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SAM SCHRAGER: How you happened to come to Moscow in the first place?
HARRY SAMPSON: You mean what I just told you? Well, our for' coming toMoscow was a neighbor of ours that had a couple of years before here. And he wrote my father that there was an opening as a meat cutter with Hagan, Cushing and Polk, tot we packed up, took the Northern Pacific and arrived in Moscow in March wet, rainy day. It was muddy and miserable. But we were able to stay over night with the people told us about the position and then the next day we found a place to rent on Third and Jackson across the street from the old Pleasant Home Boarding House. Rented the house for twelve dollars a month until we could build a house of our own. Moscow was kind of divided into a special section for the Scandinavian people, and it was called Swede town. And of course. being Scandinavian, looked for a place up there. Well, you couldn't buy a lot, you had to buy an acre. We bought an acre and built a house on it—three bedroom house for twelve hundred dollars and the ground was two hundted dollars. The neighbor next door was a contractor; he built the house-- Gustav Johnson andpis son, Theodore. In order to get the place landscaped and fixed up he got Allen Romstead, whose father Victor Romstead, to plant thirty-two fruit trees of his own choice on the place. And then a barn was built where we kept a cow, chickens and a pig. And remember this was only five blocks from Main Street, so it wasnt very far from town,and you could do those things in those days. We had to have an outhouse because there were no sewer facilities and we had to dig our own well for our own water. And that lasted until about 1910 or '12 before we got sewer connected to the place.
SAM: Where would that be today, about what street?
HS: Corner of Logan and Seventh. Then in 1905, I think it was, we moved out tothe packing plant, Hagan and Cushing Packing Plant where father could traftfer from a meat cutter to a butcher. And we lived there, he could make more money because he got a free house, free milk, free meat, free fuel, free everything. All he had to buy were a few of the necessities ife Wear and so on. Well, from there, we there for about two yars and then we moved to towft ^e passed away in 1907.
SAM: You were growing up right during that time, you were just a boy.
HS: Well, I was nine years old when I came to Moscow so I remember a good dealof the early history of Moscow.
SAM: Do you remember about how you played as a boy, the kinds of things thatthe kids did in town then? and "Hide and Go Seek"
HS: Well, I think games of "Run Sheep, Run", "Kick the Can".All those games were very poptilar. Baseball was a very popular sport with us. We played it in cow pastures and every place around. It was always But the social life when I was around from oh, I'd say,sixteen on was pretty much connected with the churches, the young peoples! . .. we had our young peoples' society there. A little later on we had a roller rink which we used. Fourth of Julys were a big event in Moscow and practically all of it took place on Main Street and the races, horseraces and so on at the fairground. There was one particular race that they had on Main Street Fourth of July, I'll always remember was put up standards with a ring I would judge about two inches in diameter, hung from these standards, and then weon horseback, had Id make it in a certain time down the street with a billiard cue and grab these rings. And the one that got the most rings got the prize. They also had to make it in a certain time. If they didn't a certain time, why then they were eliminated. And of course Main Street was decorated with all kinds of bunting and there were hot dog stands and various concessions on Main Street. A lot of youngsters' races. And believe it or not, along about, I thik, 1906 to '10 we had a minor league baseball team here. And they competed with Pullman, Colfax, Palouse, the towns around here. And all the players with the exception of the pitchers and the catcher were unpaid. And some of the people that played on the team as volunteers were: Crob jf)i% y who played short-stop, Roy who was connected with Washhgton Water Power, and Hal whowaa a university atudent. This all took place down on the fairgrounds where the Rosauer place is now. later become the International Harvester Company.
