Headley's Cider Mill was at the current site of The Union Leader building on Stuyvesant Ave at Mountainview Ave. The building can be seen on the 1955 aerial photo.
From the blog of former Unionite Lee Frank who comments on Phillip Roth's writings about Union in "Portnoy's Compaint" and his own experiences.
On page 255, he writes, "When my father drives out to buy 'real apple cider' at the roadside farmer's market off in Union . . ." You might think he means one of those little open air stands by the side of a bucolic road. Nope. Even in the days of Roth's childhood, most of Union had been developed for some time. (As I recall, it was the site of a Revolutionary war skirmish, back when it was part of neighboring Springfield.)
The street that his father drove into Union from his area of Newark had to be Stuyvesant Avenue, which runs mostly north-south, from South Orange (in the north) to Route 22, two-thirds of the way through Union. I say it was this street because it was the primary path from Irvington to Union; and the main street of the Weequahic area, Chancellor Avenue, went right through Irvington and connected to Stuyvesant Avenue — as did the bus lines.
But Stuyvesant Avenue was also the where Headley's Cider Mill was located, just three blocks up the hill from my parent's home off Stuyvesant on Long Terrace. A walk I made hundreds of times (probably over a thousand), usually past the mill to stores — like the new Grand Union supermarket — further south on Stuyvesant. Or even further, about three-quarters of a mile, to the center of town (intersection of Stuyvesant and Morris Avenues). However, my first walks up that hill were with my father, to that cider mill.
Headley's (if I remember the spelling) was an actual cider mill, with a real wooden cider press. Why was it there if the town, especially along Stuyvesant Avenue, was already developed? Because it abutted one of the last areas in town to be developed, the aptly (pun) named Orchard Park. As in apple orchards. This area, to the east behind the homes and business of Stuyvesant Avenue, also adjoined a few small farms, one of which was still in existence when my family moved into Long Terrace in 1945. In fact, Long Terrace was only a dozen or so houses long as it ran into Orchard Park, which had been developed just a year or two before we moved there. That development extended our street by a few hundred yards.
Headley's was a full-fledged cider mill, a building housing the press (a monstrous mechanical affair to a nine-year old), storage, retail, and an actual bar where one could sidle up (pun) and order a cold drink of cider. Most of the cider was sold in gallon jugs.
On page 256, Roth says, ". . . as my father and I must travel every November out to that hayseed and his wife in Union, New Jersey (the two of them in overalls), for real Thanksgiving apple cider."
First, Thanksgiving was not our apple cider holiday of choice. It was, more appropriately I think, Halloween. I don't recall any cider consumed at Thanksgiving, probably because we'd had our full share on Halloween. And when I say full share, I'm talking particularly about a couple of few years later when my friends and I were old enough to go by ourselves to the mill on Halloween night and participate in Headley's famous (to us) Halloween ritual. Which was? FREE cider! Not only free, but if you drank ten full ten ounce glasses, you got to take home a FREE gallon of cider! I suppose someone must have succeeded, but I only recollect throwing up outside the mill. In fact, I saw it as a sign of maturity in our early teens when we decided to skip this ritual.
Now, about that hayseed in overalls. True (about the overalls). Maybe Headley was a hayseed, I was too unsophisticated to notice. (Roth is some four years older than I.) However, I can tell you this: the Headley's owned a considerable farm in western Jersey, about forty miles from Union. I know because one of my friends was chums with the son (whom I recall as Junior) and they took me there once. The farm was large enough for hunting (so they told me), and that Junior (if that was his name) also wore the family uniform of overalls. I think that the mill was only open during the months apples were plentiful, i.e., it was probably closed by Christmas and through the spring.
The mill only lasted a few years into my teens, to be replaced by a two story brick building housing the local weekly newspaper. From one press to another.