Memories of Broadway, Baker City, Baker County, Oregon

Baker City Herald February 10, 1998

By Phyllis Badgley

     Although it was earlier called Center Street, I remember it as Broadway.  I don't have actual photos, but can picture vividly in my mine, the late 30's establishments on the north side of Broadway between First and Second Streets.  Other readers may recall them also.

     Decker's Meat Market occupied the corner at Broadway and First. Owner Mr. Decker kept the tall glass meat case highly polished. Various cuts of meat lined up in rows, without any pre-packaging. Purchases were wrapped in white butcher paper, and tied with a string.  A black and white oleo margarine sticker was displayed in the corner of the meat case, as required by the Food Administration. A dill pickle barrel sat in one corner. Pickles were lifted from brine with a strainer. Decker's home, half a block away, is presently a church office.  His son, Jim, graduated Baker High with the Class of '41; daughter Jean attended Junior High.

     The Decker corner location has become a chosen spot for several barber shops and remains one today.

     Next door was Hendryx Shoe Repair. Upon entering that shop my nostrils were filled with the pungent aroma of shoe polish and leather.  The whirling shine brushes and clack clack of the stitching machine were noises I listened to while waiting. A sign on the wall stated, "Shoes fixed while U wait" and the proprietor made good that claim. Repairs were 25 cents and up. New heels 50 cents, and half-soles $1 each. At times if the repair consisted of only a few stitches, the job might even be gratis.

     Next door, which today houses a furniture store, was an independent food store, Head's Cash Grocery. Owned by Serge and Grace Head, who embraced the Mormon faith. Mr. Head was a tall, friendly man who liked to tease.  He called me "Little Red" when I accompanied my dad "Red" May.  I was a bit embarrassed, but in childlike fashion, relished the individual identity.  Head's fine family included Jackie, Barbara, Conrad and MarDean. MarDean and myself were the same age and good friends (our friendship continues after 60 years).

     Tucked neatly in a confined niche next to the grocery store was the establishment of Martin J. West, jeweler and repairman. A green-shaded drop light hung over West's workbench.  He held the optical "spy glass" in place over one eye. Occasionally he displayed a used musical instrument in the jewelry store window. Martin Sr. wore a 3 inch buildup on one shoe, which possibly resulted from a World War I injury.  Mr. and Mrs. West had a son Martin J. West Jr., who attended Baker Schools.

     The brick building on the alley (now a floral shop) was Eastern Oregon Savings and Loan, operated by George Foster.  He was a man of small stature, well dressed in white shirt and tie.  When exiting the office, he always wore a felt brim hat.  One of his employees was L. V. W. Hammond, a man who sported a flat top crew cut. Hammond was a bassoonist and played in the instrument in community orchestra.  The Eastern Oregon Savings and Loan was forerunner of present day Pioneer Bank.
     On the west side of the alley were wooden frame buildings with storefronts that abutted directly onto the sidewalk.  I recall a candy shop which displayed a taffy machine in the front window.  What an interesting sight to see the giant tongs rotate in rhythm that pulled the glistening taffy to the proper consistency.

     Mr. Herr, a typical grey-suited Realtor, occupied a small office, as did a tiny shop that offered assorted needlework.  The shopkeeper sat close to the window where sun provided better light.  She created intricate cutwork embroidery, doilies and hemstitching.  Our friend Mamie Duby did similar work, but she sold items from her home on Ninth Street.

     The corner of Second and Broadway housed another grocery store, operated as Baird's Grocery, which later moved to the southeast corner of First and Broadway.  It became Jackson's Food Market. Unfortunately, that store suffered an early morning fire, which destroyed the frozen food lockers. Asphalt now covers the location, in use as a bank parking lot.

     The wooden frame buildings mentioned above were eventually torn down and a service station erected on that half block. Today is houses a video outlet.

     Note: The Broadway service stations are a story in themselves.  I can recall at one time, nine stations between Main Street and 10th Street.  They were profitable when Old Highway 30 ran through Main Street, down Broadway and out Tenth Street.

     My friends, there are my memories of the era, forgive any grey matter discrepancies.  I'll prepare another Broadway "block" installment later.  Just for teasers do you remember Skaggs? Cochrane Drug? Langrell's Trading Post? Miller & Miller Garage? Satterberg Confectionery? Andy Melville's Store? Palace Meat Marker? Culbertson Barber Shop? Rapp's Bakery? gales Grocery?

Printed here with the permission of Baker City Herald

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