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South Easton Memories

Memories of South Easton by the people who lived there.

How many of Easton Patch's readers remember our 'downtown' commercial district? 

By that I mean the 500 to 700 blocks of Berwick Street.

There were other streets that had commercial establishments, but those blocks represented the bulk of what passed for our downtown when I was growing up in the 50s.  South Easton families could get much of what they needed on a daily basis and never leave the familiar confines of the streets we all knew. 

From the Korner Kitchen (OK that was the 400 block) to Ruth Schinstine's variety store on the western end of the 700 block, there were just about any store or tradespersons' shop you could imagine.  

Need your shoes repaired?  You could go to Huggan's in the 600 block, or Causa's in the 700 block.  Need someone to put wallpaper up in your house?  Andy Kienzle in the 500 block would be a good choice.  Your house is on fire?  The South Easton Fire Station is also in the 500 block, with their Seagrave Fire Engine and dalmation mascot.

Rather than run down my memories of these blocks on Berwick Street. I encourage the readers to reply to this blog with their own memories of downtown South Easton.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

JoAnn Durante September 01, 2012 at 05:08 PM
Going to Webster was precious!!!!!!!!!!!!! I was enrolled in the last fifth grade class at Webster attending Cheston Elementary for grade 6. You brought back so many memories. Field trips to collect leaves at Hay's Cemetery, going to the firehouse with the opportunity to slide down the pole, and of course, pet the dog. . .Korner Kitchen was the hotspot for Shull teachers to eat lunch. Growing up on the Southside - real neighborly memories. JoAnn Sennetti Durante
Richard Coleman September 01, 2012 at 07:18 PM
JoAnne, you mentioned some really memorable stores and other establishments on Berwick St. It shows you lived there with your eyes open, soaking up what it meant and means to be a South Sider. In talking to folks from other parts of Easton, I am struck by the same attitude toward their home area of folks from Westward and downtown. Curiously I have not seen the same fanatical devotion form people from College Hill. I wonder why.I am glad you got a chance to attend Webster. It was a good school and did not deserve to meet the wrecking ball. Was the piece of slate still embedded in the side of the building over the doors on the Iron St. side? I was told that was from Hurricane Hazel in 1954. Many of my family are buried in teh Cemetery across Iron ST. from where the school was.
Janet Riley September 03, 2012 at 02:32 AM
I went to Stevens school for kindergarten in 1963 before transferring to St. Bernard's. Anyone else go there? Also, there was a grocery store next to Shull - a last name that may have started with a B.
Richard Coleman September 03, 2012 at 09:43 AM
Janet - You are referring to Brotzman's Economy Store I think. I used to get a drink there to have with my lunch if I ate lunch in the auditorium at Shull if the weather was lousy and Mom gave me a lunch so I didn't have to come home. There was also a store next to the gas station on the corner across Seitz St. from the school. South Easton was dotted with little corner stores like that in the 50s and back further than that. By the time you came along they were in the process of disappearing slowly. I doubt there are more than one or two left now. Thanks for helping me to remember the gas station on that corner. I want to do an entry on South Easton gas stations.
Annonymous September 06, 2012 at 04:33 PM
As a child of the early 80's, I missed much of what you are referring to, however I recall my mother and my Aunt's stories of Webster and Schull Schools. I remember the 'mini' Laneco on Berwick St. across from Brandau's gas station. I remember going to Hap and Vi's on Line St. each morning for a 'candy run' before getting on the school bus. I remember the fire at Craft Rug Mills. I remember running to Tony's on Davis St. between Nesqhuehoning and Willkesbarre when sleeping over friends' houses for everything from donuts to cheese. Later on, I remember going for steak sandwiches at (and forgive me I can't remember the name of the place) a place over near what is now Chucky's store on the other side of St. John's St. I remember walking to school at Ada B. Cheston and knowing who my neighbor's were. I remember riding my bike everywhere with my friends, getting in trouble in the 'Belmont St. jungle', hanging out at Hay's Cemetary with the neighborhood kids, I remember when they put in I-78 and riding my bike on the dirt before they paved it.
