Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mystery Photograph: Ferrera’s Meat Market

Back in 2008 when Carol Venuto Davis wrote her wonderful article for the Hastings Historian on her house at 4 Spring Street, she included this photograph of herself (right) and her sister Priscilla (peeking over her shoulder) in Fererra’s meat market, taken around 1953. We recently asked her to tell me more about the photograph, and here is her answer.

“That's the owner Mr. Ferrera in the long white apron cutting a piece of meat. The two men behind the counter were working for him, but I can't recall their names. The men standing behind my sister are customers. Don't know them either.

The photo was taken for advertising—they had just installed some new meat counters, and I think the local paper was doing a story about that. It was nice of Mr. Ferrera to give me a photo, but then, we were regular customers. Mom sent us there a couple of times a week because she felt they had good quality meat.

I remember the shop always smelled of fresh sawdust and the meat was placed in white cardboard containers then wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. You don't get that kind of service any more.

One of our chores was to go to Ferrera’s for meat, and buy groceries including fruits and vegetables at the A & P supermarket across the street—you can't really see it in the photo but my sister is holding Mom's shopping list and I'm clutching the money. The butcher or grocer would tally the amount on the wrapping paper or bag, and we were supposed to wait there and make sure the addition was correct before paying. It was good training in budgeting at an early age since I was 11 and my sister 8 years old at the time the photo was taken.”

Please let us know if you can identify the men in the picture. And if you have any memories of the meat market to share, send them along!

Ferrera Brothers market at 546 Warburton Avenue in 1935. The photograph show, left to right: Alfred Ferrera, Jack Cattell, Lillian Cattell, Frank Ferrera, and Albert Ferrera.

Carol is also looking for information about people who might have lived in her family home, 4 Spring Street, before her grandparents bought it in 1926. Some of the names listed on old deeds to the house include: Michael Kablack, Louis & Lizi Babulicz, Abraham & Carrie Oppenheimer, Fannie Leitner, Michael & Agnes Masterson, Jane Scriven, William Kinder, Frederick Kinder, Garret A. Veeder, George W. Bippell and Sidney S. Blackwell.

Let us know if you can help her!
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  1. I remember the Ferrera's well. They built the house next door south of ours(33 Whitman). I particularly remember Mrs. Ferrera and the aroma of Italian cooking that continually wafted from her kitchen window. I sometimes ran errands for her. They were good neighbors. They had peach, apple an olive trees on their property. Frank bought the house diagonally across from us, a two family located next door and north of my Grand Aunts house at(27 Whitman). Alfred was shorter than Frank, and he had a nickname "Bookie" for obvious reasons. I also remember the sawdust on the butcher shop floor and that great old time service. Their fruit and vegetable store near Hastings Electric had produce crates on the sidewalk, being one of the few merchants to show their wares in this manner. Back then, most of the stores had awnings (before air conditioning).

    The Desanto family lived on the second floor of the Ferrera home. Mrs. Desanto was a central figure in founding the Hastings Youth Center. She lived there with son Maurice and daughter Evelyn. An older son was lost in Korea.

    The Ferrera's had a pretty good share of the food market in town for many years. Nice people. Sorry I can't help with the names.

    Bob Russell

  2. Bill Ewen Jr and Janet Murphy have both identified the man on the left tying the box as Patsy Melella. As you will remember from Bob Russell's post on the first ambulance, Patsy was the ambulance driver. Bill says that he was the delivery man for Ferrera's grocery store as well. Thanks, guys!