Tales from a food desert
October 10, 2013
by Rebecca Bibbs
When Richard Blakenbaker opened his second Richard’s Market Basket store in the early 1960s at 3701 E. 38th St., he had competition from the Del Farm Foods store across the street on that busy corner at Sherman Drive.
A little more than a mile away, he competed with himself, opening a third store at 38th Street and Emerson Avenue.
The stores served the thriving Forest Manor neighborhood, where starting in 1921, the Security Trust Co. helped homeowners achieve the American dream and brake ground on their bungalows and cottages.
Those suburban pioneers tried to secure their property values by inserting clauses into the deeds that the homes could not be sold to Black people.
What Blankenbaker may not have counted on was the transformation of that neighborhood’s socioeconomics, starting about the time he opened his stores when an aging population whose children were raised and out of the home left for greener pastures. Ready to return to their rural roots or retire to an apartment with less maintenance, the homeowners found ways around the discriminatory clauses.
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