Commentary: A stroll down memory lane

People’s Drug Store, at right, and other shops are shown in this old photo of Strasburg's East King Street. Photo Courtesy of Strasburg Museum
Virginia Restaurant along with First National Bank and the Western Auto, right, are shown in this old photo of Strasburg at the corner of Holliday and King streets. Photo Courtesy of Strasburg Museum

As a kid growing up in Strasburg during the ’40s and ’50s, I traveled many miles up and down Main Street, which was also Route 11 — before Interstate 81 was established. I have myriad memories of  people and the businesses that occupied the Main Street area. I may have forgotten a name or two and possibly a location, but hey, I was a kid a long time ago.

I’d wander down Capon Street and the first business on Main was Artz Esso Station. It had belonged to Pete Bly but John Artz had purchased it from him in the ’40s. Mr. Artz hired Freddy Jackson, a World War II veteran, to help run the station.

Heading north on Main, the next business was a cold storage locker, which many used since freezers for homes were rare. At left was Lichliter’s Pontiac dealership. The building was later sold to Bressler Bros. of New York and a chicken processing plant was established. Next was Acree’s Grocery Store, later purchased and operated by Bob Funk, who employed his brother after he returned from the Army. Next was the pool room and bowling alley.

Across Fort Street, Mr. Fairfax operated a dry cleaning business. He later built around the corner and Coy French operated a cab stand in the old Fairfax building.

Next, two sisters had a small shop and sold Hershey’s ice cream for around 25 cents a the pint.  Later, Tommy Hart opened the Hometown Restaurant and it operated for many years. My mother was one of the first cooks.

Next was Johnson’s Grocery. Oh, I missed the telephone office where all the calls were connected by – two that I remember, Mary Morris and Aimee Racey.

Next was the post office, Massanutten Bank and I believe a clothing store, but I’m a little dim there. Next, was an insurance office and then Safeway. On the corner was the First National Bank. Across the street to the north was the popular Virginia Restaurant run by Mr. Brill.   To its north was Mr. Johnny’s Pool Room and Skeeter Lambert’s Grocery.  Later, Charlie Jenkins opened a pool room in that area. But before that I believe there was a beer hall. Then we come to the News Stand. Next, was Peoples Drug Store, then the fire hall and city hall. In front of city hall, names of area members of the military were displayed on bulletin boards with colored stars to indicate their status.

Next, was Nofsinger’s Bar and the theater. Next, was Joe Wolfson’s Merchandise Store, offering clothing and shoes. North, across the Town Run, the first business I recall is Jimmy the Greek’s snack bar where I would go after I saved 4 pennies to purchase a super 4-cent hamburger. I can still taste them. Then there was Crabill’s Hardware Store and the Ford Garage. Across the street on the corner was a bar and behind that, the silk mill. Next,  Granville Bly operated a feed store. During the war hundred-pound bags of feed were decorated with attractive patterns, and many women, including my mother, wore dresses made from them. Next was Borden’s Lumber Company.

Let’s cross Route 55 and travel south on the east side of Main. Stokes had a music store and Tracy Lineburgh operated a Sunoco station, I believe. Jasbo Conner off and on operated a lunch counter in a trailer beside the garage and catered to mostly silk mill personnel during lunch.

South, there was Bamber’s Store, a doctor’s office and Brill’s Grocery. Next, we come to Charlie Bell’s shoe repair and the cab stand. Next, was a jewelry store and then Little’s Grocery. Next, Vaughn’s Drug Store. Moving on, we see Rossen’s 5&10 cents store, which was bought by Sonny Stover.

Not much more until we arrive at the new theater, then Tampkin’s Hardware, later purchased by Sammy Artz. Across Fort Street south was Kaplan’s Merchandise. Mr. Kaplan sold clothing and operated a small grocery store in back. The store and the apartments above burned to the ground years later. Next was a law office, then — at various times — another snack bar operated by – you guessed it, Jasbo Conner. If we go a further south, we might see a small diner at a bad location (due to traffic) operated by Dick Horan.

That concludes a walk up and down Main almost 70 years after the fact. Forgive my errors, and smile. I believe that Strasburg was a truly great place to grow up. I have met no nicer people since.

William P. Kerkhoff is a Winchester resident.


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