Early Stores in Fairfield
If you are going to write about Fairfield’s early stores you must start with Dey’s General Store that was located near today’s intersection of Route 46 and Passaic Avenue. Since an earlier article detailed this as Fairfield’s first ‘strip mall’ ( Tavern, Inn, Post Office, Barber Shop, School, and General Store ) there’s little need to detail it again. However, Roscoe DeBauns memories serve as a great refresher for this vital establishment :
Roscoe DeBaun ‘Country Life in Fairfield, New Jersey 1887-1909’ ( FPL 974.9 DE )
At the time, only the Dutch Reformed Church outranked Dey’s for social and cultural importance. Town folk would congregate there and ‘cracker barrel’ discussions were likely to be well attended.
The Dey Family did not have the only social ‘cracker barrel’ in the area. At Clinton’s ‘Pier’s Corner’ was another popular store at the intersection of today’s Plymouth Street and Horseneck Road. About 1868 Richard ‘Dick’ Pier built the first corner store there. Dick was the son of Simeon and Caroline ( Cole ) Pier who owned three large farmland parcels at the intersection.
“There were no newspapers in those real early days out here and after supper the men and boys used to congregate at the store. The men telling the greatest stories
they could think of and the boys thinking up all the pranks they could play on anyone coming to the store. All and all it proved to be a very entertaining spot after a hard day of work in the fields and farm. One could really get the news there ! ”
---- Adelia Van Ness Collerd
Dick was sometimes assisted by his brother John H. Pier, but in 1909 it was time to sell. The new owner was Joseph J. Van Ness who later married May Barnes and together they lived above the store and raised two children ( Leon and Carol ). They ran the grocery, ice cream and candy business until 1940 when Joseph took a job at Curtiss- Wright.
The Country Corner Store with Mrs Joseph ‘May’ Van Ness and daughter Carol. All of the Pier’s and Van Ness’s mentioned are buried at Fairfield’s Hillside Cemetery. ( Google Find-a-Grave N.J. )
Joe Van Ness died in 1962 and May sold the Country Corner Store in 1963, but continued living over the store with Carol until her death in 1978. Since 1964 it has been a Delicatessen that has changed ownership several times. Currently it is the ‘Caboose on the Corner Deli ’ the only early Fairfield store still operating today.
From Piers Corner we go to Pier Lane at Little Falls Road. About 1900 John R. Stanley built a small grocery store with windows painted ‘Choice Groceries, Stanley and Sindle,
Tobacco and Cigars’. Robert Stanley and Lester Sindle were partners who made deliveries in their horse drawn closed wagons. Robert had a Fairfield route taking orders and making deliveries while Lester did the same through North Caldwell.
If both Robert and Lester were out on their routes when a customer arrived, a bell attached to a long string would alert Mrs. Stanley in her home.
“ I remember the candy, bread and cake I bought there often as a child” ---- Adelia Van Ness Collerd
Stanley and Sindle’s Choice Grocery and Tobacco Store on Pier Lane
After Mr. Stanley retired in 1937 the store was sold and moved to Singac to become a ‘radio shop’ there.
Another store on Hollywood Avenue evolved from a Country Restaurant into a grocery store and delicatessen. Filipow’s catered to the Curtiss-Wright employees who enjoyed home cooked soups, sandwiches, dinners, and soft drinks. It drew a good daily crowd, but C-W was steadily cutting back jobs, so the business transitioned into a much needed convenience store.
The original owners were a wonderful couple that were always friendly to us youngsters who happened to live next door. Generally grocery shopping was a once a week trip to Caldwell, but bread and milk seemed to always run short so inter-week shopping needs were met by running over to Filipows.
“Mr. Filipow was kind enough to feed my Dad’s hunting dogs scraps from the restaurant. One winter he even shoveled a 70 foot path through the snow to do so. Now that is real heart that I will never forget”
The Filipow’s sold their store to a buyer who changed the name to the ‘Hollywood Delicatessen’. After a few years the new owner sold it to the Niosi Family who did a great business as old farms became housing developments generating many new customers. But we still had to go to Singac or Caldwell to buy fresh baked bread or pizza !
Dedicated to Fairfield’s Filipow Families and their many rightfully proud descendents.
