If you went to WBSS you went to Ekengren’s Market (Eky’s). Other than being able to buy cigarettes when you were 6, what do you remember?Eckies1

Check out this story from the Worcester Telegram. http://www.telegram.com/article/20160403/NEWS/160409859/14249/NEWS?rssfeed=true)

More WT&G Ink for Ecky’s

Then & Now: Do you know where this is?

Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Posted Apr 3, 2016 at 12:01 AM Updated Apr 3, 2016 at 6:42 AM

To this dignified lineup, the market behind them was a serious business. Started in the early 1900s by Scandinavian immigrants, it endured for many years and supported several generations of the Ekengren family, who likely worked, as family members did in the family business, seven days a week.

This photo, taken in the 1930s, is a good example of what could be accomplished by such hard work; the business lasted through the Great Depression, and long after.

But if you were a student at a nearby school, this was not a business, It was a wonderland of their childhood experience, and a warm memory.

A child might stop there on the way to school to get a day’s worth of penny candy in a little paper bag – perhaps Bit ’O Honey or fire balls or caramels or clove gum. If you had a nickel, you could get Devil Dogs. There were Table Talk pies (little and big, one imagines), as well as crème horns and, for those looking for a savory snack, a pickle barrel. There was also a big cooler full of milk. Chocolate was, of course, a favorite. Older students remember the days when a delivery of large blocks of ice was necessary to keep the precious milk cold in that cooler. On a cold day, there was a potbelly stove to warm your hands by.

Hint: Immigrants from the north would have been comfortable in this part of the city.

– Melissa McKeon

See tomorrow’s Telegram & Gazette, and telegram.com, for the answer.


Then & Now: 137 West Boylston St., Worcester

Worcester Telegram & Gazette, Posted Apr 4, 2016 at 3:00 AMUpdated Apr 12, 2016 at 1:53 PM

Though the grocery store is long gone, the building in North Worcester, where Ekengren’s Market occupied the first floor, is still there. This Old Clock Shop now occupies the old Ekengren’s space.

Started by Scandinavian immigrants, like so many businesses in this part of the city, Ekengren’s was once the largest market in Greendale and served, not just the students looking for penny candy, but the families in this neighborhood, also largely Scandinavian because of nearby Norton’s.

Father John and sons Victor, Philip and Henry Ekengren were the folks remembered as running the business. Many of them lived upstairs, in the upper floors of the three-decker.

The Ekengrens opened their store in the early 1900s, and several generations of the family ran it for at least 70 years, long enough for generations of students to remember their experience there. Students at the long-gone West Boylston Street School share their memories of Eky’s on a website devoted to the school, which was just down West Boylston Street from Ekengren’s for most of the years both were in existence. The West Boylston Street School closed in the 1970s, and was demolished to make way for entrance ramps to Interstates 190 and 290.

Like so many others of the Scandinavian community, the Ekengren family came to Worcester, where manufacturing was attracting others from Sweden. Norton Company, a manufacturer of abrasives, was located in North Worcester and attracted pottery experts from Sweden; Mr. Philip Moen, of Washburn and Moen, had studied in Sweden and brought back many people to work in the steel industry.

There were more than 20,000 Swedish-born immigrants in Worcester in the 1920s.

– Melissa McKeon, Correspondent


Thanks to Leslie Munns for transcribing these articles.

45 thoughts on “Eky’s

  1. We always stopped at “Ecky’s” on the way to school to buy candy for the school day. Mostly all penny candy. I remember in the winter the store had a “pot belly” stove for heat. The store was always full of kids every morning before school.

  2. funny how your memory gets jarred, i remember one of the coolest things about Ecky’s was that they had a big inflatable shark up on a shelf up high. must have been some promo piece but i lived on the lake and thought it would be cool to have for swimming.

  3. I was 10 and had charge account at ecky’s. such great memories. Penny candy and choc milk in the walk-in cooler. Anyone remember the small market near old swede club? we used to buy hot dogs and cook them over open fire while ice skating

  4. In my brother’s search for pictures of Ecky’s, he asked me to try and track down descendants who may still have photos. Sadly, it looks like only one of the three sons had a child. His name was Henry H., son of Henry B. L. and Elsie. Henry H. died before both of his parents and thus far I can not find evidence that he married…but I’m still looking. Victor never married and John (Philip), the oldest son married, but did not have children and died in the forties.
    The headstone is in the Swedish Cemetery whichI believe is called the All Faiths Cemetery now.

