The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa


September 13, 2013

Living downtown in the Depression


“Cookie” began what would be his life’s work at Kline’s, in the shoe shop. That’s where he first met his later wife, Helen, who also worked in that store. Mind you, he started as a seventh grader. He worked there until 1942 —when boss Henry DuMont fired him when he wanted to finish high school. After serving in the war, and working five years on the railroad, DuMont hired him back during a lay-off, and the rest is history.

“Cookie” went on to peddle Town Talks from the Labor Temple Building across from Marcucci’s, and he even worked for Mr. Grayes at the Coney Island before his own sons became old enough. He got $6 per 58-hour week.

“Cookie” used to get on the old I and I (railway) and head south, getting off near Camanche, and would then hunt his way home. Mr. Grayes would buy rabbits from him — even putting it on the menu during the hard times of the depression. But his most lucrative job was selling Radio Guides in 1937. Then came the war, and off he went, spending some time on Luzon in the Philippines.

On the roof of the Lamb Block was the KROS radio tower, which fell to the ground in a storm during the 1940s. Penny’s moved to the Wooster Building on Fourth Avenue (the Pool Hall), and then back to Fifth Avenue’s ground floor of the Wilson Building. Around the hub of the commercial district were other well-known establishments: the J &P Shoe store on Second Street, above the Brass Rail. Remember looking down into the shoe “x-ray machine” at J & P?

Camille’s was farther down the street, near Boegel’s. Across the street were Benders, the Turner Building and Kline’s in the Howe’s Building. That’s where “Cookie” started his lifelong career with shoes.

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