Closing a Campus Landmark
Remembering the Blue Front in its prime
by Sally Mitani
From the March, 2014 issue
This isn't the first time there have been eulogies for the Blue Front, but this time, it's actually closing. Back in 1988, Lois Kane noted in this column that it had already changed owners three times since its heyday in the 1960s and '70s, when, she remembered fondly, "Sunday morning was the time when husbands fulfilled their domestic duties by going over to Ralph's Grocery to buy a bag of bagels ... Then they went next door to the Blue Front ... to buy a hefty, inky New York Times."
Mike Gould worked for original owner Ray Collins as a stock boy in 1965, making, he believes, "about $1.75 an hour." He writes: "My job was to haul in the morning newspapers. Sometimes early rising readers desperate for their fix would dig the New York Times out of the bundles and leave money on top or scattered around on the ground.
"We stocked several international magazines: Die Zeit, La Monde, USSR Magazine, and the like. Even some Chinese propaganda magazines. It was also one of the few places in town where you could get that era's soft porn magazines such as Stag, Man's Story, and Real Balls. I may have made that last one up, but you get the gist. We even had gay mags involving beefy guys dressed as sailors and such." And some customers came in--though probably not at their wives' direction--just to buy the Daily Racing Form: "It was printed on pink or green paper or something, and we sold five or ten of these every day."
Blue Front's closing will temporarily leave four contiguous empty storefronts on this formerly lively corner. One vacancy is finally being filled: a number of building permits have been issued for Get Some Burritos, a Wisconsin chain that will have a store in the former Oriental Express.
[Originally published in March, 2014.]