Inwood Hill Park Concession Stand: A Reader Contribution


Recently, reader Frank Yannaco wrote in to tell me about the concession stand his family once owned and operated inside the Isham Street entrance to Inwood Hill Park.

Inwood Hill Park Concession stand on the corner of Isham and Seaman in 1977. Louise & Frank Yannaco pictured with merchandise in the background.

We soon began a dialogue that included a promise of photos and descriptions of his life in Inwood.  True to his word, Frank soon emailed me photos and descriptions from Inwood’s not so distant past.  I would like to thank Frank for his valuable contribution and encourage other readers to reach out and do the same.

Yannaco family poses for photo in front of the concession stand in 1977.
“Joe” and Frank Yannaco, 1960

According to Frank, “Joe’s” Concession Stand was located in Inwood Park on Isham Street across the street from Good Shepherd Church. My Family owned the stand from the mid 1920’s when the Presbyterian Medical Center was built.  It was given to my Grandfather James Pupley and his brother Peter by the NYC parks department when they arrived in this country from Greece in the 1900’s. They went to the Parks Department with the idea to sell snacks in the park. His original stand was on the site of the Presbyterian Medical Center. They asked him what park he wanted to relocate to and he chose Inwood Park.

Joe (his real name was Pete) sold candy, soda, hot dogs and ice cream. Frank and Louise, his niece, took it over in 1971 and remained until 1988. It has since been torn down. All the original owners – James, Pete, and Frank and Louise (my parents) have passed away.”

Along with his description of the concession stand, Frank also included this ode to Inwood in the 1950’s penned by his wife, Mary:

Mary Tolfree (Yannaco) and sister Eileen TolfreeSherman Avenue on Easter Sunday, 1957

Inwood in the 1950’s we did not
have a TV much less the Internet.
You got together at friends homes
to watch a show in black & white.
There was not many “networks” or “choices”.
A phone I don’t think so.
The stoop was the meeting place.
Your relatives were down the block
or a bus ride away to the Bronx.

Our Family went to St Jude’s Chapel
on Sundays and said the Rosary
as a family every night.
Our friends waited on the stoop for us
to come down.
{The Bazaar was held for many years
to make money to build the church.
Before that, mass was held in the movie theater.}
Then you were Proud to be a Catholic,
bless yourself in public when
you passed a Church,
and bowed at the name of JESUS.

All the stores were closed on Sunday.

Regina’s Bakery, 1958-Eileen Tolfree

Except for Regina’s Bakery.

The Tolfree kids on Academy Street next to Moe's Candy Store in 1957
The Tolfree kids on Academy Street next to Moe’s Candy Store in 1957 (four of seven children in the family)

My mom Eileen worked there back in the 50’s
In Washington Heights there was a bakery
called Home Made Pastry on 188th
and St. Nicholas Ave. She worked there for years.
On Sunday that was servile work unless
you had to feed your family.

Our family The Tolfrees lived at
584 Academy Street.
We 3 boys and 4 girls have 24 children; with
grandchildren we total around 92 decedents of
Herbert and Eileen Tolfree.

We lived across from Moe’s candy store.
Remember the egg creams and cokes in
the paper cone and metal holder cups.
The stools that spun and Moe.
We lived near the corner and there was
a “Meat Market” at 584.
Outside in the nice weather Pop with his umbrella cart would sell hot dogs and orange drinks.

Mary (right) and her sister Rita  Tolfree on Academy Street looking east down Sherman Avenue

I moved from 584 in 1959.
Went to Saint Jude’s School till
3rd grade 56-59.
Remember 1st grade Sister Mary Magellan
and Miss Scott from kindergarten.
All of my family went to either St. Jude or Good Shepherd.

First Friday Mass at St Jude’s Chapel.
Remember the luncheonette near St Jude.
We would go there for breakfast after
First Friday Mass before returning to school because we had fasted from the night before.
Those were the days.
Navy Uniforms white shirts and beanie hats.
Back then women and girls would wear hats, then scarves, then doilies and then tissues.

Now we don’t wear hats at all!!!

Louise & Frank Yannaco working the concession stand in May, 1977.

Across from Good Shepherd in Inwood park
there was a octagon stand that sold hot dogs, candy and soda.
The man’s name was Joe, so they called him.
His real name was Pete.
He was my husband Frank Yannaco’s uncle.
Then he retired and Frank & Louise
Yannaco took it over.
It was in the family for 40+ years.
They gave up ownership in 1989.
Louise also worked at Miramar pool in the 50’s.
near the pool was a luncheonette on 210 St
and 10th ave.
Frank’s grandfather owned that in the 50’s.

Tolfree Girls at the Academy Meat Market on Sherman and Academy in 1959

Remember the fish store with the live fish.
The Bazaar and Miss Rinegold.
The stoop we sat on and
the gutter we kept out of.
(They had nothing to do with rain.)
Connecting roofs we climbed over.
Fire escapes we use to hang out on.
Both my husband and I were born in
Jewish Memorial hospital.
Re-named in 1936 in honor of the
Jewish Soldiers who died in WWI.