  5. the little store down by the swede club was called Joklers’ (sp) and was run by mrs jokler herself. here’s one for someone. remember the sailboat races on indian lake every sunday morning out of the swede club. does anyone know exactly what those boats were, what class and who made them? i’ve bee tryiing to find out for years.

  6. I remember the sailboat races on the lake. Mr Lablonde was the head offical. Lived in house on the end of proctor st. House Puddy gates lived in and later bought.

  7. I remember Eckengren’s. My grandfather had a similar small store and he and Ecky’s (couple of old Swede’s) went way back, before my time. The penny candy was the best, some 2 for a penny (bit o honey,squirels, the carmel w/white filling) seems I also bought devil dogs for about a nickel….then of course was the red hot fire balls, clove gum.

  8. Re: Leslie and Harry Munns Dec 8 2013 post in the Ecky\’s folder.
    Did a little digging on the Eckengrens…
    John Eric Ekengren DOB 1854-Sweden Rip 5 Dec 1944 Worcester @ age 90.
    Spouse: Clara Louise Lundberg DOB 1864 Sweden – RIP 1944 Worcester @ age 80.

    #1 Son: Philip Ekengren DOB 30 May 1891 Worcester – RIP 6 Feb 1946 @ age 52.
    Spouse: Rose A LaCroix DOB 24 Sep1891 Marlboro – RIP 19?? @ age ??.
    Children: 0. (They were Married in Niagra Falls on 13 Jul 1926).

    #2 Son: Victor Emanuel Ekengren DOB 23 Nov 1893 Worcester RIP 3 Jul 1971 @ age 77.
    Spouse: Never married.
    Children: 0.

    #3 Son: Henry Berjer Leopold Ekengren DOB 11 Jan 1896 Worcester – RIP 24 Oct 1980 Holden @ age 84.
    Spouse: Elsie P (nee ????) DOB 11 Oct 1901 Mass – RIP 23 Feb 1982 Worcester @ age 80.
    Children: John Henry Ekengren DOB 10 Dec 1925 Worcester – RIP 24 Jan 1975 Leominster @ age 49.

    John H is, I believe, the only son of Henry. John H\’s middle name is Henry and he could have been known as \’Henry\’. In any case John H became a Staff reporter for \’Fitchburg Daily Sentinel\’ and the \’Leominister Enterprise\’. He had a heart attack after covering a house fire in Leominster, where an 81 year old man died in the fire. John actually died at the LFD Fire Station Headquarters – he was only 49.

    This above information matches, for the most part, the engravings on the grave monument you furnished. I don\’t know why Rose\’s name was never added to the headstone.

    The early family lived at 137 W Boylston St (a 3 Decker) where the market was located on the ground level. The building still stands and is presently occupied by \’This Old Clock Shop\’ and \’Worcester Sounds and Lights\’. NOTE: both businesses are listed as \’137 W Boylston St.\’ even though they are in different buildings.

    Bill McMahon

  9. Wow Bill! Nice work. Leslie will be jealous.

    I was thinking it might be nice to do similar searches on Miss Estabrook, Mrs. Sneiderman, etc. If we could locate living relatives we might be able to get them to give us photos or at least contribute some information.

    I don’t have the time or resources to do the work but you and Leslie seem to have a knack for this sort of thing. Just a thought, in case you have some idle time.

    Thanks for doing the research on the Eckengrens.

  10. Hi Paula, I wouldn’t have remembered if you hadn’t mentioned it but I remember now. I also remember growing up across the street from your house.

  11. On these cold winter days I remember the long snow slide which started in Mrs. Carraher’s yard and went down the hill through the Loughlin’s yard to Proctor Street. I remember swiming Indian Lake in the summer and ice skating in the winter. Very fond memories indeed…

  12. I think the area used to be called Northlands (at least that’s what I remember from the deed on my Grandmother’s house. I took a cruise by the yacht club and piney’s a couple of years ago.

