Thursday, January 28, 2010

Bohacks the Official Story

Richard Bohack, a descendant of the founder of the large New York grocery store that was in business for 90 years and went under in 1977, commented on my post from earlier this week about Bohack's. Seeing a photo of Bohack's made both me and Eve shout "Bohack" out of the blue. It was a store I hadn't thought of since I was a child. I hadn't realized how large it was, what with us being Waldbaum's and King Kullen folk.

Here is what Richard Bohack had to say:
Hi, this is Richard Bohack. I'm the great-grandnephew of Bohack's founder, H.C. Bohack. My father was one of the last employees remaining before Bohack closed its doors for good in the Summer of 1977 (Son of Sam and Elvis' Death took Bohack's End out of the headlines). Many of you have your facts in order (except for the Daitch Shopwell theory ... it was actually the opposite).
The first store was on Fulton St. in Brooklyn ... it opened in 1887. H.C Bohack bought the store where he worked ... after just one year. After H.C. Bohack died in 1931, Bohack was owned by his wife, 4 nephews and 8 friends (who were H.C.'s right-hand-guys from nearly the beginning). One of those nephews was my grandfather, Paul G.A. Bohack, Sr. My Dad, Robert H.C. Bohack, Sr. and his brother, Paul G.A. Bohack, Jr. and some of their cousins were quite involved. In 1965, the "heirs" decided to retire and "Go Public" with the company's equity. Charles Bluedorn, Gulf & Western's Chariman (Gulf Oil, Paramount Pictures, etc ...) became the majority share holder. Bluedorn's regime ousted almost everone who didn't retire, incuding all Bohack family memebers ... except for my father (Robert H.C. Bohack, Sr.) My dad (who is still alive and kickin' at 78-yrs-old) ran HR ... including Personnel, Labor Relations and even Benefits (Primarily a Labor Relations Executive ... since many union workers were employed). Throughout the 1960's, Bohack perchased Daitch Shopwell, Packers and a few other supermarket businesses. From Brooklyn, Queens, Nassau and Suffolk Counties, they expanded into Manhattan and the Bronx. Since Paramount Pictures was "family", they used an Upper West Side Bohack store for the Odd Couple Movie with Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau. Bohack survived the Great Depression and other hard times in the late 1800's and early 1900's. But the recession of the 1970's was too much. Bohack tried to buy-up and built (a huge risk that could've worked) while everyone else was selling and slowing down. They quickly opened stores in Westchester and Fairfield Counties that didn't last at all ... some closed in a month! The risk didn't work. Bohack went through various stages of Bankruptcy and eventually folded. It was July 13, 1977 and I was 13-yrs-old ... I remember it like it was yesterday.
Since the company folded, it wasn't actually taken-over by any one company. Various companies bought owed-properties and stores, as well leased-stores. Bohack Square (where my parents met in 1959 when my Mom, a Maspeth native, was an intern in their offices) was sold in pieces. One note, my brother, Robert H.C. Bohack, Jr. turned 16-yrs-old in May of 1977. He became legal to work for Bohack and got a job in their Metropolitan Ave store in Forest Hills. He worked for Bohack for about 6 weeks. Many cousins and 2nd cousins on my Dad's side ... as well as relatives on my Mom's side worked for Bohack ... it was a right of passage that I never experienced.

8 comments:

Melanie said...

I remember Bohack in Brooklyn in Park Slope way back in the day. That is where my Grandma shopped.

Gregory C. said...

My grandmother used to always talk about shopping at Bohack's when I was a kid. By the time I was old enough to notice they had closed yet if she needed something she would say we gotta go to Bohack's; this was the 1980's. We are from Bushwick Brooklyn.

Big G Rog said...

I started my career in the Bohack on Jamaica Ave in Richmond Hill,NY in 1961 (16yrs old) as a P/T stock clerk, & was fired in 2 weeks. Since I was shorted 2hrs pay my mother contacted Bohack Square and the Distrct Manager came to my house with an envelope for 2 hrs pay and said I could return to work ASAP. When I restarted (my manager (Bill) wasn't fond of my going over his head, so he assigned me to the produce manager (Joe Fusco) where I worked thru HS then left to a banking career & the US Navy. I remember Annie Rocco (cashier) would drive me part way home down Jamaica Ave.I still remember my ONLY order that I rang up on the register, it was for $1.68, then Bill told the clerk who let me on the register to 'never put him on the register again'. Ah yes very fond memories that I recount every so often at home and my wife and kids get a kick every time I mention Bohack's, Bohack's, Bohacks, they think my childhood is catching up with me. My first love was thru Bohack too, but unfortunately not the final love of my life.

Anonymous said...

Robert Bohack, Sr hired me in my first job. That was 1966 and I was 18 years old. Bob, thank you for the confidence that your action expressed in me. I am retired now and I wish you well. I too spent my life in personnel.

Anonymous said...

My mom shopped at the Bohack's in Sheepshead Bay from the 50's -70's. In 1970 she won 1000 dollars in one of their promotional games. A fair bit of money back then.

donna tapiro deaveiro said...

One of my first memories of my dads workplace was a tiny Bohacks store located inside the Ave H train station (bmt line) on the southbound side in Brooklyn. Everyone I've told this to says im crazy! That it had to be outside the station. Even as a small child i thought it was weird to have a store inside the subway station.This was around 1957 to maybe 1960. Plz Bohacks ancestors can someone verify im not imagining these memories?

Harry Fiumaro said...

Donna:

I remember your father, Gene, as the meat manager. He married a girl named Anne. The store that you mentioned was built over the subway at Ave H. The store was built using the "air rights" over the subway notin it.

I worked at that store for a short period of time and my father had been the store manager at the store they closed to open this one. That store was at 1520 Flatbush Ave at Glenwood Road.

Also Bohack never bought Daitch but used them for awhile as a supplier of groceries. Daitch was bought by the A & P some years later.

Harry Fiumaro

Neal C. said...

My very first job, at 16, was in a Bohack"s store in Malverne L.I.. There are a lot a good memories of times with co-workers. Remember Gus the manager, and Pete his cranky assistant.