Hometown Views: Main Street

Today Erin (Still Life, With Cracker Crumbs) and I are writing about main streets for our Hometown Views. Obviously, our main streets are going to be very different, since I live in a very small town and she lives in a city.

In fact, if Erin wants photos of her city’s Main Street, without too much traffic, she must wake up at 4 a.m., or ask a friend to take photos for her at 4 a.m. If I want a photo of my Main Street without traffic I simply walk down on a Sunday evening or any evening and take them because this town is dead most days of the week, but even more so on a Sunday afternoon or after 5 p.m.

Let me tell you something too, when I started writing this blog post, it spun me down into a rabbit hole of information, from online sources, local resources, and from stories from my mom and dad who remembered where this and that store used to be that isn’t there any longer. This journey even had me questioning my own sanity as I couldn’t remember some of the old stores or rows of buildings that used to be here and no longer are and had to wonder why. I apparently have Swiss cheese for a brain and forgot half of my childhood. It might be better that way, of course.

According to the VisitPA tourist site, Dushore was founded in 1859 and name after Aristide Aubert du Petit-Thouars, who was given the area to farm after traveling from France to Philadelphia and to French Azilum, which I believe I mentioned on this blog before was an area about 40 minutes from me where Marie Antoinette was going to be taken to before she was captured and beheaded. I don’t see how they got Dushore from his name, but let’s just go with that.

The first permanent settler was not the French dude, however. It was General Cornwallace Jackson if Wikipedia has it correct. The French dude (I simply don’t want to type his name out again, which I didn’t even type, I copy and pasted it) has his own Wikipedia page so he must be more important than General Jackson. After reading this on the Wikipedia page, “After having lost both legs and an arm, he continued to command from a bucket filled with wheat until he died,” I think I might want to read up more about this man in the future.

Main Street looked a lot different back in those early days of Dushore of course. Two big differences are the fact that an entire row of buildings on Main Street burned down in 1984 — an event I completely do not remember, but maybe because I was only 6 or 7 at the time — and another row across the street was torn down in the early 90s.

Dushore was our main town to shop in when I was growing up (other than Towanda, 15 minutes away), so I’m sure we must have gone in and out of those buildings, but I don’t remember them at all. Like any of them. For me, my memory starts when the Guthrie Clinic was on the corner, built where the old buildings that burned used to be. It probably starts there because I was in that office so much as a child with bladder infections, strep throat, and possible mono at least once, and when I was older, thyroid and blood sugar (low) issues.

While searching for information about the town online, I found a paper by a student of Penn State from several years ago suggesting the former Pealer’s Drug Store building be remodeled and revamped, to make it a centerpiece of Main Street. That remodeling has since been done and now the building is used for various events, including the county library’s trivia night fundraiser. I don’t know if it is the centerpiece of town, but it is a lovely looking building, which I pass to drive to my house.

The Pealer is the blue building.

Back in the day (as the saying goes), drug stores were a central location in town because they provided more than pharmaceuticals to residents. They were also the place people went to converse about life, purchase the local paper, buy candy, etc.

Speaking of the local paper, the current, and literal, the centerpiece of town is our county’s newspaper, The Sullivan Review.
The Sullivan Review is currently owned by my neighbor, John Shoemaker. It was founded in 1878. It merged with several other newspapers over the years, until it was purchased from the Towanda Printing Company in 1966 by Thomas and Stefana Shoemaker, to keep it from folding with the Towanda Daily Review, which was the paper I started my reporting career in. It is actually The Daily Review in Towanda now, but most people call it the “Towanda Daily Review.”

The newspaper office is the red brick building in the center with the bell tower. It is pictured her on Memorial Day this year.

Local residents rarely called Thomas by his first name. I didn’t even know his first name was Thomas, or Tom, up until a few years ago. He was referred to as “Doc” by the locals because he was also the local veterinarian. We took all of our animals to him when I was growing up, and I have a couple of vivid memories of a couple of those visits, including the time we had to take our dog Sheba to him to have porcupine quills removed from her snout.

Another story involves our cat, Zorro, who we took there when he started to develop kidney issues. My dad warned me that Doc might seem rough when he handles the animals, but that he does care for the animals and isn’t trying to hurt them. I didn’t know what he meant until Doc grabbed my cat’s tail, yanked it up toward the sky in one quick jerk, and plopped a thermometer straight up his rear like he was putting birthday candles in a cake. Zorro yowled for a few moments but within a minute it was over and it was worth it because we discovered he had a fever and he ended up on antibiotics.

