"I Remember........."
Decatur County, Iowa


"(I was born in Leon in a house built in 1865 by John Kirkpatrick, an ancestor. It was located just across the street east of the Methodist church and just across the street south from where the present city hall is. Even when I was pretty small I was allowed to go "uptown." Now that my memory is full of holes, I though I should put on paper, as best I can remember, the layout of the business section in the early thirties. I'm hoping for affirmatio and/or corrections from those who remember even better. You'll detect some personal bias, too...jack)

What I remember of Leon. Start out by walking north from rte 2 up the west side of Main Street:

1. Robert's Grocery where they sold "Jack Spart" brand canned goods.
2. Then I believe was the west pool hall, also called the south beer joint. Later, I earned a little money shooting eight ball, straight pool or snooker. Ah, the joys of a mis-spent youth.
3. The next store was the Billy Pleuss' Meat Market, where we bought the best bologna anywhere.
4. And then was Epperly's Grocery. At one time, perhaps a few years earlier, it was the IGA store nurn by Butch Norman. That was 3 stores serving food supplies out of the first 4 fronts. There were 2 other grocery stores a short distance up the street. Lots of competition, lots of choices.
5. The next store was Cherrington's Drug Store. They had a classic soda fountain where root beers, cherry phosphates, "real" cherry cokes and thick malted milks were made.
6. Just past Cherrington's was an alley but just beyond it was a Florist's run by the Culps. Her name was Cecil(e) if I remember right and he was Joe. Above the Culp's Floral Shop was Guy Conner's tailor shop.
7. Then came the Journal Reporter Office newspaper run by Will Lindsay.
8. Then, it seems to me, was the Miller Insurance office.
9. I believe the next front was for the Farquar Hardware store. It changed hands so many times that it is hard for me to remember who owned it at what time. Later, Everett Waters bought it, then Heller, then etc. I hope it is still going. Hardware stores are more important to the world than massive goods depots.
10. On the north of the hardware store was Manning's Cafe run by Frank and Lyda Manning.
11. Beyond the Manning's Cafe was the street (2d st. North?) which continued along the south side of the town square.
12. The next store was Charlie Johnston's Jewelry store, soon to give way to Carpenter's five and dime. Right above the jewelry store were two dental offices - one for Dr. Jimmy Rowell (who was a mentor to Dad) and one for my Dad's competitor, Doc Hines.
13. Next past Johnston's was Horey Long's old dry goods store. When I say old I mean that the stuff for sale probably dated back to the turn of the century. But Horey kept it open as long as he was alive.
14. Somewhere along there was a Coast-to-Coast store (or maybe it came along later - I don't remember.) This is also about where MacKintosh's men's clothing store was.
15. Then was Van Worden's, the "north" drug store.
16. Next was an A&P store. Dad used it a lot and taught me all I know about comfortable grocery shopping. You take one step inside the front door and yell out the things you want and somebody brings them up to you. It was a big blow both to Dad and myself when supermarkets came on line and you had to find all of that stuff yourself. Ugh!
17. This brings us up to the Strand Theater where I learned about dime cowboy movies and cheap (but great) popcorn made by Herbie McVey. Hooray for George O’Brien, Ken Maynard, Hoot Gibson, Tom Keene and Hopalong (Bill Boyd.) Herbie cut a small triangular hole in the paper sacks so we couldn’t pop them in the middle of a movie (to simulate a shot.) Dad’s dental office was right above the marquee along with Roy Hawkin’s law office. Also, right beside the stair entrance to Dad’s office was a small cubicle that was used as a jewel shop and other things from time to time. There was a third floor above Dad’s office which was an apartment where Ernie and Thelma Michael (who ran the theater) lived.
18. Beyond the Strand was the bakery. When I was young, it was run by Guy Stark and his sons. Later, it was run by Leo Mundy who made, arguably, the best pineapple rolls ever. Usually, it was run in front by Twyla Hardin.
