Sweet Shops

Highland Ave
Candy Stand, Piedmont Park entrance

George Merras (also misspelled as Meros, Marras)

 

Oakland Tribune - Tue - Apr. 9, 1912:

George Meros has gone to the Meritt hospital to undergo an operation

"George,'' as he is best known in Piedmont, has kept the candy stand at the entrance of Piedmont Park for a number of years, and during that time has been the particular friend of the children, and is well known to all the horses and dogs thereabout, who never beg for a sweet morsel in vain.

The San Francisco Examiner - Sat - Apr. 19, 1919:

The attention of George Merras, who roomed in the house, was attracted to the fate that had befallen the two sisters by the smell of gas. When he discovered the situation he carried Rebecca, to the doorway and then ran to the nearest telephone to summon the police.

Oakland Tribune - Wed - Oct. 6, 1920:

PIEDMONT HIGH ENDANGERED AS STORE IS BURNED
The new Piedmont high school was saved from destruction by fire early today when flames from an adjoining building spread to the school structure and set  it afire.


With the other building a roaring furnace and beyond saving the firemen turned their efforts toward the high school.


The fire started in the confectionery store of George Merrias butting the high school building at Piedmont park. Candy, cooking in the kitchen of the store. boiled over and set fire to paper on which it fell. The flames spread. Merrias, who was asleep, narrowly escaped death or severe burns. When he awoke his place was burning fiercely and, he was compelled to fight his
way out through the fire. Merrias estimates his loss at about $1000,

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Nov. 12, 1972:

George Marras, the Greek candy-maker, famed as "the friend of Piedmont's children," kept his candy stand under the shade of that tree.

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1920 US Census

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Oakland Tribune - Tue - Oct. 13, 1908

The earliest record of the stand that I can find is this ad in 1908

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Oakland Tribune - Mon - Nov.22, 1920:

"George," the official institution of Piedmont, is going to be installed in a handsome new building with tiled floors, onyx fountains silver fittings and handsome chandeliers.


A small corporation of Piedmont businessmen has been formed to
take care of George's future. For many years George has occupied a special niche the affections of the aristocrat city. Once a Greek pushcart pedaler. George opened a tiny candy store at the entrance of Piedmont Park, and held forth for years, dealing ice cream and sweets to the childhood of the city.


CITY DIRECTORY
After a time he became a city directory If an anxious mother wanted to know where her child had gone, she asked George. If anyone wanted to know an address he asked George If anyone moved a way he told George about it. If a kiddie wanted candy and didn't have any money, it went to George.


If the Boy Scouts gave a picnic, George sent a scuttle of Ice cream
with his compliments. As a prominent citizen of Piedmont the former Greek pushcart peddler stands foremost.

Once when he was ill the kiddies and grown folks vied to send him flowers and dainties.


With the purchase of Piedmont park for the new high school, however something had to be done about George. Nobody would even think of putting George out of business but the land had to be used for the school. Finally a committee of business men solved the problem. As George is an institution it was decided to merely move him across the street, so a corporation was formed to take care of him, with George as the legatee and sole stock in trade.


GEORGE IS SATISFIED.
As he cannot read nor write, all the business details are being performed by men who usually charge stately fees for their work and George will soon be turned loose in his new home to dish out ice cream. gossip all-day suckers and information.


It's all right with me, agrees George "I'm satisfied"

San Francisco Chronicle - Sun - Jan. 23, 1921:

CHILDREN'S FRIEND DIES IN PIEDMONT
Popular Candy Man Passes Away on Eve of Attaining Ambition

 

George Merras, friend of every small tot in Piedmont and one of the most unique and at the same time most popular figures in that locality, died last night at the Providence Hospital just as he was about to realize his greatest ambition.


Merras was a Greek, uneducated, unlettered and unable to write more than his own name, yet at the same time he known and Joyed by every child in the city's most exclusive residential district. For thirty years he has sold candy to the children in that district. In the beginning he had a little pushcart. Later his business expanded until he was able to rent a little shack near the entrance to Piedmont Park.


NO CHILD DISAPPOINTED
It is said of him that every child who approached him, whether the possessor of a penny, a nickel or a dime, received the kind of candy on which his or her heart was set. When the city of Piedmont purchased the park recently and issued an order to have the buildings' along its entrance torn down, friends of Merras many of them who had bought candy from him when children, subscribed $10,000 to build him a suitable store near the park's entrance.


The store was almost finished. Merras was to move into it within the next few weeks. Over it were suitable living quarters Inside the glass counters and marble fixtures which he had long desired to possess.


DIES IN SIGHT OF GOAL
And last night he died with his almost in sight.

 

Funeral services will be held for him Monday afternoon at 3 o'clock from the Greek Church, Tenth and Brush streets. The same friends who had offered to build his store are seeing that he has proper burial. Children and men and women who knew him when they were children will be the chief mourners.


Merras was 48 years old. He lived in a small room at 117 Highland avenue, Piedmont.

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Sep. 17, 1921:

Tablet Raised To Children's Dead Friend

 

A bronze tablet to "George Merras, the friend of children of Piedmont," has been placed on the site where he formerly conducted a candy store, in Highland avenue.


When his original sweetmeat shop was crowded out by larger buildings, children and and parents combined to erect him a new place of business. Before its completion. Merras, who was widely known for his kindness to the younger generations, died. The bronze tablet has been placed in perpetual memory to him.

Oakland Tribune - Mon - Nov. 13, 1922:

 

Boy Scouts Outline Building Program
An extensive building and development program has been completed by the Piedmont Council of the Boy Scouts of America at Camp Camp Scouting, which is the week-end camp site of the Piedmont Scouts.


A large open-air mess hall, kitchen and headquarters, all in a building 24x42 feet, has been erected, City water and electric lights
are now being installed by the boys.

 

The building was erected from the lumber obtained from the City of Piedmont when the old candy stand and Piedmont park office were turned over to the local council.

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The San Francisco Examiner - Mon - Feb. 28, 1921

Highland Sweet Shop, 356 Highland Ave.

In 1921, Joseph H. Cheatham opened the Highland Sweet Shop with a candy store, soda fountain, and tea room.

The Sweet Shop was popular with old and young alike. Piedmont matrons enjoyed lunch and tea in the small tea room at the back of the shop, and students often stopped for candy or a soda on the way home after school. (unverified)

This was later run by Gary Nottingham (Oakland band leader) and finally Marge & her daughter Gail. (unverified)

Oakland Tribune - Sun - Mar. 12, 1933:

Hospital Plans for June Fete
The annual bazaar given by the Children's Hospital of the Eastbay is an event of the past, it having been decided to discontinue the holding of these affairs during the holidays in the future. In its place the members will center their interests on a June outdoor fete.


Throughout the current year the branches will have for sale the articles in which they have specialized in the past.


Magazines and pictorials may be ordered from Mrs. William S. Wells Jr. Books, current fiction, biography and jig saw puzzles may be rented from Laurel Branch at the Highland Sweet Shop.

Oakland Tribune - Sat - Jul. 19, 1952:

Gary Nottingham was at Milani's the other 3-ayam when we fell into a conversation concerning the old Tom Gerun band. Gary "ran" the outfit for Tom. Woody Herman, Tony Martin, Steve Bowers and several other nearly as celebrated lads were musicians. Gary has the band at 316 Club and Gloria Craig is his vocal star. Besides maestro chores, Gar has a sweet shop on Highland; makes candy, serves fountain items and lunch. "I often spend more than I make on arrangements and so on...

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