VOLUME 15 OCTOBER 1998 NUMBER 10
More Tales of Cortlandt St.BY WALTER BIEBER
What a cover! Rand Radio! I couldn't believe my eyes. When I first saw that picture I had to do a double take. Never did I think I'd see that view again. My mind exploded with a rush of memories. I was transported back to the year 1949. Allow me to relate a few vignettes.
Rand at No. 84 and Arrow at No. 82 Cortlandt were really the same store. They were connected by a "secret" passageway in the rear. Secret, that is, to the outside world. But, not to the salesmen inside. You see, the two stores shared a common inventory. The salesmen knew each other very well. It was very common for a shopper to wander from store to store looking for a particular item to try to obtain the best price.
Rand was a little more shoddy in appearance, while Arrow was all spit and polish. So, the potential shopper believed he could get a better buy at Rand. After trying to obtain, say, a Simpson 260 at Rand and being quoted $40 there, the shopper would move on to find out what Arrow's price was. In the short space of time that it took the shopper to leave one store and enter the other, the original salesman would make a mad dash via the secret passage to Arrow. He would, of course, impart the news of a potential sale loss to one of his allies there.
On the lookout for the shopper whose appearance had been described, the new salesman was fully prepared to make a better offer. Let's say $36. This was a high ticket item in those days, and the sale was made.
Similarly, Terminal Radio might run out of a part for a large order. Many a time I remember Steadman Lidell, a key salesman there, running across Cortlandt St. into Arrow to get a Stancor. Borrowing from each other was quite common. How the books were kept straight was sometimes a mystery. But, it helped if you came across the street with a fistful of cash in hand.
Though the map is quite accurate, a few missing places are noteworthy. Dave's Luncheonette on the SE corner of Cortlandt and Washington surely deserves mention. Many a fine lunch, like egg salad and bacon on toasted rye, was enjoyed there on those busy Saturdays.
Also missing is Liberty Communications, one block east of TAB on the north side. That was four stories full of war surplus. I don't know how that building was able to sustain all that weight. I swear that it groaned every time I walked in.
Sy Denby W2BNW, the former proprietor of North Radio, is still active on the ham bands.Walt Bieber, email@example.com