Doc’s PX, The Corner Store. George E. Wright, Guest Blogger

George writes…

I grew up in the Marieville section of North Providence, RI.  After delivering my paper route, I would always stop in at Doc’s PX, near the corner of Charles and Mineral Spring Avenues in North Providence.

Doc’s was a little red store; no more than 11’x17’. The store had everything – newspapers, cigarettes, soda, Italian bread, and of course, the famous candy counter offering every type of penny candy. When I was not inside, I hung around the corner with my friends.

Doc was a man that would literally give you the shirt off his back; a man everyone loved. He loved his customers.   He would hold court behind the counter with a big cigar in his mouth… always with a quip and always razzing the kids coming in.  Of course, when you are in your early teens you weren’t mature enough to wonder who that man really was or how he got to run Doc’s PX.

This is what we did not know.  His name was Dante Nigris.  He died in 2014 at the age of 93.

As with most men of that vintage he served in World War II.  He never spoke of it, but we learned he was in battles in North Africa, Sicily, Belgium and D-Day at Normandy.  He was awarded two Silver Stars for bravery and two Purple Hearts for action in central Europe.  For a time, he was a German POW before escaping.

That was Doc, the hero who ran Doc’s PX and sold penny candy.

 

© 2017

By | 2017-07-16T12:10:57+00:00 July 17th, 2017|Guest Author, Stories of the 1940's and 1950's|34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Ray Testa July 17, 2017 at 7:19 pm - Reply

    Doc’s was a favorite hangout of mine while growing up in the late 50’s in Marieville. I was still in grammar school, but Doc’s was our source of income from turning in soda bottles for penny candy and comic books He always treated us kids well and was a fun guy to be around.

    • Ed July 18, 2017 at 3:50 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Ray. George will be pleased to hear that you share memories.

  2. Ann Iannotti July 17, 2017 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    Always keep these stories coming…they are the best

    • Ed July 18, 2017 at 3:52 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Ann. Will do. Watch for my next book, “From Neighborhood to Junior High School; My Story Continues” out in the fall

  3. Gail Cardin dean July 19, 2017 at 12:21 am - Reply

    I am #5 of 6 kids growing up in Marievile. Urban ave to be correct. My father would leave all of a quarter every morning for docs.
    That was plenty for candy, ice cream anything you may have wanted on that day after school. Everyone knew everyone, I would walk into docs and some guy would say……what Cardin is your father? We didn’t worry about anything, locking your car, your bicycle in front we were all safe. Doc made sure of it. One of the saddest days was hearing docs pix was closing. Still puts a knot in my gut.

    We were so blessed to grow up right there at best time. Only wish my son could have seen it, at least once..

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      Wow, look at all you could get for a quarter… candy, gum, love and memories… intangible, everlasting memories. I wish I could have been there with you.
      My next book, From Neighborhood to Junior High School; My Story Continues” will reflect on the love I had for my neighborhood in Mt. Pleasant… Health, Wealth and Wisdom Avenues.

  4. Carol-Ann Silvestri July 19, 2017 at 1:04 am - Reply

    Dr I,
    Looking forward to your new book! 😊 CAS

  5. Paul Refino July 19, 2017 at 2:44 am - Reply

    Doc’s was an every day stop for me growing up. Not only could you get whatever you needed at that little red store, but you got entertainment outside from Louie, playing his guitar on that bench in front of the store.
    Doc was so generous, more than most people knew. He was great friends with my dad, who owned “Pungy’s” barber shop about 500 feet from Doc’s store.
    My dad and Doc and Walter Mello would go out every Friday night.
    Marieville was our “Mayberry” growing up. It truly was the best of times growing up in our village of Marieville. I know my dad and Doc are together again, along with so many who have attained their Heavenly reward.

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:45 pm - Reply

      Thank you for this beautifully written piece, Paul. Your neighborhood was THE place, and Docs seemed like a magnificent anchor in it. Great times and memories. I understand why you may be sad.
      You guys and gals should have a reunion.

  6. Cindy ann July 19, 2017 at 3:22 am - Reply

    Doc was a person. He knew every one nice too all…I could not believe went on vacation and came home & the building was gone. So Sad Good memories shared by many C

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:43 pm - Reply

      Sad indeed, Cindy, but what wonderful memories of a special man and his…THE … place

  7. David St-Pierre July 19, 2017 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Doc’s was the place. My sisters and I would go to Mass at the presentation and we would go there and pick up Dad ‘s Sunday newspaper. Dad would give us each a dime and we would get our Penny Candy and wait for Dad in front of the store. In front of the store there was a plank held up by 2 wire milk crates. Doc would always give us a little extra for that dying on Sunday because we went to Mass

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      Wow, did this man generate a host of wonderful memories. A hero indeed.

