Looking back to the year 1956, what businesses were located on Main Street? Let’s take a walk and see.
Joe Clemons was known to the people in the town for several reasons, one being his choice as a dispenser of Sunshine beverages and printing. He was able to purchase a Power Press and, by 1955, was working full time. He was married to Rita Clark and they had five children.
Walking a little further and on the corner of Main and Elk, you will see an Atlantic Gas Station run by Sam Vacanti, who always made his customers feel at home. Sam is a top-tire dealer in Western New York and rates high in the selling of State Premium oil.
With a smile, he would fill your car up with gas or fix that rattle that you heard in your car. He employed two full-time mechanics and two part-time mechanics. He had a great business sense.
After he was discharged from the Army in 1946, he opened and operated a jewelry store in Delevan for eight years, becoming a watchmaker. After that, he opened a hot dog and frozen custard stand under the name of “Sam’s Frozen Custard” on Route 16 in Lime Lake, which in 1956 he stills owns and operates as well.
The Simon Brothers store was in operation with Carl and Maurice Simon. They formed a partnership in 1904. In 1922, they purchased the FH Frubus building and they became one of the most prominent clothing stores in town, expanding to several stores fronts and carrying clothing for the whole family of the best quality around.
Fifty-plus years later, they had built up a fine reputation.
Maurice Simon was a member of the Masonic for over 45 years, on the Springville Board of Trade. Howard bought Carl’s interest at his retirement in 1951, making it a father-son operation, but choose to leave the name the same. Robert, another son, is also assisting now as well. A family business for the families of Springville.
There is an old saying: Keep your eyes on the doughnut and not upon the hole. That also holds true of bread, pies, pastry and well all the wonderful, mouthwatering items that were located on Phil’s Bakery on Main Street. Phil learned his skill while in Army and at one time made 3,000 loves of bread. He was put in charge of the Post Bakery until he was discharged in 1945.
In 1946, Mendell Evans opened a store in Springville and Phil moved here to manage it, and in 1949, he bought the store and the name was changed. He did most of the baking at night and slept during the day while fresh goods were on his shelves.
Enjoying reading the newspaper to gather our information has always been important, and in 1956, you could grab a newspaper at George and Don (his son) Blakely News Stand. A leading distributor of newspapers were found in his store, along with tobacco products of cigars, cigarettes, chewing tobacco, pipes and pipe tobacco. For the younger generation, there was candy and ice cream and all kinds of reading material — a one of a kind store here on Main Street.
Kuhn Drug Store was owned by Edwin Kuhn, one of three brothers. The other two brothers were Dr. Jerald Kuhns of Springville and Dr. Horace Kuhn of Machias. In 1955, a fire destroyed the Kuhn’s Drug store and all the contents of the store. Ed Kuhns reopened his pharmacy the following week in a small office building of Buffalo Street.
By 1956, they had moved back to their original location of 11-13 Main St. The new store had huge plate glass windows that reached across the entire front. The prescription department was on an elevated floor and at the back of the store was a complete fountain where you could get the best cup of coffee in town.
These were only a few of the many, many businesses that were on Main Street in 1956. You can see the Kuhn’s drug store, Leland House, Schuster Motor Car, Joylan theater, the Concord Jail, a display for Jack Yellen, Dr. Waite and more in the Heritage house located at 17 Franklin St., where we have an exhibit of the storefronts and rotating exhibits. We even have a 1921 gas pump!
It’s all located in the Heritage Building, which recreated downtown Springville from 1920-1960. The Heritage building can also be used by you, clubs, organizations and family gathering by contacting us. You can also get a guided tour of the campus along with hands-on technology there you can see and hear some of the interesting accomplishments of local residents.
You can also create a display in one of the storefronts for a two-month period in our rotating exhibits.
Learn more by stopping by the Lucy Bensley Center on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., or on the second and fourth Sunday, 2-4 p.m. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (716) 592-0094.