[Sylvia Sweets Tea Room, corner of School and Main streets, Brockton, Mass.] (LOC)

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Delano, Jack,, photographer.

[Sylvia Sweets Tea Room, corner of School and Main streets, Brockton, Mass.]

1940 Dec. [or] 1941 Jan.

1 slide : color.

Current title devised by Library staff based on information provided by the source: Flickr Commons project, 2008. The FSA or OWI agency caption was "Street in industrial town in Massachusetts."
Photograph shows sign in foreground: "School St."; upstairs windows: "Geo. L. Wainright Law Office;" below: "Sylvia Sweets Tea Room."
Transfer from U.S. Office of War Information, 1944.

United States--Massachusetts

Format: Slides--Color

Rights Info: No known restrictions on publication.

Repository: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. 20540 USA, hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Part Of: Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Collection 11671-1 (DLC) 93845501

General information about the FSA/OWI Color Photographs is available at hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.fsac

Higher resolution image is available (Persistent URL): hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/fsac.1a33856

Call Number: LC-USF35-8

robert_rex_jackson, caffeinatedliby, and 305 other people added this photo to their favorites.

View 12 more comments

  1. Loretuuu 106 months ago | reply

    me god such a lovely place !!!

  2. princessangel 105 months ago | reply

    Hi, I'm an admin for a group called Tea Rooms ♥ A Cup Of Tea ♥, and we'd love to have this added to the group!

  3. orange_crate_art 104 months ago | reply

    I have no connection to Brockton, but I love Jack Delano's photographs and the spirit of community evident in these comments.

    The Social Security Death Index lists a John Dayos from Brockton, born August 15, 1904; died August 1979. Would he have been the owner?

    The law firm of Wainwright and Wainwright (via the link above) gives George L. Wainwright's name (1901-1996). Wainwright and Wainwright is now a three-generation family firm in Brockton.

  4. sostaile 103 months ago | reply

    Sylvia Sweets Tea Room
    My father, John Dayos started Sylvia Sweets Tea Room in the early thirties. He had worked for many years at Liggett’s Drug Store across the street as a “Patent Man” but after getting married in 1929, he soon decided he wanted to own his own business as so many Greek immigrants did. He was a success story in that he had sold newspapers as a young immigrant boy on the same corner –School and Main Street many years before. He and his business partners started out to open a candy store. One of the stories I remember was that they bought a gas stove. A lady came out to demonstrate the stove and suggested they could boil chicken and serve sliced chicken sandwiches, and chicken salad sandwiches. This lady was Ruth Wakefield – later the owner of the well known Toll House Restaurant and the originator of the Toll House Cookie or the Chocolate Chip Cookie. The sliced chicken sandwich was a specialty until the Sylvia Restaurant closed in the late 60’s. Mrs. Wakefield always remembered my father by name whenever we went to the Toll House for special dinners.

    The whole family at one time or another worked at “Sylvia’s”--my mother Effie, my brother Nick, my sister Dorothea and myself, Elaine. Sylvia’s is often remembered in the Brockton newspaper ‘The Enterprise” column “From our Readers” as a downtown fixture – after the movies, catching a bus to and from the surrounding towns to shop in downtown Brockton, and a high school hangout. Sales people and office workers downtown were regulars for lunch and coffee breaks. I remember well the two ladies who worked at McCarthy’s in the fifties and would come in on Friday night, when the stores were open until 9pm and order Salmon Salad on plain dark bread and my father would enjoy making it extra special for them every week – cut in fours with toothpicks. .

