It’s About Time – Stories about Fair Haven & Sterling

    By on December 10, 2015
    • Parker’s original store, Main Street, Fair Haven, 1947. Note Lynn Parker’s 1940 Chevrolet in driveway.

    • Parkers’ Clover Farms Store, circa 1950 or ‘51. At the left, on bike, is Merrill Parker and Cindy, the dog. At right is Jim “Moose” MacArthur, who was later Merrill’s best man at his wedding.

    • Merrill Parker standing by the Dairylea Ice Cream delivery truck. A new sign advertises Parker’s grocery store.

    • The Tip-Top Bread Truck and driver Ray Straub, nicknamed “Red,” who delivered bread to Parkers’ Store. To the right was a restaurant, purchased by Mike and Mary Lombardo in 1953.

    Merrill Parker Remembers Fair Haven

    Merrill Parker, former resident of Fair Haven writes:

    My family moved to Fair Haven in 1947 from Lysander, NY. My Father, Lynn Parker had worked at a country grocery store in Lysander and desired to have his own store. This dream was realized when one became available in Fair Haven. It was located at the corner of Lake [Street] and Main Street [now the Crunchy Banana].

    This was formerly Longley’s Meat Market which had burned down in 1908. A new building was erected where Will Bradley opened a meat market/grocery store. His daughter, Reba Turner, was very helpful in getting my folks established in their new store. Her kindness and attention to this kid of six or seven caused me to think of her as a grandmother figure. One day as she was working hard, dressed in old clothes, I called her ‘my ragged Honey.’ She thought that was neat and reminded me of it often through the years.

    We lived in the apartment over the store. The kitchen was in the back area and this enabled my folks to “eat on the run” while servicing customers. I remember a wall-mounted crank phone; our number was 8Y31. The telephone office was across the street from the present O’Connor’s Restaurant. Someone was on duty 24/7 and I believe Neil William’s mom was one of the operators.

    There were three grocery stores on Main Street, two of which were Horace Fessenden’s, at the corner of Richmond Avenue and Main Street, and the other the Red and White owned by Harold Wallace [who purchased his store in 1951]. Across from Wally’s was Roy Maynard’s Garage. I also remember the Maplewood Hotel (present site of the War Memorial) which was vacant and later torn down.

    There were six gas stations [in the village.] Starting on the east end of Main Street was the Richfield, run by Denny Williams and later Hugh Vine with sons Jerry and Dave. Next was John Harmony’s Mobil Station, formerly owned by Lyle Frost. John Harmony also rented small cabins on this site. Hadcock Brothers sold Gulf products and Maynard’s sold Cities Service gas and oil. Another was Rasbeck’s Tydol Station and fuel delivery [on the corner of Victory and Main Streets.] Earl Stanton operated the West End Garage. There he sold Zenith televisions. There are also memories of Johnny Rossiter.

    Dad wanted to update the store so he took on a franchise from Clover Farms. He replaced the high wall shelving with lower self-service shelves. A new produce rack with a mirror gave the produce a new look. A modern meat case and frozen food cases [were added].

    My dad was determined to have a great meat department, so he purchased a new machine to make cubed steaks. He used only top quality meat and developed a great reputation for producing tender steaks. He always said, ‘If it is tough to begin with, no matter how many times you run it through [the machine,] it is still tough.’

    After a time, my folks became convinced that tobacco products were harmful and stopped selling them. This did cost them some business but I appreciate their stand. Remember, this was in the 1950s, when the majority of people smoked. Today, we are seeing drug stores pulling tobacco products from their shelves.

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