Rita Tolfree on confirmation day, Academy and Sherman, Moe’s Candy Store, 1952

Inwood for me was a real
neighborhood back then.
In the heart of NYC zip code “34?.
Even though I did not know it then.
My neighborhood was special.
The “Super” would wash the floors
every Saturday and polish the brass
handrails and mailboxes.
On Saturday everyone
would clean their house.
Nobody worked on Sunday because
you went to mass and had a special
dinner to prepare for the family.

Neighbors you could turn to by just
yelling out the window or down the alley.
The place many of us yearn for now.
I think Inwood is still that place,
my building is still standing and
I’m sure 50 years later people are still yelling out
the windows to their neighbors….

Finally, before we leave the concession stand, a photo from Herb Maruska, who writes, “This is so wonderful! I never expected to see Joe again! Thank you!
Joe sold Good-O beverages. My parents, suspicious people from Europe, would not allow me to drink them. One day, I picked up several Good-O bottles thrown away in the woods, and I tried to return them to Joe for the deposit money. Joe said, “Hey, I know you kid, you never bought those sodas from me. Get outta here!” He refused to give me the deposit. So I threw the bottles in the trash

Joe’s Ice Cream Stand in 1968. Contributed by Herb Maruska who writes, “Notice that the stand was green, not orange and blue.”
Lost Inwood Amazon link


  1. And the teenage boys of my acquaintance who used to mess around with Joe (aka Pete) circa 1957-60 would be treated to his famous “You sumnavabeech…”

  2. Yes she is my niece. Did you have Ms Doyle the kindergarten teacher. She recognized
    the name Tolfree 25 years later when Jill was in her class. Attended 1956-1959.

  3. Love those pictures,suprised I’m not in the background some where with my sisters and brother..we went to SJS and lived on Academy St. same block as Moe..moved to the Bronx 1965…went ti Inwood every Friday night..great pubs.lots of fun….Bless all from there…

  4. Just for grins, I went on the WEB and was awed by putting in the name PUPLEY and coming up with this site. The pics were provided by my cousin Frank and it was so amazing to look at these good memories. Frank is our historian.

  5. AUNT MARY & UNCLE FRANKIE!! I REMEMBER THIS!!!! What a great tribute!! The pictures have warmed my heart! I can hear Aunt Louise yelling from heaven (hmmm….weird, Grandma is too). Love to you both!!!!

  6. Pete and James were my Grandma Rose’s brothers. We spoke a dialect of Roumanian & we always called it “the Standza”. Pete aka Joe was my uncle Petra. (I got hysterical reading “yousomanabeech” it was perfect) I lived on Marble Hill, & my most vivid memory of hanging out by the stand was Mel Allen’s ever present voice on the radio, no matter where I was in the entire park… I knew the Yankee’s score, and also Uncle Petra’s raspy voice saying, ” Lorchie, whadda you want? come on, anything” I only ever wanted a Hoffman cream soda. That was almost 50 yrs. ago. yikes!

  7. I was reading this article and I remember Miss Scott, she was my kindergarten teacher back in 1967/68 at St. Jude. I have long since moved away but when a do visit NYC, I try to go by Inwood Park, it really was/is a pretty park, I believe it is much better then Central Park. I also remember the school bazaar and several priests: Brady, O’Donald and Sister Joan. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane.

    • Michael,

      I also attended St. Judes back in the 50’s with my brother Richard & sister Grace. Does anyone remember Fr. Flattery? Cannot find anything on him. Monsignor Kett Yes.

      Help if you can,

      Phil Polak
      Humble, Tx. 281-548-1566

  8. Great to see anything about Inwood of the 50’s….I went to OLQM class of ’58…….hung out at Manhattan Lanes…..played sandlot football at Inwood Hill park St Jude CYO team….can only remember one other team……RAC……Raggy A– Cadets……Hung with ..Phil & Mat Lynch….Artie Johnson….Larry Kangro……Bobby Fink…….remember other names Jimmy Tomkins….Billy Jones……Barbara Jean Simpson….Joan Hollick….Jimmy McCarthy…..Ernie Schlegle….Bonnie Nash……Ann Dorian……Bobby Greenwood……places like Dirty Al’s …..Woolworth & HI HO on Dykmann ST….Abe & Izzy’s on corner of Sickles St……….Seems like only yesterday…….Great Old Days…..

  9. Re: Joe’s Ice Cream Stand. This is so wonderful! I never expected to see Joe again! Thank you!
    Joe sold Good-O beverages. My parents, suspicious people from Europe, would not allow me to drink them. One day, I picked up several Good-O bottles thrown away in the woods, and I tried to return them to Joe for the deposit money. Joe said, “Hey, I know you kid, you never bought those sodas from me. Get outta here!” He refused to give me the deposit. So I threw the bottles in the trash.

