Humble’s Main Street was the place to shop, eat and find needed services in the 1940s and ‘50s. One usually thinks of men when they recall business owners, but many of the local establishments were owned and operated by women who greeted their customers with smiles.
The 300 block of Main was a very busy part of town. What is now Uptown Park was once occupied by Calfee’s Ready to Wear and Kattar’s Department Store. These were the two stores in which to find any clothes you needed. Willie J. Calfee was the owner of Calfee’s and could be found in the store daily. When I think of Calfee’s, I remember western clothes and boots. My brother found his sharply starched and creased western shirts and denim jeans at Calfee’s as well as his shiny cowboy boots. However, Calfee’s also offered other selections of clothes, shoes and hats for both the ladies and gents. Willie J. was always cheerful and ready to help her customers find the things they needed.
Recollections of Kattar’s Department Store bring up memories of nice lingerie. A smile crosses my face as I remember browsing the aisles of the store. One also could find patterns for clothing and home décor and the fabric and sewing notions for making the goods. Hours could be spent looking through the pattern books and shelves of fabric. There were also racks of clothes and boxes of shoes for men, women and children. Myrtle Kattar and Florence greeted their customers cheerfully and assisted them in finding whatever was needed.
Across the street from Calfee’s and Kattar’s was the Humble Café. It was a popular easting establishment for those who worked in the Main Street area and the ones who came to shop. Velma welcomed the hungry folks to her café.
Other ladies who spent their days on Main Street were Lessel Timme, who owned Humble Beauty Shop, and Frankie Jacoby, who had the City Café in the 200 block of Main. The City Café was known for its steam table where one could get mashed potatoes with gravy and a roll for 15 cents. That was a bargain for school students and adult patrons alike.
I remember with great fondness the Epps and Ingram Variety Store in the 400 block of Main. Sally Epps and Stello Jo were friendly ladies who were eager to help anyone find the items needed. Their variety store was actually a five-and-dime with everything from bubble gum and candy to toys, fabric and patterns needed for sewing garments. The shelves were also stocked with household products and gifts for all members of the family. Epps and Ingram Variety Store was a fun place to browse and visit with Sally and Stello Jo. Many customers developed friendships with the store owners.
The Humble Flower Shop was quite a distance from the bustling businesses of the 300 and 400 blocks of Main Street. The flower shop, which was located in the 700 block, was owned by Mrs. Eisenberg. It was a business that supported the Humble Funeral Home which was next door. Our own Helen Smith, who owns Humble Flower Shop today, began her career working for Eisenberg when she was a teenager. Eventually she purchased the shop and moved it to the location where it is today.
The women who were in business on Main Street in the 1940s and ‘50s were not only merchants, they were friends to many. They cared about their patrons and took an interest in them personally. An enjoyable experience was had by those who visited the businesses as a friend or as a customer.