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Louie's Candy Store... My Universe
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It was the center of my Universe. It was where the kids were. Where the girls were, looking good in their long full skirts, angora sweaters, hair tied back in a ponytail circled with a chiffon scarf playing hard to get and the boys looking cool in their dungarees, tee shirt with rolled-up sleeves, hair curling over their forehead trying to get whatever they can get. It was where Jo was. Where we hung out. Where we went steady and broke-up and went steady again and broke-up again. It was where we talked about our hopes and dreams stole kisses in the telephone booth and listened to doo-wop. There were good times and bad times, laughs and tears, break-ups, romances and marriages, it was where the kids were, some we liked, some we didn’t. It was Brooklyn, Bushwick, Greene and Central Avenue, Louie’s candy store — that was my world, that was my universe from 1955 to 1962.
Louie’s was your typical little neighborhood candy store off the corner of Greene on Central Avenue, with a large metal Breyer’s ice cream sign above the entrance, a newspaper stand outside and a small window that opened to the street. Inside on the black and white mosaic tile floor were two worn red vinyl four-seat booths next to a white marble counter and soda fountain where you could order up delights like a 5 cent egg cream or a
Louie was a good man who had two sons, Louie Jr. and the younger Frankie. Louie tolerated us most of the time but he had his limits. When the kids would get too rowdy, crash into the jukebox or knock over a counter display, then is was “OK, Everybody out!”. Eventually, after a couple of days we would gradually filter back in as if nothing ever happened and things would go back to the way it was. Louie would prime the jukebox from time to time to get the music going with quarters marked in red that would be returned to him by the jukebox guy. It worked, and we started putting quarters into the machine ourselves. Especially Tony who always had money. We would be on the jukebox guy when he came in to get us the latest records, the records we would hear Alan Freed play on WABC radio.
There was Johnny and Judy, Tony and Maryann, Terry and Howie, Frank, Helen, Pat, Sadie, Skippy, Aloma, Anna to name just a few. And Jo, a pretty 14 year old from Greene Avenue and me, that I would eventually marry in St. Barbara’s Church down the street on Bleecker.
Every neighborhood in Brooklyn had a vocal group and we were no exception. We would sing doo-wop on the corner under the streetlight, especially when we were kicked out of Louie’s. We thought we were pretty good, except for maybe Frank who sang out of tune sometimes. It was the way The Clusters and The Fascinators got started.
Across the street from Louie’s on the corner of Greene and Central was a tavern called the Piccadilly. Not too unlike many taverns in Brooklyn. It had a bar in front and a small dining area in the back. But it had something no other tavern had. Two Italian brothers who were ex-boxers, and probably best remembered for what they made in their kitchen oven than what they did in the ring. You would enter a side door to the dining area and sit at one of two booths or four tables and partake in an epicurean delight of tomato, cheese and dough that no one knew at the time was the “Holy Grail” of pizza. Today, I would wager no one in our Universe has had a better pizza since.
Many years later I realized my time at Louie’s candy store was one of the happiest times of my life. Not because I liked it there so much, I liked it there because I was young, we were all young, me and Jo, Terry and Howie, Tony and Maryann, Johnny and Judy and even Louie. I really didn’t like all of those kids then, but today I love every last one of them.
This article has been viewed 13795 times in the last 4 years
Peter: 1st Jun 2009 - 20:26 GMT
i live about 8 blocks from greene and central at the moment... its hope gardens now...
Robert: 16th Jun 2009 - 15:01 GMT
Than you Tom for such a nice story... even when I didn't live around your neighborhood, your narration simply took me there in space and time.
davesonit: 16th Jun 2009 - 19:51 GMT
Great story Tom. Do you remember whether they had boxes full of baseball card packs on the shelves or countertops? Or did they have lots of trading card pack choices? Non-sports, football, hockey? Did you ever get into those?
anon (wpksmtp.bonniercorp.com): 17th Jun 2009 - 14:21 GMT
Sheldon Neuringer: 18th Feb 2010 - 18:35 GMT
I really enjoyed reading your posting. I am now 72 years old and live in Asheville, NC, but I grew up in the 1940's and '50's in the Williamsburg and Bensonhurst sections of Brooklyn. I remember plenty of neighborhood candystores and all the fun my friends and I had hanging out. I have to say though that I don't remember any candystores with a jukebox. Maybe I just didn't notice. Thank you very much for your nostalgic remeniscence.
anon (wpksmtp.bonniercorp.com): 19th Feb 2010 - 19:26 GMT
Sheldon, I'm very glad you enjoyed my story. There were a number of candy stores in Bushwick that had jukeboxes.
