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Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Shopping - New Gretna Style

Well, here we go again! Christmas is quickly approaching, and I still haven't started my Christmas shopping. Some things never seem to change.

I guess I'm not the only one who procrastinates during the yuletide season. Rita Allen who owned Allen's Variety Store on Allentown Road, now North Maple Avenue, in New Gretna placed a 1921 Christmas ad in the Tuckerton Beacon, especially for people like me who tend to wait to the last minute to do our Christmas shopping. Rita encouraged shoppers to "Avoid the inconvenience of last minute shopping" by stopping by her New Gretna establishment. It was good business and great advise.

Rita Allen, the owner of Allen's Variety Store.

I wish I could heed Rita's advise as her Variety Store was just down the street from my house, but it has been long closed. It would sure have made my Christmas shopping easier, as I'm looking for a pair of white shoes for my Men's Breakfast Club buddy, Ricky "White Shoes" Steele, and I bet Rita would have had an appropriate pair for sale. I guess Ricky is out of luck this Christmas.

Does anyone out in the Blog-O-Sphere remember Allen's Variety Store or have you heard stories about it? If so I'd like to hear from you.

Pete S

PS- Ricky's mother, Almira Cramer Steele, told me that she first saw a telephone at "Aunt Rita's" store when she was a little girl. Allen's Variety Store was just down the street from the Cramer home. The phone was an oak box hung on the wall. It had a crank that you would turn to ring the phone. 

Aunt Rita would lift little Almira up onto a box which stood by the phone so that she could reach the phone and turn the handle.

I wonder if Almira had ribbons in her hair?


  1. Pete,

    I remember Rita Allen's varity store well. I believe it is now the home of Claire and Alston Allen. I remember going there as a little kid in the 1930's and buying a nice looking ring from Uriah Allen for just a few pennies. By the time I walked home, down Allentown Road, proud as punch of my new fancy ring, it had turned my finger green. My mother said, “Serves you right buying anything off of old Ruy Allen.”

    Ruy's wife, Aunt Rita Allen, was a very nice lady. When I first started Sunday school, at the First Presbyterian Church, she was the Sunday school superintendent. She would walk up front every Sunday morning and start the Sunday School and make all the announcements. She wore a very long black dress, and her shoes were the buttoned up the sides type. After her death, Anna Lamson took over her duties for a number of years. She also was a very good superintendent. Sunday School was kindergarden in the side room and then, after a year or so there, you graduated to the larger auditirium or the church itself. I remember how proud I was to make it to the big people's Sunday School. What fond memories!

    Don Maxwell

  2. Is Uriah J. Allen by chance my 2nd great grand uncle? Brother of my GG mother Louisa M. Allen. If so, what was Rita Allen's maiden name please. Thanks
    Beverly Mathis Robinson

  3. Beverly,

    I'm emailing you an Allen Family genealogy, so that you can figure out the relationship of Uriah Allen to Louisa Allen and report back in the Blog regarding your conclusions.


  4. Pete,

    In answer to Beverly Robinson's question about her relationship to Uriah Allen. Yes, he was a brother to her great great grandmother Louise Wiseman. Starting way back, a Caleb Allen and his wife had several sons and one daughter. The sons were Uriah, Caleb, who was Helen Carty's grandfather, Thomas, John, who was Benny Allen's grandfather, Charles Henry, and a daughter, Louise. I remember them all personally, except John, whose nickname was Goggins. They were all alive when I was a young boy. I am amazed that I can remember all those old people that were alive when I was young. I had forgotten about them until someone asks a question about one of them.

    Don Maxwell

  5. I haven't quite worked it out but I suspect my GG grandmother and GG grandfather were cousins somehow. Thanks for the information Pete and Don.
    Beverly Mathis Robinson