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Good Morning Nanty Glo!
     Wednesday, September 24 2003 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

More fun facts

Monday's stroll down the ghost trail of Kmart, Wal-Mart, Woolco, Gee Bee and PT discount department stores, got me wondering again about Penn Traffic. What now has happened to it? Those of you in the Greater Johnstown area, of course, know that it lives on in the Riverside and BiLo supermarkets, but some may be surprised to know that its headquarters are now in Syracuse, New York, which had been the home of P&C Foods, acquired by Penn Traffic in 1988 and which doubled the company's size (in number of stores) at the time. The company has also acquired Big Bear supermarkets,of Columbus, Ohio, which division operates 77* stores in Ohio and West Virginia.

Penn Traffic's home page says:

We are one of the leading food retailers in the eastern United States, operating 211 supermarkets in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, upstate New York, Ohio, Vermont and New Hampshire under the Big Bear, Big Bear Plus, Bi-Lo Foods, Quality Markets, Riverside Markets, and P&C Foods names. Penn Traffic also operates wholesale food distribution businesses serving approximately 129 licensed franchise and independent operators.

Fun facts I didn't know before: The first Riverside Store was in Brookville, Jefferson County (I'd known that when Riverside and Penn Traffic merged, Riverside was HQd in DuBois). Riverside claims to have been the first supermarket, ever, to have a cash and carry policy; until then, credit and home delivery were general policy. It was also the first to have an "electric eye" automatic door opener (I remember the A&P in Ebensburg as the first to have that in my experience). And it's now sister-stores, Big Bear, were the first chain with cashier-operated conveyor belts, and the first with an IBM mainframe computer. My guess on Monday that the first PT discount department stores were in Westmont (Westwood Plaza) and Indiana was correct, but I can't remember ever knowing that the early PT's had Riverside food stores inside. But even more fun is my ventured guess that maybe PT and Gee Bee also got their start in 1962, the year Kmart, Wal-Mart, Target, and Woolco launched. That is now confirmed for PT.

*It depends on which of the company's web pages is correct; one says there are 77 Big Bear stores; another says there are 67, and the pages haven't been updated since 2001. The supermarket world is volatile, as all of us of a certain age are aware, having grown up believing the A&P and Acme were institutions that would always be there. As I recall, Big Bear was once a much larger company than the 77 or 67 stores now owned by Penn Traffic, with many stores in the Detroit area when I was visiting there in my teens. And I also remember at least one Big Bear in the San Diego area for years after I started visiting there.

One more fun fact for today, one that really blew me away. Frank Charney writes:

Since you wrote about 5-and-10 stores in your September 22 post, I thought I would bring this fact about McCrory to your attention. Thousands of people ask each year for directions to the cemetery and the locations of grave sites of relatives and friends. The cemetery contains the grave of Lt. Col. Boyd "Buzz" Wagner, the first American air ace of World War II. Also buried in Grandview is John G. McCrory, founder of the McCrory 5-and-10 store chain.

(Grandview, for anyone new around here, is the major cemetery serving the city of Johnstown, above the city adjacent to Westmont. Among other distinctions, it is the final resting place of most of the victims of the great Johnstown Flood of 1889.)

Webmaster Jon Kennedy

Flying humor - 9

In light of all the recent air security that has been put in place, crew members try to lighten the mood once folks get on board. Here's how they make the in-flight "safety lecture" and their other announcements a bit more entertaining. These are real examples that have been heard or reported.

After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the flight attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

—Sent by Trudy Myers 

Thought for today

The philosophy of the schoolroom in one generation will be the philosophy of government of the next.

— Abraham Lincoln

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