  10. Thank you to the Tolfrees for the great pictures and stories. My grandmother lived at 103 Sherman. She would send me across the st. to Mrs. Bernstein’s deli where she would keep a running bill written on a brown paper bag. When the bill got paid she threw away the bag. So many great kids on the block, Tippy Quaglino, Jerry and Pat Rowe, the Murphy sisters, the Cambells, Mary Devitt, Joanie Carlson many many more.I worked in New Jersey with Rita Tolfree and we would talk about our Inwood. As small as I was I remember the parades in honor of those fighting in WW2 and the dancing in the streets when it ended. We had it all.

  11. I love those folks they were always happy and smiling…best days of my life Inwood 1970-1985…i still come back every year since
    I love climbing on the roof at night when it was

  12. Left Inwood in 1967 and realized how much I missed it. Joe was a fixture in the park.
    Seeing a picture of him brought back memories that made me smile.
    I love this site & have introduced it to Inwoodites all across the country.
    This one, me, is in Redondo Beach, CA ten mins southof LAX.
    Keep up the great work. Thanks, Bob

  13. Glad to be reminded of the Isham St. concession stand. I am a relatively recent immigrant to Inwood, only moving here in late 1972. Still, I remember the stand, though I can’t say that I was ever a patron of it. I can’t remember it’s demolition, though I assume it probably would have been associated with one of the renovations of the tennis courts. Does anyone have the date that it was taken down?

  14. We loved the story about Joe and the GREEN SHACK! We were part of the crowd that hung out on the wall, in front of the shack, from about 1963 to 1967. We all knew Joe very well. In fact, he gave us our first jobs selling candy, gum, ice cream and soda when we were 14 years old. We too remember Joe chasing the “troublemakers” with his broom and yelling. We were at a Good Shepherd School reunion last night and it was so sad to see the park wall without the beloved shack. Joe holds a special place in our childhood memories! Thank you to his family for sharing his stories and photos. We love him and miss him!
    Liz Pond McKinney, Julia Bowman Gilligan, Barbara Scarlata Scotto

  15. We loved the pictures of our dad MOE’S candy store. We remember our dad as a kind and giving man who loved the Inwood neighborhood. His 3 daughters are all well with 3 grandsons and 2 great grandsons. He would have been proud. Moe is so very missed by his family.
    Phyllis Shandler, Ilene Shandler Puryear, Judy Shandler Berenson

  16. inwood is an enduring gift of time and place . Memories of absent friends , still vivid and special to this day!

  17. I lived on Seaman Ave. & 218th St. & my second home was Inwood Park. I remember the stand well (then–40s & 50s) it was dull green & was called, for some reason “the blue (?) Coogie (?) for some reason & it sold ice-cream, Pepsi (only) & candy but not hot dogs, if I remember correctly. Whenever you wanted to meet someone, you always said “meet you at the Blue Coogie”. We played outside all day then & only came in for
    meals—good times!

  18. I grew up on 583 w 215 st. from 1958 to 1974. Went to Good Shepard. I remember playing roller hockey on the tennis courts next to Joe’s Shack. He had ice cold cream and blackcherry soda. Sneaking into Bakers field to watch Columbia play football. Playing in the park. It was a great place to grow up. Then I became a cop and was assigned to the 34 Pct. in the mid 80’s. It was strange but cool being back in the old neighborhood. Great memories.

    • Hi Eddie, good seeing you here. The Roller Hockey games were great!. St.Jude Rangers become the Inwood Blues. You were on the Inwood North Stars and All Hallows Ice Hockey team. John Meekins, Chubber Jones and Schwartz brothers were the Inwood Bruins.

  19. Thanks so much for the memories. Talked with Joe many times as a kid growing up in the best place in New York. Just mentioned Joe on Facebook .

  20. I remember Garrin’s well. “The Crowd” had good times there. Mr. and Mrs. Garrin were always so nice to everyone. They had two daughters who worked there and were just as nice. I remember Mrs. Garrin struggling to scoop out ice cream that was solidly packed. (one scoop or two). Diamond’s sold (grocery store next to Garrin’s) the store to an Irishman and then there was the Italian shoemaker on the other side. He used to let us go in and sit in the shoe shinning stalls. Just up from that was the Anchor Inn later called McGurty’s (I think). There was Harry’s candy store and news stand on the other end of Nagle Avenue. Very fond memories of Inwood.

  21. My brother Tom and I along with Mary and Jerry (Bernadette just before we moved to NJ) grew up on 4966 Broadway-directly across from Good Shepherd church. Tom and I worked at Mahoney’s on Broadway right after we graduated from GSS…then on to St Raymond’s. I remember Joe’s shack….and Louise! My favorite – frozen milky way and black cherry white rock soda! Between the shack and pizza haven that’s all that sustained us in between roller hockey/stick ball…and of course sneaking into Baker’s field to hopefully steal a football.
    those were the days!!!


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here