Mt Lebanon Magazine

710 Washington Rd
Pittsburgh, PA 15228

Mt Lebanon Magazine

The official magazine of Mt. Lebanon, Pennsylvania

Lebanon Shops Then and Now

If you grew up in Mt. Lebanon in the ’60s, as I did, chances are you frequented National Record Mart on Mt. Lebanon Boulevard, the source of all things rock ‘n roll. It was there I bought my first 45, Chad and Jeremy’s Willow Weep for Me. It was there I found my first Beatles albums, Meet the Beatles and Twist and Shout, while my patient dad waited outside in our Ford Fairlane station wagon.

Although it was named the Lebanon Shops, the shopping center is in fact located in Castle Shannon. It was the site of numerous other stores that served useful purposes: G.C. Murphy’s, Ruby’s Cleaners, Graham’s Bakery, the card shop, the shoe store, the drug store.

I am retired now and back in Mt. Lebanon after decades living in the New York area. Record stores have mostly gone the way of buggy whips, but imagine my surprise when I drove by Lebanon Shops again and discovered that Ruby’s Cleaners, the pharmacy, Graham’s Bakery, and the card store were still there! I was floored. The little post office is there, too, tucked under the stairs to the second floor.

I’m sure those businesses have adapted with the times, but when I go into Graham’s, I wonder. It seems not to have aged at all. Or rather it seemed timeless in the ’60s and looks the same today. The same ladies in white uniforms, the same plain white boxes, the same walnut rings and iced doughnuts. (The age of macarons and gluten-free baked goods has evidently passed Graham’s by.) I haven’t tried their white sandwich bread since the ’60s, but I’m guessing they still put it through that slicing machine that always fascinated me.

My memory has faded about many other stores that were there. I remember the store where we used to buy school shoes, but can’t recall its name. In kindergarten, I got a pair of red rubber rain boots there that subsequently got sucked into an escalator stair as I stepped off, causing years of escalator-phobia. There was a Kroger’s where the Planet Fitness is now, and we used to get prescriptions delivered from the pharmacy in Lebanon Shops. Murphy’s, which we called “the dime store,” was a wonderful source of presents for birthdays and Mother’s Day for kids short on allowance money, as I often was.

Like much else about my return to Mt. Lebanon, the images pass back and forth between past and present. Sometimes when I’m in Ruby’s dropping off my husband’s sweater, I suddenly remember bringing my beautiful dress to be cleaned after the junior prom. I never walk into the Hallmark shop without thinking of all the birthday cards I bought over the years there.

But it was National Record Mart that truly defined my adolescence and initiated my lifelong love of popular music. I would listen to KQV and immediately want to get the new album by the Rolling Stones or The Who. Getting there was a matter of negotiating a drop-off while my mother did grocery shopping.

Somewhere, down near the end of Lebanon Shops, surely there’s the ghost of a seventh grader clutching a new album to her chest and eager to get home, about to hear She Loves You for the first time.

Comments

  1. What a wonderful story Filled with a lot of memories really enjoyed reading this. I grew up in Scott I didn’t know much about the Lebanon shops till the early 70’s I don’t remember seeing Murphy’s I do remember seeing a big hardware store there to this day that Mall is still a wonderful little mall with everything you need in it all but a Grocery store. thanks for the memories.

  2. Adding to my early remark and yes it was a every girl’s dream to go to a National Record mart and buy the latest song that you heard on KQV.

  3. Thank you for this walk done memory lane. My father was the morning DJ on KQV in the 60’s so it may have been his show that influenced the LP purchases. Good stuff!

    1. Gilbert Jewelers too…

  4. What a lovely, well written piece about the melding of past and present here in Mt Lebanon!

  5. Great shopping center. My grandmother worked at DeMar Beauty Salon. I worked there in high school as well. Graham’s Bakery was the best. Also Thrift Drug had a sandwich counter and the Village Dairy!!! Greatest memories 😊😢

    1. Karley, my mother and father owned DeMar Beauty Salon. What was your grandmothers name? I have so many memories of Lebanon shops. Especially sliding down the middle of the escalator and running down the upstairs balcony.

  6. I loved EVERY morsel..super memories in the memory bank..

  7. Ive seen many famous Patty King Brown used to shop there, ED Walker Walker Pontiac fav store the old foodland then became bottom dollar

  8. I used to supply all the record dividers for NRM nationwide long ago when they were very popular

  9. Love the memories. The first time my parents bought Mount Lebanon was on Brucewood, right across from the shops. We live there from 69 to 78, and then they moved to another part of Mount Lebanon. Does anybody remember or have pictures of when the Lebanon shops burned?