19. Just past the bakery was the E-W street which continued across the north side of the town square. And then was one of our proud three story buildings – Graham’s Department Store. Above Grahams’s were Doc Maughan’s office and Vaughan Smith’s photo shop (until he moved it across the street east.)
20. Then came Stewart’s Furniture Store.
21. The telephone office (Central, of course!) before it moved in the old north school location.
22. And then the north hamburger joint, also called the north beer joint.
23. A Sinclair Gas Station on the corner (with plaster dinosaur.)
24. Starting all over back at Route 2 and proceeding north along the east side of Main Street:
25. The first store I remember was Doss Castor’s feed store. A few years later, the Mannings moved their café there and now I believe it is the Idle Hour Café.
26. Then came the ISU office and some other store in I forget which order.
27. At any rate, the next place was Doc Cecil Barnum’s Optometry office. The shop was taken over later by his son, Elmo Barnum.
28. Next there was an alley, followed by the bank. The first bank president I can remember was Henry Lovett but, during those depression times there was quite a rapid turnover. I think Henry’s immediate predecessor was the man who lived in Linger Longer, a house which awed me. One of the bank’s officers in the late thirties was a man named Bill Zunkel. His wife was named Victoria Adenia Sapheia and that’s a name to conjure with. These names impressed me because when you say “Bill Zunkel” people ask “Bill Who’s Uncle?” The Zunkels lived in the house now occupied by Gene Stewart, a neighbor.
29. Just north of the bank was the east pool hall. At one time it had a (duckpins) bowling alley in the basement. For some reason, I never spent much time there.
30. Next came the JC Penney store run by CL Maxwell. They did a good business and Mac was good for the town of Leon. Earlier, he had a partner, Sully Sullivan, who married and then got his own store in, I think, Illinois.
31. Just north of Penneys was a clothing store run by GB Price. He and his wife Blondina were a colorful addition to the town. It wouldn’t be too far off base to say the Blondina was not a technical wizard. In fact, every time her cigarette lighter ran out of fluid she took it up to Van Werden’s Drug Store to get it re-filled. The Prices eventually left though and Shorty Cesler moved in – men’s clothing, also.
32. Going east along the north side of the square and on the north side of the street was the Central Hotel in the back of which were a series of restaurants (Johnnie Boswell’s Steakhouse was one of them in the late forties.) In fact after the busses stopped using Arch’s Café they set their stop at The Central. Bill Sanger’s and Peyton Hull’s barber shop was in the basement of the Central.
33. The US Post Office was in the Central building and when they built the new post office you could buy the old boxes with their novel combination locks.
34. Moving on east were Nub Harris’ radio shop, Talman’s furniture store, Rippey’s (United Foods) grocery store, the creamery and across the street east from the creamery was the county jail. It wasn’t very secure.
35. Going south, across the street from the jail was Tinsley’s Hatchery (chicks) then the farm implement store and I can’t remember what was at the end of the block except that Emma Barry, Cotton Delzell’s grandmother was in the second floor apartment. After WW2 Ray West (my classmate) opened a locker store in that location. You see, at that time residents had no freezers of their own so they rented freezer space from Ray. It was a good business until everyone had his own freezer.
36. Other memorable places include Phil Koufer’s junk yard which proved invaluable when WW II came along. Right next to the junk yard was Udd’s Laundry and then Rothert’s feed store at the southeast corner of the square where the Leon Community Center is now. On the south side of the square was Doc Doss’ office where I spent a little time and the Post Office. East on Rte 2 just behind the Doss doctor office was Herbie McVey’s dry cleaning establishment. Beyond it east was the ice house (a marvelous place!) Later, Charlie Pyfer built a grocery store at about that location. Across from the ice house (south) was the ISU substation where John Lundquist and Forest McKelvey worked. Estes’ Ford dealership was close to the southeast corner of Rte 2 and Main. Above it was a meeting hall where certain groups met – I can’t remember who (maybe the Rainbow Girls and the Eastern Star.)

Contributed by Jack Scott