  8. David N. Insana July 19, 2017 at 10:40 am - Reply

    I loved Doc.

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      The world needs more Docs

  9. Kimberly Radigan Wakim July 19, 2017 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Thank you so much for this article on Doc, one of my father’s closest friends. He was an amazing man. He never went to bed at night, he’d take 10 minute cat naps throughout the day with the constant cigar in his mouth. He’d host New Year’s Eve patties and at midnight come out wearing only a handmade diaper and yes, a cigar in his mouth! Doc and my dad, Bernie Radigan were wonderful men. I miss them terribly.

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:41 pm - Reply

      I can understand now that I am seeing the warm reactions to George’s article.

  10. Dino July 19, 2017 at 1:51 pm - Reply

    Doc always drove a black 4 door Pontiac Catalina/Bonneville. When it was time for a new car..he bought the same model, color 4door. And he walked to work. Hahahaha!

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:39 pm - Reply

      Sounds like he generated a host of memories and lots of love. I wish I knew him.

  11. Bob Folgo July 19, 2017 at 3:21 pm - Reply

    Doc was the best guy! I have great memories hanging out there with my friends- Angelo Rossi, Johnny Delgado, Nino Porreca.

    Great memories!!

    Bob Folgo

    • Ed July 19, 2017 at 3:37 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Bob. Familiar Names, Familiar Numbers, Eh?
      And good days. Wish I knew the Doc

  12. Ernie Lisi July 19, 2017 at 6:48 pm - Reply

    Most of my worldly education came from from “classes” held by the local characters who sat on that bench in front of Doc’s PX. Truly unforgettable experiences.

    • Ed July 20, 2017 at 11:38 am - Reply

      Can’t put a price on that value, Ernie.

  13. Gladys Refino Manzo July 21, 2017 at 3:10 am - Reply

    I remember going to the summer cookout he would host for everyone. All the neighborhood families would be there. My dad Jimmy was always with Doc and Walter Mello.

    • Ed July 21, 2017 at 1:42 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Gladys. Nice memories.

  14. Jan July 22, 2017 at 6:27 pm - Reply

    For 5 pennies we could fill that little paper bag with candies. Walked by doc’s to school every day. Years took my 5 year old son in to experience doc’s. Doc remembered me when I mentioned my uncles. He spanned generations

    • Ed July 23, 2017 at 1:20 pm - Reply

      An iconic place. Wish I had been a part of it. And whither the penny candy?

  15. marie Russian July 26, 2017 at 2:58 am - Reply

    We had stores like that, but my dad was very strict. Maybe because I was a girl! I was only allowed to go to church and school alone!.
    But I had other wonderful memories with my dad. He worked all week at a factory, but on Saturdays, he worked at his father.’s dairy farm. I would lie in a hammock under two weeping willow trees and thought I was in heaven!
    I was a loner because I was an only child for many years, but never felt alone. On Saturday nights I would sit on Dad’s lap and listen to Country Music. Mom would sit next to us as we sang along with the songs.
    As I got older, I learned to harmonize with Dad. Those were precious times to me.
    Later, I became a writer and wrote my memories in poetry and in stories about my family!
    I am also published and I have a love for writing since I was in the 6th grade.
    I thank God for. all the love which my family showed to me. How very lucky I was and am.
    Blessings to all,
    Marie DeSpirito Russian

    • Ed July 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm - Reply

      Marie, these are precious memories indeed. Thank you for sharing. Can you still harmonize?
      Where is the dairy farm now?

  16. marie Russian July 26, 2017 at 3:01 am - Reply

    Thank you for listening !
    Marie

  17. marie Russian July 26, 2017 at 3:04 am - Reply

    OMG. No more comment. Thanks, Marie

  18. Barbsra Almeida Proulx July 26, 2018 at 2:25 am - Reply

    I remember going to Doc’S to by my comic books and penny candy..
    Upon cleaning mom’s house one day, I found a key ring for Doc’s PX.. I kept it for memories.

    • Ed July 26, 2018 at 10:40 am - Reply

      Nice memories. Do you still have the key ring? If so, can you send a picture of it?
      Thanks, Barbara

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