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[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Washington Shopped Here: 1913

Washington Shopped Here: 1913

And Lincoln, too. Interior of the Apolonia Stuntz toy store on New York Avenue, seen from the outside in the previous post. View full size.

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Light control

The paper on the gas lamp is hooked on the lamp knob, and is just to control the amount of illumination in the back. The paper was safe as long as it didn't touch the globe. The wall-papered ceiling is a really nice job, an artisan's work for sure! There are several Restaurants and antique shops in my area (upper NY) that look exactly like this, only more cluttered.

Smoke Alarm

I believe the paper hanging on the gas heater is a 1913 smoke alarm. If the paper starts on fire, well -- there you go.

Mrs. Stuntz's Counter

Washington Post, May 26, 1901

Tales of the Town

Famous Penny Counter

There's many a Washington man now drawing nigh to the time of life which necessitates the occasional letting out of a link the waistband, and many a Washington woman creeping along to the period when she anxiously scans her hair in the hand glass for the first gray ones, who must have experienced a tender, if not mournful, flood of memories when the announcement was made in the papers the other day that old Mrs. Stuntz, of New York avenue, had died. For a good deal more than a generation this good old lady had kept a little toy and candy store on New York avenue. Only the quiet old folks of Washington are able to remember when Mrs. Stuntz did not preside over this establishment. And perhaps even the quiet old folks cannot remember when Mrs. Stuntz herself was not a quiet old little lady.

Mrs. Stuntz made a specialty of her penny counter for the young ones. On this counter she exhibited an almost unbelievable number of wondrously beautiful articles - some to eat and others to behold and to fondle — for a penny. The young ones of the days long ago would line up with wide eyes in front of those windows and play "choosins," whether they had the requisite penny or not. Sometimes it would take actual hours for those who had wheedled pennies out of the parents to decide how to invest the same. No sooner would a shaver in possession of a penny decide upon a horse-cake — one of those big, brownish affairs, from which it was the custom to bite the head, tail and legs first, reserving the body for the climactic gormandizing — than he would be torn with doubt as to whether a black licorice "nigger head," with red eyes, would not, so to speak, be a better money's worth, because it was an affair to be sucked, thereby prolonging the penny's worth of happiness.

Many a little pig-tailed girl — now a mother of children — has stood first on one leg and then on the other in front of old Mrs. Stuntz's window, racked with doubt as to whether she ought to invest her penny in a tiny wooden churn or washtub, or in one of those little paper dolls of olden time, with red or blue tissue paper skirts much spread out. There was always at Mrs. Stuntz's counters the struggle between appetite and the embryotic artistic sense of the patrons. There was something powerfully satisfying in a cent's worth of Mrs. Stuntz's jujube paste, or in one of her hunks of yellow taffy on a stick, or in the three neatly wrapped, old-fashioned chocolate caramels, or even in the two little cakes of pure white sugared chewing gum that tasted like a combination of tallow and wax — and was good at that. Put all these fine things alongside such permanencies as 1-cent glass taw allies, or those exceedingly diminutive and hopelessly nude china dolls, or the terrifying bean-blower, or the ear-splitting tine whistle, or the cute little paper parasol — and the struggle between a yearnful, youthful appetite on the one side and an equally strong youthful desire to get something to have and to hold on the other, often drove the young ones of a past generation to something mighty like distraction. And the worst of it was that when all the doubts had been dispelled and then penny purchase had been made the purchaser almost immediately experienced a feeling of gloom over a sudden conviction that, after all, the wrong thing had been bought.

The degree of patience which the kindly little old woman displayed in the many years she dealt with the children is well remembered by her customers who have arrived at an age to apprehend these matters. The penny-clutching, doubting young one was never told to "hurry up" by Mrs. Stuntz. The younger one was privileged to feast his or eyes on the marvelous penny bargains until such a time as a decision was reached, no matter how long it took. Such humiliations as the children of other years ever encountered in Mrs. Stuntz's shop they brought upon themselves.

There are memories, for example of a nice red wagon in the window of Mrs. Stuntz's shop, and of an exceedingly little chap who, having been a penny customer of the little old woman's for some time, coveted the wagon, imagining that it couldn't possible cost more than a cent, for the simple reason that he had never bought anything from Mrs. Stuntz of greater value than that. The very little chap got hold of a penny and pranced boldly into Mrs. Stuntz's and announced that he was about to buy the red wagon. Mrs. Stuntz took it out of the window, and the little boy handed her over his cent. "But, sonny, the wagon is a dollar and a half," remarked the little old lady, smiling. The little chap took back his penny, his face flaming, and marched out of the store. It is likely that he has never at any subsequent time felt so utterly cheap as he did at that moment.

There was many an eye that, losing the focus and becoming blurred, saw away beyond the newspaper, and far back into the yester-years, over the announcement of the death of Mrs. Stuntz, of New York avenue.

And a whisk broom for every occasion!

No home should be without one! Nice to see that they haven't changed a bit through the years! They're simple, effective, practical and inexpensive little gizmos; just the thing for cleaning off dirty children.

The Newspaper

...on the ceiling fixture. At first I thought it was put there by the photographer to dampen the light for his exposure. But it is a gas fixture. Seems a little dangerous. Otherwise, I LOVE the photo. A real toy store, with real toys. No electronic do-dads.

Just looking

What a joy to be able to glimpse inside Stuntz's toy store. The cupboards spill over with toys that only needed imagination to provide fun: dollies in fancy dresses, their furniture and tea sets, push toys that clink and clank, horse heads on a stick to ride upon, and drums.
Not a video game in sight.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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