Life, legacy of Al Boscov to live on in 'Memories of Al'

Book to be available before Thanksgiving

EXETER TWP., Pa. - As Al Boscov spent decades growing his company into the country's largest family-owned chain of department stores, he contributed to a lifetime of memories for the people with whom he came in contact over all those years, before his death in February.

There are so many memories, in fact, they could fill a book. And they will. With Friday being what would have been Mr. B's 88th birthday, Boscov's has announced plans to pay tribute to its longtime leader with a book, appropriately titled "Memories of Al."

"On the anniversary of Albert Boscov's birthday, we pay tribute to the man and the merchant," Boscov's said in its latest circular, announcing the book and advertising "A Tribute to Al" sale.

The book, compiled by his grandchildren, will feature stories and remembrances of Albert, told by a legion of friends, family members, and coworkers, promising to show "the warmth, wit and caring that made Albert so unique," according to Boscov's.

For the past several months, the grandchildren have been collecting the material for their book on a special Facebook page and by going store to store, talking with Boscov's employees.

"Back in the day, Albert had an old-fashioned microphone next to his desk," shared Ed McKeaney, Boscov's senior executive vice president of merchandise and advertising. "Every now and then, he would pick it up to make store announcements. He would say, 'Hello Boscov shoppers. Today, socks are $2.99,' or 'Did You Boscov Today?'"

"My fondest memory took place in Boscov's East, 2015," said Shannon Miller. "I was walking the hallway downstairs. A stock boy was pushing a cart. Mr. Boscov was also walking down the hall and asked the stock boy to stop. He hopped on top of the cart and said, 'Push me!' It took some convincing of the stock boy to actually push Mr. Boscov, but down the hall they went, with Mr. Boscov surfing on the cart."

Mr. Boscov shared some of his own memories with 69-WFMZ-TV in "Boscov: An American Story," a documentary that was narrated by former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell in 2014.

One story had to do with keeping a young Albert out of trouble in his father's first store at North Ninth and Pike streets in Reading.

"He'd run around the store and put different price tags, he'd move them around," said Pennsylvania Rep.Tom Caltagirone. "And he said, my dad would be running after me, 'Albert, stop doing that! Albert, stop doing that! You're going to confuse the buyers when they come in!'"

So, his dad came up with a solution.

"My father said if I caught 10 flies, he would give me a dime to go to the movies," Boscov recalled. "I didn't have 10 flies. I had maybe six or seven, but my father took mercy and gave me the dime anyway."

"We followed Al around for a year," recalled WFMZ's Jaccii Farris, who served as the documentary's director and writer. "We walked through his stores, where he knew the price of every item and the name of every employee."

"The sweetest story he told me," she continued, "was how he met his lovely wife, Eunice."

"I met her by deceit," Boscov recalled.

Eunice was an English major. Al wanted to seem like a big shot, so he so he told her he wrote children's stories.

"I kept asking him after we were married, 'Where are these stories?' and of course, he never wrote children's stories," said Eunice Boscov.

"Memories of Al" will be available before Thanksgiving. It can be ordered by phone at 800-284-8155, at any Boscov's store, and on Boscov's website.

All proceeds from the book's sale will donated to Our City Reading, the nonprofit organization started by Boscov to continue the revitalization of Reading.

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