A little help…

This is one of several 1950s era color slides that former mayor, Bruce Gunn gave us in 2015. We revisit this one because we could use a hand with tracking down some more information about the brick building in the background.

Businesses, Main Street, Riverton, PHOTO: google maps July 2018

Show your age and tell us the name of the building. It sure has changed a lot in 60+ years (haven’t we all?).

Quite a few local businesses have set up shop there over the years. Jason Cioci of Riverton Health & Fitness asked if we could tell him more about the history of the building.

So let’s crowdsource this project – kinda like GoFundMe, but send information and photos, not money.

What recollection do you have about business from back in the day?

Please add your comments (see the link at the very bottom of this post) or contact us if you have a scan, photo, or document we can post.

Thank you to Christine Jones-Williams, James Lockhart, Bill Moore, Rob Gusky, Jim Lockhart, Cara Vandy, Matt Mlynarczyk, and Christopher Ford who checked in and told about a memory they have of the Collins Building.

We shall add pictures of the Collins Building to our TTATA (things that aren’t there anymore) Wish List.

Christine Jones-Williams: I remember Mary Lou’s. She sold just about everything, but what she was most famous for was the penny candy.
I remember Marylou sitting behind the counter waiting for customers to come in her store. She would sit and count your candy and then put all of the candy in a little brown bag. Great memories. February 1, 2019 at 12:04 pm

James Lockhart: I remember this as the Collins building. Used to go by there a couple times a day on my way to and from school during the mid-1960s until about 1971. I remember there being a couple of shops between the Collins entrance and a barber shop on the opposite (Harrison St.) corner. There was also a print shop in the cellar that was accessible from Harrison St. The husband of our music teacher at RPS, Mrs. Horn, worked for Collins, IIRC. February 1, 2019 at 9:51 am

Bill Moore: It’s funny. It wasn’t until you posted this that I started thinking about the business on the far right. I can’t even remember what it was…a hardware store? But there was a LONG entryway…to a long counter on the left. I’ll be curious to hear what others remember because I have distinct memories of being taken in there but no memory of what it was. The store next to it was the deli. I remember that “The Elm Street Store” or whatever the official name was moved there in the 70s from their house/store on Elm Street and it became Deckards?…Deckers?…and later Bosch’s…and whatever it is now. The next store was the infamous Mary Lou Shop. While she had greeting cards, gifts, notions, etc. No one ever touched them and they probably had a layer of dust on them because everyone made a beeline for the candy…and I don’t think she ever got out of her chair to dust. On my list of things I wish I could recreate in Riverton…that would be in the top 3. I have no recollection what was in the shop next to that. Freddy’s Barber Shop was next door. My dad patronized it but my brother and I hated going there so my mother gave us our trademark bowl cuts. I seem to remember a couple of old school barbers in addition to Freddy working there. February 1, 2019 at 9:19 am

Rob Gusky: Anyone who attended Riverton School in the 70’s surely remembers the Mary Lou shop located in this brick building. It was an amazing place where you could fill a small paper bag full of candy for a quarter or less. In 1975 I was in 7th grade and got interested in collecting stamps. One day I discovered that Mary Lou, the proprietor of the shop, had a bunch of stamps behind the counter that she would sell for postage. These weren’t just ordinary stamps to me but were colorful stamps from the 60’s and beyond. Over time I bought a number of them and they were added to my stamp collection. Great memories – she was a very nice lady. February 1, 2019 at 8:32 am

Christopher Ford: Although I have vague memories of a lumber store in the upstairs (and a lift?) where my father would take me when I was very young, my clearest early memories were of Mary Lou’s Shop, where I would go spend my allowance on bowls of candy. I’d then dump the candy on the “counting counter,” where Mary Lou would add up the total cost and put it in a small brown paper bag.
After Mary Lou retired and closed her long-running store, I got my first real job at Barbara Drumheiser’s Victorian Thymes, where I could still get my candy fix, and where I got my lifelong love of coffee and fine food. During work I’d get my lunch next door at Beverly’s D&D Deli.
I love the stories this will bring. February 1, 2019 at 7:13 am

Mary Lou’s Shop sure left an indelible impression on some folks! Also mentioned were Deckards?…Deckers?…and later Bosch’sFreddy’s Barber Shop, and my personal favorite – Victorian Thymes. What was that Oscar Wilde quote that owner Barbara Drumheiser displayed over the entrance?

An earlier generation might recall Karl Frank’s Meat Store, Hullings & Son Plumbing and Heating, The Jersey Fruit Cooperative, The Riverton Meat MarketThe Christian Science Reading Room, or the J.S. Collins & Son Coal and Lumber. What other businesses have resided there over the years?

Whether your “good ol’ days” are 25, 50, or 75 years old, it’s all still Riverton history.

Thank you for adding your voice to rivertonhistory.com.

Look for more information here as we develop this story on the Collins Building. And don’t take any wooden nickels.

Published by

John McCormick

Teacher at Riverton School 1974-2019, author, amateur historian, Historical Society of Riverton Board Member 2007-2023, newsletter editor 2007-2023, website editor 2011-2023

4 thoughts on “A little help…”

  1. My recollection of the _inside_ of the Collins store coincide with Billy Moore’s. There was a long counter at the left; and yes, it was a hardware store of sorts, though I think their target customers were tradespeople.

  2. I remember the stores there in the 1980s being (from the left) the barber shop, Christian Science Reading Room, Mary Lou’s, Deckard’s, and Mr. Bill’s Bikes. My mother, Mary Vandy (nee Bishop), remembers it from the 1940s/1950s as the barbershop, the reading room, Mrs. McClellan’s Mercantile, Mr. Frank’s Grocery, and Collins’s lumberyard and hardware.

  3. I remember my folks taking me to Collins around 1970 to buy food for my pet rabbits and ducks, as well as buying candy at Mary Lou’s. She sold these little orang flavored jelly candies that were lightly covered powdered sugar to prevent them from sticking together). I also recall Watkin’s Furniture that was located on the second floor of the building. You entered a stairwell on Harrison St.to get to the shop. The owner, Ron Watkins, cleaned out a lot of estates (including my grandparents’) and sold used furniture and whatever he found in the estates that had value.

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