Letters to ...

Response to Main St. 100 years ago

by John Murphy & Paul Hupper

The January article on "Downtown and a hundred years ago" struck a familiar note with several Mirror readers. The first reply was from John Murphy:

Just read Bill McSween's comments regarding Main St. a hundred years ago. The mention of the hardware store at the corner of E. Foster and Main caught my attention. I remember the many times I visited FRANK COYLES HARDWARE STORE with my father on a Saturday morning. It was a fascinating store especially to a small boy. Mrs.Coyle also worked there with Mr. Coyle. They were really nice people.

This also reminded me of Prior's Haberdashery next door. As a teenager I worked down the street at Andrews Market for the Goodman family earning $5.00 a week. Two dollars went to Prior's to pay for a special purchase I had made. Mr. Prior and his manager Ed Hatch were real gentlemen. This was my first credit purchase.

Best regards,
John Murphy

... and Paul Hupper replies:

Just finished reading John Murphy's comments about the hardware store at the corner of E. Foster and Main Street. Yes, that was Frank Coyle's Hardware Store. Before he moved his store to that location his store was directly across the street next door to Haslam's Drugstore.

To get into the old hardware store, one had to climb 8 or 10 granite steps. He worked there with his sisters. I don't believe that Frank Coyle was ever married. As a young kid, Frank used to pay us 1 for an empty liquor bottle. He used the bottles when as customer wanted linseed oil or other bulk items that Frank sold. Of course, we were always on the lookout for empty whiskey bottles!!

Before Coyle's moved across the street to corner of E. Foster and Main, there was a chinese laundry there. I used to take my Dad's stiff collars there to be washed, starched and ironed. When we left the collars, we would be handed half of a ticket with chinese writing on it. This was then handed in when we went to pick up the finished job. Later on, the boiler in the laundry exploded one night. No one hurt as I remember, but it wasn't too long after that the laundry closed and the family moved away.

Prior's Haberdashery was next door and I knew Ed Hatch very well as I was a buddy to his son, Richard. They lived on East Foster Street as I remember with Ed Hatch's father. Richard Hatch died at a fairly young age. We did go to Melrose High together.

You mention that you worked at Andrew's Market for $5.00 a week. I also worked there while in high school. School let out at 2:30 and I hurried to the market to get there by 3:00 where I worked until 6:00 weekdays. Saturday started at 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. when the store closed and then had to put all the meats in the freezer and clean out the show cases. I worked there until I graduated in 1937 and then went to work for the B&M RR. When did you work at Andrew's Market? Of course, all the Goodman family worked there. The father I think was named Israel, then there Sam the older son, Ted the next oldest and there was another son whose name slips my mind. Also there was a man with the last name Gross, I believe, that was in charge of the produce section.

Saturday was a very busy, busy day. There were three of us in the back room putting up order to be delivered. I was there and a big man whose name was Ralph Tulley and another man who was more or less the boss in the back. There were two girls in the office taking orders over the phone and, as I recall, they had two trucks going all day Saturday delivering.

Another one of my 'important' jobs was to wash quart jars each week. One of the girls made mayonaise each week and it was my job to wash the jars!

It was interesting reading your comments. Would be happy to hear any comments about this article.

Paul Hupper
MHS Class of 1937
Now of: Winter Park, FL

Here's a link to "Downtown and a hundred years ago".

February 1, 2002

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