People, Past & Present! by David J Miller, March 19, 2012
If it’s a Sunday, it must be hot ham and rolls at Peters Deli. I’m the first customer this day but while I’m lingering to jabber with Dick and Dale about the beautiful weather another customer jumps in front of me for the first register purchase of the day. ‘You snooze you lose!’ But no matter, while the freshly cooked and sliced ham and fresh baked rolls are special treats, that’s not the primary reason so many of us come. This is our oasis, the only Greendale business east of Loomis Avenue, and they are Greendale neighbors, Richard Peters has been a Greendalian for nearly 50 years, and his son Dale almost as long. They are hands-on owners, not absentee, and we’ve gotten to know each other over the years. It’s like borrowing sugar from a neighbor (unfortunately also having to pay for it).
The retail center at the corner of 51st and College was build around 1970 on property that was once a celery farm. Remember, all the property in the Village of Greendale was made up of 17 farms purchased by the Government in 1935. In 1972 Dick opened a Dry Cleaner in the middle of the the strip center and the coins operated Laundromat followed a year latter on the east side of the building. In 1977 Dick purchased the entire property which included a White Hen Pantry. In 1987 Peters Neighborhood Deli replaced the White Hen Pantry and the conversion to a full service neighborhood deli, dry cleaners and laundromat was complete. And it’s been that way for 25 years.
Like so many other home owners and business owners who move to Greendale, the Peters have never wanted to leave. Living and working in Greendale is their way of life, just sat the original founders had intended. Very early every morning, they deliver the dry cleaning dropped off at the College Avenue store to their plant in Milwaukee and pick up the cleaned and pressed clothes from the previous day. On the way back to Greendale to open the store they always drive down thru the Village on Broad Street. Why, because as they will tell you, ‘We just love Greendale, the history, the small town charm and the people.’
On weekends they arrive even earlier at the store, 5:00 a.m., to prepare the hot sliced ham and freshly baked rolls.That would get tiring if you did not love what you were doing.
Dick and Dale Peters are ambassadors for Greendale on the southeast border of the Village. The intersection of 51st and College Avenue is a major crossroads for 5 communities. Travelers driving west on College come from Greendale, Greenfield, Milwaukee, and Oak Creek. from the south, Franklinite drive north up 51st Street. They dry cleaners, laundromat and deli are convenient for the home owners and numerous apartment dwellers along the routes. When they stop at Peters they are greeted with a smile. And if its’ information on Greendale they want, these 2 ambassadors dole it out in generous portions. When he’s not busy waiting on customers you will usually see Dick sitting and talking with someone who just ‘just dropped by’. Like the theme song of the 1980’s television sitcom ‘Cheers’, this a a place “Where Everybody Knows Your Name”.