2300 Broadway, Baker City, Baker County, Oregon

By Phylis Badgley

Thanks to friends Hershal and Elain Wood who provided the name of the shoe repairman in my last column, Mr. Bowman later sold to Fred Stoll.

     The 2300 block of Broadway Street was very familiar to me in the 1930's, as I was growing up just three blocks north, across form the old St. Elizabeth Hospital.

     The brick building on the northwest corner of Broadway and Fourth was a confectionery.  Early proprietors of the fountain were Lindsays, McPhersons and Satterbergs.  Their penny candy offerings were tremendous! Selection was painful for a child who dared spend 2 cents form a nickel intended for church (My sister, Alma and I kept this secret for many years.)

     Bill and Ruby Sandidge operated the establishment as the Koffee Kup. Later Neil and Yvonne Boulton owned it. Today it houses a beauty salon.

     Andy Melville, 30's merchant and school board member, located his merchandise store west of the confectionery. My parents bought a small, wooden table and chair set form Melville's. It served our family for years. I recall in the store the distinctive aroma of new linoleum that stood upright in rolls against the wall. After purchases, customers often delivered their own selections. The trip home involved placing the rolled up linoleum atop a sedan, securely tied with rope. The felt backed linoleum had to be tempered before laying it, as cold caused it to crack easily.  Thin metal strips anchored the floor covering at the thresholds.

     Half of Melville's building housed Elskamp Harness Co. A dappled gray horse figure stood in the window. A fancy saddle and bridle on the horse advertised the leather goods made by the craftsmen. Does any reader know the whereabouts of that horse statue today?

     The Palace Meat Market occupied the next door west (recently Baker Electric). My dad in his business delivered meat orders for this shop. I recall butchers Bill Peterson, Jim O'Hara and Bert Weeks. My mother was always greeted respectfully by those employees.  They rolled up a corner of their white apron to wipe freshly stained hands before waiting on customers.

     I remember one day ammonia (used in freezing) pip broke.  The fumes permeated the air, making our eyes burn as we walked by. Later the meat market location became a drug store. Etta Cunning had her "Book Nook" there until relocating to Main Street in the Adler Music Store. This was between Levinger Drug and Bill White's Market.

     I remember 2328 Broadway Street had a divided entrance. The right door led to Percy Culbertson's barber shop. Culbertson built his business on honesty and dependability. Customers declared "Percy serves as good humer, as well as cutting our hair." He and wife Leila, provided a home of stability for children Frances, Allene and Ronald. Each attended grades 1-12 in Baker schools. I have remained good friends with this family for 60 years.

     In recent conversations, Allene recalled earning spending money by helping clean the barber shop on weekends. A wrought iron table and chair graced the shop at that time.

     The left entrance of the building opened into a small cafe, operated by Bill Eaton. Hamburger prices were .05 for child size and .10 for larger size. I remember poor lighting at the cafe, but the menu offerings were tasty. Occasionally our family of four ordered "take out" and the two large and two small burgers added up to 30 cents.

     Rapp's Bakery occupied the mid block location. The aroma of freshly baked bread and sweets wafted the air and beckoned students from the Junior High across the street. Slanted glass counters showcased the hard to resist pastries. I remember the 5 cent jelly filled coconut squares. Bread at 10 cents a loaf was wrapped in waxed paper. Mr. Rapp, a tall balding man with a dark mustache, allowed us on occasion to watch the giant forked tongs entwine the dough in the bread making process. His wife, Veronica and son Gene were partners in the establishment. Florence Smith was a longtime employee. Closing hour was 8 p.m.
     Next door west of the bakery was Delameter's Secondhand sore. I recall a schoolmate, Doris Delameter.

     Gale's Grocery was long established in the 2300 block of Broadway Street. Henry and Mildred Gale were proprietors following in the footsteps of his parents, Byron and Minnie Gale. Apartments were housed on the upper floor. In addition to groceries they stocked a few school supplies. The grocery store operated until recent years. It is presently a book store.

     The northeast corner of Broadway and Fifth was formerly Moore's grocery, then a gas station, upholstery shop and body and fender repair shop.

     Probably Broadway's most famous hamburger emporium was O.D. Wilson's on the northwest corner of Broadway and Fifth (an ice cream outlet today). Wilson's brightly colored orange cook shack is legendary. The smell of onion was as prevalent as that of a carnival.  It permeated one's clothing after a brief visit to the confined space.  Many times the finished product had to be handed progressively over the heads of several customers and the money returned the same way. O.D.'s cook had bobbed up and down nearly toughing the low ceiling, as he tended grill and talked incessantly. A missing tooth perforated his smile.

     The grease stained sign on the wall read "O.D.'s Hamburgers, Known Around the World." That adage would ring true, when our young marched off to war.

     One of Baker's first drive-ins took shape, when O. J. Francis constructed the Tower drive-in at Sixth and Broadway. The novelty of being a car hop appealed to a number of young high school students.

     Bill Steft's grocery bordered the northwest corner of Sixth and Broadway, and a small cafe in mid-block squeezed between the boarding house on Seventh street corner.

Printed here with the permission of Baker City Herald

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