When Doc wasn’t taking care of area animals, large (he also visited local farms) and small, Doc was covering events for the paper, which comes out every Wednesday, I might add. It’s actually out on many store shelves by Tuesday night. I ran into Doc during quite a few events when I first started working in newspapers. His wife was by his side most of the time, one or both of them holding a camera. Doc is a blog post all on his own and I think I will write one soon. He was a fascinating man.
His son now runs the paper with his wife, Chris. Their daughter Kate also helps out. Their son, John, is a lawyer in town.

Yes, I have digressed, so moving on to the rest of Main Street.

The Jolly Trolley is another highlight of downtown, located directly in the center of Main Street, on the corner by the only stoplight in Sullivan County. Yes, our town is known for having the only stoplight in the entire county. It is the largest town in the county and the only one where drivers could collide with more than simply a bear, deer, or raccoon.

The Jolly Trolley wasn’t always the Jolly Trolley, of course. Today it is a local restaurant and retail store selling unique gifts.
Many years ago, though, it was the local Ben Franklin, owned by a Mr. Sick. Ben Franklin stores were a chain of five and dime stores. There was also one in Towanda, the town I mentioned before that we traveled to for groceries, shoes and clothing shopping, etc.

Ben Franklin in the 70s maybe?

I don’t remember Mr. Sick much, other than he had blazing white hair and liked to hand me candy when we went in. I think he wore white shirts and a black tie or black suspenders most of the time. I also remember the store with its wooden floors, glass jars full of candy, and aisles full of a variety of crafts and other items.

Mr. Sick is also the main character in one of my dad’s favorite stories about being careful not to gossip or complain about people in a small town. According to Dad, Mr. Sick liked to talk a lot so he was talking to a woman for several moments and when he left the woman turned to the woman next to her and said, (I’m summarizing), “Oh my gosh. I thought he’d never leave. What an annoying man. He never shuts up. I don’t know how people can stand to listen to him all the time.”

The other woman responded, “I have to listen to him. He’s my husband.”

I am not exactly sure when Ben Franklin closed, but probably sometime in the 1990s since Mr. Sick passed away in 1995. The entire storefront has been completely revamped, since then and I think the red building it has become is a nice addition to downtown.

Little Miss, The Boy, and I have visited the restaurant a few times for lunch or breakfast and Little Miss loves to watch the little train along the top of the ceiling go around while we eat. The store also has a large, stuffed black bear standing by the register, which she likes to touch and look at while I pay. She also likes to run down the ramp into the toy section to search for a new toy to add to her collection. This is the same ramp if I remember right, that was there when the old Ben Franklin store was there.

Next to the Jolly Trolley is the NAPA store, which I don’t have any memories of because I am not sure I’ve ever been in it.

The only story I have from that store is one about my sister-in-law going there to purchase something when she was up to visit my brother (I don’t think she was my sister-in-law yet) and someone in the store made a disparaging remark about “flatlanders.” She is from New Jersey originally. Anyone who isn’t “from around here” and is from the southern part of the state or New Jersey is considered “a flatlander.” When you say “flatlander,” you say it much like I described how locals say Scranton when you mention you are going to visit there. Nose wrinkled, faced scrunched and the word dripping with disgust.

My sister-in-law ignored the comments, bought whatever she needed, and went next door to the Jolly Trolley where, after waiting for someone to take her owner, heard someone rudely call from behind the counter, “Did anyone wait on the flatlander yet?”

I haven’t heard of this happening to anyone recently and the person who made the crack in the restaurant could have been joking, or they should have been, considering a lot of the income of the businesses around here, especially the restaurants, relies on “flatlanders” who drive up from Philly and New Jersey to stay in cabins they rent or own in the wooded areas around us.

Beyond the NAPA is the CN Bank, or whatever they are calling it today. The name changed recently and will probably change again. Further down is Dushore Beverage, because every town, no matter how small, needs a liquor store.

Next to the liquor store is a small craft store run by some very nice people, including a woman who has a cat who jumps on her shoulder while she talks to customers. The cat then perches there like it’s a parrot.

Next in line on the street is a private residence and then a local insurance business in a former private residence. Crossing the street, you will find one of the other popular restaurants in town, Mary Beth’s Westside Deli, which is owned and operated by the town mayor. It offers cheesesteaks and other tasty items, as well as an ice cream stand that I have to take Little Miss to every time we visit the tiny playground. I have some humorous stories about visits there but to avoid offending anyone who might misunderstand if they stumble on to this post, I’m going to leave those stories out of this post. wink

Next to Mary Beth’s, going on the other side of Main Street, is one of our local grocery stores (yes, we have two!), Hurley’s Supermarket. I’m not sure what the building was before it was a supermarket, and my mom can’t remember either. I originally thought it was an Acme, but she thinks the Acme was actually in the row of buildings that has since been torn down.
There are two Hurley’s Supermarkets, with the second one being in . . . yes, Towanda.

