Collection: James Whitlow
Scanned by James Whitlow
Main Street Looking West
This postcard photo is from the late 1950’s judging by the cars. There is an Arkansas Highway Sign on the right side to indicate that this is US Highway 67. Highway 67 came though Walnut Ridge in the mid 1920’s as an “Improved Road”, meaning that the road had some gravel on it, and by 1930 it was being paved with concrete. Highway 67 was a major highway between the St. Louis area and Texas. Small towns and communities depended on the traveling public for their income. West Main was a two lane road with angled parking equipped with parking meters so the city could collect money for improvements. Was it a dime for thirty minutes? I remember seeing strangers walking the sidewalk put a coin in an expired parking meter to save a person a fine. What year did R. D. Burrow cut down the parking meters in front of his business?
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Businesses on the right-side of the street
As we walk down memory lane of the streets of Walnut Ridge doing window shopping and reading their signs, we see the Bendix automatic Home Appliances sign at Wilcoxson and Sons Furniture Company and their motto “See Us Before You Buy”. By the time this photo was taken, Merle and R. D. Burrow were owners of Wilcoxson and Sons Furniture. The next window is Jack Dunham’s Jewelry with their Elgin and Bulova Watches and “Gifts They’ll Cherish On the Day They Will Never Forget”. Notice the clock on the building above the door. There are no signs stating what business was in the next store. In the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, the Stringer’s had a music store there. Many albums and eight-track tapes were bought by the local kids at this shop. These three store buildings were demolished a few years ago to make a parking lot.
As we walk past the alley, the first store was the Western Auto owned by the Futrell’s. I remember they had sporting goods in the display window and I always wished that I had the money to buy a baseball glove. I was only about ten at this time, but I wanted a “big” glove. All I had was a three finger, hand me down, worn out glove that had been left out in the rain and it was water logged. The next store is Van-Atkins, one of the three department stores in Walnut Ridge. The other two at the time were Sloan’s and Wilcoxson’s. When a person walked in the door of the Van-Atkins store, the women’s goods were on the left and the men’s goods were on the right. The shoe department was in the back and had a balcony where Mrs. Ester Johnson did the “free” alterations. The Times Dispatch Newspaper was next where the Bland Family have provided Lawrence County with local news since 1910. They had business supplies displayed in their window. The Family Shoe Store owned by the Heston and Harbin Families was next with all kinds of shoes. They also had a shoe shop in the back of the store to repair shoes and boots. Moore Feed and Seed was on the corner. This block was known as the “Bloom Block” in the 1910’s and 1920’s. The Bloom Store covered a large part of this block on main street. This block had been previously destroyed by fire in November 1930 with$100,000 damages according to the “Jonesboro Daily Tribune”. Who remembers Buster Secoy selling newspapers on this corner? He had a gift of remembering dates but had problems making change when he sold a newspaper. Across the street, there was First National Bank of Lawrence County. Mr. Robert Smith, Milton’s grandfather, was the president and his office was in the back. My memory was that most business men in town wore ties and suits, but Mr. Smith wore tan khakis . Some of the signs further down the street are Maloy’s Hardware, Sexton Drugs, and Roy Johnson’s Lion Gas Station located were the City Hall is now.
Businesses on the left-side of the street
On the south side of West Main we see Production Credit Association, Bertha B Beauty Shoppe with John Bench Barber Shop, and Midsouth Gas Company. Hanging on the building is a Chevrolet Sign for John Sain’s Chevrolet Dealership. John Sain was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Boston Braves and New York Yankees. After his playing days, he became a very successful pitching coach for different Major League teams. When he was pitching for the Boston Braves, there was a saying “Spahn and Sain and pray for rain” being they were the only two good pitchers Boston had. There is a round sign in front of the 1956 Chevy that states “Curb Service, Midwest Ice Cream”. My question is, what store had this sign? In the 1900’s there were three two-story buildings on this site with an Opera House on the second floor. On the first floor there were a doctor’s office and a drug store. By 1919, these two story building had been replaced with single story buildings with Jewelry, Gents Furnishings and Milly shops.
Across the alley stands Warner’s Drug Store. On the side of Warner’s Building is a sign that points to the Shoe Shop down the alley. This block was known as the Hotel Rhea Block years ago. The Snapp Family has done a great job in renovating the second floor into The Hotel Rhea and Fran Cavenaugh has The Venue on the ground level floor which is available for parties, events or meeting needs with a commercial kitchen. Thanks to Charles and to others that are taking pride in ownership of their buildings. The Ben Franklin Store is next where the Bill Henry Family had it for years. Notice the Weight and Fortune machine, when a person stepped up on the platform, your weight and fortune would show in the display window. In front of the Sterling Store, the Howard Family has merchandise on display and at Wilcoxson’s Department Store, Frankie Wilcoxson and Lowell Graham could set a man up with any type of clothing, from socks to suits. The women’s section was well stocked with the needs for the family. I also remember when I got up in Junior and High School, I started buying Levi’s jeans. Had to buy them several sizes to large so when they shrunk when they were washed, they would be the right size. Crossing Southwest Second Street, there was The Grill, a favorite place to get something to eat. I remember men would stand on the side of The Grill down by the Barber Shop chewing and spitting tobacco on the sidewalk. It was nasty. My mom wouldn’t walk down on that side of the street. There is a “Town Talk” painted sign on the building past The Grill. Could someone inform us on what that ad was for?
I hope this walk down memory lane brought back pleasant memories growing up in Hoxie and Walnut Ridge. It seems that everything we needed could be bought in town and if it couldn’t, Sears catalog had it. I also hope that the young people will have a better understanding how downtown Walnut Ridge was “back in the good ole days”.