Richard Coleman September 06, 2012 at 05:14 PM
You may have missed my memories but you made good memories of your own. Sounds like you may have grown up in the same neighborhood I did, or at least spent some time there. I spent many happy days of my youth playing the Belmont Jungle, as my father had in the 20s. Do you remember that shallow depression in the ground on the lower end about even with the end of the paved part of the alley? My father and Uncle Lester dug that in the mid 1920s when they lived in the same neighborhood. I remember Chubby's store where the pretzel factory used to be and Huck's Steak Shop out across from Delaware Terrace, now Neston Heights. But you are remembering Barney's on Nesquehoning St. Putting 78 through ruined what used to be a good day for the kids in that area, walking out to Morgan's Hill to First Spring or over the hill to Spring Valley. Cheston was built in the mid 60s after I was out of school. That property was a veteran's housing project up until about 4th grade for me.
Janet Crandell Grube September 06, 2012 at 06:22 PM
I lived in Southside Easton until I was 45 years old and I miss the neighbors so much! We used to have parties in backyards and great friendship, I also remember Frace's candy shop (corner of 800 block of Berwick and Iron Street) , Barney's Steak Shop, steak shop on Davis Street where you could always walk to, the movie theater, and so much more, sled riding down in the cementary
Richard Coleman September 06, 2012 at 06:30 PM
Are Carol or Willard Crandall related to you, Janet? Carol was in my first grade class and lived on the end of Grant St. by the cemetery. At one time she lived in the veteran's housing project on the block now occupied by the Cheston School. The Theater is a special memory for me. Never rode sleds int eh cemetery but we used to ride on Milton ST. both ends and Bird Alley.
Annonymous September 06, 2012 at 07:02 PM
Richard - yes. I grew up on Belmont St. I believe you went to school with my mother - M. Ackerman. Small world and lots of good memories! It's a shame now, I drive down down the street and it's not the same by any means. Thank you for bringing back some good times!
Richard Coleman September 06, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Annonymous - I probably met you at your mother's 50th birthday party then. I was there for a while. That was surely a great neighborhood to grow up in. When Carl Bechtel owned the place that became Hap and VI's my Aunt Thelma, who lived in the 600 block of Line St. used to work the lunch counter he put in. WE did indeed know our neighbors growing up much better than people do now. I think I can name most families that ever lived on our stretch of Belmont and around the corner on Center St. I know most of them in the neighborhood where I live now in Weathelry, but the problem is what I know better area ll the people who died in teh 32 years I have lived here. At this stage of the game, although my health is good, I can foresee the day when my name is going to be on the list. Enjoy whatever age you and your family are at right now, because it will be gone quicker than you can imagine.
Chauncey Howell September 07, 2012 at 01:30 PM
This outpouring of remembrance is amazing! As someone said, you kept your eyes open. I grew up on College Hill, and, after my TWO paper-routes, I would have some supper and walk all the way downtown and up the hill to South Side where my piano teacher lived, Charles W. Davis. I hope peope remember him. He lived on, I believe, Nesquehoning Street. That was in the late Forties, Early Fifties. Well, what always struck me about South Side was its "haimish" quality. That's a Yiddish word I learned later in NYC. "Homey" would be a good translation. At Easton High (12th Street) my classmates from South Side, like Art Werkheiser and Vincent Messina, were the smartest, most likeable boys in my class. I almost envied them their experiences at Shull. Yes, College Hill was cold. And, I had too many of what I called Drunken Mommies on my paper-routes. That's another story. But keep the South Side stories coming. Small stories about a small place, the stuff of history, true history.
Richard Coleman September 07, 2012 at 02:01 PM
I would have to agree with the definition of haimish as homey. South Side was easy to know and in your neighborhood, the houses had eyes. By that I mean if you were misbehaivng or otherwise not where you should be, your parents woudl get a phone call. I was on the receiving end of enough of hose phoen calls to appreciate why they were important, not nosey, and how they made me what I am today. I don't remember your music teacher but not too many of my friendswere into piano and Nesquehoning St. was quite a few blocks from where Igrew up on South Side. I remember Werkheisers from South Side but not Messinas. They weren't from my neighborhood. My neighborhood had Hanks, Sutphens, Ebners, Ackermans, Aberts, and Shulls in those days. I will try to keep the stories coming. I am working now on a piece about the gas stations that we used to have on South Side.
