Because I have nothing better to do than pine for the Way Things Used To Be, I'll use this post (and, perhaps, future posts) to reminisce about the Commack that no longer exists.
(And feel free to correct me if I’m wrong about certain details. My memory is not always very reliable. Plus I’m old.)
To stay somewhat organized, I’ll try to keep my posts focused on specific areas. Today I’ll talk about Commack Plaza, the shopping center anchored by a (which is why it's now called Macy's Plaza) just past Commack Corners as Vets Highway begins as a fork off Jericho Turnpike.
The curious thing about Commack Plaza is that no one I know has ever called it “Commack Plaza.” It’s not as catchy or descriptive as “Mayfair” or “Commack Corners,” and I’ve usually heard people refer to it as “That shopping center with /Macy’s//etc.”
The Plaza was the destination if my brother and I and our neighborhood friends wanted to take a bike trip that was long but not too long. We grew up in the small isolated neighborhood off Commack Road (across the street from the current CVS) that you could enter only via Genessee Drive or Rensselaer Drive. We were able to cut through local streets to emerge behind the current (the first leg of our journey), then through the Fairfield Apartments to pop out in the rear parking lot between Commack Corners and the Plaza.
Interestingly, we rarely spent any time at Commack Corners; we only went to the places in the Plaza.
A Department Store by Any Other Name
My memory is already starting to act like those old tube-and-antenna TVs you have to bash with the meat of your fist in order to watch first-run episodes of Sanford and Son. If I’m not mistaken, and if I’m allowed to speak biblically, Korvettes begat Gertz which begat Stern’s which begat Macy’s.
According to a Facebook page devoted to Korvettes devotees (I was surprised that these people were still alive), Korvettes was previously S. Klein, but S. Klein was before my time. Before S. Klein, I think it was Caveman World or Cro-Magnon Express.
Korvettes was a store you were forcibly dragged to for new school clothes every late August, before and made clothes-shopping reasonably tolerable. Want to know what it was like to shop at Korvettes? Think Sears, but worse. The one saving grace about Korvettes: that’s where I got my Garanimals.
My brother and I would ride our bikes to Gertz and/or Sterns when we were in our early teens to buy our parents birthday and anniversary gifts, because we assumed that you were supposed to buy these kinds of gifts from the housewares section at a fancy-schmancy department store…until my exasperated father finally said, “We have enough highball glasses!”
I believe it was when Macy’s moved in that the department store bought out then eliminated the building to its right, which contained a supermarket and some kind of place that sold plants. Does anyone remember the name of that plant-place?
More to Come
I’m already hitting the 500-word limit, so I’ll stop here for now. In my next post about the Plaza, I’ll discuss some of the smaller stores. Until then, I’ll be wondering why my father always referred to the Pergament, the home-improvement store that used to be in the space now occupied by Michael’s, as “perga-MONT.”