As Richard Press has written here, J. Press’ Princeton store didn’t last long after Pearl Harbor. It was still around in April of 1942, however, when Princeton held a wartime blackout. The idea was to practice turning off all lights so that if there were an enemy bomber, they wouldn’t have anything to aim at. As the Prince reported, “Street lights were extinguished immediately. All traffic stopped. Dormitory lights on the Campus as well as lights in town residences went out instantly.”
J. Press was late to the game, however, and caused a riot in town: “The store lights in the front window of J. Press on Palmer Square were a few minutes late in going off, and an angry crowd of some 300 students rushed to the spot shouting ‘smash his windows.’”
A week later, the paper printed J. Press’ explanation:
The failure to turn out the lights promptly in the J. Press store on Palmer Square during the blackout which took place Tuesday before last was not the fault of the management, it was revealed yesterday by Louis Prager, head of the local branch. As the result of an oversight the watchman responsible for turning out the lights neglected to do so for some little time after the blackout began.
Within a year, the lights would go out at J. Press’ Princeton store for good. Whether this incident played any role, I don’t know. — JULIAN DEAN