Richard Coleman September 07, 2012 at 02:58 PM
There were 5 gas stations on South Side when I lived there, 2 major ones, and three that were easy to overlook because they had not been in operation for while when I was a boy, and you really had to live in the neighborhoods where they were located to even know their former locations. The two major ones were Brandau’s Gulf, at Berwick and Center, and Rinaldi’s Atlantic (brand is now Arco) at St. John and Berwick. The others were a little more difficult to know because 2 of them had not sold gas in many years and the third one did not sell gas in the early 50s, but was opened in the late 50s or early 60s. These last 3 were a former gas station across Seitz St. from Shull, Jim Dervin’s body shop at Lincoln and Center, which still had the signage and pumps for Cities Service gas when I was a boy and Jim Waterbor’s former gas station just past Seitz on Philadelphia Road.
Richard Coleman September 07, 2012 at 02:59 PM
I will blow Waterbor’s out quickly. All that was left of it was the garage and office area, the garage having a filled in pit like many service stations did for working on the underside of the car, changing oil, etc. I think there was the remains of the pump island out front as well and the post that his sign was mounted on. I never knew it as an operating gas station. As I intimated to above, Dervin’s had sold Cities Service at one time, but I don’t remember it as an operating gas station either. Jim would serve on city council for a few terms and allowed his body shop to be used for storage of the original vehicles acquired by the Easton Emergency Squad, before they built their garage on Packer St.
Richard Coleman September 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM
Brandau’s Gulf is more familiar to me because that is where my father dealt. How many of you remember their 2 grades of gasoline, Good Gulf, and NoNox? Frank Brandau was a good friend of my father’s from the years when Dad used to help him at his greenhouse on Reynolds St. As a boy I enjoyed poking around in the greenhouse. It always seemed to have a sight or smell I had never been exposed to. Frank gave me a small metal box sometime before he died and I still use it to keep important papers organized. Dad did not get into Rinaldi’s all that much but I remember he always got motor oil there in gallon cans with snap on metal caps. These were usually then used for his lawn mowers for gas.
Richard Coleman September 07, 2012 at 03:00 PM
The station across from Shull was reopened in the 60s by Bill Davis, a childhood friend of Dad’s who had done well as an engineer overseas and invested in running a fuel oil and gas station business. I knew Bill personally as a kid, having been at his house on the north face of Morgan’s Hill, facing South Side, and when I assisted Tex Baer in sheet rocking his new house in the 70s. After bill closed his business, Roland Hoffman moved his Delaware Electric heavy duty motor rebuilding business there after it was destroyed by the fire that burned down what was left of the Zearfass and Hilliard lumber yard on North Front St. past the toll bridge
Chauncey Howell September 07, 2012 at 03:51 PM
Gertrude Stein called Hemingway "The Village Explainer". In Sicily, the "village explainer" was called Lu Cicerone, the Cicero. Coleman has inherited both these titles. How old are you, Coleman? Take another nibble at your Proustian madeleine: Do remember the Bechtels and the Potentis? The Gilds and the Gromans? The Hanlons and Hawkes...Helene and Joan, both beauties? Remember how at Easton High, first day of sophomore year when we had all arrived from our respective junior highs, remember how we had to stand up in our home room and give our name and our junior high.. I was the first: "Chauncey Howell, March Junior High." I swear that the kids from South Side screamed "Boo! Kill!" Jerrian Gelbert, daughter of Charley Gelbert, the famous Lafayette coach, suffered the same abuse. Afterwards when we had recovered from the shock, I said to her: "We have to win their love!... Maybe we can get them junior memberships at the Pomfret Club?!" Yes, how old are you, Coleman? I am seventy-seven. If you are young, I will forgive you for not knowing how beautiful Pat Potenti was (still is).
Lynn September 08, 2012 at 01:28 PM
