A great photo of Moe Nitkin sitting outside his famous sweet shop, during a Lincoln Park celebration day. His faithful son, Bob, is standing next to him. To the far left of this picture is Moe’s dear wife, Rose.
My Tribute to Moe Nitkin
By Richard Mabey Jr.
Moe Nitkin was a good friend to the people of Lincoln Park, my old hometown in New Jersey. Moe and his dear wife, Rose, owned and managed the most wonderful little sweet shop on planet earth. There was nothing fancy about this little luncheonette, but truth be told, that was its greatest charm.
A rare photo of Moe’s Sweet Shop, taken in the late 1960’s.
Moe’s Sweet Shop was so very incredibly down to earth. It was almost as though there was a sign on the door, “leave your pretensions, here at the door.” Moe’s Sweet Shop was more than just a luncheonette. It was the place, where the kids would all buy their comic books, their Mad magazines, their hot-rod car magazines and of course a Milky Way candy bar. In short, it was like no other place I’ve been to, in my entire life.
The selection of comic books, in Moe’s Sweet Shop, would put a lot of modern comic book stores to shame. It was that incredible.
When I was a kid, I loved to buy comic books at Moe’s Sweet Shop. Moe had his comic book display in the very back of his charming luncheonette. I remember that I used to get a quarter a week for an allowance. At that time, comic books were 12 cents each. So, the old gang would go to Moe’s after school to check out the new comic books for sale. Each week, I would be able to buy one comic book and then buy a Milky Way candy bar, which was priced at a nickel. And, by the way, this was a real full-sized candy bar for a nickel. Not one of these miniature candy bars that they sell you for a dollar now.
A photo of my late cousin Howard and I, taken around 1971. We both had our cool looks, back then.
My late cousin Howard Palmer had muscular dystrophy. He was a year younger than me, almost to the day. We were both born in the month of September. Howard lived down the street from me, on the same street as I did. But, Howard lived in Montville and I lived in Lincoln Park.
Every so often, on Saturday mornings, our fathers would take a ride to a local discount department store called Two Guys. On our way to Two Guys, Uncle Howard and Dad would stop at Moe’s Sweet Shop to buy the paper. Uncle Howard had this great utility van, the kind that plumbers and electricians have. Uncle Howard set up a system so that Howard would be secured in the back, in his wheelchair. I used to sit on the hump where the wheel was and talk to Howard.
Well, we would park on the side street next to Moe’s. It was quite a big deal to wheel Howard out of the van, but it was well worth it. Once inside Moe’s Sweet Shop, Howard and I would have a blast picking out which comic books to buy. Our dads let us each buy two comic books. It was great.
After we picked out our comic books, I would wheel Howard to the front of the store, where Moe had his cash register. Beneath his cash register, Moe had an assortment of penny candies, the likes of which you just couldn’t imagine. Well, when Howard would give Moe his quarter for his two comic books, Moe really would show his heart of gold. Moe would grab a big handful of penny candies, with both hands! Then, he would hand them over to Howard and simply say, “here kid, they’re on the house!”
Howard would light up like a Christmas tree and he would have this great big smile on his face. Howard would thank Moe and Moe would simply say, “my pleasure kid. Don’t eat ’em up all at once.” And that’s just the way Moe was. A good man, with a heart of gold.
My cousin Jimmy McNeill with his older brother, Delbert. They both have big smiles because Delbert came home from World War II, safe and sound.
My late cousin, Jimmy McNeill worked as a custodian in the grammar school in Lincoln Park. Every day, after work, Jimmy would go to Moe’s Sweet Shop for a cup of coffee. Jimmy loved Moe’s down-home luncheonette. I think that my cousin Jimmy best defined the feeling of Moe’s Sweet Shop in four words. Jimmy used to call Moe’s Sweet Shop, his “home away from home.”
And, that’s what Moe’s Sweet Shop was to so very many people who lived in our little Mayberry of New Jersey. It was just a great place for people to come and have a cup of coffee and a sandwich, meet friends and talk about how things were going in the town. There was nothing phony about Moe’s Sweet Shop. It was just this wonderful little place that was filled with down-home charm.
A dear and precious old black and white photo of Moe and Rose Nitkin. This photo is rather old and has some flaws in it. Still, an endearing photo.
Both, Moe and Rose have gone Home to be with the Lord. They were two very fine, wonderful people with hearts of gold. They both were very kind and caring folks. They worked hard, very hard. They treated people fairly. They brought something special to Old Lincoln Park. They are both dearly missed.