    In the early fifties downtown Brockton was changing and the business was changing. My parents decided to remodel the Tea Room which had beautiful mahogany paneling and booths, a marble soda fountain, black glass table tops and oval top mirrors. It became a modern fifties luncheonette and the name was changed to Sylvia Restaurant and that was when I worked there. My sister and I started out working by “typing the menus.” Every day the specials changed and there was a typed menu that was added to the plastic covered Sylvia menu, which had an oval old-fashioned picture of “Sylvia.” (I wish I had a copy of that menu.) I was told Sylvia was a pretty girl who came over on the Mayflower. The Greek immigrants wanted to assimilate into American life so they thought the Mayflower was all American. My mother remembered that when they first opened the Tea Room, she spoke to my father in Greek and he told her to go to the back room to talk to him, as customers didn’t like to hear a foreign language. She was so upset, she vowed to learn English. She attended night school and continued for many years, first for English and to become a citizen and then for other classes.

    I vaguely remember when my father still made ice cream for the Tea Room. Of course we only had Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry and Coffee and it was packed in those round Pint or Quart containers. If I happened to be there when he was making ice cream, I would have soft strawberry before it was frozen and this was a special treat. He told stories that during the depression, they were able to make a good living selling ice cream cones as families could afford a 5 cent ice cream cone. Of course in those days one never visited someone’s home without a box of chocolates and originally candy was the main focus of the business.

    Everyone had his or her special food at Sylvia’s. Mine was chopped ham and pickle and a strawberry milk shake. I think I ate that every time I went there in my childhood days. We would see a “regular” come in and have his coffee, tea or cold drink in front of him before he asked for it. We had many bachelors that lived in the rooming houses near Main St. who would come in for their dropped eggs on toast for 35 cents in the fifties. Many of them couldn’t afford much more and occasionally they would have a real lunch or dinner. We often refered to people by what they ordered, not by their name, since we often didn’t know their name.

    I don’t remember the early days but I heard about them over the years. Some of the stories reflect the family and community atmosphere of a local downtown tea room. After the war, my dad gave jobs to many of the service men coming back home – many went on to become successful Brockton business and professional men, some to college and some worked at Sylvia’s on and off for years to come. Romances were also a part of Sylvia’s – waitresses and soda fountain men, customers and of course high school sweethearts. There were three shifts – the morning crew, the day crew and the night crew worked until 11:00 so that the movie crowd could come in for a snack after the movie. If you were a “soda jerk” you worked at the end of the counter, pouring Cokes from the red coke machine or making milk shakes, frappes or ice creams sundaes. Only the more expert counter men worked the sandwich counter. The waitresses all wore uniforms with those pretty handkerchiefs in their pockets.

    I also remember the Christmas Holiday Season and the Easter season when everyone from Brockton and the surrounding towns came downtown to shop. We didn’t see much of my dad in those busy times when he often worked 16 hours a day. He went to work in a suit and tie, with an overcoat and hat, changed his clothes in his “office” always wearing a tie and a white long sleeve shirt with a white bib apron. I also remember a lovely little lady who was the bookkeeper. She would come once a week to do the payroll and pay the bills. Downstairs was the office, the ice cream making machine and the kitchen with the dumb waiter to send up the food.

    My parents, along with countless people who have wonderful memories of Brockton would be so proud to know that downtown Brockton at the corner of School and Main Street and Sylvia Sweets Tea Room was used as an example of a “street in an industrial town in Massachusetts.”
    Elaine (Dayos) Liatsos 8/2008

  5. orange_crate_art 103 months ago | reply

    Thanks for this beautiful account of your family's restaurant. The details you include are so welcome and so evocative.

  6. Josh Glenn 101 months ago | reply

    Thanks so much, Elaine -- this is a really great story.

  7. brainiac.email 101 months ago | reply

    Elaine, I've just written up the story of how Sylvia Sweets got id'd through this Library of Congress project on Brainiac, the blog Josh used to run (and I write now). Would you mind emailing me at brainiac.email [at] gmail.com? I'd love to talk for a minute or two. And if anyone knows Elaine / "Sostaile," please let her know I'd love to hear from her. This is exactly how this project is supposed to work -- from vague caption to detailed history.

  8. samaloney26 100 months ago | reply

    this is an amazing photo, thank you for showing Brockton as it used to be.

