Broadway-Ridge Memories

Vol. XI No. 3 - SUMMER/FALL 2000

By: Marion Rohden Lettner

On Sunday, May 10, 1998, I saw heavy equipment sitting in an open space on Ridge Avenue and Magnolia Avenue. I suspected that more progress was coming to my neighbor-hood, the neighborhood that I have lived in since 1921. I now live in a house but once lived in the flat iron building at Ridge and Magnolia, which is now listed under “Registered Apartment”.

My earliest recollection of the Broadway-Ridge corner was the large two-story frame building which was owned by Bigelow Moving and Storage Company; it had a large turret on top and next to it were two large billboards. They were torn down to build a Jewel Food Store. Later, when Jewel vacated the premises, it was sold to a Mr. Corcoran, and he later sold it to Mr. Petersen and family. Around 1922 there was also a vacant lot near the corner, and I recall that during “clean-up” week we children from Swift School would do our civic duty by clearing the lot of debris. “Clean-up” was always the last week of April.

There was once a photography studio in the building (at the corner) and I had my Confirmation picture taken in 1927 by Mr. Bedell. I know there was a real estate office there, Kelly and O’Brien, around 1932. When I was a teenager my friends and I would try on hats at a millinery shop (in the corner building) called the “$1.88”; all the hats were one price only, $1.88. I also recall Mr. Glickman’s tailor shop where I voted for the first time, probably in the 1934 election. From 1935 on Heinemann’s Bakery was in the building. I remember buying sweet rolls for 60 cents a dozen and delicious whipped cream cakes.

In the 1940s there was a Mrs. Burke who planted a flower garden in the vacant lot, (to the west) and the neighborhood children, including my own, enjoyed helping her. In the 1950s there was a pizza restaurant on the corner named Villa Girgente. My son Jim worked there after school in 1958 and 1959. He was instructed to measure ingredients in 100 pound lots and he once asked the owner for the recipe to make just one pizza. The owner refused to give it to him, so Jim just divided the amounts into smaller portions. My other son, George, worked in the Moline Hardware Store, also in 1958 and 1959. Moline Hardware had two entrances, one on Broadway and one on Ridge, and George learned the “nuts and bolts” trade while he was in high school.

On Wednesday evening, May 13, 1998, my son drove me past the intersection and it saddened me to see the partially destroyed buildings. This neighborhood has seen me grow up and raise a family and now I am an old lady of 86 years. I have lived on Magnolia for 78 years and I have seen many changes. I wish Walgreen’s the best of luck and welcome them to the neighborhood.