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March 4, 2006

Another view of the east side of the Perry square shows some of buildings that have been demolished. A gaping hole remains where the Palace Cafe and the Annex once stood. (Photo courtesy of the Brace Smith estate)

When this series on the four sides of our downtown square began a few days ago, I had no intention of letting it get out of hand, and it hasn't. Until now, at least. Many friends have mentioned businesses they knew that once flourished on the square, but are now gone. Most of them were on the east side of the square. I tried to explain that this was a list of stores that existed in 1940, but I do not think everyone heard me. So be it. We'll continue with what we have, and hope that all of you understand. For now, on with the list. We left off with some remarks about the Roxy Theater, next door to Foster's Corner Drug, one of the few still where it used to be.

Next door south of the Roxy was Kraemer's Shoe Store. The business was operated by Mr. and Mrs. E.O. Edson, and it was quite a draw for adults and children. Mrs. Edson was the former Marguerite Kraemer, daughter of A. Kraemer, who founded the business at the opening of the Cherokee Strip in 1893. The Kraemer store gave away baby rabbits to children at Easter time.

Just south of the Kraemer store was the Henry Loeffelholz barber shop, and south of that was the memorable Palace Cafe. That also was the home of Perry’s Union Bus Station. You could buy a bus ticket to any place in the U.S. at the Palace. Coffee or Coca-Cola, a sandwich and a dinner at the Palace were considered quite elegant, and many business deals were made there.

Next door south of the Palace was a nickel and dime variety store opened by the affable Jack Smith, then came the H. L. Johnson grocery, operated by the Johnson family. Many "Mom and Pop" grocery stores were in the downtown area, and many were on or near the square. Somewhere in the vicinity were the Annex Theater, the Pacific Cafe, a pool hall, a bowling alley and various other firms. One of them was a four-lane bowling alley. The Annex Theater and several other buildings were razed in the 1960's to clear the way for a proposed renovation.

Other businesses came and moved away on the east side of the square, but perhaps this will give you a sample to savor. On the south end of that side was the Foucart building, and it is still there. Our Chamber of Commerce has offices there, and the PIN TV offices are next door north. The east side also has historic buildings on the east side some of them erected after 1940. The Malzahn building cluster, now called the Heritage Center, is a good example.

Keep several things in mind when remembering the east side. Not all of the businesses in this column were there in 1940. The Moorehead Directory was a good source of information, but if anything has been overlooked it is my own fault, not Moorehead’s. We will have more later on the south and west sides.