.............Paul Pollio April 15, 2020
2022 additions below : Speers General Store and Art Talamini’s Refreshment Stand
Speers General Store on the corner of Fairfield Road and Hollywood Avenue. Details presented by Rose Marie Sisco, Great Grand Daughter of founder Austin M. Speer :
“On the corner of Hollywood Avenue and Fairfield Rd. ( designated as Route 12 until renamed Route 6 in 1927 ) stood an old general store. You would know the location as where the Teamster’s Diner once stood. The property was owned by my great grandfather Austin Speer who only lived steps away and remained in the Speer family until it was sold for what is today TD Bank. It appears from old photos the general store was around for some time, but when Austin’s daughter Frances married Albert Sisco at some point they took over the running of the store”.
Austin M. Speer ( 1867-1960 ) and Grace Van Ness Speer ( 1871-1957 ). Austin and Grace were cremated and had their ashes scattered over their farm on Fairfield Road.
Rose Marie continues : “As I listened to my father recall stories of his youth, this is somewhat I remember hearing about the store. The store not only catered to the locals but tried to attract those customers who lived in surrounding cities and often took weekend drives. They had a little bit of everything. Thirsty after your drive how about a soda pop, cup of coffee or a nice ice cream cone on those hot summer days, and maybe pick up a few staples like a loaf of bread or some canned goods while you’re at it. Maybe you might like a cup of apple cider or take some back with you, no problem as there was a small apple press in the back room. They raised and sold rabbits and had a small zoo to attract the kiddies, even having a monkey and a bear at one time. There was a pool table in the store which at times doubled where the local judge would hold court. Last but not least they sold gas for your return trip. These are just a few memories I hope you found of interest. “
Later the Speer Family rented the general store ( without the petting zoo attraction ) to Stephen Mowery who grew up on another Fairfield Road farm nearby. Nicknamed “Happy” or “Hap” because of his ever present smile, Stephen was served on the Caldwell Township Committee for many years.
Another establishment built in the early 1920’s that attracted business from the highway travelers was ‘Art’s Lunch’ Roadside Stand at the far eastern end of Fairfield.
Seen here sampling one of his fine cigar offerings, Arthur J. Talamini Sr. opened his Lunch and Refreshment’s Road Stand on Little Falls Road just a quarter mile west of the Grandview Amusement Park. Details below presented by Grand Daughter Laura Talamini-Tango :
“My grandfather Arthur (1882-1961) bought an acre of property on Little Falls Road from today’s Dey Ave. to Shire Ave. then back to where Colt Street begins (of course these streets were not there then). He also bought a small lot across the street to give access to the Passaic River for canoeing, swimming, and fishing. All very popular at the time. He put up the one floor food stand and the gas/repair station in the early 1920’s.
When Art first came from Italy his family settled in Bloomfield N.J. where he worked at Oaks’ Mills as a “purcher.” This is where he met my grandmother Mildred Steinert whose Father (Augustus Steinert ) was a German born Civil War Veteran and long time resident of Horseneck Road.
At the Road Stand they sold a wide variety of food , refreshments, homemade fudge, tobacco products, and beverages including cold delicious root beer on tap. My father Frank “Chubby” Talamini often spoke of the hotdogs and how especially good they were.
The exact date Talamini’s Refreshment Stand closed is not known, but it’s likely soon after the new Route 6 bridge was built between Fairfield and Willowbrook / Wayne in 1927. This new river crossing diverted all highway traffic away from Little Falls Road.
Not long after the above photos were taken Art added a second floor and that’s where he and Millie lived the rest of their lives. When Frank came home from serving in WWII he took over the repair shop / service station until he retired.
“ Your dad 'Chubby' ( Frank ) was a favorite adult of the neighborhood kids. We often rode our bikes
as 11 - 14 age kids and sit inside for 20 minutes. Buying a coke for 5 cents and candy for 5 cents.
Chubby enjoyed telling us stories about his Civil War relative. Decades later, I figured out that he is in
my Pearce family tree via other peoples marriages. My future grave plot is next to Chubby at Hillside
Cemetery. Maybe he will spin some more yarns for me someday. LOL Glen Pierce. “
Many Thanks to the Sisco and Talamini Families for sharing their stories about these two historic Fairfield establishments. Just like the Filipow Descendents , they have a great deal to be proud of.
...........Paul Pollio March 2, 2022 firstname.lastname@example.org
Art Talamini’s Refreshment Stand today.
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