PART TWO OF TWO PARTS
By Peter Becker
HAWLEY - Part 1 of this story highlighted Joseph Solliday and his family, and the general store he operated for most of the late 19th Century in the Eddy Section of Hawley.
The store, selling groceries and dry goods, had a prominent location at the east end of Church Street facing up Welwood Avenue and right at the foot of the old Eddy Bridge. It sat diagonally across from the Eddy Hotel. Solliday lived from 1824 to 1913. They lived just down the street. The store may have been built in the 1840's but definitely by 1860.
The address was 102 Welwood Avenue.
A picture of the store from 1905 has been located, showing an awning and a poster on the side advertising "Lion Coffee." A company web site says the brand started in 1864. They are now based in Hawaii.
Became an A&P
By the 1930's, Soliday's store was owned by the Beilman brothers, said Tom Sheridan, who recalls shopping there as a kid. They were William G. and Arthur H. Beilman. It was known then as "Beilman Bros."
The Sheridans lived on Hudson Street.
Beilman Bros. became an A& P (Atlantic & Pacific). Fred Freethy, whose father had the drug store downtown, ran A&P, Sheridan said.
The old wooden store became lined with brick, he recalled.
June Ellingsen Strait recalls visiting the store in the 1930's as a teenager. She lived high up on Spruce Street (Sport Hill) but would often be visiting his good friend and school mate Fern Everding at Fern's house on Electric Street- clear the other side of town. Many a time Fern's mother would send Fern and June down the Welwood Avenue hill to fetch something at the A&P.
She said she vaguely recalls some construction, which she thinks was the brick going up.
Nancy Killam Gumble also remembers. As a girl, she and her family lived at four different places in the Eddy area. Her family also bought their groceries at the A&P, down by the bridge. Nancy's mother would send her there on errands.
She said the store was long and narrow. She remembers the clerk, Jack Hall, who lived out in Paupack and became something of a legend. (the 1935 Hawley directory lists Jamon Hall as a clerk at the store.) There was a long counter on the right as you went in the store, and rows of shelving on the wall behind the counter.
In those days you just didn't help yourself in the store. She said she would give her mother's note to Mr. Hall, who would then retrieve, for an example, a pound of coffee or a bag of flour from off the shelves.
Page 2 of 3 - Nancy remembers the cookies. There was a grocery display in the center of the store and the cookies were piled in transparent containers under lids.
In those days there were many small grocery markets around Hawley. Mrs. Strait said Hawley was a prosperous town, where people were busy at work in numerous factories, and you could buy most anything downtown.
Her own family shopped at several different grocery stores in Hawley, going from place to place.
The 1927 Hawley business directory lists 15 grocers doing business.
In the 1920's there was an A&P store (Great A&P Tea Co.) at 232 Main Avenue at Keystone Street, where PNC Bank now resides. The A&P was at 212 Main Avenue in 1935. The 1955 directory lists the A&P at 206 Main Avenue.
This building along with several nearby homes, a greenhouse business and a Paupac Knitting Mill, which also sat near the river, were destroyed in the flood of May 22-23, 1942. The bridge went downstream as well.
"I saw the store go out in the flood," Sheridan said.
He and his parents, brother and sister watched the horror from Hudson Street, after day break, safely above the flood waters. Tom was 11. He said he watched as the homes on Crystal Street, between Church Street and the river, and heard the screaming. He watched as the Lauderburns clambered from their dislodging home onto a tree limb and floating oil tank.
He watched as the iron bridge collapsed into the river, followed by the A&P grocery market.
"It was fascinating," he said of the demise of the store. He recalled watching the brick walls crumble, and then the roof float down river.
Sheridan said it was a scene he would never forget.
At the time of the flood, Mrs. Gumble was a sophomore at the Hawley High School. She was up on the railroad tracks off Paupack Street, witnessing two houses that stood across from the Eddy Hotel, collapse into the river. People she knew lived inside, and she still can hear the screams of the women who lost their lives in the disaster.
She does not exactly remember seeing the store go out; transfixed on the sound and sight of her neighbors' peril, was enough to etch on her mind in the 70+ years since.
Mrs. Strait was working in New York at the time of the '42 Flood. She remembers the bad flood of March 17, 1936. She said it rained all day. She was walked home from school and crossed the bridge to Bingham Park where she saw her father. He scolded her for crossing the bridge, which he feared could be wiped out if the rain kept up.
Page 3 of 3 - The Eddy Section was damaged in what now seems like relatively minor flooding in 1905 and 1936. The 1905 picture, taken by Louis Hensel and on file at the Hawley Library, shows the store surrounded by flood waters. It was nothing like what would come on May 22-23, 1942 and the awful deluge of August 18-19, 1955.
Mrs. Strait's father Christopher G. Ellingsen had designed Bingham Park for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) program in Hawley during the Great Depression. June recalls that her father spoke a lot about the need for a flood dike in Hawley, sparked by the high waters in 1936. His idea fell on deaf ears. Others didn't think it was necessary, Mrs. Strait recalled.
It was not until 1963, after two major floods and huge loss of life and property that a flood dike was created along the Lackawaxen River, west of Church Street.
After the flood, Arthur Beilman moved to Ellenville, NY where he managed an A&P.
The Eddy Hotel still stands and is known today as Cora's 1850 Bistro restaurant. The bridge spanning the river today crosses at a different angle than the original location.
An entrance to the Riverside Park trail, which takes walkers on top the dike, is situated right where Joseph Solliday's old store sat. Close inspection will reveal the abutment of the old bridge.
The Solliday's home, at 836 Church Street still stands today and is described as a 12-room Victorian. It is one of numerous fine old homes in this section, reflecting the prosperity that was found in Hawley in the 19th Century.
Commemorative & Biographical Record of Northeastern Pennsylvania (1900)
Wayne County Historical Society