SAM: Wat about the early fire at the university? You were a kid when that happened,
HS: Let's see. That happened in 1907, I think or '6. '6, I guess it was. It wasright in there someplace. We were living on a farm at the time and we were notifies that the university was on fire. Andswe went up to the top of the hill and saw it from about three miles away. After the building burned down, they wanted to salvage the brick and they employed a lot of us youngsters to clean brick. They dynamited the building and there must have been twenty of us up there cleaning brick. And we were paid by the stack of one hundred, we stacked 'em up one hundred. Well strike, which I and my partner didn't strffe. The foreman put us on an easy brick pile where all we had to do was scrape the brick together and pile them up. That way we made sixty-five dollars a piece, just cleaning brick at the university. Well, after that the legislature provided money to start a new university. Later on, connected with the university after my father passed away, I worked for George Creighton. I was a messenger and stock keeper. And in about a year he figured that I ought to learn something about merchandising so he got somebody else to deliver packages and I worked in the store as atockboy and eventually started selling merchandise. They were very good to me, both Mr. Creighton and his wife and it was one of my chores every Monday Horning to go up to Mrs. Crdghton's house, to get her laundry and take it down to a lady, Mrs. j who did her laundry for her. An around about 1910, there were a couple of young men down at David's Store that quit, had a disagreement with the firm aid they both quit. Well, one of the fellahs happened to be staying with my mother as a roomer and a boarder. And he told me about it and he caid,"If you want the job go down and see Mr. David."So I immediately did ttat, and I went down there and being Scandinavian, why, and the county at that time was.sixty to seventy percent Scandinavian anyway, a lot of them didn't talk very good English. So he employed me at once as a saelsman in the men's department. Well, that went against the grain of Mr. Creighton, and he thought he was g?Lng to keep me there for years, I guess. And he didn't speak to me for years afterwards. And even called up Mr. David and told him, he rays,"What do you mean by taking my help away from me?" So that was that. I was in the store in the men's department, and the shoe department and the boy's department up until World War I. Mr. Homer David was head of the department. And so he wanted to take over the ready-to wear and the department, and he put me in as head of the men's department in 1917, I think it was. And I held that position until the time I retired in 1958.
SAM: Let me ask you this: When you first started in working there for Creightonsdid you have a pretty good idea in your mind that this was the kind of work you were going to want to do?
HS: Oh yes, I just loved merchandising. I loved merchandising. And I liked meetingpeople. It was easy for me to wait on people for that reason. And in all the time that I was connected with the store, unless that they were people that didn't have a charge account, I practically knew em by their first name because the population at that time of Moscow was around about 3500, and thejf only had about six hundred enrolled at the university. So we got to know faculty member and practically every student. Another thing that the Davids pride themselves on, and I in the history of their experience in the store, they did a tremendous credit business because they had a grocery department, furniture department. It was the biggest department Store in northern Idaho. And they extended credit rather freely to people. And many is the time they'd give credit. The students, any number of students would get credit in the fall of the year and they'd operated in clear until the next fall, wouldn't pay their bill until the next fall. And they paid it up in the fall by working during the summer. And the farmers did the same thing, a lot of the farmers paid up once a year. Well, the results of that credit business, we still found that the students' credit, they lost I one percent ot the credit with students.
And the farmers were bigger than that; farmers were a bigger risk than the studentsat that time, which is quite a coincidence. Speaking mbout the store being the biggest store in the north of Idaho, had a tremendous exchange, bought eggs, bacon and butter the farmers that brought it in. And for that they got script money from five cents to five dollars. And some of these people wold collect a hundred or more dollars in that script to pay up some of the bills that they had. I've seen many times when they were candling eggs; they would get in on Friday and Saturday dozens and dozens of eggs. And they'd have to candle them so there weren't any spoiled eggs. And I've seen lots of eggs that were spoiled eggs and rotten eggs that people had picked up eggs nests along fence rows or something and turned em in. And butter, some of it you could smell almost the time it got into the store. And they took that and give it a throw into a big , shipped it to Spokane and the bakeries used it up there in baking. And the surplus of eggs--we got in more eggs than we could even sell locally, and put em in thirty dozen cases mnd shipped em up to Spokane a refrigerator up there. And in the season of the year that we needed those, then we drew on em and b ought em back. So that was quite a business with bacon and eggs and butter. And the farmers in those days,.when I was in the store^in 1910 when I went in there, the automobile still wasn't in use and the farmers only cafe to town where they were off five or six or ten miles away from town,they would come in two, three times a year. Most of these farmers had big families—five, six, eight and ten children and u in a hay rack, hack of some kind and come in the store Bnd we'd fit every one of the youngsters with underwear, sweaters, shoes, socks, clothing for the winter. And of course they all attended country schools so our city schools we just for people in Moscow. So it was quite a chore,it took you a go8fr °nalf a day to wait on one family, to fit em out.
