You know what? I feel great when my readers let me know they like my column and look forward to reading the next one. That is what keeps me going, like when I relate to you my early years and the things I remember about others, who grew up during those times so greatly embedded in my memory bank.
And it is really great for me to hear from the ones older than me who like to contribute their thoughts. The other day, I received a letter from a relative of Charles Sullivan, who wanted to give me some notes about Kokomo.
Charles — who was the man to see about bicycles, owned Victory Bike Shop, and always has been a good Kokomo citizen — wrote about the streets of Kokomo that had the names of people who made their way into history, such as Washington, Jackson, Monroe, Taylor, Jefferson, Carter and Lincoln. And streets named after trees, such as Maple, Oak, Plum, Poplar, Mulberry, Pinetree, Buckeye and Beechwood.
He wrote about the popcorn machine at the corner of Taylor and Main Streets, where you could get a bag of peanuts too. He remembers the Palace Theater, which was owned by Merrell Moore. He said Merrell would stop the film so that he could take care of the customer who wanted popcorn. Then he would start the reel back. Sort of sounds like our television commercials today.
Dukes Restaurant was at 112 E. Sycamore St., and Fox, Wood and Isis theaters were owned by Sam Neal at one time. And Charles remembers Montgomery Wards, which was at 122 S. Main St. He said the Whitley Family, who owned Colonial Theater, also ran the Putt-Putt Golf Course on the northwest corner of Foster Park. Charlie is residing at Waterford Place and you can send him a note or visit with him there. Charles has always been a friend I cherish knowing because of the way he conducted business and how nice he always was with his customers. He treated everyone with class.
Letters from you will make me a better writer, as the memories of others are precious too. Old friends here in Kokomo such as Walt Moss, Bill Smyser, John Palumbo and the Martinos owned places where they made their customer first in line. Those places always will be the keys that opened the door to later businesses that made this city a place to live.
When the mill closed down, Mr. Smyser called me and asked if I wanted to come to Sears to work. I spent more than 17 years there, working with a great bunch of good people. Walt Moss cut my hair from 1952 to 2001 and never once did he do a bad job of cutting my hair. He gave me my first crew cut and then he gave me my first flat top. As time went on, I had a great head of hair, but slowly it started to leave me. Walt never once ever laughed about it. And John there at Engels sold me the ring that I gave to my Ramona. Any time you saw these three men, you felt good afterward because they left you in smiles and great friendship.
Oh, what a memory to have. Oh, to be able to live those days again, but we know we can’t. But it still is fun to remember them.
Ray “Uncle Ray” Day is a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.