Groceries on Main Street

by Chris Bain

As recently as the 1960’s there were numerous grocery stores up and down Main Street, Port Boulevard as well as in Soundview.  Grocery stores had grown into chains of stores back in the 1930’s in various parts of the country, with their most explosive growth after WWII.  Names such as King Kullen, Kroger, Safeway, A&P, Safeway, Ralph’s, King Sooper, and Piggly Wiggly, dotted the landscape.

In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the first block of Main Street, across from the present day Frank’s Pizzaria, was Manhattan Foods (top photo, far right).  On the second block was Bohack, which later moved to where North Shore Farms is now.  Note the sign for “King Korn Stamps”, which were given out to shoppers who later traded them in “valuable gifts”.  My mom, shopping at the A&P (where Rite Aid on Port Blvd is today) collected Plaid Stamps, and saved enough to trade them in for a bridge table and chairs (which I still have!). Also note the “Self Service” sign, since markets of an earlier generation had staff that would wait on you.

Across the street is one of those wonderful old markets that has fallen by the wayside: Main Street Market, where the knowledgeable staff would help you find whatever you needed in their small, pre-supermarket store. I remember hearing of their wonderful meat counter...

Across from Knowles Funeral Home this small Budget Food store is like many of the small delis that were cropping up in the 60’s, and not unlike many of the small “convenience stores" on Main Street today.

On lower Main Street, just up from the present Ayhan’s Shish Kebab was Port Washington Market, a food market since the early part of the century.

OK, now let’s look at the same location (Port Washington Market), 40-50 years earlier:

Morgan's Meat Market (Port Washington Market) Will Hyde, Charles Jenke, Henry Seaman

Yes, that’s Will Hyde on the left, Charles Jenke in the middle, and Harry Seaman on the right.  How do we know?  Because retired teacher & principal Mr. Daly used to give a lantern slide show around town, and he took the time to write down people’s names, identified by elder townspeople.  Imagine that!  We have no idea whose dog is shown between Will & Charles, but he/she’s a substantial dog!  Better yet, let’s take a look at a bill of sale that one of these guys might have written up, from this very market, at this moment in time, July 20, 1916:

Hard to find good mutton these days, isnt’ it?  Not really, it’s just an adult sheep (yes, I had to look that up).  The bill of sale above is made out to “A. Van Wicklen” which would be Adelbert Van Wicklen, owner of another store on lower Main, winner of an amazing ice boating trophy, resting in peace at Nassau Knolls, and the subject for another day.  (Thanks to Helen Morgan Vogt for the receipt above and below).

One other grocer in town, Fred Hults, left behind a bill of sale as well:

$2.59 was probably a substantial amount of groceries in those days.

We don’t have a good shot of the A&P on Port Blvd.   Or a shot of Grand Union when it took up the entire block where Let There Be Bagels is today, or the super market on the corner where Blockbuster used to be.  Do you have memories of Port Washington grocery stores that no longer exist?  Share your thoughts on our Facebook page or send us an email (which we may post to our Facebook page).

The Cow Neck Peninsula Historical Society
336 Port Washington Blvd., Port Washington, NY 11050-4530
(516) 365-9074  .