Postcards from the Past: A bowling alley, a bakery and the five-and-dime

July 10, 2012

A glimpse of Route 1 in the late 1930s. Photo courtesy Douglas Dudrow.

BY PEGGY DEE — On a recent warm, sunny afternoon, I took a walk down Oliver Street and stopped by to greet Betty Moreau, who has been a neighbor of mine for years. As we sat together on her front porch, she took me on a delightful trip down memory lane.

Betty will never forget listening to the radio on a daily basis and one of her most vivid memories is the day the president announced that World War II had ended. She and her family were elated and Betty ran out into the street to celebrate the war’s end with her neighbors. They all came out on their porches and talked about it.

Betty and her family have lived in Hyattsville since 1937, after relocating from Wisconsin. Originally they lived at 40th and Shepherd (now Longfellow) streets and then moved to Oliver Street in 1939, where she remains today. She attended both Hyattsville Elementary School, which was at the same location it is today, and the old Hyattsville High School, located where the middle school sits today. Her family attended the Lutheran church, which was not on Belcrest Road where it is today but at 36th and Longfellow streets, the site of the recently closed Concordia Lutheran School.

While she was in high school, Betty worked part-time at the Woolworth’s Five-and-Dime on Baltimore Avenue. After she graduated, she became a full-time employee. Altogether she worked there for 10 years, from 1943 to 1953. The loose candy that sold for 25 cents a pound was a very popular item. Facial powder, with the puff, was a favorite among the ladies. The hardware section was an attraction for the men. Across from Woolworth’s were a pastry shop, Lisenbee Jewelers and Dudrow’s Drug Store. Next to the bridge there was a house containing doctors’ offices. In late 1953, Betty transferred to the Woolworth’s in College Park. It was located in a small shopping center at Knox Road and Route 1.

Betty’s brother, Kenneth Moreau, finished his military service in the early 1940s and worked at Peoples Drug Store, also located on Route 1. He attended the police academy and served on the City of Hyattsville police department from 1945 through 1975. He was chief of police during the 1950s.

Young boys with their paper routes, bowling at the old Hyattsville Bowling Alley, eating hot fudge cake at the Hot Shoppes, Queens Chapel Road being a two-lane road, and taking a streetcar from the old Mt. Rainier Bus Terminal to downtown: these are special memories that Betty has carried with her for life. I am so glad that she shared them with me.