SAM: This would be when the farmer did only come in a couple few times a yearj
SAM: So this trading trip was a real major experience. Did most of these tendto trade locally more than they would in Moscow let's say? Would they save Moscow for the big trip?
HS: Moscow was a trading center. There was no other place really for them totrade because in their own communities like Genesee, Uniontown, Colton Tain and Kendrick and a those places, they couldn't afford to have the stocks that the Moscow stores could have. So, Moscow has always been a trading center for, I would say, thirty miles arountf. Cause today Moscow goes clear down to up to Tekoa and Oakesdale and all those places, Uniontown and Colton. It's still the trading center of this area.
SAM: Well, when you first went to work fer David what were the styles that werepopular and sold?
HS: Well, I remember when I left Creighton's and went down to David's, Creighton'shad clothes, and tHy had quite areputation even at that time. So I bought a blue serge suit. It's very conservative, three button, had a vest, and you wore suspenders instead of a belt. And you had a shirt with a white collar, sometimes a hook-on tie. And then along about 1912 young men's styles began to get pretty wild. That is, System Clothes of Chicago came out with a suit; it was peg tops and about a fourteen inch bottom, you could stick your hands in your pants pockets and pull em out like a lady's skirt almost, and the front of the coat dipped, and the front of the dip°SJmost htyour knee in the front. Well, that lasted for about four years. And then we got into the real English model suit which is the other extreme: vey tight, short coat, and four button front, and a very tight fitting suit. Well I was going to the fair in San Francisco in 1915, World's Fair, and I bought one of those suits and I put it on and it was so extreme that I was afraid to even wear it around Moscow at the time. So when we went to the fair I put this suit on and I went down the side street down to the depot, there were three of us that went to the fair and Johnson. of coure And when we got down to San Francisco we Mt at home because we saw all these types of suits down there.
SAM: So when you went down the side streets, you mean you sort of snuck down tothe depot?
HS: Yeah, we went down Washington Street. So we had quite a little experienceout of that trip.
SAM: By the why, how did the fair strike you down there? Did you enjoy thatWorld's Fair in 1915?
HS: Oh yes,in fact we stayed within fourA blocks of the fairground, andwe spent the whole week out there. It was a big fair. In fact, we enjoyed it very much. We'd go to town in the evening sometimes. And one of the things I remember in San Francisco they had free lunch at the beer taverns. And they served steamed beer, a great big pot of it for five cents. And then you couli go. to a buffet and help yourself to cheese and crakers and dried fish and what not. All for the five cent drink of beer.(Chuckles). Then we went from there down to San Diego and saw the state fair and on down into Tiajuana and to Mexico to say we'd been out cf the country, we enjoyed that. All of this trip from here was by train to Portland, and from Portland to San Francisco by a new boat, the Northern Pacific, that had just been put into service, and came back by boat.
SAM: Let me ask you about how you got your stock for the store, David's. Where'dit come from?
HS: Well, after I had been there for, oh, five or six years, the senior Mr. Davidtook a liking to me and figured that I was going to be one of them. So he offered me some stock through the company to be paid for out of the dividends that the stock made. Well, that stock had doubled two times in the time that I had it so it was more valuable as the years went on. And I carried that stock up antil 1957 when the stock was sold to Mr.Child of Spokane. But I still have toe stock because Childers didn*t buy the building until, oh, just two years ago and he's aaying for that over a period of years, and I still get dividends on the stock.
SAM: What about the clothing, where did you come by the selection, how did youdecide what clothes you wee going to carry?
HS: Well, all through the years the salesmen from the factory would come outwith big trunks full of samples, and some of the models already made up. And we'd open up the sample them over at the hotel, and wefd spend a half a day over there picking out merchandise, did that twice a year: fall and spring. Then in later years, why, oh, I'd say in the fifties sometimes they made a third trip to -rlit in stocks and so on. But most of the clothing was bought from salesmen that called on us.
SAM: Would you say that the selection that was available to you was wide?
