Retro Fair Haven Slice of Farmland

A winter’s stroll in Fair Haven with the Reed sisters circa 1950s
Photo/courtesy of Pat Reed Wright

Oh, I remember when these here Fair Haven parts were all … farm land?

Not quite, but close. Back in the 1950s when Mrs. Reed took her girls Kathy and Patty out for a spin in their stroller one fine winter’s day, there was no little strip mall beside the Acme center, just, well, reeds. Reeds and weeds. No marshes. No farm, really. No tar, either. Just a dirt road on Smith Street that is now and has long been paved. This view today for the girls would be the rear of several businesses, including a laundromat … and a dumpster. Yes, that dumpster.

The girls, all bundled up with somewhere to go, even if it was down the street, seem awestruck by the site of the nothingness. You could almost say that they were having a bit of a premonition. The caption? “Where’s the bustle?”

Now and for many years, that spot has been filled with: a restaurant that has had many incarnations, including breakfast and junk food joints, now home to Seed to Sprout, Nirvana Nails, Pilates Project and Small Factory, not to mention that laundromat, The Wash House, one of the first to go on the site.

In the background, you can only see the then Esso gas station, a staple in Fair Haven for many decades. It was run by longtime Fair Haven icon and curmudgeon Ray Miller, who, in between grumbles, would occasionally appear at kids’ parents’ car with a little stuffed tiger tail souvenir. Remember that? The Esso/Exxon ad slogan: “Put a tiger in your tank.”

It was farmland then compared to now. That’s for sure. The truth is that there was some farmland in Fair Haven.

One of the borough’s oldest longest standing residents (about 88 years), now deceased, Ken Lockwood, a longtime former neighbor of mine, told me stories of the abundant fields full of asparagus in the area. The land was the perfect growing place for the vegetable, he had said. There were also lots of apple trees and likely orchards. That’s why colonial farm houses were more popular back in the day.

No farm or farm houses now. We’ll always have stories of asparagus picking and winter walks down by the “field” in the cold to warm our bustling hearts.

Now, who remembers all the incarnations of the eatery that stood right about where the girls are gawking where Seed to Sprout now stands?

John Caroli
BCS Wealth Management