  13. Re Paula Racicot post Dtd Feb 3

    I do remember the Church on the corner of W Boylston Dr and Merrill Rd.
    It was a one story white structure about the size of a ranch home. I remember it as the ‘Church of God’. It was rumored that it was the hall used by some ‘Holy Rollers’. and there were ‘healings’ held there. I.mean no disrespect to them. Strands Ski shop eventually put up their Ski Chalet there. I think they were the Olsen Boys. One was nicknamed ‘pin head’ and they may have been ‘twins’.

    Bill McMahon

  14. Re: Admin Post of Jan 14, 2014

    I finally did some research on our Principal Rita C Estbrook:
    Rita Clothilde Barry-1893 was the 5th child of Thomas Francis Barry-1856 and Bridget Teresa Walsh-1859, both parents born in Ireland and married in Worcester in 1880. There were 10 children in the family. Rita was married to William George Estabrook in Worcester in 1923 and sadly William died in 1925. No children were born and Rita never remarried and died in Worcester in 1984.

    Her brother Arthur Barry-1896 (8th child) was a famous jewel thief of the 1920 era. He robbed many of the NY socialites of their prized possessions including the Woolworth heiress Jesse Woolworth Donahue in 1925 (approx $725,000 of jewels). He eventually did get caught and was sent to Attica state prison and served 19 years and then was released in 1949 and lived quietly with another of his sisters in Worcester till he died in 1981.

    I do remember reading about this celebrated gentleman-cat-burglar from New York City, but never realized he was the brother of our principal Rita C (Barry) Estabrook – now aint that a hoot!

    Some of this info I gleaned from the book ‘The Gentleman was a Thief’ by Neil Hickey, 1st edition 1961 (Rita was never mentioned in it). I did not like the book itself and will probably look around for another later.

    Bill Mc

  15. I certainly remember Ecky’s…Vic was the older, brother Henry,with the little derby cap & glasses. The pickle barrel, the creme-filled crullers & Table Talk pies, “yum”. Every morning before school Arthur Coakley and ! would cut-thru on Boardman street, down the woods-path to Ecky’s. He’d let us smoke in the back room with the pot-belly stove roaring in the winter so we kept warm.He’d sell us cigs for Two cents apiece.Henry did not approve! Vic would be chopping meat for a customer on this old worn-out butcher’s block. Can’t forget those days!

  16. I was looking up directions to some yard sales and I stumble upon this site!! I’m Connie Markarian, formerly Fitzsimmons. Attended WBSS K-6! I’ll dig up some photos and be back soon! I’m off to Dunkie’s cuz I need a giant coffee before I hit the yard sales, lol! Holy WOW, I can’t wait to tell ppl about this. Plus I can’t wait to show my kids!! Thanks so much- Connie (Fitzsimmons) Markarian 🙂

  17. I loved that store. And we had to walk but the church to get there. I remember going there for some reason and they had a felt board with felt figures they used to tell stories. That was the first time I’d ever seen a felt board and i was pretty impressed.

  18. Bill McMahon (Grad Class 1955)
    Regarding my previous Post of Feb 9 2014 to Paula Racicot (in the Ecky’s catergory), I have furthur info about ‘Strands Ski Shop’. Strand is the first name of the owner/founder. His name was Strand Mikkelsen who was born in Norway, his wife Anna Wahlstrom was born in Sweden. They were married in Greenfield where Strand had a very sucessful Ski career and was a world wide known celeb. They did have a set of twin boys born in 1943 in Greenfield – Roy and Lief Mikkelsen, who were also well known for their prowness on the slopes and went on to run the business. Another son Paul was born in 1952 and he is also active in the business with the twins.at the present 1 West Boylston Drive location. Unfortunately Strand died in 1964 at the young age of only 59 at home in Worcester as a result of a heart attack.

  19. Where was th original Strand’s before they moved to the bottom of Merrill Road?

  20. To Patti Sousa Carr
    I believe they had a similar Ski Chalet Shop on Mt Wachusett in Princeton Ma prior to the Worcester location. They may have had other locations as well. I’m guessing they built the present store sometime in the mid to later 50’s for I remember the small Church that was there when my family moved to 44 Boardman St in 1953-the year of the Worcester tornado.

