south main

FLASHBACK — An aerial photo shows South Main Street, center, and the old Howard County Jail, right center, in 1964.

Sounding much like Ronnie Reagan, “Well, here we go again.” It's time for another trip in Mr. Peabody and Sherman's “Wayback Machine” (for you Rocky and Bullwinkle fans) to mid-1964, downtown Kokomo. Are you ready for a trip down South Main Street? Let's go.

If one was transported from the ‘60s to 2019, they would be hard-pressed to recognize anything south of Sycamore Street on Main. The majority of buildings from that era met the wrecking ball years ago due to fire or the cause of urban development. Others underwent cosmetic facade surgery to hide age spots and wrinkles.

Orbits of business near the Howard County Courthouse were, for the time being, heart of retail commerce in the City of Firsts. It was not to remain so, as shopping malls were coming into vogue on the city's fringe, parallel to today's highway 931.

Our walk south from Sycamore Street, of course, would include the Armstrong-Landon Building on the southwest corner and Robert Freed's Palmer Jewelry on the southeast at Main Street. They're still there. If one is a purest however, both maintain Sycamore Street addresses, but those icons simply cannot be excluded from our examination.

Attached to Palmers at 110 was the Local Finance Corp. with Fred Weales, office manager. Running from 112-116 was the large Stanley's – K&S Department Store, M. Lucille Stanley, President.

Across Main was another Kokomo-icon, the ISIS Theater. Francis C. Anderson was the manager charged with providing family motion picture entertainment. ISIS had not yet offered the adult variety which crept in during the 1970s.

Next door at 115, decorators could obtain painting and wall covering supplies from Simon and A. William Dorman or Owen Pettijohn at the Howard County Paint Store. Longtime father-and-son optometrists Otis R. and Phil Hale served and gave insight to the community from 117 S. Main St. Offering musical instrumentation and supplies from 119 was Louis L. Lorenz at, what else, the Lorenz Music Store.

Crossing back over to 118 found the popular Spiegel Inc. mail-order house with District Manager Paul Sternaman at the helm. Wm. S. Moore operated his auto parts store at 120. The 44-room Martin Hotel, address 103 E. Superior St., anchored the northeast corner at Superior Street. John E. Smith supplied vacuum and sewing needs from his Guarantee Vacuum store, occupying most of the first floor at the Martin. Ruth and David Felt at Felt Typewriter & Supply utilized the remainder.

Public Accountant Lawrence L. Kogut plied his profession at 121 next to Drs. Hale. If your tummy was growling, Ritzie Hamburgers sat on the northwest corner of Main and Superior at 123, operated by Mary and John Poulos.

Continuing southbound, popular watering hole Cecil's 200 Club stood on the southeast corner at 200 S. Main St. Next door at 202 was the American Printing & Publishing Co. where owner J. Lloyd Snyder boasted, “We print anything from the smallest card to newspapers.”

Frank Carlile sold general merchandise from his business, Carlile Army Surplus, at 204. United Cab Service provided 24-hour “passenger insured” service from 206 with Gerald Davis as manager. Atop United at 206½ was headquarters for the local Howard County Republican Central Committee pachyderms.

Sheriff Thomas E. Leap secured local nefarious characters and headquartered his department inside the castle-like Howard County Jail at 212 S. Main St. Completing the east side of the street prior to wading the creek was the Holden Trading Stamp Co. with Wilma Frazier, manager.

Heading south on the west side from Superior at 201 was Shim's Trading Post pawn shop. Thomas Bowman Jr. offered a variety of merchandise including furniture, guns, knives, luggage, cameras, and sewing machines. Next at 205 was Turner's Cafe where Wixie Turner cooked up the grub. Shim's utilized 207 for storage space.

209 was vacant for a while. Merwin E. Bougher led his Kokomo Roofing Co. crew from 211 with the aforementioned Wixie Turner and husband John living in an apartment above at 211½.

Have spot on a dress or necktie? Elmer Roush inside Hi-Grade Clothing Cleaners at 213 could spiff up your threads. Ray Wortman at Wortman Welding Supply offered quality metal joining equipment and supplies from 215.

Rounding out the west side by the creek was a large apartment building containing five units. Ray and Barbara Wortman in #1. Haynes-Stellite lab tech. Rosemary Benedict in #2, Mrs. Anna Lindley #3, beautician Doris Weddle #4, and Kain Trucking stock foreman Paul Watson in #5.

Whew, that nearly wore me out! I think it's obvious. The first two blocks of south Main Street proved to be a bustling stretch of real estate in '64. And to consider this, the best times were just around the corner. It was time to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Presto!

-That's 30-