A group of former Riverbank neighborhood grocers and their family members gathered this past week to describe what it was like over the years, providing food, beverages and other items for local residents.
Perhaps the oldest building used for a grocery that remains standing is the West Side Market, built in the early 1900s and owned by the Bordona family. A photo of it was featured in the April 12 issue of The News. The structure is located on the corner of Patterson Road and Palmer Avenue. Frances, Julian and Pat Bordona were in attendance at the event. It remains in use as a liquor/convenience store, Esperanza Market and Party Rentals.
Across Patterson was D’Accardo’s Market, represented by Linda D’Accardo Linn. It had been purchased from the Bordona’s when they decided to concentrate on appliances and furniture. The Bordona’s moved their furniture operation to Oakdale, where it remains today.
D’Accardo’s gave way to Daniel’s Market, represented by Daniel and Linda Spengler. All that remains of the store now is an empty lot. While the building was not being used a few years ago, rain collected on the roof and it fell in. Eventually, it had to be bulldozed.
Herb Henry, who grew up at Henry'’ Grocery on Terminal near Kentucky, told of his father Luther’s work in what was regarded as ‘Okie’ town at the time. He showed off a few items from his grocery ‘museum’ in his office.
They included a box of Wheaties with a picture of Jackie Robinson sliding into home plate or the Dodgers on the box. He also brought a vintage Pepsi Cola bottle, which he said was referred to as ‘Oklahoma Champagne,’ as well as a ‘Kist’ bottle, which came in several flavors. Henry said he preferred the Kist. His father Luther operated the grocery for years before retiring.
The final speaker was Riverbank Mayor Richard O’Brien. He said he should be the least likely to discuss the history of O’Brien’s Market, since he has only worked there since 2005, when he retired from the U.S. Navy.
Nonetheless, he told of the origins of the market, which started near Roseburg in Modesto. The Riverbank store was built in 1995, with another store built several years later on Dale Road in Modesto.
Representatives of other groceries in town, like Garcia’s Market and Fair Deal, were not available to participate.
Memories Day is an event hosted by the Riverbank Historical Society at the museum on Santa Fe Street in downtown. Currently, the day is held following the quarterly membership meetings. The next one is set for September. A topic has not been selected yet.
The next activity the society has scheduled is its annual After Mother’s Day Brunch, set for the Sunday after Mother’s Day, on May 21, at the Riverbank Community Center. It is the only regular fundraiser the society holds. It provides its yearly operating budget.
Other money raised by the organization will be used to construct an annex adjacent to the present museum, which was built as a Carnegie Library in 1921. It has been dedicated as a museum since 1995 and has been placed on the state register of historic buildings.
The museum is staffed by volunteers and is regularly open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to noon, and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.