Sunday, November 25, 2012

Russell's Store, Thanksgiving 1978

During the Thanksgiving break in 1978 from his studies at Syracuse University, Bovina native Steve Pelletier carried out a homework assignment for his photojournalism course.  His choice was to photograph a long established Bovina institution, Russell's store. He took about 100 pictures.  Fortunately, he held on to the negatives after completing the assignment.  In May of this year, he sent the negatives along to me so I could scan them.  I was thrilled to see these, both for the history of Bovina and for my personal history.  I worked at Russell's from 1968 to the late summer of 1978, when I moved to Washington, DC.  These photographs show what the store looked like just after I had worked there, so they brought back a flood of memories.  Thanks to the Winston cigaratte calendar that Russells used for years, we can date these photographs to Saturday, November 25, 1978.  Here are 25 of the photographs for you to enjoy. 

Exterior shots

I think this is Jay Renner coming out of the store.

Interior Views
Inside the backroom.
Another view of the interior - this is where they kept the Jello
This is the account register - Russells allowed customer to buy on credit.

The dry cleaning - people brought in cleaning and it was picked up and delivered twice a week from a cleaner in Margaretville.

Canned goods behind the main counter.

This was a coal burning stove.

Cecil's radio.

The front window display.

General view of the interior, looking toward the back.

The candy case.

The center aisle.

Another view of the candy case.

Behind the desk.
Isabell and Marjorie

Marjorie at her desk.
Marjorie taking an order.
Marjorie behind the counter.  You can just see the calendar that was behind the counter and can see the number '25.'  That's how I determined the date the photos were taken. 

Isabell removing her boots.  This was how I always remembered her doing this.  This picture really struck a chord with me.

Isabell waiting on a customer.
Another shot of Isabell behind the counter.

Marjorie and her mother Isabell packing a box for a customer.
I cannot thank Steve enough for sharing these wonderful 'snapshots' of Bovina's history. 


  1. Awesome pictures--so many memories. Is there by chance a picture of the brown paper bags hanging overhead and/or the brown paper roll and string dispenser to wrap it with? I always loved that.

  2. Not in this series, but if you get the 2013 Bovina History Calendar, you'll see a picture of Cecil under the bag holder.

  3. Great photos! Steve told me you were about to post them. Thanks! They bring back a ton of memories from my days as a faithful employee. Loved making those canned good shelves look almost as good as in that picture!

  4. Dan, did you work there in 78? I left in August and can't remember who was working there after that. I'd love to take credit for those cans, but I can't!

  5. Ray, another terrific entry. The images of Marge and Isabelle, especially, seem so familiar. I also remember Isabelle coming into the store and changing her boots/shoes like that--and always bringing humor to the work day! Thanks again for such important and poignant documentation of town history. Joe Pelletier

  6. Joe, did you work at Russells? And when? I want to start documenting all the young people who worked there. And thanks for your comment.

  7. Ray, to the best of my recollection I worked there off and on from about '75 to '77. Check my initials and the date inside the back door!