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A Fair Haven Corner Spot Reminiscance

Once The Corner Room, or Esther's, Gourmet Picnic is now closed. What are your memories of the place?

If you grew up in Fair Haven, it's likely you have some good memories about a lot of cornerstones in the borough.

One, in particular, that comes to mind now is the old Corner Room, referred to as Esther's dating back to the 1970s. Most recently it was the Gourmet Picnic. And, after several years of serving up fine baked goods, sandwiches coffee and other eats, the shop is now closed.

It was listed for sale for several months and people were talking about it, but now the lights are out, doors are closed and it has apparently been sold, according to other business associates in the area and a note on the eatery's Facebook page.

Hearing of the closure brought back some memories of a spot where kids used to have lunch, hang out and walk around town before heading back to the Viola L. Sickles School, which used to be Willow Street School.

Allow me to take you on a modest adventure back in time to lunching at Esther's as a fifth grader. Yes, fifth graders did lunch then.

First of all, rather than ordering in gourmet lunches from what are now the mighty fine eateries around town, we 10 and 11-year-olds would get a pass to go out for lunch.

And it was a non-discriminatory activity, because the price was pretty much the same at Esther's for a pretty standard lunch that, in those days, pleased everyone. For $1 we could get a cherry coke and a burger. Fries may have been on that plate, too. Sometimes, we'd go for a milk shake, which, I think, was about 25 cents more, if that.

After we filled our bellies with basics that some may scoff at today, we would ramble down River Road to what we called the waterbed store, because, well, waterbeds were sold there.

I don't remember the name, but it was fascinating to us gawky, pig-tailed, bell-bottomed 70s girls. We all wanted one, and for very innocent reasons. It was the craze then, but parents really weren't quite as accommodating as then as they are now.

They were very expensive and if we poked a hole in it, they figured we'd drown, flood the house, or, worse yet, just have too much fun bouncing around on the thing, swishing back and forth and not getting homework done.

It really was all that simple. So the nice man with the, come to think of it, kinda freaky looking moustache and polyester shirt would let us sit on the thing for about five minutes and giggle.

Next, we'd go to the penny candy store, Janell's (someone correct me if my spelling is wrong). What a sweets feast wonderland that place was! It sends me into diabetic shock and a drool fest just thinking about it. Sad, but satiatingly true.

There was candy everywhere. Cases and jars and racks ... all filled with classics, like jawbreakers, Twizzlers, Swedish fish, Red Hot Dollars, Dots, Pixie Sticks and anything else your scrawny little juvenile self desired. Willy Wonka had nothing on this place.

Those sainted (in our minds) owners would probably be sued and sent to the evil sugar influence pokey nowadays. Nonetheless, we, got a bag full of candy for a few cents and it just made our day.

After the jaunt of cokes, burgers, waterbed rides and a candy topper, we'd make our way back to school. And, yes, we sat in class with either a Swedish fish stuck in a filling or a jawbreaker resting in the side of the mouth and looking like a freakishly swollen jaw.

I remember the girl who worked there (family) used to recommend the jawbreakers 'cause they lasted longest. Needless to say, no one answered questions in class in the afternoon, or something would fall out of their mouths or they'd choke trying to camouflage it and talk. Guess what? We survived and thrived.

OK, mercury fillings were on the rise in those years. And sometimes, just sometimes, a toothache and an empty store can bring back a soothing memory or two. Burger and a jawbreaker anyone?

What are your memories of the Corner Room (Esther's) or the Gourmet Picnic? Tell us about them. And, if anyone has a photo of Esther's, please upload it or email it to me at elaine.develde@patch.com and I will post it.

APO 301 February 08, 2013 at 06:18 PM
Forgot to mention. Esther's grandson is Chris England, he used to work for Gary Clark the plumber, but haven't seend him in a long time. They no longer live on Mcarter Ave. can't remember other kids names.
APO 301 February 08, 2013 at 06:36 PM
Sorry for adding a d on the end of seen, happened by mistake.
Marla Moorman Murray November 10, 2013 at 01:00 PM
Evie, The girl you went to school with is my sister, Merle, our last name is Moorman, it was my brother Mason Moorman you are remembering. We were the ones that lived in the huge house across from McCarters Pond and our mother Evelyn Viscardi owned the shop where the Black Sheep once rented from her. our store was called the Fair Haven Mews and Lee and Ginny Yarnell who owned The Black Sheep bought it from us when we moved (to NH). Thank you for the memories of Jannells candy store and the burgers and cherry cokes at lunch. By the way, my name is Marla.
Marla Moorman Murray November 10, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Oh, and the incense store you are remembering was owned by Don Chandler, I think it was called Chandlers. I cannot however remember the name of the card shop across the street from the store (it was next to the drama school/theater and the drama teacher there was named Mr. Waymouth)
Marla Moorman Murray November 10, 2013 at 03:03 PM
correction on the incense store it was called The Tea Taster owned by Don Chalders and he had a son named Malcom and the card shop was also a candle shop (maybe called the "Candle Light Shop"?)

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