A nice remembrance today from Catherine Seipp on NRO.
This Jersey guy remembers, as a Long Island boy, the fabulous enterprise of going to TSS on Montauk Highway circa 1978. Probably already gone to seed by earlier standards, but that doesn't compute to a child. And they had everything - each new department was like a separate store. It felt like you could just keep walking until you wound up like that kid in the woods in the Far Side cartoon. First day of school? No problem - shoes and clothes in front with Mom while Dad went for the hardware: stationary, knapsack, and cartoon-tie in lunch box. Then I got a haircut in the salon in back, while Dad visited the nearby tobacconist section. If I behaved, I got a hot pretzel from the front lunch counter on the way out.
I'm lucky enough to have seen a lot of those holdouts: local savings banks (with passbooks filled with typewritten entries), Howard Johnson’s (31 Flavors under one Orange Roof!), that TSS (I still own the baseball glove I got there at age 14), and an A & W Root Beer stand. (These guys have it backwards on the list - NOW it's a Taco Bell.) Twenty years on, I’d give a lot to have a Teenburger again. (Surprisingly, there's an impressive list of still-operating stores, including a few I could reach by car. There are only nine remaining HoJo's, however.)
And what happened to Times Square Stores? The last one held out until 1990. (The store I'm remembering is the Babylon location mentioned in the article.) It was the same all over, as demonstrated by a quick scan of the headlines here. Our family had been gone to Jersey nearly four years by then (but we were still bennies). And before the advent of the digital camera, such things were harder to chronicle, especially for the impending web age. Perhaps it's better that way. Sears, for example, hasn't aged well for me. But TSS will always seem to be its own little city, pearl of a bygone year. If you didn't see what you liked right away, there was another neighborhood along past the checkout clerk, and on the way, something really neat was sure to surprise you.