Recently a friend posted a photo online of Pal’s Cabin, the one-time landmark in West Orange that is no more. No offense to the CVS that now occupies the space, but Pal’s Cabin was the perfect place as a directional landmark. “Turn left at the light by Pal’s Cabin” is much more definitive and unique than “turn left at the CVS.”
Verona has several landmarks: Verona Park, Community Center, Municipal Square (municipal building, library and middle school), Everett Field (did you know it was originally called Everett Park?) and the high school. There’s also Kip’s Castle, which I suppose could be considered a landmark, although not a directional one. (How many people in town can give directions to the castle and how many have actually been there?)
All of this got me to thinking about the businesses in Verona that might be considered landmarks. And by that I mean businesses that have been around, for the most part unchanged, for a half a century or so. There are three that immediately come to mind: Bunky’s, Henry’s, and Terry’s. (I wonder if that fact that all three businesses are named after someone has anything to do with their longevity.) Even if you have never been to any of these businesses, surely you know where they are and what services they offer.
Henry’s has been around the longest. Although it changed hands in 2000 and has expanded upward, it is still the same old local place to get the morning newspaper, a cup of coffee, and a gallon of milk. It’s also the only place in town you can get DeCamp bus tickets, so if you’re heading to the city, you need to stop here. Henry’s is also the one that opens the earliest; if you need your coffee and paper before 6 a.m., you’re in luck.
Terry’s is the next oldest, although it too has changed hands and many of us remember the horrible fire in 1999 that forced the pharmacy to temporarily relocate across the street. Such a tragedy might have closed many a business, but not Terry’s. It wasn’t long before they were back where they belonged and they are still going strong. Although officially a pharmacy, I think Terry’s might be best known for its stock of “Verona wear” and the annual Saturday visits from Santa in December. (How many generations have had their free photos taken there?)
Bunky’s is the youngest of the three businesses, established in 1949. (How is that young?) You can get your car fixed or inspected (no more awful waits at the MVC), but don’t try to use the lot as a way to make a right onto Martin Road. (Conversely, no matter how much Google Maps or MapQuest tells you, do not make a left turn from Martin Road onto Pompton Avenue.) Bunky’s has probably changed the least since opening and is still run by the Pritchard family. Sadly, Bunky’s namesake, William F. Pritchard Sr., passed away last week, but his memory will certainly live on at the corner of Martin and Pompton.
Verona has a few other long-term businesses that might be considered landmarks like Hillcrest Farms (which actually pre-dates Bunky’s), Prout Funeral Home (in the same family since 1924), Marsh Hospital for Animals (which has been around since the 1950s), the Verona Sports Center and Lakeside Deli (would it be Christmas without Santa in the window?). Sadly some great business landmarks of Verona are long gone: Claremont Diner, Verona Theater, Evenson’s. Time has marched on and now we have an Acura dealership, an office building and Parkview Appliances in their place.
There’s nothing wrong with change, but I miss some of those “old” business landmarks and I’m grateful that a few still remain.