HS: Yes, we had the same selection as the big city stores.sometimes, if you were not called on soon enough you lost out on some of the patterns that they made up into suits. During World War I we had a lot of the U. S. Army stationed here aft the university, Filled up all the fraternity houses" dormitories. And when World War I was really in its heighth we also had a flu epidemic which took thousands of people all over the United States. I think Moscow lost something like ninety or a hundred people on the flu. Well, the soldiers coiLdn't come down and shop so I put on a mask an called on em. I got privilege from the commandant to do that. And duing that period I sold 675 uniforms to soldiers. I've forgotten how many--it seems like had about 1800 or 2000 soldiers here. At the time the soldiers were wearing spiral legging and high cut cord uniforms and so on and the uniforms 'got were very material, and they weren't satisfied with it. So the order went out that even a corporal could buy the same kind of material in a uniform as a colonel. So I went up there then and took measurements came in, fitted them. It was quite a boost to business during the8war years.
SAM: Where did you order the suits from?
HS: Well, some of them from Redback, New Jersey. And some of the better ones fromof Chicago. They were in the uniform business. They were one of the better clothing concerns in those days.
SAM: Did you see much sickness during the flu epidemic, yourself?
HS: Oh yes, you would just see one fellow one day and he was gone the next, someof your best friends. So the flu was quite severe. And during the latter part of the epidemic they found that alcohol, a good shot of bourbon, was about as good as anything. And of course we had prohibition in those days and it was hard to get. You could get in a drugstore, they had it.
HS: As far as taking measures and so on was concerned, it wasn't long untilif you made a mistake someplace you corrected it next time. So it wasn't too difficult. And as far as selling was concerned, why I found out the bst way to handle people on selling was let them express themselves. SS: One thing I was curious about was how you learned to fit clothes and how to sell. How to build up your clientele?
HS: Well,most of these salesmen that called on us, clothing lines,I hada lot of information from them.'Cause they were old timers.They were men up in their fifties and sixties that called on us.So they were well versed in the clothing industry and I got a lot of information from them. Then we had a tailor,Frank Yangle,who made suits and also did our altering for us.I observed his knowledge of tailoring. Got to know how the inside of a suit was made. Could see him making them. not to be high powered in selling. And I think that was a mistake with a lot of salesmen. The customers didn't have very much confidence in em. And then after you have satisfied a customer and he's gotten what you told him it was, he came back, and he wanted you to wait on him agin. I found that very true after I retired that they called me in I twice a year for about twelve years on their sales. And of course I dozens and dozens of people that I've fitt ed suits in years before would see me and they'd say,"I want to see you." So I thiik it was building up confidence in yourself in the customer that. And David's was a store that made good on faulty merchandise. If they got something that didn't hold up to what it should they made it good. And that was the success. And when they turned the store over to Mr. Childers they turned over a lot of goodwill that helped him establish himself.
SAM: Did you say that selling to women was more important than.man on man's clothesusually?
HS: Oh, I thitkworaen have had influence on men's wearing apparel for years and years.I thitk they have a little better idea of matching a tie to a shirt or a tie to a suit. And I thitk you have to appeal to the women in selling a man. And once in a while you get a man that says, "No, I'm going to have what I want."Butif you appeal to the woman your job is half done on selling merchandise. Women are pretty smart shoppers and some of em are pretty tough customers to wait on. So you can't contradict them or you're through. You got to let them know that they know their business. And I think that's success in sellings
SAM: Did you have many customers that just were hard boiled and knew just whatthey wanted and wouldn't take anybody's word for it except theirs?
HS: Well, I'll take this one woman because she's dead and gone and it'snothing against her. She was born in Sweden and knew woolen materials, knew linen from early childhood and she had a big family of eight. They were farmers and she'd come in the store to—her husband couldn't even buy a suit without her okay. And she would examine the material. If I had told her it was all wool, she^ould say,"Well, let's see if it's all wool."And she would get to the bottom of the trousers where she cold get ahold of a piece of yarn and she would pull it out and see whether it was wool or not and how long a wool it was. And then she even burnt to smeel the wool. And when those tests were made she was satisfied. Well, she did fuying for youngsters until they were young men and women and left home. But she was a very shrewd buyer. I remember one winter there was a woolen mills come out here with winter underwear. Everybody wore bng underwear in those days practically. And we sold her, because it was good, long wool, wool underwear for the family. I don't know when we got away from two piece underwear; I've kind of forgotten when we got into unionsuits. And now we're back to two piece again, have been for a good many years sitce the jockey short came out.
SAM: Just one more questio n about women shoppers. Were men usually accompaniedby their wives when they came into the store to buy clothing?
HS: The final purchase was, but plenty of times the wife came in before to findout what there was that she thought her husband out to have.
