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March 22, 2006

When I was a punk kid of the 1930's, growing up on the north side of the Perry square, I thought all the "good" businesses were on the south side, except our family's City Drug Store on the north side, where I labored as a soda jerk from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. daily. Those I liked on the south side were our friendly competitor, Everett Nelson, at the South Side Pharmacy: Morris, Madge, Rudolph, Elsie and George Gottleib at the Famous Department Store; Wesley Marcy at the Gem Café; Charlie Monroe Jr. at Monroe-Lang Hardware & Furniture; and Horace Galaway Sr. at his grocery store. There were others, of course, but most of them were come-and-go businesses.

Some of the others were the Farmers Exchange Store, the Humpty-Dumpty grocery, followed by Safeway, followed by Lester Barge when he moved from the north side; and several others. At the extreme east end was a vacant lot, which finally became an enclosed fruit stand and Union Bus Station with Leo and Hortense Johnson at the controls. It was a great kid hangout for several years. Now it is an unoccupied Mexican restaurant. The south side, like the other three sides, has lots of unoccupied buildings.

The Wood family had a restaurant in an old bank building, Ted Workman had an adult recreation parlor and cafe toward the west end, John Thompson eventually had a furniture store near the west end, and a car dealership once occupied a store front as I recall. I'm sure there were others, but those came quickly to mind. And of course the old ice plant, where the Odd Fellows used to meet, was quite a building. It brought Perry's first rental space for frozen animal parts, I believe. The ice plant was not on the south side of the square, but was actually one block off the square. It's where the NAPA store is now located.

Mr. Galaway eventually closed his grocery store and Leonard Rugh opened a Food Market in that location. Both declined my proposal that they buy popped corn from me for moviegoers at the Roxy and Annex Theatres, where I had already been turned down by Charlie Wolleson and Henry Tate. All of us did not share the same vision. More about the south side of the square will follow shortly.