En-Joie Pool and Elk’s Bake Shop #AtozChallenge

E is for En-Joie Pool and Elk’s Bake Shop. Fifth of twenty-six posts in the April 2020 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Endwell: My Elementary Years”— where my genealogy journey germinated. Wish me luck!

During my elementary years Endwell, N.Y., was a bedroom community for folks who worked in the big local industries in Endicott (IBM and Endicott Johnson Shoes) and Johnson City (General Electric, where my dad worked).

So most out-of-neighborhood entertainment for us kids required traveling as well — usually to Endicott, which was closest. And one of the prime spots in the summertime was En-Joie Pool in Ideal Park.

Ideal Park, Endicott, N.Y. with swimming pool. This is how En-Joie Pool looked when Ideal Park was first established. Source: George F. Johnson Memorial Library

Access to the pool in the public park was available for a small fee, and everyone from the neighborhood went there. You changed out of your clothes in the clubhouse, put them into a wire basket and got a long metal tag with a corresponding number that hooked around your bathing suit strap.

Then off you went to zoom down the slide or more gingerly descend the stairs into the water (that was me!) — depending on your temperament. There were also learn-to-swim classes in the morning, which were not for the faint of heart.

En-Joie Pool, Endicott, N.Y. This is how I remember the pool, with its tall slide and dozens of children lining up to enter the cool water.. Source: George F. Johnson Memorial Library

“In the mornings that was the coldest water in town,” recalled a neighbor’s cousin when a bunch of us met up for a reunion in Endwell last year. A chill he has not forgotten in the decades since!

What stays with me is the raucous noise of dozens of children cavorting in the pool, diving at the deep end (for the more adept swimmers), careening endlessly down the tall slide and generally having a rowdy time — quite a difference from my earlier solitary life on the farm.

Elk’s Bake Shop

Elk’s Bake Shop, Endicott, N.Y. (1993). This Art Deco storefront welcomed generations of pastry lovers — including me during my elementary years. Photo: Molly Charboneau

There were concession stands in the park, but none could compare to the nearby Elk’s Bake Shop on Endicott’s Washington Ave. The bakery was located next to the movie theater, and I can still conjure up the wonderful aroma of baked goods wafting out to lure you in.

Entering Elk’s Bake Shop was like being transported into a wonderland — particularly during my elementary years when I could peer directly into the bakery cases. I ate my first black-and-white cookies there — and my first flaky elephant ears.

Inside Elk’s Bake Shop in Endicott, N.Y. (1993). I ate my first black-and-white cookies and flaky elephant ears here — and learned to love their Czech specialties like kolachky pastries and lekvar-filled cookies. Photo: Molly Charboneau

Elk’s Bake Shop also specialized in confections that appealed to the local Czech population, selling kolachky pastries and lekvar-filled triangle cookies — both of which I grew to love while living in Endwell.

I last stopped at Elk’s Bake Shop for pastries in 1993, when I was in town for a high school reunion — and I am glad I did, because sadly it has since closed for good.

Fortunately, on that visit I also purchased a set of Czech cookie cutters and a recipe for zazvornici, a ginger sugar cookie — which I later baked for family and friends one holiday season — thus keeping Elk’s spirit alive!

Up next: F is for Floods in spring and Fishing in Norwich. Please stop back!

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12 thoughts on “En-Joie Pool and Elk’s Bake Shop #AtozChallenge”

  1. I worked in Endicott from 1987 to 1997 and I remember Elk’s Bake Shop so well. I loved those black and white cookies. There is a brewery in that building now called The North Brewery. The pool was way before my time, as I moved to this area in the mid 1980’s.

  2. When I was young the town I lived in was on Lake of Two Mountains and we had a cottage on a pristine lake up north, so I always swam in a lake. One time I was visiting my grandparents and for a treat my grandfather took me to the Verdun Natatorium. (Just when you talked about it I remembered the wire basket and the key with the metal number tag!) I hated it! The chlorine smell, too many kids all jumping and splashing and screaming! The next time he took me to the outdoor pool on Nun’s Island and I didn’t like that either! Same chlorine smell and splashing screaming kids. Give me the lake any day, and thank the Lord I had a choice!

    1. Once my folks bought a lot on a lake in Pennsylvania, south of Endwell, I also became a lake swimmer. But I still have a fondness for pools and am oddly nostalgic about the smell of chlorine.

  3. The park sounds like a lot of fun but I would go into the water while my son and husband went down the slide. The bakery made me hungry and through your post I could smell the baked goods and wish I had some this morning.

    1. Yes, Elk’s Bake Shop was addictive. So glad I have the cookie cutters and recipe so I can conjure it up at will.

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