SAM: So you usually were selling the clothes to a couple more than to just a man.
HS: Selling a suit, yes. That was in the earlier days. Today it's differentbecause you find a lot of young men that buy their own suits, they're not married a lot of coursse, and some of them are professional just go in and buy a suit and that's it.
SAM: What did suits cost when you first started working?
HS: Well, I remember you could get a good, all wool, ounce, blueserge suit for around seventeen to twenty dollars. Now that wasn't the best of tailoring. But you cold get the best of tailoring in what was considered the best make suits in those days around twenty-five to thirty-five dollars. That was about tops. I have a book down in the basement that I kept track of all the suits that we sold from 1910 until 1950, I guess. It'8 a great one to look over because I can go back and see some of the old, oldtime customers. And I have gone thrQugh that. Ishould have had that book up here. But the average sale of suits, and we would sell around five, six hundred suits a year. The average wold run around—one year it seems to me like it was around eighteen dollars and something and then it went up to twenty some odd. But we sold a lot of suits for twelve, fifteen dollars.
SAM: Did people have as many occasions to dress formally in the early days asthey do Would they have rany suits or
HS: Yes. I remember even the fraternity houses, this'll go back before WorldWar I, used to buy full dress suits, long taled suits, wing collars and all that. And then we had a few social' groups in town here that used to have monthly parties. And they would dress up in full dress suits. And that carried on up until, I would say, about the Depression, '31 or 32. And then they switched right over to a tuxedo. And as far a full dress was concerned, except for professional performers, for dances and social affairs, it's been tuxedos ever since.
SAM: Did you sell jackets in those dayd or was it all suits?
HS: All suits, there were no sport coats. I don't think the sport coat got intothe field until after World War II, it seems to me.
SAM: Okay, how about casual clothes and work clotes? What kind of clothesdid you sell for those purposes?
HS: Well we didn't have the khaki slacks like you see so much of today, andit was mostly overalls: striped overalls, blue overalls. And of course, of the makes,Levi Strauss, Levis were the predominant overall, waist overall. And was another make that was good, there was one made back in Milwaukee, I've forgotten the name of that one— Oshkosh, that was a very popular one. And work shirts—I'm amazed at the price of work shirts that I see on the counter today. I sold hundreds and hundreds of dozens of Chanukry shirts at thirty-nine cents a piece. And today a Chambry shirt runs six dollars. So it was quite a difference there. And of course, men's socks, you had the old Rockford sock for a work sock and you wore garters, suspenders, except on Levis.
SAM: What's the Rockford sock made out of?
HS: Cotton. And of course wool socks in the wintertime. And these Rockford socksonly sold for five to fifteen cents a piece, you know, in those days. Canvas gloves were five to twenty-five cents. a good pair of shoes for five dollars.
SAM: Did you sell a lot of work boots in those days?
HS: Yes, we had a logging business all around this area and we sold a lot ofcaulked boots because they needed those in the timber because there was a lot of what you call gyppoing in the lumber mills. And all those log had to be drug down by the ponds and the mills and so on. Yeah, we sold women's a lot of boots. And in the early days* men's shoes were all six inch tops, they were Oxfords in those days. And in women's shoes there was a period there, I think before World War Y,e?adies wore laced dress shoes, you'd call em boots today, they came clear up below the^ knew and lace em up.
SAM: What about casual clothing? Was there anything in between the work clothesand the dress clothes for just an everyday, like we are today? Everyday wear?
HS: Well, we wore sweaters inside of a coat some of the time. And oh, we didhave some odd trousers made out of wool,;ho cotton trousers that I remember of, andnsport ahirts or anything like that. In fact I don't remember a shirt with a collar on it until up in the twenties. Before that time you wore a white collar.
SAM: Well, how did the students'? styles differ from what you to the townspeople?
HS: Well, like today they wore more extreme. Like the LSystem suit I wastelling you about. Not many of the townpeople bought that type of a suit, but the students did. And as years have gone by the students have been important in styles of men's clothing. Today the younger people set more styles than the older people do. That's Were sportswear came in, and they were the ones the originated that.
SAM: Do you thiik that the university was as important to business in the earlydays as it has become in recent years ttere?