  9. trialsanderrors 100 months ago | reply

    Larger version here:

    Jack Delano: Sylvia Sweets Tea Room, Brockton, Massacusetts, ca. 1941

    It would be surprising if this were December and no indication of Christmas. Great comments.

  10. Cheesebread Charlie™ 99 months ago | reply

    This photo is a trip. Very little degradation (if any at all). It's like taking a clear glimpse right into the past.

  11. the joy of success 97 months ago | reply

    What a treat! Elaine and I were "best friends" all through school in Brockton, and I remember wanting to do something after school and she'd sa,"OK, but first I have to do the menus." Then we'd go down cellar at the 'store' and get that chore done! There was a hurricane just before school started in 1954?5? and I cam up from Monument Beach to stay with Elaine on Belmont Ave. We'd go out for pizza with brother Nicky. Gosh! More than 50 years ago and it's like yesterday!
    Ann Blunt Condon thejoyofsuccess@comcast.net

  12. Mom to 4 90 months ago | reply

    I love this picture.

    You should get in touch with the bizymoms Brockton community to feature these on their page. It’s free and the moms will love it.

  13. mystroh 85 months ago | reply

    What an amazing set of stories. I clicked in from the Flickr home page, just wonderful to see history writing itself through the photographs and memories of so many. :))

  14. honey604sunshine 59 months ago | reply

    Elaine and Ann... I was your classmate in Brockton in the 50's. Reading Elaine's account of her family and its business brought all kinds of memories rushing back to me. This picture was posted this morning on my Facebook feed, so I know it's still making the rounds. Thank you!

  15. anniebwd 59 months ago | reply

    Honey and I are sisters. Our Dad owned LAnoue Bros on Legion Parkway. I also have many fond memories of Sylvia Sweets. Brockton was once a fine place to spend time downtown. I too remember the Rocky MArciano parade. What a kick. This made my day!

  16. Dennygee 59 months ago | reply

    I don't usually post on the internet, but the picture and the stories from BHS classmates rekindled cherished memories of Sylvia Sweets and downtown Brockton back in the fifties. Sylvia Sweets was a Brockton institution enjoyed by many generations of Brocktonians. I recall so many times what a special trip it was to take the bus downtown to go shopping at Besse Bakers or Edgars or Kreseges or to take in a movie at one of the theaters. Sylvia Sweets was always the place to stop before heading home. If you want to see more pictures of Brockton as it was back when we were in school, check out the Stanley Baumann photo collection at Stonehill College. It's on Facebook and you may even find yourself in one of the pictures. Stanley Baumann alway seemed to be everywhere with a camera. As this wonderful picture of Sylvia Sweets did, his old pictures also bring back great memories of what a great city we lived in for a time. Denis Gillen BHS class of 56

  17. greatgardeningg 56 months ago | reply

    There is a nostalgia that comes over one looking at old photographs. Looking at the rare color photo from the 1940's of Sylvia Sweet's Tea Room in Brockton, MA puts a longing in the soul. It's like there is a yearning for the ability for those doors to be open again and be able to walk through and enjoy a fried clam dinner for only .40cents. So at today's prices that would be more like $6-$10 but it would be nice. An interest in a time that seemed simpler. The place looks like it was full of many delicious meals and from the posts I perused after the pictures were posted, this was confirmed. Many people have enjoyed many good memories there and the color photo was amazing at drawing those memories out to the light of conversation after such a long time in remission. I looked at the photo of the same corner today on Google map full of traffic passing through. A couple of people standing on another corner taking an outdoor break. The opposite corner has a computer repair shop. Looking at that corner made me wish for Sylvia Sweets to be there again. That corner in that town looks like it needs something like Sylvia Sweets there again bringing activity, good food, good company and a sense of community back to that corner again. Wouldn't it be wonderful if Sylvia Sweets could be brought back from the tomes of history and the 1940's to the year 2013 or 2014?

  18. ardila.pablo 42 months ago | reply

    thanks for sharing this

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