Standing on the Corner
Two Men Shared Life and Work Years Apart in Beautiful Downtown Carneys Point
By Neil Clement – from article published in the Hometown News , May 1994
“No man e’er was glorious, who was not laborious.” Ben Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanac
Kirsch’s Store –
Can you remember back in the ‘30’s and ‘40’s when old Harry Kirsch would ride up and down the streets in Carneys Point on that old bike of his with
the wire basket? What always seemed to catch my eye was an old black metal pants clip he wore to keep his trousers out of the bike chain. Chain
guards are common nowadays, but we seldom saw them back in what we call the “good old days.”
Can you believe that I never knew Mr. Kirsch was delivering groceries when I saw him biking around town? Another piece of visual memorabilia that
pops up on my memory screen is his smile. He was always happy! Remember? His wife, Elizabeth, was a chubby, gray-haired lady with a pleasant
The building, which was home to Kirsch’s store, had its own distinctive aura. It sat back on the corner where Lou’s Sunoco Station sits today. Fancy it
was not. The old, old wooden floorboards undulated beneath your feet as you crossed from one counter to another.
The other day, Bob Waldin pulled over to the curb in front of our house to chat on his way home from the Servicemen’s Home where he, Norm Fogg,
Frank Markus and Jimmy Porch care for the lawn and buildings. When the subject came around to Kirsch’s store, Bob said, “Kirsch’s lot was so low that
when you looked out the window, all you could see was the axle on the trolley wheels as the trolley went by.”
The Kirsch’s sold lots of NEHI sodas, chocolate Yoo-Hoos and in my recollection, MARVEL cigarettes. There were brown paper bags filled by hand
with fresh potato chips that went for a whopping nickel each! Big pickles were lunch for many a schoolboy!
Kirsch’s specialized in meats and Mrs. Kirsch was the butcher. She had learned her trade on the family farm back in the old country, Ireland. Harry met
her after his first wife died and daughter, Margaret asked Elizabeth to marry Harry. When Harry would come home and Elizabeth was near, Harry would
say, “Margaret, at least let me get off the trolley before you propose for me.”
One day when Margaret became upset with her new mother for disciplining her, old Harry would say, “Don’t complain to me, dear, you’re the one who
proposed to her!” Many of you readers knew Margaret. She was Harry, Freddy and Mitsy Clement’s mother.
Back in the old days, hard work, the “work ethic” was a large part of our culture. The Kirsches truly represented the hard work and work ethic of their
Lou’s Sunoco –
Lou Pagnotto, 19 years young in 1958, would ride by “the corner” in beautiful downtown Carneys Point and gaze longingly at the construction
progression on the new SUNOCO station.
He wanted to open his own station so bad that he could almost taste it! Wouldn’t you if you grew up working in your grandpop’s station in Pedricktown,
spending most of your free time “paying your dues” as an auto mechanic? Well, on May 20, 1959, his dream came true as he opened his station on “the
corner” as the proprietor, mechanic, pump jockey, mortgagee and numerous other roles.
Imagine Lou’s pride…his grandpop had personally built his own station on Route 130 at the main exit west of old “P” City, and here Lou was, carrying
on the great work ethic tradition begun on the same corner where Kirsch’s Store served our town so well.
Lou told me, “My Grandpop and I would ride by and wonder how much dirt it was it going to take to fill that hole.” (The huge hole where Kirsch’s Store
In the 1070’s, the Rotarians asked folks to write in and tell them whom they thought was the most courteous local merchant. They picked Lou.
Recognition from our twin communities continued in 1974 when Sunoco Oil Company rated Pagnotto’s as “The Most Beautiful Station of the Year.”
Lou has been “looking after the store” from 7 am to 7 pm, six days a week for the past 35 years! I am lousy at math, only fair at “ciphering” as old Fred
Jones used to call it, so I come up with 12,000 days, give or take a few, that Lou Pagnotto hustled through all kinds of weather. He’s also been the
President of the New Jersey Gas Retailers Association for the past three years. It’s truly a family business with wife, Carol, taking care of the books.
“The quotation that started our little tale, “No man e’er was glorious who was not laborious,” is both fitting and proper regarding the two men and their
families who years apart occupied that little corner of Georgetown Road and Shell Road in beautiful Downtown Carneys Point.”