‘To me, it was just family’

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Fremont Street resident Mary Shoffner is nonchalant about it when asked, but her father, John Moran, as a long-time Broad Street business owner and chief organizer of township parades, was also an integral part of Bloomfield holidays and celebrations. His store, where he worked for nearly 35 years before a son took over, opened, she said, “about” 1914.

“To me, it was just family,” she said this week at her home. “It’s not the Norman Conquest that I should remember.”
Her father, she said, had the ability to work with people and was able to get people working with him. Among the parades he organized was the Bloomfield Centennial parade, in 1912.

“He was also in charge of buying the fireworks for Foley Field,” she said with a laugh. “He sold them in the store until there was a fire and fireworks were shooting out the door.”

After that, anytime he heard Bloomfield fire truck bells, her mother told her, her father became nervous.
“He was also the treasurer of the Red Cross with Mrs. Oakes,” Shoffner said. “I guess she accepted his business acumen.”
Moran was also on the board of the Bloomfield Savings Bank.

“Working in the store for Christmas was really fun,” Shoffner said. “The store had a fireman there because we had no back door. Bloomfield was a very busy place. My father was in the store all the time. George Cowan was his right-hand-man.”
And at one time, she said, Moran’s went from 28 Broad St. down to Bloomfield Avenue. It eventually withdrew to occupy only the land Moran owned.

“It sold everything,” Shoffner said. “Books, games, fountain pens — fountain pens were big then — stationery and gifts.”
According to a 1931 Independent Press news item, Moran had a friendly, annual St. Patrick’s Day window display competition with John A. Rassbach. Shoffner said Rassbach’s was a flower shop. Her father also had a deal with Eastman Kodak. The store rented out silent movies.

Moran was born in Bloomfield and died in 1947. Shoffner said her father’s father was the sexton at Sacred Heart Church.
“The bellringer,” she said.

The house in which Shoffner lives was built by her father. She is a retired Bloomfield elementary school teacher, having taught at Carteret Elementary.