As a kid I was carted off to Arnold Constables and Packards by my mother. Then there were the forays to Main Street and Grants and Woolworths. Later when they built the Paramus malls we would go there.
But Dad's favorite store was Modell's. It was the sort of place where a man could feel like he was getting a bargain. It was a big, weirdly shaped store at the bottom of Kaplan Avenue, south of the Hackensack line in Lodi. Many of the departments were independently run so there was a flea market atmosphere to the place.
The grocery store took your purchases and put them on a conveyor belt which you then retrieved by driving to the pick up station on your way out of the store. If you were so inclined, you could get a haircut for ninety nine cents.
The floor was always dirty and for a kid, it was great fun to streak your shoes against the coated sugar and grease of the floor. They had a record store which wasn't half bad. It was here that I purchased my first record for 77 cents. A copy of "I Want to Hold Your Hand" with the original Beatles singles cover.
Outside the store were empty box cars, where an adventurous kid could play. One Wayne Manley, a kid a year younger than me, played there after getting a haircut. The box car turned over and crushed him to death.
The next day the news spread all over the school. For some reason my teacher gave me an errand that involved sending me down to the third grade classroom. The classroom of death. Cautiously, I entered the classroom where the late haircut boy had been enrolled. The kids all looked sad but some of the boys were smirking.
We all learned our lessons. Kids shouldn't play in boxcars.
A month later I came to school on a different route because I wanted to see where Frankie's Market had burned down. "Christ" the Junior leader said, "I though you was....Wayne Manley"