A 58 year-old from Nassau County, Long Island : 29th Apr 2010 - 01:48 GMT
Tom, this was a wonderful story; so evocative....It's a story of teen-age years, the magic of it all, a time and place that is eternal in the heart. I felt like I was there, and I loved it. Thanks....
Phyllis (Mickey) Santinella: 27th Sep 2010 - 22:20 GMT
i was born in bklyn on prospect place and washington avenue in 1946 we also had a favorite candy store with a huge jukebox in which i sat under to get the full sound of all the old and best music in the world i was 10 years old and i knew every song from the fifties and the artists we would have contests every week i still have them on 78s does anyone remember jocko on the radio he would say a to the oak o to the jock and im back on the scene with the record machine saying ooo papa do and how do you do thanks for the memories mickey
Bygone Bushwick: 30th Apr 2011 - 01:23 GMT
Welcome to Bygone Bushwick, a web site especially devoted to the residents of 1950's Bushwick. However, we encourage everyone to participate in our discussions and share photos with each other.
Unlike other Bushwick websites we offer our members the opportunity to express themselves freely. There is no censorship here at Bygone Bushwick. Say whatever is on your mind using any words you are comfortable with. Don't worry about offending anyone. If you do offend someone it is their problem, not yours. Screw them anyway if they are offended. YOU WILL NEVER BE KICKED OUT FOR EXPRESSING YOUR OPINION, REGARDLESS OF HOW CONTROVERSIAL IT IS.
Start having an honest dialogue with people like yourself. Join now by contacting the Administrator at: email@example.com
joe matteo: 23rd Nov 2011 - 00:03 GMT
Hello all my Brooklynites friends i lived at 286 centeral ave and harmon st i went to ST Barbaras catholic school.my parents were also born in brooklyn my dad was a truck driver and mom was a general manager for white castle.I was always either playing stick ball with friends and my cousin he also lived in the same building as me.i remember acroos the street there was a drug store and joe's candy store were we use to get egg creams and fraps and those large long stick pretzels yum i can still taste them.we also use to buy soft pretzels from a man if i remember was called joe the pretzel man he use to have a modafied baby carrage and sold soft pretzeles out of it.
Tony LaMarca Jr. : 31st Jan 2013 - 20:43 GMT
Wow! I can't believe what I'm reading. I was 6 years old in 1965 when my father bought Louie's Candy store and by the time I was 12, 1971, my father sold it. What a wild ride though in those 6 glorified years. I remember the whole lay out as if it was imblazoned in my head. The cigars, the pretzels which I used to dunk in cold milk, the chocolate ice cubes on the luncheonette counter. Lime rickeys, cherry cokes, egg creams, frapps, and my father Tony and my mom JoJo who made the best tuna fish in the neighborhood. It's in this candy store where I learned to play the guitar. Paul Bonacasa and Rocco would teach me a few things. I was even introduced to Sal Caruso who later died of cancer. There was Caesar, Lucky the epileptic, Seymore, a black man who was whiter than we were, My cousin Jack Calandra and his girlfriend Mousy, Flip and of coarse crazy Dennis who used to walk on stilts that reached the second floor window of the three story buildings. I remember the phone booths where young guys and girls got their cheap thrills and the jukebox where I listened to Pshycadelic Shack and Paperback Writer, etc. I used to put my ear right up against the speakers so I could here the individual instruments and try to play them on my guitar. The record salesman would give me all of the records he took out and replaced them with the latest hits, like Crimson and Clover or Sunshine of your Love. In the middle of the block a few doors down was the butcher shop owned by Frankie "Cheech" and across the street was a dry cleaners, "Fattas". The Piccadilli lounge with Pete Golatta and characters with names like Charlie the ghost, who became dead. My brother Syl learned to cook in that bar and was the chef for a few years. In the last years of the candy store the greasers and hippie types faded out and gave way to a spanish gang called the Hart street Demons. They caused all kinds of trouble but were somehow kept under control by my parents with the help of some local goombahs of coarse. I saw a lot of crazy things at such a young age like glue sniffing out of paper bags, people shooting up heroine and rival gang wars where they tossed malatov cocktails and garbage pails from rooftops. Through all of this I did'nt turn out so bad and I really miss the sights, the sounds and the smells of the old neighborhood.
Tony LaMarca Jr.: 31st Jan 2013 - 21:38 GMT
I'm sorry, my family owned Mike and Joe's candy store that was about a block away on Central between Harman and Himrod. I remember Louie's candy store though, and who can forget Barbara Anne's across from St.Barbra's. My friend Leggio hung out at Louie's.
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