Aaron Stern (1876-?) Founder and Owner of Stern's Pickle Works on Powell Place off of Melville Road, Farmingdale (b. 1876, Poland - d. unknown, Long Island, USA) He came to the US in 1893 and was naturalized in 1898.
- Jacob Stern
Stern Pickle WorksEdit
He started the Stern Pickle Works in 1894.
He married Anna and had the following children: Sidney Stern (1902-?); Nathan Stern (1904-?); Joseph Stern (1909-?); Hilda Stern (1914-?); and Edith Stern (1918-?). Aaron appears in the 1920-1930 US Census living in Brooklyn, Kings County, New York.
Memories about Aaron SternEdit
Lois W. Stern writes: "When I stumbled upon a listing of annual events, I was amused to see May 16th declared the beginning of International Pickle Week. Those few words dredged up a holographic image of nostalgia for me. You see, I've heard about pickles ever since the year 1956 when I met Ken Stern. He was my best friend during those teenage years, and became my husband several years later. It was his grandfather, Aaron Stern, who founded Stern's Pickle Works on Powell Place off of Melville Road, Farmingdale in 1894. By the turn of the century, I believe his was the only pickle factory remaining on Long Island. Ken's grandfather, Aaron Stern, came to America from Austria. The family used to tell about how he arrived with little more than a pushcart and a dream. He peddled other people's pickles up and down Delancey Street, but had no competitive edge over other peddlers. He selected Farmingdale as the site for Stern's Pickle Works because the surrounding area was a great source for cucumbers and cabbage. Route 110 was all farmland then - not a commercial building or four lane highway in site! Aaron made his daily commute on the LI Railroad from his home in Brooklyn to Farmingdale, to help build that dream. He actually cut the trees which stood for the next 90 years as the hand-hewn beams supporting the roof of the factory. The building was large, both wide and deep. It was a red, barn-like structure with shelves stocked with several varieties of pickles and sauerkraut at first, but later with additional pickled products as hot peppers, tomatoes, onions and cauliflower and other specialty items as olives, mustard, Maraschino cherries, ketchup and jams. "Pickle Products for Particular People" was their slogan, and as their reputation grew, people traveled from all over the metropolitan area for a shopping expedition to this wondrous place. Sundays were a big family day at Stern's. Organized activities as Little League were nonexistent at that time. So children tagged along with their parents and these experiences formed the core of their social life. People came in droves and lined up, waiting their turn to enter. The crowds were so thick that often the big sliding doors had to be rolled shut. People would wait patiently outside until a few customers emerged, making room for the next in line to enter. Children were given fresh pickles, plucked right from an open pickle barrel. Adults walked all around the periphery of the room collecting delicacies. Since there were no shopping baskets or carts, customers would unload their arms several times during a shopping expedition by placing their selections on one of the tables stretching the width of the room. There were no cash registers. Sales people would simply add up their customers' purchases on the backs of paper bags. Shoppers rarely glimpsed the large area behind the store. The back room held it own special mysteries along with the pungent sauerkraut vats. Men wearing rubber boots would climb into these huge vats to periodically trample down the kraut, a necessary part of the process. This back room was used as storage for restocking the front room shelves. A curing cellar below ground was lined with row after row of charred oak barrels, each containing between 1,000 and 4,500 gallons of pickles - over 200,000 gallons of pickles in all. Solid earth formed the floor; the aroma of pickling spices filled the dank air. By the time I met Ken, his grandfather Aaron was long deceased, but Stern's Pickle Works continued with his father, Sidney, at the helm (later joined by Uncle Nat Stern and Cousin Joe Steuer). The stories relating to this factory, both those passed along from father to son and those actually experienced, became part of the family heritage. Long before Ken was born, the farmland on Route 110 was being transformed. Sidney, a young bachelor then, began traveling in search of another source of cucumbers. This search ended in Mayville, Michigan, where small houses shadowed by acres of farmland dotted the landscape. He opened a second plant in Michigan, where cucumbers were delivered, freshly picked from the surrounding farms. There they would be placed in barrels filled with the family brine recipe and shipped back to Farmingdale. Trains would speed right past the Mayville station unless the engineer was alerted otherwise. So whenever a new batch of pickles was readied for transport, one of the workers would be given the additional job of flagging down an eastbound train. By summers end, all cucumbers picked and pickled, Sidney would return to Farmingdale. Some time after Ken and I became engaged, while poking around in the factory stock room, we came upon a carved high backed chair shoved into a far corner. It was upholstered in tattered red velvet with an elaborate fringe at the base of the seat. When we showed it to Ken's mom, Evelyn, she recognized it immediately as a chair from Aaron's dining room set, and told us it was ours for the taking. We dragged it home. Our friends thought it rather a monstrosity, but we loved its history and saw a hidden beauty lurking there. When Sidney died, Uncle Nat took over as president of the company. Later the helm was passed to Cousin Joey. Faces changed but site and production methods were never altered. The factory remained in its original building, even when the floors creaked with age and rippled underfoot. The handmade charred oak barrels were still filled with the salt brine recipe passed down from father to son to nephew, with the same proportions of water, vinegar, spices and dill. But that's all history now. Bulldozers came through to level Stern's Pickle Works in 1985, clearing the land for home development. Gone are the oak barrels, the family recipes and the century long, time honored traditions of an era. But our Pickle Factory chair remains, having followed us to New Haven and back to Long Island. Thirty-five years and two upholstery jobs later, it still stands in our living room, proud of its heritage."