Last Monday, we shared the vintage photo above on the Essex on Lake Champlain Facebook page and invited our viewers to play some Vintage Essex Trivia. As the sign on the building tells us this was Ken Tart’s Variety Shop, and it is now the Essex Ice Cream Cafe. Thank you William Morgan for sharing the photo with us.
This has been by far the most talked about image that we’ve shared so far! The photo invoked much reminiscing. One story that created much excitement was about a prank that almost grew out of hand when it was thought that a meteorite struck down in Essex. Find out what really happened:
Dianne Lansing: It is now the Ice Cream Shop. I remember when…after the gas pumps had been removed…there was great excitement because it was felt a meteorite had hit Essex. The trajectory path was even calculated between the firehouse, etc. Experts were on their way from NYC! Many hours later the kid who delivered newspapers confessed to tossing a cherry bomb down into the gas tank below where the pump had been.
Cindy Pytlak: Then, I bet that the kids weren’t in that much trouble; now? Whew!
Lynny Bigelow: Yep and that little kid was my brother, Cornell. lol…
Kelly Youngs-schmitt: Cornell Allen was the kid who tossed the cherry bomb. According to my husband James Schmitt.
Dianne Lansing: I think it was before 1971 and we were visiting my parents. My father covered the story for the Press Republican and rushed to check his notes when the truth came out. He was much relieved to see he had used words like ‘alleged’ etc.
George Davis: Sure would like to dig out that old story and revisit it nearly a half century later!
Kelly Youngs-schmitt: I read that article my sister in law Susan Schmitt was interviewed in the paper. In fact we have a copy of the paper in our lake house Inn Essex.
Cornell Allen: The fuel tank was located between the firehouse and the old building next to the dock house driveway.It left a 5 foot hole in the ground. I remember it well.
Cornell Allen: All you people need to remember is Essex is the place to be on the 4th 5th 6th 7th and 8th of July. And it was a firecracker left over from the 4th. Silvia was running the diner then and started calling me ——–.any guesses.
Others shared even more snippets of memories. Some are a little confused about which Tart shop this is (because Harold Tart’s Store was just down the road), but in the end they realize the photo depicts Ken Tart’s sometime in the 1960s. I think I’ll let the rest of the comments speak for themselves:
Jerri Dickerson: I am sure Ed can tell you what we remember about this, wasn’t this Tart’s store??? Maybe a little molasses and feathers lmao.
Patricia Gardner: Not this store two over, yes I remember the tar and feather episode with Harold sitting inside!
Rose Marie Mello: My fondest memories of this place, were when Jim and Pauline Morgan opened it for the kids in Essex to have a place to go. They had a juke box, pool table etc. We spent many, long winter days there.
Susie Drinkwine: Do you remember when that was?
Judy A. Keating: Remember the tranister radios that were in the shape of a ball? I got a white one from that shop!
Christine Herrmann: This was Kenny Tart’s, not Harold Tart’s. Harold had the grocery store. I remember Kenny Tart’s when the gas pumps were there! As I recall, there once were 4 places in town where one could buy gas — Kenny’s, Dick William’s General Store, Duddy Tart’s, and the Essex Marina. It was Duddy Tart’s that became the diner. Dianne, I remember the meteorite incident, all the stories it generated, and being in the diner that day!
Patricia Gardner: Duddy Tarts was not the diner that Arnold ran. They were 2 separate buildings.
Cynthia Estus: Dud’s gas station was next to the adirondack diner run by Arnold and Reta and the michigans were great.
Ghislaine Shedd: I remember it well..was friends with the owners daughter and had great times in Essex with the “Old” gang!
Susie Drinkwine: I remember it as the youth center run by Jim and Pauline Morgan. I agree with you Rose, we spent many hours there and it was a lot of fun. Jim and Pauline were great!!
Carol Milliette Gillis: I remember Dud and Gladys Tart. She, I believe, was a cousin of my grandmother Delia Sherman.
Pat Milliette Orem: Carol, Gladys’ mother was Delia’s sister. I think it was Emma.
Mary S Houston: Gas pumps still there. The old building burned down in late 50s?? So early 60s??
Kevin Cooper: 60’s … We often dropped in during the summers, often just to gab and gawk, and we always got gas and worms there when going out fishin.
Marc Hayward: Ice cream shop.
Lynn Lloyd McNaughton: I dished out ice cream for a summer or two in the late 70s. The owner at that time was David Tart.
Rich Warner: Sid Couchey, graphic embellishment… Ken’s black pickup generally sat out front.
Deborah Sells Blake: It became the Adirondack Diner with the best Michigans and fries anywhere. It is no longer there, the bathrooms for the town offices are near the same place! Hope they got the gas tanks out!
Deborah Sells Blake: Sorry, it is the ice cream shop but the diner was great!!
Linda Steinhauer: Loved going here!! My grandparents–Polhemus-lived up the road from here and we would go here all the time!!! Loved talking to Harold.
Ed Mason: Definitely Harold Tart ‘ s store……circa 60’s…..When visiting my Grandmother, Marion Mason….corner of main/church st……my brother and I would walk down and buy anything we could afford…….how about Duddy Tart?….any pics if his Esso station?…,)
Patricia Gardner: Wrong Eddie, Not Harolds, Kenny.
Nancy Tart Powers: Yes Patty, this was my Dad’s (Kenny) store. It use to be the same height as the two buildings to the right of it. (Kate Berry’s Bar and Uncle Harold’s store). It burnt to the ground and my dad and Charlie Tubbs rebuilt it in late 1950’s or possibly 1960. We lived across the street in what is now the Town Offices at the time. My dad’s store was a hardware store and gas station first. When he passed my mom had a grocery store there. Then Jim & Pauline had a rec center. Wow you are really making me reminisce.
Linda Steinhauer: I stand corrected–Harold Tarts store was a little further down. But I do remember them both.
Ed Mason: Thanks, Patty….I stand corrected…..but I do remember clearly, Harold Tart’s store….and the goodies my brother and I could find with our limited income….great memories…..thank you for correcting me….
Helen Jennings: This was taken in the 60s and I remember Harold Tart. It’s now an ice cream shop.
Dudley Underdahl Duel: I remember Harold Tart asking me if I was old enough to buy my first six pack.
Debra Leitenberger: I remember going to the store after church with a dime for candy!! Aunt Barbara played the piano at church.
Share Your Stories
Share your own stories this photo inspires in the comments. If you want to share your old photos of Essex (or brochures; menus; tickets; any artifact) on the blog please email us at editor [at] essexonlakechamplain [dot] com.
- Vintage Photo: Main Street Parade (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Old Dock Restaurant (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Essex Main Street 1973 by Sylvia Alberts (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Vintage Postcard: Essex High School (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)