HI all, fourth generation south sider here and I remember the Italian American Bakery at Nesquehoning and St. John and the pretzel "factory" behind it. Also in my little neighborhood were two historic buildings, during my childhood they were bars. One razed now to be a building for the water department and one, with a cast iron front, still there as Tommy's. My mom still lives in my childhood half double across the street. There was a corner store on the alley behind our house, and Davis Street, called Tony's, run by a wonderful, benevolent man, Tony LaDuca. Two of his children and his widow still live in the neighborhood. My grandfather, Red Kuebler, was a fireman at that fire house in South Side, but by the time I had memories, he was retired and tended bar across the street from his house at the "hosie" or Citizen's Hose. I finished 3rd grade at Steven's (where one of my grandmother's had gone to school) and 4-6 at cheston and Jr High at Shull ( where she and my mother also went), My mom would sometimes call lunch in to the Kozy Korner for me so that I could have a treat for lunch at Shull. Also one thing no one mentioned, Seiple's hardware across the street from the Kozy Korner. When I bought my house the Berwick Street Theater became part of my back yard when my neighbor built his home on that site. And there was a bar next door to the theater. My dad tells me stories of the street car that ran on berwick and out over the drop of land at the end, but no room.
Richard Coleman September 08, 2012 at 02:04 PM
I have many memories of going to the fire house on a hot day for a cool drink of water from the only refrigerated water fountain on South Side in the 50s. Your grandfather must have lived across from the old Citizens hosey on Lincoln St. I remember the Kozy Korner as the Korner Kitchen when Mrs. Behrenger had it. She and her family lived on Seitz St. just down from Philadelphia Road. Mrs. Mason used to sell Sunday papers on the front porch of the Korner Kitchen. Seiple Hardware was like a magical world to me. Dad would take me there when he would need to get something and it was like a different world. The bar next to the Berwick Theater was the Gimlet.
Richard Coleman September 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM
I have in my possession a gold cased Elgin pocket watch that belonged to my father. How he came to have it given to him and its subsequent adventures make for an interesting anecdotal story. My father and his siblings grew up in South Easton, Pa. which was a large portion of Easton separated by the Lehigh River from the rest of town. He was born 100 years ago and this experience of his took place when he was around 14, in the year of 1926. There was a large greenhouse and truck farm run by the Merwarth family on the southeastern border of South Easton(actually located in Williams Township), meaning that many young boys of those years got their first job working at Merwarth’s, including Dad and I think several of his brothers too. It was December 23 and as the workers were getting their pay envelopes(cash, no checks in those days, and NO DEDUCTIONS either!). Mr. Merwarth, who was giving the boys Christmas Eve off, had asked Dad to come out Christmas Eve anyway, long enough to tend the fires that all greenhouses needed to maintain in cold weather. Dad agreed, but was angered when his envelope did not have the $5 or $10 extra the other boys had already gotten in theirs. As he walked home he got madder and madder, deciding that the damn greenhouse could freeze up, he didn’t care.
Richard Coleman September 13, 2012 at 11:44 AM
My grandfather was not one to let him off so easily however, and insisted that a promise made had to be a promise kept. Dad was still sullen on Christmas Eve as he walked to the greenhouse, about a 15 minute walk from his home. Imagine his surprise at being met by Mr. Merwarth outside the greenhouse, who informed him the fires had already been taken care of. He then offered him this gift wrapped box saying “I didn’t want to give you this in front of the others.” In the box was the gold Elgin pocket watch with his name engraved in the back. I don’t know if he ever knew why he was singled out. He carried that watch, except for the war years, until it got impossible to repair, sometime in the late 60s.
Les Schwar November 03, 2012 at 08:50 PM
What memories. as a kid in the 30's, my aunt lived across the street from the Berwick Theater (run by Russell Schaefer), Sue's candy store next door, and sitting on e portch to watch the annual Baby Parade then the big celebration at Pioneer Field. Also going to Shull. Iremember Cottonzares barbershop across from Kings bakery, the A&P store, Williams cigar store at the East corner of Berwick & Valley, the small grocery store near Valley. There are so many memories that I could fill a book.
