I Remember Bank Street
by Alan Dodd
With all the talk about Bank Street, I think about what it was like in the '20's when I went to high school. New Milford was the main shopping area for everybody between Kent and Brookfield, including Sherman, Roxbury and Bridgewater. Most of the stores were on Bank Street. There were three drug stores, two jewelry stores, a grocery store, theater, a 5&10 cent store, furniture store, three ice cream stores, a stationery store that also sold toys, sporting goods and radios.
There were five clothing stores on the street. Most sold both men's and women's clothing, but one, Duncan and Canfield, sold only men's and boys' clothes. Both men smoked cigars all day and everything in the store smelled like cigars. When my brother and I were little, we thought new suits were supposed to smell like that.
New Milford had two banks at the corner of Bank and Main Streets, the New Milford Savings Bank and The First National Bank of New Milford. The space between Bank and Church Streets was called the hitching rail and had a row of chestnut rails on each side where people could hitch their horses when they were shopping on Bank Street. The horses were gone in my time the rails were still there.
Saturday night was a big time on Bank Street. Everybody for miles around came to town to do their shopping, get hair cuts, and visits with their neighbors. The Salvation Army was always there Saturday nights with a band at the foot of Bank Street and women went through the stores, barber shops and the theater lobby collecting money for the poor in their tambourines.
The theater always had a special Saturday show. Besides the feature movie you got a comedy, a newsreel and one installation of a serial. This always left the leading lady in a bad fix, easily solved the next week. The recent closing of Carrier's store marks the closing of last of the old Bank Street stores. It was in the family for three generations and is the end of an era. Goldens was the last of the big department stores on the street and Bartons moved to Main Street. New Milford lost something with the end of the end of the Bank Street era. Merchants and customers knew each other then and were friends, different from today's supermarkets and malls.
©1998 Alan Dodd