Confectionery & Novelties
My grandfather, Wallace B. Dixon, was fond of sweets. There was always a dish of candy on the coffee table in the living room of my grandparents' house. There was always soda in the fridge. And after dinner, nearly every night, Gramps had a "dish" of ice cream while he watched TV. The kids in the neighborhood could always count on a hand-out, and I enjoyed free run of the treats as long as I promised to eat all my dinner.
|Mary E. Dixon in front of |
Wally's Confectionery, c. 1930.
My grandparents married in 1925. By the time the 1930 census rolled around they had two children, Wally (almost 4 years old) and Mary (2 1/2 years old). They were living at 239 Marshall Street, Elizabeth, NJ in a building that housed two other families.
According to the 1929 Elizabeth City Directory, the family was living at 153 Clark Place, so they hadn't lived on Marshall Street for very long. The 1930 directory gives the Marshall Street address for both the residence and the business, which is listed under "Confectionery and Ice Cream - Retail." The 1931 directory listing is the same. By 1933 Wallace Dixon is no longer listed as a confectioner.
The directories also show that my grandfather was at work at a regular job as well. In 1929 he's working as a soap maker. The residential directories for 1930 and 1931 list him as a confectioner, but the 1930 census shows that he is working as a laborer for an oil company. In 1933 the city directory shows him as a painter at the Standard Oil Company.
Who was minding the store?
The 1930 census gives an additional insight into the workings of Wally's Confectionery.
|The top line is for "Wallis" Dixon, the bottom line is for Sophie Dixon.|
Timing is everything
On 29 October 1929, the stock market crashed marking the start of the Great Depression. It was probably not the best time to own a fledgling business. It's possible that the short life of Wally's Confectionery was in part due to the larger economic picture. Between 1929 and 1933 the unemployment rate reached nearly 25%. Certainly at a time where money is tight people were spending less on candy and "novelties." It must have been quite a struggle to keep the business afloat, a struggle that they eventually lost.
Ancestry.com. U.S. City Directories, 1822-1995 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Elizabeth Directory 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933, 1935. Price & Lee, Newark, New Jersey.
1930 census of United States, Population Schedule schedule, Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey, Year: 1930; Census Place: Elizabeth, Union, New Jersey; Roll: 1385; Page: 12A; Enumeration District: 0029; Image: 844.0; FHL Microfilm: 2341120. 239 Marshall Street. Dixon: Wallis, Sophie, Wallis Jr., Mary E.; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com).