Remembering The Past: Memories From Around Middlesex County

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by Diane Norek Harrison

EAST BRUNSWICK-Memories after my Nov. 11, 2011 column from Greg Trawinski:

“Hi Diane, My parents moved to East Brunswick in the early 1980s, which is where I lived up until around 6 years ago when I moved to Cranford.

“Here are some odds-and-ends that I hope you’ll find interesting: A toy store called Fun Town briefly occupied the space at Mid State Mall that ultimately became Border’s. There was also a store in the mall called Plum, which, true to its name, was completely plum-colored inside.

“The strip mall that originally hosted the Pier One (as mentioned in your 11/11 column) also contained a two-screen Loews movie theater. I remember that the lobby had pink-ish wallpaper featuring a collage of old-time movie stars. Movie City 5 on Rt. 18, which is now a furniture store (near the Brunswick Hills Racquet Club). If you drive behind the building, you can still see the outlines of the cemented-over exits for the auditoriums.

“My family’s movie theater of choice was the Amboy Mutliplex off of Rt. 9. It was allegedly condemned because the building started sinking into the ground. A Chuck E. Cheese-esque theme restaurant called Razz-Ma-Tazz briefly operated out of a building – which no longer exists – in the same parking lot.

“There used to be a K-Mart type store called McCrory’s at Brunswick Square Mall. It had an external entrance and was adjacent to the mall’s original two-screen movie theater, so we would use the store as a shortcut. -I couldn’t tell you how many birthday parties I went to at Farrell’s restaurant at Brunswick Square Mall. It was second only to the Chuck E. Cheese that used to occupy what’s now a men’s clothing store on the side of the K-Mart building on Rt. 18.

“Also on Rt. 18: Bradlees (now a Lowe’s), Chi-Chi’s Mexican restaurant (now a Bonefish Grill), and Mickey’s Donuts (near Bonefish Grill…I think it’s now an Italian restaurant). The pet store next to Magnifico’s used to be a Treasure Island, but before that it was a huge video rental store called Video Vault.

“Before it was littered with McMansions, the stretch of Milltown Rd. near Rt. 18 was farmland. There was an apple orchard on the land, which is probably why all of the streets in that development are named after apples (Cortland Dr., Winesap Dr., etc.) I think it was owned by a family named Smith who also operated a farmstand/general store out of a large barn on the land, which sadly no longer exists.

“Kopak Way on Main St. in Spotswood was also farmland before it went residential. We used to buy vegetables from the family’s roadside farmstand, which was run by Mrs. Kopak herself.

“Finally, raise your hand if you remember Caldors off of Rt. 1 South in New Brunswick. Not sure what’s there now. Thank you for creating this column. It’s bringing back a lot of fond memories.”

If you would like to share your own memories or past material from Middlesex or Union counties please email me at

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