Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

July 6, 2013

RAY DAY: Recalling our city's square

Kokomo Tribune

---- — My memo-ries take me back to that time when most things were good.

We went to the movie houses to see our cowboy hero’s like Roy Rogers and Gene Autry; their horses, Trigger and Champion; and their sidekicks, Andy Devine, Gabby Hayes and Pat Butram. We saw great singers like The Sons of the Pioneers and Dale Evans.

You did not see much, if any, kissing going on, but the shows were great to enjoy with your friends. Boy, those horses got a lot of hugs and taking care of. The movie houses back then were the Fox, Wood, Sipe, Indiana, Isis, and The Colonial.

A young fellow and his friends could go downtown and, before going to one of the movie shows, buy a large bag of popcorn at McClelland’s or popcorn and peanuts at the wagon, just north of the Indiana movie house. And after the show, you could go to Hill’s Snappy Service to get the best fries and hamburgers, and top it off with a frosted malt only found at Hill’s.

They just are no more, except in our memory banks, and hopefully we will remember it all till that time when God calls us home.

One place that is still downtown is the Kokomo Tribune, where this column is printed and in the same spot and still going strong.

The stores that were downtown have either gone out of business or out to the malls to get every customer they can. One of the best places for me to spend time in was the Walt Moss Barber Shop. Walt was about as nice a guy as there ever was, and he cut my hair until that time when the forehead started meeting the back of my neck.

John Palumbo at Engle’s was another person everyone liked and from whom you could get a good deal on that special gift for the pretty lady on your arm. And I can’t forget Charles Sullivan at Victory Bike Shop, who was the man to see anytime you had a problem with that bike. Just knowing him was a blessing because he was and is a person who will treat you with respect.

The stores that made the move to the malls were Sears, Penney’s and Wards. Now Wards is gone altogether. Great stores like Kresge’s, McClelland’s and K&S Department Store are gone — and how can we forget the restaurant in Kresge’s, where many workers downtown stopped to get their lunches made by the nicest ladies around, like Mary Lou Budd, who served you with a smile. We just don’t have people like that anymore who treat you with great service.

At nighttime, after the stores were closed, you could just walk along the storefronts, looking at the things you wished you had. Those who had cars would drive around the square, showing off that new or used car so precious to the driver and the passengers who were lucky to have a friend who owned one. And today, I wonder, where did it all go?

I guess that my memories of a time long gone probably are not that interesting to those who only live in the present.

We can only tell it like it was and hope that a little bit of it gets through to our children.

Ray “Uncle Ray” Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at uncleray@earthlink.net.