Monday, May 18, 2009

Remembering the Hastings Record Shop

By Bob Russell

17 to 19 Main Street ca. 1960 (Hastings Record Shop on far right)

In the Fall 2008 issue of the Historian there is a wonderful story written by Carol Marie (Venuto) Davis regarding her family life and the eventual creation of the Steinschneider parking lot, which required demolition of her home. On page two of this issue, there is a photo of an old dual-use building on Spring Street that was removed in order to provide an entrance for this new public area. This old house had living space above and had the numerical destinations of #10 and #12. I have recently heard that The Hastings Record Shop had its first location in this building, and although I don't recall the shop when it was there I do remember very well how it was when it moved to 19 Main Street at the corner of Whitman (Lafayette Place).

This brick building also housed Ernie's Delicatessen, and the Hastings Five and Ten, a double store closest to the Boulanger Plaza, which was completed ca. 1957. For the record, the 5&10 was run by a Mr. and Mrs. Bromberger. Ernie's Delicatessen was (to my recollection) the first market-type store to use the designation "Delicatessen" until Marchioni's was opened two stores south of Nana's Lunch, across from the Hastings Trans Lux Theatre.

As for Hastings Record Shop, this is how I remember the store and its owners. Margaret and Will Hesketh were husband and wife. Will repaired radios in the back room, replacing tubes mostly. My older brother Bill was into radios and worked for Will for a while. Will had a small panel truck, and would pick up and deliver the repaired radios and TV's with a quiet and friendly smile. He would bring them in a rear door and would take them out to his truck while he was repairing them. Margaret ran the front of the store in a businesslike but friendly way.

As you walked in the front door, the counter was straight ahead, at the back of the store but in front of a partition wall that had a doorway to the repair area in back. There was a register to the left on top of the glass counter, and inside the glass case were various articles for sale such as record cleaning brushes, needles for 78's and later sapphire and diamond needles, plastic inserts for 45rpm records, etc.

Along the left (west) wall was a moveable rack containing slip cases of clear plastic which contained various record albums, both 78 and 33 rpm. You could move them individually from side to side, view and select a particular album which Margaret would remove for you to purchase. To the right of the albums were shelves for older stock 78's and many smaller cubbies containing the latest 45's.

These were the days of monophonic, as stereo was in its early stages and had only begun to appear toward the end of the Fifties. Only a couple of stereo records were available at the beginning, and mostly experimental, containing a variety of works, usually classical in content, such as the "Living Presence" album, ca. 1959.

If you were a regular customer of the HRS and wanted a particular record, Margaret would order it for you and call you when it came in. If a really popular album was about to arrive (Hastings Record Shop only stocked a couple of copies at a time to keep inventory down), Margaret would secretly hold a copy behind the counter for you on request.

I remember buying 78's for our Victrola there, and later The Everly Brothers, Elvis in 1956, Jimmy Rodgers singles in ‘57, etc. It was a treat to go there. Singles were .98 cents each and LP's were as high as $2.95. The store was spotless.

West side of Warburton Avenue with the corner of Spring Street on the far right. The photograph was taken by Steven Kormes during "Spring Thing" in May of 1980. The photograph shows the Hastings Record Shop, The Cheese Genie, The Sunshine Gallery, and King Pizza on the corner.

When E.J. Korvette and S. Klein On The Square opened their stores on Central Avenue, the Hastings record shop felt some loss of business, but continued to sell records, then eight track tapes and cassettes, throughout the Sixties and on into the Seventies, when I lost track of them. I recall hearing about Will’s death, and that the repair business was ended. Margaret continued on into the Eighties at a new location, 545 Warburton Avenue. For all of us who knew Margaret and Will, they were our friends, and will always be remembered as good people.
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  1. As a young kid I had become a fan of Spike Jones and would buy his 78 records from Margaret when the store was on Spring St. She was always patient with me and would play them for me so I could make a decision. Because of the hill you had to go up several steps to enter the store. Later when I was buying the latest rock n roll records I would get them from her on Main St. Even now when I return to Hastings for a visit, if I go down Spring St. I think of Margaret and the Hastings Record Shop. Bill Ewen

  2. I somehow forgot to mention that Margaret would give you a blue coupon every time that you bought a 45. When you saved ten, you were entitled redeem them and pick a free 45 of your choice. I thought it was a cool little promotion, and redeemed many coupons. Thanks Hastings Record Shop for the memories.

    Bob Russell

  3. Thanks, Bob, for such a great article! And Bill, I was always partial to "Cocktails for Two."