The Interurban, circa 1947, makes a turn
from Houston Avenue onto Main Street in
front of the Saratoga Cafe. The Katy Depot
is pictured in the background.
REMEMBERING DOWNTOWN DENISON IN THE FIFTIES
By Donna Hunt
After a recent column about remembrances that my
sister and I had of Main Street as we were growing up in
the early 1950s drew so many comments, I decided to do a
little more remembering with the help of a 1953 Denison
City Directory. That too, brought back a lot of memories
for me and I hope it will for readers too.
Starting with the 100 block, first place to remember
is the Saratoga Café right on the corner, across the
avenue from the Katy Depot. It also was across the alley
from the Texas Electric Railroad or Interurban as most
people called the trolley-type vehicle that went up Main
Street, turned south on Mirick Avenue then all the way
to Dallas and beyond.
The Saratoga probably is remembered by more people
than anyplace else in town. It was open all night to
accommodate railroaders who arrived and departed 24
hours a day. It also accommodated a lot of
late-nighters, including the football team and football
fans who participated in nearby games and then stopped
to eat or just to hang out afterwards. You would have
thought it was the Fourth of July some nights about 1 or
2 a.m. when the team returned home to be greeted by fans
-- especially if they had won the game. I especially
remember working at the newspaper office on election
nights until all hours of the morning, then going to the
Saratoga to eat breakfast.
There were several hotels and some apartments
upstairs on the north side of the block but I'm not
familiar with them except that a classmate lived in one
of the apartments. There were several used furniture
stores in the 100 and 200 block.
Hubbard's Furniture store was on the corner of Main
and Austin where it still stands. However, it wasn't run
by Keith Jr., who now runs the store, or his dad, Keith
Sr., for whom I worked a short time, but by Coleman R.
Hubbard with his son, Keith Sr. as his right hand man.
The Grayson County Car Tag office was in the block
and that's where you went to pay your poll tax and get a
receipt that allowed you to vote in upcoming elections.
Yes, in those days you had to pay a tax in order to cast
a ballot. That was changed a few years after I was old
enough to vote.
That block had a Dixie Cream Donut Shop, a real
estate office run by Franz Kohfeldt, who owned much of
the Main Street property, Reid's Music Supply Store, the
Blue Front Café and Mullican's Shoe Shop where the
cutest boy worked during those days.
On the opposite end of the block from the Saratoga
was the Roller Bowl and Skating Ring. Downstairs were
the bowling alley lanes and upstairs was the skating
rink. I never did a lot of bowling except in college
when my freshman, physical education class was bowling
and setting pins took up most of the time at the
manually operated bowling lanes in Denton where I was a
student at North Texas State University.
I did a lot of trying to skate. Saturday mornings
were reserved for students to skate. My group of friends
religiously went skating. I've never been particularly
well balanced on my feet and put me on roller skates and
I'm headed for a fall. I tried really hard, but never
got the hang of skating. I really did better setting
pins at the bowling alley. The skating rink sometime was
turned into a boxing ring and many young Denison men
showed what they could do.
Moving on up to the 200 block, Myles Variety and
Spencer's Household Appliances first come to mind. Myles
Variety was a small Kress or Newberry store that had a
little of everything and it was just a few stores away
from my dad's drug store. Mr. Spencer's daughter, Dana,
was a good friend of my sister so we got to know that
family pretty well.
We had Montgomery Ward and Sears-Roebuck order
offices in that block. You could go in and look at a
catalog and order what you wanted and a lot of people
took advantage of those businesses because neither of
the big stores were in this area.
Across the street was Anderson and Sons Printing and
the home of the Denison Press newspaper that was run by
Mr. Anderson. This was a weekly newspaper that operated
for many years.
Anyone with small children shopped at Winnie's Youth
Shop. Winnie had a lot of everything and it was in no
particular order. She may have had the merchandise
straight and with sizes together at one time, but every
time I was there it was all piled on tables and you dug
through looking for what you wanted and the right size.
Despite the unorganized status of the store, Winnie sold
a ton of merchandise.
Let's not forget Bear Drug on the corner across from
both the State National and Citizens National banks.
Bear Drug had a fountain that people still remember for
its hamburgers and milkshakes. Upstairs was located the
offices of many of Denison's physicians.
It's hard to remember and list all the places that
made Downtown Denison what it was back in those days.
There were several jewelry stores, hardware stores,
clothing stores, barber shops and even a few filling
stations along the way. We'll explore some if the other
50s businesses in a later column and might even go back
to 1892 and look at what was here that year.
By the way, the store next to Newberry's that I
couldn't remember the name in the earlier column, was
Denison Optical with Drs. Kanode and Busby. Later it was
Drs. Kanode and Thompson and when it burned the doctors
were Thompson and Herron. Thanks to Steve Armstrong for
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