There is a large municipal parking lot next to Hurley’s, which I believe was filled by the Green Swan Grill and another row of stores many years ago. I have no idea when those buildings were torn down, but one source online said the grill building was torn down in 1990. I do not even remember this building. Seriously, what was I on during my childhood? It’s all a blur to me.

I did find this photo of it on the historical site’s Facebook page.

Across the street and next to the stop light is the M&T bank building which was emptied a couple of weeks ago when the bank moved out. Next to the bank building is the Pealer building, which I mentioned above, then there is a bar, The Iron Horse, which I think used to be the Whistle Stop Café.

Further down is Pam’s Restaurant, a very popular restaurant, not necessarily for the food (although it is good) but for the people who run it and the hometown feel it has for those who visit. It is a local gathering place for locals to eat, chat, gossip, complain, and simply be together. It is also my dad’s go-to place when he comes into town. He meets old friends and makes new ones.

Beyond Pam’s are a couple of old buildings, including an old, abandoned hotel, that somehow have not been torn down or fallen down yet. I would guess that the hotel building has been there since the late 1800s or early 1900s, based on some old photos I found. I will have to research this when I have more time.

Besides this building, there used to be an old train trestle/bridge that ran over the road. I had no idea about that until I looked for old photos of the town online. There is a Facebook page for the county’s historical society, which features historical photos of the area, especially the town I live in.

Our other market in town, the aptly named Dushore Market, completes the businesses on Main Street.

I could have researched a lot more history about downtown, but I wasn’t really sure how much I should add and how boring that might make this post.

I did a search online about Dushore and Wikipedia wants everyone to know that the town is the hometown of NASCAR and ARCA driver L.W. Miller. Honestly, I didn’t know L.W. was an actual driver, (oops, sorry L.W.) but I do know he is married to Dale Earnhardt’s daughter, Kelly, that he is originally from here, and that his family is heavily involved in car/truck racing. His grandparents (maybe his parents too?) ran Miller’s Hardware, another landmark and staple in this town. L.W. worked there as a kid.

His grandmother was a fascinating character and my main memories of her involve a woman who reminded me of Carol Channing, with white, bobbed hair, dark-rimmed glasses, smoking a cigar, and giving me 50 cent pieces when I visited the store with my dad.

If you want to know more about L.W., you can see his own Wikipedia page, or maybe I’ll write a blog post about him one day too wink.

I thought it would be neat to share a few of the old photos I found of Main Street compared with today’s.

I hope you have enjoyed our journey down my little town’s Main Street today. Hop on over to Erin’s blog and learn more about the Main Street in Wyandotte, Michigan.

15 thoughts on “Hometown Views: Main Street

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  3. My first thought was your main street is so cute! I love that there are so many stories and so much history around everything on it. It’s pictures and stories like yours that make think living in a small town would be so lovely. Because I don’t even know where the main street in my city actually is, though it’ll probably take about an hour to get there. Wherever it is.

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  4. I finally got my interwebs back!! Yay!!

    This post was so interesting!! I want to go to the library trivia night at The Pealer and to the Jolly Trolley! How cute is that building! And that blue color of The Pealer is the color I want to paint my house. LOL.

    And those historical facts were fascinating. First I had no idea that Marie Antoinette intended to go to Pennsylvania, and second that guy in the wheat bucket? Crazy!!

    So, there are two references to Fried Green Tomatoes in this post. The Whistle Stop Cafe and Towanda. Is there a connection between that story and your area?

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    • As far as I know our area has nothing to do with that book. I have no idea where Fannie Flagg got “towanda!!!” But it was so weird to hear that yelled in the movie since Towanda was my alma-mater’s rival. As for the Whistle Stop — I think that’s related to the train that used to go through town.

      The story of French Azilum, where she was supposed to go, is fascinating and there is still a small historical site on the site.

      I have visited a couple of times. The people who came over ahead of her helped settle the valley there and were named Homets which is pronounced “omay” but everyone here just says it like hah-mets.


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  6. Pretty neat, I’d say. I love the history of small towns. Mine has quite an interesting story to it too and believe it or not, one of my ancestors was the first white settler in my hometown, until Native Americans chased him and his family away.

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