Remembering the Past: Rahway In The 50s and 60s

by Diane Norek Harrison
RAHWAY-I received an email of memories from a Rahway reader named Ed:
“Hello Diane, I never lived any place but Rahway. I remember a lot from the early 1950s and beyond. Marty Haines delivered milk from his truck. I helped him at the age of 12. My dad had a Texaco Gas Station on the corner of Main and Poplar. He was there 35 years. I started working for him in 1953 while still in high school. He was very, very well-known in Rahway. All the merchants and chiefs of the city were his friends.

“I remember so much of Rahway and what stores and food places were here. Across the street from the Texaco Station on the opposite corner, were Quinn’s Tavern and Joe’s Barber Shop. Phil’s Diner was on the corner on Main and Essex, parking on one side-angle parking and cobble stone streets (Main Street) Where the parking lot is now, across the street, was a laundromat and an old fire house. Now a new Italian food place stands there on Main Street with 14 apartments. Across the street from this location was a Merit Food Store and later an Acme Food Market. Rahway was a jumping place in those days…1950s.”

My thanks to Ed for sending me his Rahway memories to keep my column going!
Here is some feedback from my May 8th column asking “former teenagers” for places where they used to “hang out.”

There memories of the area are from reader Barbara Cook: “Socializing at the Drive-ins…Here are some places most of the Elizabeth “teenagers” hung out at on weekends from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s:
“There was a time when actual people in real cars would go to places where they would park the car and have someone come to them and take an order for food. They would attach a metal tray to the car window to hold the food and keep you from spilling the milk shakes on your lap. These were called, ‘Drive Ins’…not the movie ones, this was just for food and gossip and flirting.

“On Route 22 there were two of them located just about at the Union/Springfield line. One was the ‘Adventure’ and the other was the ‘Big Top’ …not really sure about that name because it was a long, long time ago.

“All it took was a friend with a car and a bunch of people who would pass the hat to get at least one burger and some fries and a coke. As long as you ordered ‘something,’ the ‘car hop’ wouldn’t question how eight people were going to share that. I vaguely remember them trying to have the ‘car hops’ use roller skates but that didn’t work out really well. It’s hard to duck a ‘49 Ford going 55 miles an hour when you are wearing roller skates. There were lines painted to let you know where you should park, and you flashed your lights to let them know you wanted to order. Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights these places had more cars in them than Detroit did. It was a safe place to take a first date.”

Thanks again Barb!

If you want to share your memories or past material of past businesses/bars, school, block parties, summer, winter, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. let me know!

If you have your own memories or past material for Clark, Elizabeth, Linden or Rahway you can email me at or send “copies” of your material to me at CMD Media, P.O. Box 1061 Rahway, New Jersey 07065

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