2006-04-13 / Little Old Canarsie

Little Old Canarsie

Canarsie's Commercial Strip
John Denton


In the early teens, before they used public schools for election voting, one of the places used for that purpose for lots of people in the lower section south of Avenue K was the barber shop building of Louis Catalnott, a well known barber of the days before men shaved themselves. Most had a shaving cup with their name on it and some had a picture with the man's name and occupation such as butcher, baker, printer.

The home had a beautiful yard on the side with a lovely garden. At just about the time autos were coming out, Louie put up a building where the garden was with a new gas station on the corner for his two boys to operate. But it was a little too early yet, as cars had not come out too much and business was not too great. So the station closed and the building altered with a large store downstairs and a famous A & P store came in for many years. It operated the same as any other retail grocer (no self-service super markets those days). When Louie the barber sold his buildings and moved out to Oceanside, many times I passed the auto repair shop. Sons Joe and Christy were outside. I blew the horn on our Model T. Ford truck and they would wave to me on the Long Beach Road, where they had their shop at the time.

Little Old Canarsie at that time didn't have too many stores. Next to the barber shop was a couple of stores (still there). One was a deli owned by Hans Wend and another was a candy store owned by Mr. Cheivetz and after by Alex Klein. Across the avenue on the corner was the store of Henry Butecke and on the side of the store was a coal bin where you would fill up your scuttle, pail or bag for heating your rooms. Many old timers had to buy it - that way they had no place to share a ton or more.

Next door was the liquor store and bar of Adolph Winpheimer. They didn't have to be separated before 1918 when the dry's started prohibition, where they wouldn't let them serve a soldier, sailor or marine with drinks. Finally, in 1919, they passed a law that nobody could be legally sold a drink. Of course, for fourteen years those who wanted it could get all they wanted (such as home brewed beer and bathtub gin or bootleg scotch).

The landmark buildings mentioned here are Price Realty, in the former barber shop, an eye-glass center in the deli and the L Shoppe Luncheonette in the candy store and across the corner the Canarsie Lock Shop in the Butecke Grocery and the Breukelen Caf in the package wine and liquor store. And now this ends another chapter of Little Old Canarsie.

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