The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 13, 2013

Living downtown in the Depression


Going up the street was Mangel’s, Ford Hopkin’s, Maureks, Shinner’s Meat Market and, then, the new City National Bank. Next, came the ever-favorite Allen’s Tea Room — which had been Korn’s during the 1920s. Grant’s came in then, and the National Tea Co. grocery chain (later Hubbard’s Hardware). Armstrong’s (a wholesale supply store) was in the Shoecraft Building (Brown’s Shoes) until they moved to South Second Street. In the Lamb Block, (now the Jacobsen Building) were Penny’s and Walgreen’s Drugstore. Upstairs was KROS, Prudential, the Wapsipinicon (social) Club, the K.of C’s and so on.

“Cookie” had lots of adventures on Fifth Avenue. He loved the wonderful pastries at Allen’s Tea Room. There were two grates outside their door. As people came out, having just been handed their change, they often dropped a nickel, dime, or penny — to the delight of the kids. They would get a yardstick and a piece of gum to try and snare coins from the depths of the grates’ caverns. “Cookie” knew both Clara, who once ran Allen’s, and the Pronger’s who later took it over.

There were many jobs to be had by youngsters during the depression. “Cookie” worked for Mr. Craig at Penny’s and sold newspapers on the Post Office Corner too. (The Holle boys serviced that corner years later.) Some competition was going to try to shove “Cookie” off that corner in 1936, but he brought a baseball bat to work one Sunday…. much to the chagrin of his mother, who said, “It’s too cold to play baseball.”

But, after clubbing one bully, the other one ran off; thereafter, he had no trouble. The Chicago Daily News also gave him a free pass to the Strand Theater, if he sold 10 copies of their paper.

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