  10. The hardware store was called Rodgers Hardware and there was the Village Dairy

  11. The village dairy……..hub of the center

    1. Yes!!!!

  12. Hey Village Dairy where a young Dennis Miller used to sling cole slaw and potato salad.

    This was many years before he was on Saturday Night Live.

  13. Too much, my name is Charles Dague, I lived in Castle Shannon until 1978, Poplar Street-Yellow Brick. I walked to Lebanon Shops Many times through Myrtle Avenue School grounds or take the tracks, My Aunt Via was a cashier at Thrift Drugs, first job was at Graham’s Bakery – used to neck with Cindy Graham, my best friend Craig Seifert’s Mom worked at Ruby’s, Dad used to buy lunch meat & Lotto most nights at the Village Dairy-can remember staring at Dennis Millers face-it looked rubbery w/ maybe a grimace-more
    Dennis Miller-ism’s; Craig Seifert and other friends attended Saint Anne’s School as did DM, and we all attended Keystone Oaks HS,
    Mom had her Beehive hair due done on the 2nd floor by Donna Brinski, and I did slide down the escalator slippery slope-often. Dad & brother were Shannon volunteer firemen-I went with them to the Lebanon Shops fire-early AM, Dark, Snowing.

  14. Many fond memories of all the stores as a child…my Dad had his office on the 2nd level, always on the escalator going to his office…remember the January 19th 1977 fire…cold day! My Dad was one of the Architect’s who redesigned after the fire. As a child would go to Murphy’s for penny candy & did Christmas shopping there! Great story! Birthday cakes and Sunday donuts after church at Graham’s bakery. Thx for the memories!

  15. My gram would walk me down to the Village Dairy for ice cream and a root beer float. And there was Dimlings Candy in the middle by the shoe repair guy. I lived up that huge hill off of Hoodridge Drive. And my Dad and I worked at the far end, above the bank from the late ’60 until he sold out in early ’90s. Met my husband in the office hallways upstairs in 1985. Leb Shops will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.

    1. Hi! Kim!!! Nice walk down Memory Lane. Happy Holidays!

  16. I savored every word of your memories. Living my teen years on lower Washington Rd made the LebanonShops (of Castle Shannon) part of my orbit. I love that Ruby’s and Graham’s are still there. Let’s make an historic registry! I shared your love of the record mart, KQV and eerily your escalator phobia! My yellow “galoshes” got stuck and stopped the escalator in the downtown Hornes, which embarrassed my mother who imagined I did it on purpose!
    Your writing conjured up some vivid and sweet memories for me.

  17. The Sports Spot was a great local sports store. You could buy all the golf tees that you could scoop up with one hand for
    $0.50.

  18. We lived on Jefferson Drive from 1963-1979. Our backyard was above the “cliff” behind McDonalds and that was our favorite way to get to “the Shoppes” before we could drive. We always seemed to tick off some blond Karen that worked at Hallmark. Lol! Fries and cokes at the Village Dairy, and loved going up to the second floor of Murphy’s! Also slide down the escalator in the arcade. Our Dr. (Challinor) was on the second floor and I can still remember his frosted window door. Worked at Foodland in HS and then college breaks, with both brothers working at Rogers. Graham Bakery was an after mass treat- with those walnut frosted knots. Best childhood memories imaginable. ❤️ Thanks for sharing this!

  19. Don’t forget the Sports Spot, and there was a radio and TV repair shop on the second level along with Gordon’s Travel Agency. I lived on Hoodridge Drive in Lebo and regularly walked to the “Shops”.

  20. Village Dairy. Ice cream cones at the counter. Chipped ham to take home. Then Grahams Bakery for sandwich bread etc. Loved all the shops.

  21. Great article brought back so many memories. My daddy had an office on the second floor from the mid 60’s to the early 70’s. I had forgotten about the post office. Thank you for sharing.

  22. What wonderful memories! I grew up on Ordale and could walk down to the National Record Mart and buy the latest 45. Roger’s Hardware, Murphy’s 5 & 10, Village Dairy and the 2 grocery stores brought back great memories! Don’t forget about Lebanon Lanes Bowling above the grocery store – was it the A & P?

  23. I remember, in the early 60’s, the bowling alley and duck pin bowling. I can still smell the hamburgers we got out of a vending machine. And, we got vanilla cokes at the drug store counter.

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