” ad on City Cable can you answer the question? How did you fit Champion into the waste basket to repeatedly throw the paper ball back at you????

  6. Jimmy D says:

    Buster’s was on summer st between Lowell st and Craigie st 2nd house from Kelly park.

  7. m walsh says:

    The midnite variety was mentioned in the article, before that it was diparto’s (dippies) run by the Sullivan family hung around there quiet a bit.

  8. Joe Lynch says:

    The two on Richardson Street were Ryan’s Variety (aka “Lottie’s) and Filosoi’s (a few doors away). There was also a very small one on Wilton Street and another at the corner of Wilton and Lowell. I vaguely remember those when I attended the Bingham School.

  9. Jim Murphy says:

    Steve Tomeo’s variety store was on the corner of Central street and Medford street.

  10. RichardB says:

    I grew up at the corner of Summer St. and Lowell St. (205 A Summer St.).
    Lived across the street from Skinder’s Market. My dad then my uncle owned the store at the corner of Summer St. and Lowell St. in the 50’s before it became Kerble’s Drug Store then they located down and across the street. We moved to Belmont St. in the 60’s. I worked at Kneeland’s on Highland Ave. from 8th grade through high school. That would be 1965-1970. Bruce was a good boss and Lena practically ran the store. She lived right across the street and was a funny lady.
    Butch the Ball Eater visited Belmont St. many time during my childhood.
    Great memories of Morse Schoolyard, Kely Park and St. Catherines!

  11. Donald says:

    I have great memories of all the people who worked at 350 on Broadway, was robbed twice while behind the register, not fun but memorable. One guy i chased after he put a knife to us behind the counter. The store opened in 1972 i believe and i worked there starting in 73 or so.. and all the fond memories working with so many from Winter Hill area. Still run into many of the former employees that use to work for the owner John. I worked part time for about 2 years. I was going to school in Boston, married and living right across the street on Dartmouth St., it was a nice job to have. A lot of safer then driving a cab which i also did for City Cab and Yellow Cab while going to school.

  12. Mary Leo says:

    I grew up at 20 Albion St. One on my earliest memories is watching my older brother walk down in a hurricane to Paul and Sarah K’s,corner store at Albion and Central. I pressed my face against the window and worried, worried, worried until he got home. This would have been about 1955.
    Paul and Sarah were not really patient when more than one kid came in together. My Mom would send me there for hamburger meat. I was very intrigued watching Paul bring out a huge hunk of meat, carve and trim some pieces and then grind it. His knife skills fascinated me.

    One of their sons (maybe named Dion?) opened a small hardware store around the corner in the same building. He held a grand opening that I attended with my Mum. I think Paul and Sarah owned the entire building and lived in one of the upstairs apartments. I remember how shocked I was when I returned home for a visit and the store was gone.

  13. Scott says:

    Hi Mary, I grew up on Willoughby St in the 70’s and 80’s and it was still “Paul’s”. He and Sarah were still there and by then they really had some years under their belt. I remember when they sold the store. There was Guy and there was Jack, not sure in what order they owned the store but it was never the same as when Paul was there. What a great list. Some things change for the better some not. The loss of the local corner store is the latter.

  14. Hi Jimmy, What a great article. I enjoy seeing what you’re up to every now and then. When I was very little Andy’s Variety was on Elm St. at the bottom of Cherry St. It’s a parking lot now. Also at the bottom of Cherry on Elm St. there was a small store and all I remember that it had was penny candy. It became a sub shop when I was in my teens. I went to Sunnyhurst Farms on I believe MacGrath Highway around 1970. I was walking down the soda and snack isle when a bottle of soda blew up and split my toe in half. Had to get 7 stitches.

  15. Sonya says:

    How did the term ‘spa’ come to be used? Is Somerville only place where ‘spa’ means ‘corner store’?

  16. ritepride says:

    I don’t know but I saw small corner stores in other cities/towns that had their name and the word “Spa” after it on their awnings. I do remember that they all had soda fountains and maybe that had something to do with it, like getting a coffee, cold drink or ice cream and refresh yourself…..Could be a possability to the term.

  17. JAR says:

    “Buster’s” was what Skinder’s became (or was known as) in later years. A few doors up on the corner of Lowell and Summer was Kerbles Pharmacy. Prior to being in that location, it was on the opposite side of Summer Street between Lowell and Belmont. We used to stop in there after church at St. Catherine’s to pick up the Sunday paper. It was always packed with people.

  18. jan gaudette says:

    I lived on Cameron Ave…walked to the corner store for penny candy…2 for 1 penny…it was next to the barbershop…good married name then was Corrieri…..

  19. jim cann says:

    There was a store on Kingston St. It was called Jakes

  20. Jon DiNitto says:

    Does anyone out there know where I could find some old pictures of DiNitto’s Market in Somerville? My grandfather worked there “Philip DiNitto” and would love to see pics of the old market. I remember him giving us bag of candy every time we went in to visit – priceless memories.

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