By: Iris Naylor
The Lambertville Kiwanis Club sponsored its first annual water carnival in 1940.
The event was to be held July 27 in the canal below Bridge Street at the aqueduct. Youngsters in the twin towns of Lambertville and New Hope could compete for prizes in races that featured the breast stroke, the back stroke, underwater swimming and diving.
Provision was made by the committee in charge for a large number of spectators. It was hoped a good turnout would insure future programs of a like nature.
There was no coverage in The Beacon the following two weeks after the carnival date, not even a list of winners. Only old-timers can tell us whether the event actually took place. Maybe it got rained out.
There was plenty of other news in the summer of 1940. Hitler was storming through Europe. Franklin D. Roosevelt was campaigning for his third term as president.
Lambertville was experiencing a sort of awakening after the long depression. The Beacon asked its readers to share their memories of the city back when they were youngsters.
There were many interesting stories to tell about the good old days – about blacksmiths, carpet weavers, spoke turners, peanut roasters and fire engines pulled by horses.
Today’s old-timers can recall Lambertville as it was in 1940 before World War II changed everything. It was the year the Acme opened its new supermarket at 14-16 N. Union St., and Ed Smith opened his drugstore at Union and Coryell streets.
Lois Scheetz opened the Wave and Curl Shoppe on Buttonwood Street. It specialized in machineless permanents.
E.E. Eckert opened a new jewelry store, and Raymond Kitchen opened Mort’s Sport Shop.
The business district was looking good. In 1940, Joe’s Meat Market sold rump roast for 29 cents a pound and sweet corn at 12 cents a dozen.
John Kaplan on Church Street offered 100 dozen of the Lambertville Chiffon Hosiery at three and four pairs for $1.
Popkin’s Shoe Store had a back-to-school sale, Verner Green’s had a mid-summer shoe sale, and Bear Cut Rate had its ninth anniversary sale.
The Deluxe Bakery sold raisin-filled cookies at 25 cents a dozen. Its special of the week was chocolate malted milk layer cake at 33 cents.
The A&P stores introduced its new Marvel bread with an old-time "bready" flavor. It was dated each day, a loaf weighed 1½ pounds, and the price was three loaves for 25 cents.
The Lambertville Shoe Repair Shop sponsored a softball team. Area baseball fans got a thrill when Joe E. Brown, popular movie comedian and former professional ball player, refereed a soft ball game between the Playhouse Panthers and the New Hope All-Stars. Mr. Brown was appearing in "The Show-Off" at the Bucks County Playhouse.
The Max Baer-Tony Galento heavyweight fight took place in the summer of 1940, and The New Strand featured exclusive official motion pictures taken at ringside. The movie theater was giving away five bicycles, one each week, at the Saturday matinee. You had to be there to win.
The Lambertville Public Library marked its 58th birthday in 1940. The Moose Lodge decided to sell its property on Bridge Street, an entire city block that once was known as the Lilly estate.
Nine hundred pupils were expected to attend the Lambertville schools in the fall.
July 30 was declared New Jersey Day at the New York World’s Fair. The city commission voted to close the city offices for the day. Many visitors were attracted to the fair, including Fred Weber who stopped in Lambertville on his way back home. The 80-year-old former resident drove across country from California in a 1924 Star touring car with side curtains. Mr. Weber had been an upholsterer in the Pennsylvania Railroad car shops here in Lambertville. He left the area in 1904 to raise avocados in Pasadena.
By: Iris Naylor