It Was the Heart of Town

It Was the Heart of Town

Journeys into River Edge

These days the sign there reads New Bridge Landing at River Edge. Stores include Dunkin Donuts, Habit Burger, Sports Clips, Total Wines, CVS and Fed Ex.The parking lot is busy with custoemrs at tese national brands.

The streetscape and feel make it quintessentially a contemporary suburban shopping center - a convenient spot for those apporaching or leaving Route 4.

Quite different it is from what some remember at the site.

Many these days associate the former site with ts last days when it had been left to deteriorate. But before that a for a long time it was the heart of that end of town - a place with a long history (from the early 1950's) of locally owned businesses with a connection to the community and its citizens.

If one looks at the accompanying photo, they can see on the corner Thrift City Stationery - a business that routinely had lines stretching out the door during the first week of school. Wolfie presided with multi-generations of their family over a shop in a time before Staples. It had what we believed was everything there was to sell.

Next door was the hometown hardware store (River Edge Hardware), another local family owned business, which squeezed in so much into a tiny space. It also patiently served up any advice and guidance you could ask for.

Next to the hardware store was the Villa Capri Resturant (later the New Villa) where the pizza and pasta were good. Before serving pizza, the place was the Cherry Hill  Luncheonette - when I was young it did the trick for me, but back then my diet consisted of hamburger, french fries, soda and jello.

Next in the plaza was "beauty parlor" a place to make women look good but also a place to catch up on the news.

Manor Phramacy was there in the shopping center. It too was one of those town meeting places. In its height (sand long before CVS) it helped heal us. But it also had the newspaper, magazines, birthday cards and grooming needs. It also was a place to check in with George or Sid or connect with neighbors who were stopping in too (Strumph and River Edge Pharmacies served similar functions further north in town).

Schmidt's bakery was a long time mainstay at that site. B&W in Hackensack maintains a strong connection with locals. But back then there was little reason to have to go to Hackensack because Schmidt's provided all needs - from rye bread, rolls, cakes, pie and more it was a classic bakery. In later years it became the Cherry Hill Bakery (under the watchful eye of Billy Aronsky, formerly of the Foster Village Baker Shop - his brother worked at the beauty parlor), and then finally as Cherry Hill Bagels. Before George at Kinderkamack Bagels, it served up the best bagels in the area.

Around the corner were Brackett Cleaners and Emil's Barber Shop (75 cents for hair cuts duting the week $1.25 on Saturdays).

And, of course, there on the corner (where CVS) now stands was the anchor - the supermarket - A&P and then later Foodtown. It was the only national brand back then. Now most all businesses are parts of national brands,