20 Aug 2014
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Opinion: The Main Street Blues

A commentary on Main Street Moorestown—the past, present and (possible) future.

Opinion: The Main Street Blues

People erroneously assume I have some sort of political acumen because I write a crabby column that sometimes touches on the tortures of the local political scene.

I do not have any insider info.

Because I’m so “outside” with my opinions, I sometimes get interesting emails from fans and/or enemies, asking me about whether a certain threesome are planning on running for town council again.

As if they would tell me!

At this point, I can only speculate Mayor Button is not going to run again. Otherwise, why would he have appointed Mike Testa and Kevin Loftus to the Open Space Committee? Neither of those fine, sports-oriented gentlemen has ever shown an interest in using Open Space funds for anything other than , now cleverly called the “Field Upgrade Project.” Or is it the “The Fields of Plastic Initiative"? “The Plastic Fields Forever or 10 Years, Whichever Comes First” project?

Whatever it is now being called, it’s the same old same old in Mo’town, and people are so tired of it they’ve crawled into their flannel duvets and they’re not coming out until spring. Ditto with the town hall/library project. The wheels of local politics turn very slowly people, but rest assured! In about 10 years, we’ll have a huge town hall and a booth with a fabulous collection of five James Patterson books. The rest will be stored in a Mack-Cali warehouse out on Church Road.

People often grouse about the smell in the, but I haven’t heard one complaint about that other smelly entity in town, . It, too, has a distinct aroma that clings to your clothing and follows you from the premises. Of course, now that any size coffee is a buck, I can barely control myself from stopping in two, three, four times a day for a java fix and that cloak of Wawa funk I wear when I leave. It is very difficult to explain the name Wawa to interlopers from beyond the Delaware Valley. It sounds incoherent, almost infantile. Other regions have Stop-n-Go or Krauzer’s. We have Wawa.

Yes, Virginia, we also have —two of them, in fact. But they are both shady, dismal places of desperation and Slurpees. Wawa is the ad hoc town hall—a place where you’re bound to run into at least three people you know for every 10 seconds you spend in the ATM queue.

Was anyone surprised when un- and moseyed out of town? The kiss of death came several years back when another opened near the mall. It was shiny and new and, unlike its Main Street brethren, it was actually clean! I know, I know—I’m strange. I happen to like a clean restaurant, which is why I never went to our now defunct Friendly’s, except in the case of an extreme ice cream cone craving when the Maple Shade Custard Stand was deemed too far away for a quick fix. I DO feel sorry all those people lost their jobs, but they never seemed very happy to be there anyway. And as we who have waited tables know, if you’re crabby, your pockets will be crabby too.

Another place I steer clear of is the . Not because it’s dirty, but because I cannot resist the lure of a hot, soft, inexpensive pretzel. I’ve never been able to figure out the allure of street pretzels in Philly. Hard as a boot and ice-cold, I have only bought them once or twice when overcome with sympathy for anyone forced to make their living that way. How did we ever do classroom birthday parties before The Pretzel Factory came to town? With all the food allergies and dietary restrictions, hot pretzels are the only safe bet for classroom galas. Oops! I forgot about the gluten sensitivity thing. Maybe kids should just go back to chewing on pencils.

Nellie Bly’s Ice Cream Parlor was also a Main Street food casualty, as was . Although I heard the burgers were great at Maxx’s, I also heard they were very expensive. When I go out to eat, I’m not looking for a pricey burger, nor am I looking for a chicken. Chicken is a home-cooked meal, or a quick $4.99 rotisserie grab at Wegman’s. So despite the fact that  looks cozy with its fireplace, I will probably never stop in for a quick drumstick or thigh.

It’s been gone for years, but I still miss the Bakery. I miss the smell of sugar cookies that would waft onto Main Street when the front door was thrown open. I miss the apple cider doughnuts in autumn and the caramel-walnut apple pie that was perfect anytime. Every Main Street needs a bakery, and although we have the and her fabulous tarts, it’s just not the same.

I sympathize with the shopkeepers on Main Street. Town council has been so obsessed with playing fields, booze and the town hall complex, that the . And when in the world is somebody going to do something with the little Acme building? I wish we could lure Trader Joe’s to Mo’town so I could stop making that torturous drive out to Marlton. The SmAcme would be the perfect spot for TJ’s to stake a claim. Of course, then we’d have to deal with a surge of traffic in an area that is almost impassible at 3 p.m., Monday through Friday. Perhaps one of Obama’s secret prisons would be a good fit in that empty locale. They could keep the black and white decals of frolicking children on the windows for the perfect cover-up. No increased traffic for a secret prison!

None of us moved to Moorestown for its cute ‘lil Main Street, but wouldn’t it be loverly if our main drag were a destination instead of a drive-by?

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