Nearly nine years since they had to vacate their longtime York Street home due to damage from a winter storm, J. Press is returning to the Yale campus Broadway area. The store will take over the Elm Street space formerly occupied by Tyco printers.
My recollection of visits to the building brings back heart rending memories growing up as a kid in New Haven. The 1940s and 1950s WELI Jukebox Saturday Night weekend radio broadcasts featured a local celebrity disc jockey pushing hit 78rpm records available in listening booths at the David Dean Smith Record and Phonograph Shop that occupied the soon to be J. Press New Haven headquarters site.
Lines of pre-adolescents, high school kids and even a few Yalies lined the block to gain entrance spinning singles of Frankie Laine belting Mule Train or Miss Peggy Lee warbling Baubles, Bangles and Beads.
The Yankee Doodle Coffee Shop occupied the York Street side of the building beginning 1950 before its closing in 2008. The narrow restaurant with only 12 stools arranged opposite a counter that ran the length of the shop was a favorite among students, faculty, and assorted Eli hangers on. In a previous account I recalled my dad, Paul Press, president of his temple, escorting Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., to the Doodle to quaff cheeseburgers and chocolate milk shakes prior to a one-on-one tour of J. Press before heading to the New Haven Railroad station after MLK’s talk at Mishkan Israel.
Can’t wait for the campus rejuvenation with the building’s backyard overlooking the still J. Press owned 262 York Street space adjacent to the architectural Georgian ambiance of Yale’s Davenport College.
Bright college years return to J. Press.