Remembering The Past: Elizabeth Memories

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by Diane Norek Harrison

ELIZABETH- An interesting story from the 1950s from Ed Levy: “When I was in high school (Jefferson High on Scott Place), in 1954 through 1957, there was a little known barber shop under the Arch around the corner from Feinswogâ’s Newspaper Store (Feinswogâ’s had magazines, cigarettes, cigars, and a lunch counter).

“Well, this barber was on the second floor of an old building and surprisingly he only charged fifty cents for a haircut. Most of the shops in Elizabeth in those days were either $1.00 or $1.25 for a man’s haircut. This shop was run by a man by the name of Conrad Graff. He had emigrated from Europe after World War II and gave quite a clip for fifty cents.

“My dad, who had a great sense of humor, called him the fifty cent clipper (my dad never went there though). That terminology seemed kind of funny to me at the time. For me and my high school friends this was great because our parents would give us $1.00 for a haircut and we would go to the fifty cent and then have money for a snack of some sort.

“Mr. Graff seemed humorous in a sense to us at that time because no matter what type of cut (trim etc.) we requested we all got the same type of clip—a crew cut ; because that is all he knew how to do (or wanted to do). After he finished I would pay him the 2 quarters and he would drop the coins into a shaving mug. No cash register in his shop.

“By the way, his shop was very obscure and I only found it by accident. Most people who went there were told about it as it did not have any really externally visible signs of its presence (maybe only a very small sign and no barber pole) also, the “Arch” was not really much of a place to be walking.

“A memory of the good old days in Elizabeth.”

If you have your own memories of the past in Middlesex or Union counties, email me at or send copies of your material to me c/o CMD Media, 1139 East Jersey St., Suite 503, Elizabeth NJ, 07201

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