Peck’s was known as Macy’s of the north

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Dear Sun Spots: Shortly after World War II, I was dispatched from New York City to Lewiston to the Bates Mill. While in Lewiston, I remember Peck’s Department Store. As I am interested in genealogy, I often wonder if there is history on the Peck family of your city? – John H. Peck, Norfolk, Va.

Answer: On a spring morning in 1880 Bradford Peck and Edward Plummer, his boyhood chum and co-worker back in Jordan Marsh’s in Boston, opened their first Lewiston store in the Music Hall block. Miss Charlotte Furbush was their only employee and the first day of sales totaled 37 cents for a pair of stockings.

Peck’s was known as the Filene’s or Macy’s of the north, a true department store that offered everything from sewing needs to furniture, toys, and men’s and women’s fashions.

An article from April 1922, notes that ‘wiseacres’ gave (Peck’s) six months in its new location. Peck had great faith in the future of Lewiston-Auburn and gave up his $5,000 a year job in Boston to move his family to Lewiston and operate his own business at $1,000 a year. It paid off. His name stood for one of New England’s finest stores, a store that a Collier’s magazine writer later termed ‘the finest small department store in America.”

Sun Spots also located the following historic happenings at Peck’s:

• In 1900, the book “The World’s a Department Store” was published. The author? None other than Bradford Peck, of the B. Peck Co. Peck is the founder of the Cooperative Association of America. The book was described as Peck’s story of life under a cooperative system, not a dry statement of facts but a story of human interest told in a conversational style.

• In 1904, those attending the Easter opening of Peck’s were met with roses to the right of them, above them, around them and columns in the store were studded with pink roses which the clerks had been making for weeks. Counters were edged with roses, jardinieres filled them with, branches of trees covered with them and ropes of them hung from chandeliers and anything else available.

• In 1906, an electric candy machine was the rage. An operator put common sugar in the cylinder of the machine and quickly gathered what appeared to be cotton.

• In 1955, the Kimberly Diamond, valued at $125,000 was on display at Peck’s as part of their diamond jubilee. It was understandably under police guard.

Sun Spots would also encourage you to contact Michael Lord of the Androscoggin Historical Society, 2 Turner St., Auburn, 784-0586. The office is open from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Wednesday through Friday. And, perhaps any readers out there would also be willing to share their experiences and recollections with you.

Dear Sun Spots: Why is it not recommended to freeze ham? – P.D., No Town.

Answer: In addition to responses from readers, some hams have added water or water products which according to www.farmlandfoods.com, reduces the quality of the product.

The additional water will expand during freezing and break the meat cell structure, causing the ham to be rubberlike when eating. Most leftover ham of any kind works well in soups or casseroles. Cut ham into slices or cubes and store in the freezer for 2 to 3 months.

• A contact address for Seniors Plus featured in Friday’s column was incorrect. Sun Spots apologizes for the error and would like readers to note that SeniorsPlus is at 8 Falcon Road, Lewiston, near Marco’s.

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be posted at www.sunjournal.com in the Advice section under Opinion on the left-hand corner of your computer screen. In addition, you can e-mail your inquiries to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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