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FEHL’S MOM & POP GROCERY STORE
Approximately three years ago, I submitted an article to the OldChesterPa.com website regarding Buckman Airport. Subsequent to that publication, I received emails from people who had grown up in the Lennox Park area of Trainer. In the emails, they mentioned my father and their experiences with my parents’ store and my dad’s hobby of racing pigeons. This correspondence has prompted me to write about the store, which was located at 1222 Anderson Avenue, Trainer, Pennsylvania.
My parents decided to start their own business about 1949. I have a clear memory of them discussing their business plan. The plan was to become a distributor for Fehl’s Pork Products in the Chester area. Fehl’s Pork Products was a pork packing plant (slaughter house) located in Blooming Glen, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. The plant was owned by my great-uncle, Charles J. Fehl. My father went to live with him when he was 12 years old.
The initial hurdle was the lack of funds; however, with $100 borrowed from a Chester loan company, my father and I boarded the train to Philadelphia to purchase a used car. After walking from car lot to car lot with no success, we returned to Chester. I should point out that we were post-World War II, and cars were scarce. We had no success in Philadelphia, and when we returned to Chester, my father purchased a Chester Times newspaper to look for a car. There was a car advertised by a private owner in Upland near Crozier Hospital; we walked to the advertised location.
The car was a 1936 Pontiac four-door sedan with a straight 8 engine. I believe that the car had belonged to the couple’s son who had been killed in World War II. My father purchased the car for $85. The car had been sitting idle for an extended time period, and the tires were flat. While he pumped up the flattened tires with a hand pump, I was treated to a piece of cake and a glass of milk by the lady of the house.
The back seat of the car was removed and replaced with a wooden box that had three compartments that were lined with galvanized metal. The center compartment was used for block ice and had a drain to allow the water to exit. My father’s uncle provided him with pork products to sell on consignment to get him started, and they were stored in the remaining two compartments.
My father drove to his uncle’s Bucks County packing house twice a week and sell the meats house to house in the Chester area. Since it was high quality, he had no trouble selling it quickly. As his business grew, he added fruits and vegetables to his inventory. This was done by getting baskets of produce at Commission Row and tying them to the bumpers and running boards of the car. My father replaced the Pontiac with a used green Bond Bread 1935 Ford panel truck.
My parents also decided to grow the business by opening a store in our house, which was a very small two-bedroom bungalow (24’ X 24’). The living room became the store. One of the two downstairs bedrooms became a living room. I had moved into the attic prior to this and now I was joined by my two younger sisters. As the store became more profitable, my father ended his home delivery route and concentrated solely on the store.
On May 11, 1958, we started construction of an addition onto the front of the house. This now became the store. My father closed the store in 1987; he was 77, and his health was failing. He was in business for approximately 40 years.
I have included a few photos that go back many years. I have captioned each individual photograph:
This photo was taken when the store was located in our house prior to the 1958 storefront addition. Shown in the photo are my sister Peggy and our cousin Tommy Lavin, who lived a few houses away.
photo shows my sister Peggy in front of the original store.
This is a photo of my father in the 1958 store addition.
This is another photo of my dad in the store wearing his son-in-law’s sailor hat.
My dad loved dogs and racing pigeons. I believe this dog’s name was Prince. Please ignore the wash hanging on the line…no dryers in those days!
The previous photo shows Prince, my dad and his racing pigeon loft. He raced under the name “Pleasant View Loft.”
If someone came into the store and no one was there, our customers just went through the house and found him in the back yard with his pigeons.
God blessed my sisters and me with great parents who prepared us for the opportunities and challenges that we would face in life.
I would like to thank all of the people who made our family business a success.
If you have any information and or pictures that you would like to contribute about any businesses in Chester, please forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org
This page last updated 05/15/09
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