In Jamaica Plain, as in all such urban districts, there were neighborhood variety stores where you could buy a coke, an ice cream, sandwiches, a newspaper, and assorted household odds and ends. There were stores on Green street, Boylston and Lamartine, Centre street near the Monument, and at Hyde and Egleston squares. You could also pick up the news of the day from the locals. One that lasted for much of the 20th Century was Bob's Spa on South street between McBride and Hall streets. It would be filled after each Mass on Sundays, and summers saw a constant stream of children looking for ice cream, tonic and candy. A Bostonian "of a certain age" will know that tonic was the word for soda, like Coke or Pepsi.
Jamaica Plain Citizen March 27, 1952
Bob's Spa To Observe 40th Anniversary
Bob Ristuccia is celebrating forty years in business at the same location, 128-130 South street, Jamaica Plain. In appreciation for the patronage the community has given him for forty years, Bob is giving special values as a saving for his customers.
Bob started in business at the age of seventeen with a cousin. When Bob got married he opened his store, in 1912 selling fruit and vegetables, when Jamaica Plain was just a budding community. As Jamaica Plain grew up, Bob kept catering to the needs of his customers.
During his early days Bob didn't take in one dollar in sales but this did not discourage his faith in Jamaica Plain as he struggled, putting in long hours. In 1927, when business showed signs of success Bob met with a disaster which would have discouraged many a man. On December 24, 1927, Bob's Spa burned to the ground, wiping out all of his worldly possessions. After church services on Christmas day, Bob looked at his charred ruins. With the aid of friendly merchants, he was able to gather some fruit and candy and he started again. Business continued in the temporary quarters until the present site was renovated. During these years, Bob was raising his family of two daughters, Rose and Mary, and two sons, Bob Jr. and Johnny.
As Jamaica Plain progressed, so did Jamaica Plain. Then, the Second World War came. His sons, Bob and John, and daughter, Mary, went into active service. This left another burden on Bob's shoulders. With the manpower shortage and war jobs, help for stores went begging. Mr. and Mrs. Bob Ristuccia spent sixteen hours daily at the store, to serve the public while waiting for their children to return home safely.
When the boys and Mary returned there was rejoicing. They found a tired mother and father, so plans for a well earned vacation for Mr. and Mrs. Bob, their first since his establishement of Bob's Spa, were made immediately. After the war Bob took in as a partner his son-in-law, Mike Caliri who had taken a big load off Bob's shoulders. Today his sons, John and Bob Jr.assist in the management. Mrs. Bob occasionally drops in to meet and talk with old friends.
Mr. Ristuccia has been a member of the Knights of Columbus for thirty years, and is a fourth degree Knight. He is also a member of the Massachusetts Retail Grocers' Association and the Boston Retail Grocers' Association, the oldest Grocers's association in the United States.