... What ever happened to Newhalls, the Five-and-Ten, and Ruderman's Furniture
Ask any SilverStringer: Times AREN'T changing -- they are just moving
around a bit,the product of profit motive, of getting old, of nostalgic
Like, did you realize that there are only TWO stores that were here in the
1940's, today, in the downtown shopping center? Well,that's the case. We
Melrosians still have a bright and profitable shopping center, but times are "a-
changing" -- suppposedly for the better.
I mean, I went downtown to buy a pair of new shoes at Newhall's mens store, on
the corner of Main and Upham. To my non-surprise, Newhalls in now a flower
shop. Trouble is Newhall's Men's shop AND the Army Navy Store -- are no
longer there. To get new shoes today, one has to go to some out-of-town
The fact is, Melrose's 1890's look still exists -- downtown. But practically
every store that was here in 1949 -- is gone. It's not that we don't have a
good, little shopping are but we can count only two stores on Main Street that
existed at the close of World War Two. Which ones? Try Hugo's Appliance and
At the key corner -- the interesection of Main and Foster -- at the end of World
War Two -- there used to a perfectly good pharmacy that had a delightful soda
bar with swivel stools -- it was called Haslam's Drug Store, and was run by
Pharmacist Bob Putney. Today, that quaint, valuable corner houses a banking
facility that appears to be self-serve -- no sales people. On the brighter side
of this caustic comment, the son of Mr. Haslem -- actually "Putney" -- also
became a pharmacist, but moved his business north to Green Street, adjacent to
our Melrose-Wakefield Hospital. "Young" Don Putney continues the tradition in
place of his father, at the Green Street Pharmanacy.
As for George Newhall's Men's Store, try buying a pair of shoes at Sears.
There is no question that the city's commercial downtown is still viable, still
providing good services. But it is'nt just the same. A precious operation that
we will miss is Percy Glazer's "Army-Navy" store, which survived for some ten
years after Percy sold it. Again, one has to go to Sears to find most of the
products thatPercy sold. I'm thinking, such wearibles as dungarees (now jeans),
socks and underwear, hats and coats. sport clothes .....
Let's see. The places I remember most are the Ford agency on Tremont Street,
where my family bought several cars over the years. Eventually that agency just
went away -- as did the Pontiac dealer on Upham Street. And the Plymouth-
Chrysler shop up on Main Street -- Daniels LeSaffre. Would you believe, there
used to be a Buick dealer on Main, almost across the street from the late
Melrose Savings Bank!
At one time I sold advertising to the Mercury dealer, next to Ozzie's shop on
Essex. In fact, when my family moved to Melrose in 1947, you could buy a, um,
errr, a ah, Studebaker or two other misfit name-brands that didn't survive.
(One was a "Tucker"} By the way, Ozzie's is still going strong, now operated by
Ozzie's son. And that's where we get our cars fixed today. Our new car
(an "SUV] was made in Korea, the other is a bonified Made In The USA Buick,
now 14 years old and still going strong).
There was a recent reference to a hot iron smelting shop up until our family
moved here. I can remember watching the smith do his thing, his work, all by
hand, in front of a white-hot fire. Amazing. It was replaced by the Ford agency,
which was replaced by an office complex.
Ironically, one of the longer lasting operations was the Melrose Hospital -- now
greatly expanded and which suffered a name-change to Melrose-Wakefield Hospital.
Opposite the hospital on Main Street was a off-lot store, sort of grocery shop,
newspapers, a little hardware; the owners rented canoes and row-boats, which
were docked at their back door. They are gone now; the building was converted
There was a hardware store at the northeast corner of Franklin Square, which
later became a doughnut shop operated by the right end on the 1948 edition of
the Red Raiders football team -- Bruce Willis, who later became a State Trooper.
Across Main Street, in the square, was a pharmacy. It was one of four
pharmacies in Melrose, maybe five, that competed during the forties and fifties.
It was competition from WITHIN the city that forced several to close. Hill's
News had a shop in the highlands, as well as on the west side of Main,
downtown. Perhaps you can remember Stearns and Hills -- which is now a
successful restaurant with a very handsome bar. Competition for Stearns was
right across the street, at Rexall Drug, which is now Turneer's Restaurant.
All in all, there were pharmacies in Franklin Square, two in the Highlands, two
on Wyoming Avenue and three downtown.
There was an A-and-P market where the American Legion has quarters now, and
another major market on Essex -- the First National, later Cerretanis', where
there is a veterinarian now.
Cerretani's Market got started on West Foster, across the street from the
Melrose Free Press building and Police Sration. The market continued to grow
and expand as the Cerretani family grew -- and expanded. By the way, the police
station was in the basement of City Hall in 1947, and later moved into what
had been the Bell Telephone building on West Foster -- next to the Melrose Free
Reminiscing over the commercial history of our Melrose will continue in
coming issues of the "Mirror". Readers are invited to submit their thoughts and
memories for publication. Just send your story to the Melrose Mirror at the
Milano Senior Center on West Foster.
August 5, 2015