Richard Coleman November 03, 2012 at 09:14 PM
I don't remember anything like a baby parade, but I do remember when South Side had its own Memorial Day parade. I knew the Kienzles across the street from the Berwick because in later years they were my Uncle Lester's in laws. Andy Kienzle was a paperhanger by trade.I know there was something torn down in the location at Berwick and Valley, next to what I think still is a laundromat. That may have been the cigar store you mentioned.I remember the Harrigan Sisters' store up at Valley and Lincoln. It sounds like you are a bit older than I. I am 65 and graduated from high school in 1964. Shull was a a great building and a great school. I am glad they re-purposed it and didn't tear it down like they did the elementary schools on South Side.I grew up on Belmont St. all the way in the back, up against the township. When I was a kid that area was still partly rural. There were some houses on our block but mostly truck farms and wildcat gardens.
Richard Coleman December 14, 2012 at 01:36 PM
There were houses of worship of just about any denomination in South Easton. Berwick St. was home to several. There was Christ E.U.B. in the 900 block, St. Paul's Lutheran in the 600 block, Second Methodist in the 400 block, and St. Peters Reformed (later United Church of Christ) on Center St. 2 blocks off Berwick. There were other houses of worship scattered around as well. Shiloh Baptist in the Reynolds St. area, Volunteers of America on either West Wilkes-Barre or Nesquehoning Sts., St Mary's Roman Catholic on East Nesquehoning St., St. Joseph's Roman Catholic on St. Joseph St., and Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses on Philadelphia Road all contributed to the religious and cultural lives of South Siders and beyond.
htheron March 15, 2013 at 05:06 AM
i grew up on the 1000 block of berwick in the 70's and 80's. i graduated in '87. sledding in hays cemetery in the winter and swimming at heil pool in the summer. i rode my bike everywhere and we would go on adventure when a new toy or candy came to one of the corner stores. i worked at the foodlane all through high school. i had to lie about my age so i could use the meat slicer and i would help certain customers home with their groceries. kick the can on lincoln street, sitting on porches and cutting through yards. i loved growing up in southside. it was perfect.
Tanya Merwarth April 13, 2013 at 06:46 AM
@ Richard Coleman your story touched my heart . I am going to share that with my family we have just lost 2 family members who ran the flower shop and that story is just how they were . Thank you for sharing that. I also grow u on southside 200 block of West Nesquehoning st. Had a great neighborhood the Swint's, the Laduca's, the Tita's to name a few. Wonderful memories. I married into the Merwarth's and I'm sure this story will touch them also!
Vicky Smith April 13, 2013 at 08:39 AM
Chauncey Howell, I have been looking for you for many years to be able to tell you what a wonderful Father you had. Because of him I have my one and only home in South Side for almost 50 yr's. He was wonderful to my husband and I when we were just starting out as a young 20yr olds couple. He gave us a break and helped us with buying our home from him. He steered up in every way to start our life with our new home. I shall never forget him and his kindness and good heart. He took an interest in us as a young couple and I shall never forget that. I can't thank him but I can let his son know what a wonderful caring person he was to us. We are now in our 70's and still in the same home.
Cindy Gray December 14, 2013 at 09:06 PM
Was wondering if anyone could help me I lived in South Easton as a young child in the early 60's I lived across the street from the round house on Mauch Chunk St I went to a elementary school a few blocks away from where I lived I was wondering if anyone would know the name of the school I know the the school was torn down years later
Lynn December 14, 2013 at 10:53 PM
Cindy, that school would have either been Webster or Vanderveer. There were 4 public elementary schools on SS to my knowledge, until ADA B Cheston was built and students from those three consolidated there, while some others still went to Porter, on the 100 West block of Wilkes Barre St at Folk. And Richard, it actually was/is the Citizen's hose on Nesquehoning, as my grandfather lived at 244 W. There were many smaller fire houses each with there own "citizen's hose" but this was before my time. I do have photos of my Mom and Aunt in the "baby Parade" (1930ish)
Lynn December 14, 2013 at 10:54 PM
oh, the grammar police just got me. I meant to type their, not there.... ;)

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