    Visit http://www.StrandsSkiShop.com and Google ‘Strand Mikkelsen’ for additional information. If you are still in that area, visit their Store.

    Bill McMahon

  21. Like many of you who have found this site I am amazed, the memories that I didn’t realize that I had. As for Ekys for me it was the “Ice Box” and the Ice man carrying in those blocks of ice. George who lived up stairs, sliding down the path and the chances we were willing to take with the chocolate milk, not to mention a slug every now and then on the bottle. Henery’s green ford pick up truck that he used to deliver with.

  22. Bill,

    I believe Wayne’s Pizza is still where it always was. It would be nice if someone like Scott Longvall, who lives about 2 minutes walking distance from Wayne’s, would walk up there and take a picture of it for you, then ask his daughter Emily to explain how to post it here for everyone to see. Not likely, this will happen but it’s possible.

  23. Strand’s Ski Shop…
    Thanks everyone!
    I have no personal recall of them when they were in Waynes’ Pizza Shop present day location on W.Boylston St I was a young lad living with my folks at 44 Boardman St and was attending W BoylstonSt School (WBSS) elementary.They were in their present location at the corner of Merrill Rd (1 W.Boylston St) , I had read they had other previous locations in the greater Worcester area after Strand Mikkelsen and family moved from Greenfied Ma.

    Thanks again to all for your patience,,
    Bill Mc

  24. Does anyone remember the store at the corner of Mattson and West Boylston Drive and also D-Street? It was a store like Ekys for quite a while.It was then sold and it became a type of bakery,i remember buying the fresh baked Choc donuts, early in the morning.I would hop on my bike and head down there and later go to Ekys. This was back in the late 50s early 60s. I cant remember the name of the store.

  25. By the way this is Bob Flanagan I was in the class that got shuttled off to Forest Grove in 1960. I spent many days at Eky’s standing around the pot belly stove and buying a bag of State line chips for ten cents and package of cupcakes for ten cents and a soda for five or ten cents. I would love to go back to those days.

  26. I remember “Ekey’S” very well as a kid. I always liked the big barrel of dill pickles they had, along with their penny candy. As for Strands, the boys were Leif (Pinhead) and Roy Michelson. Before it was Strand’s Ski shop, it was a church. Many fond memories of that store.

  27. There was also a small variety store like Ekys on the corner of Loring St and Boardman St ,does anyone remember this store?

  28. I remember that store. It was at the corner of Boardman and Loring Streets. I think it closed before Eky’s closed and Strand’s Ski Shop originally was located at the site of Wayne’s Pizza. After Eky’s closed, I think the Champion Aluminum Store took its place.


  29. Store on corner of Loring and Boardman was called Abe’s and it was a small grocery store. Don’t think Strand’s was ever located where Wayne’s Pizza is now. A coin and stamp store was located there and it was owned by Mr. Fors who had several kids who attended WBSS.

  30. Bill – Puddy Gates was Bob Gates. Did he have an older brother? They were older than we were. George was his Dad. George was a night watchman at Worcester Pressed Steel when my brother and I worked there night shift a couple of years. Puddy had a late 60’s 427 drag Camaro he used to run around the block occasionally on a Saturday morning, and then hide it back in the garage before anyone would invite Officer Demers or his brothers in blue to take a look.

  31. Scott Longvall – I think those were Sunfish sailboats – not sure. Mrs’ Jokela’s store was across Poplar Street from us. They were from Finland. I remember looking at the newspaper on her counter and thinking nobody could read that! I don’t think I’ve ever been in a store that dark, except Ecky’s.

  32. Does anyone remeber the names as follows:
    Ronnie Howe, Tommy Moss, Karen Jacobson, Gloria Letzsky, Dick Stewart ??

  33. Hi – I am Rita Estabrook’s great niece and her god daughter. I might have some photos, if your group is still interested. What a lovely website, blog, etc. She would be thrilled to see this. She always thought everyone thought her a holy terror – literally. I guess she probably was, but I always loved her and she was very loving to me. I have missed her dearly through the years. She was very proud of her career as a teacher and principal.

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