HS: Well, when you figure the difference in population, we only had a populationin those early days of oh, probably not over four thousand, less than that probably. Ahad a student body of around six hundred to nine hundred. That would compare very well with our population today of fifteen thousand and seven thousand students. So I would say that the students business has always been a factor in merchandising here. Farming of course is the biggest business we have. And today the university business is a big factor, and it is in Moscow because we have two universities so close together because a tremendous amount of Pullman people trade in Moscow, not only students but faculty.
SAM: What about your competition in the early days? Did you have much in clothingfrom other stores?
HS: Yes, we did. We had a merchant come into Moscow namedwho opened up a store down where J. Cenney is now, much smaller quarters than J. C. Penney. And then later moved up to where theHha tuna Apartments are today. And he had the whole three floors of mercandise. And he was then the biggest merchandiser in northern Idaho, overtook David's. And even had a restaurant connected with it so people could lunch there, had an elevator and all that. And he was a promoter, he%d sales and he was an Irishman and he had a lot on the ball. And he was competitive with us, but it may have hurt us some but it also helped us in the long runrhaving a store of that type brought more people in from the outside. We had more trading area people. He was in business there up until, it seems to me, just before World War II. But he and another fellow got interested in the stock business, full-blooded stock business and he got putting all his money into that and it affected the store; he finally went out of business. His son took part of the stock and opened up over at Palouse, Frank Williamson. He was a promoter. In fact,he was instigator of one of the first fairs in Moscow,and that's back before 1910. He was quite a man.
SAM: Would you say in general there was a lot of competition in Moscow among thebecinesses?
HS: Well, Creighton's were competitive. They had their clientele, they had acertain brand of merchandise that people liked and they went there for it. We had another store, Oscar that opened up but he didn't last very long. We had the fashion shop which was Fanny Stewart, early days. He sold out and it was t competition. We had Carter and Hanes, a men's shop, a specialty shop that opened up, but they didn't last too long. The store weathered a lot of those people. And then there was another men's shop opened Rhodes, out of Lewiston opened up. And they didn't last very long. I went down and bought their stock when they closed out twenty-five cents on the dollar and sold it out on sale. So while we've had lots of comperfon over the years we withstood it all and a lot of em didn't weather it. And the reason why the store decided to sell out is that they were getting too old and they felt that while the store still had a good name, goodwill, that they'd dispose of it.
Well, there were two or three chain stores that wanted to buy it. Butfor the reputation of the store, they would never sell it to a chain. And that's how Mr. Childers happened to get it out of Spokane. He's an independent. And he's operated it now for, well sixteen, seventeen years, and he's very well.
SAM: How did the stock that was carried at David's, how was that different thanthe stock that was carried at Creighton's in the men's line, what was the difference between the two?
HS: Not much different except David's had a much bigger stock. We had a biggerclothing stock, we had a bigger shirt s^Bck. I don't think Creighton's had work clothing at all, but they had a shoe department and they had a rug department. So where a customer wanted a assortment they went to David's
SAM: Was there something like the Chamber of Commerce now is among the businessmenin Moscow in the old days?
HS: The Chamber of Commerce?
SAM: I'm wondering how the businesses got along, competing with each otherand co-operating with each other both in the early days, not just clothing but in general on Main Street.
HS: I think it was pretty fair. I don't think there was much--oh, there was a timewhen the drugstores, when Frank Robinson came in here and opened up his and he opened up a drugstore on ths corner of Sixth and Main, and he opened up another one where Myklebust's are And of course he disposed both of em later but the other drugstores were very put out about his system of doing business. But it's no different from today, pharmacists have a lot of competition today. You've got your Drug Fair that came in here now that are appealing to pharmaceutical needs. But I thitk things in general up and down Main Street was pretty good because they. The Chamber of Commerce, I don't know when the Chamber of Commerce was organized, but it was pretty early. And they co-operated very well, donations and sponsoring the Fourth of July and the fair and different things that came to Moscow:circuses, even had a chataqua here three different years that the city sponsored. You know, when we came here in fc2, there were a lot of false front buildings. By that I mean there was a false upper part to cover up the back part so it made that store look like it was bigger than it was. But there are still standing, permanent buildings that were here.when we came here and that8the Moscow Hotel, the telephone building, which is the old the Owl Drugstore, which was the Hardware Store, and up above harware store was a business school run by T. M. he ran that for a good many years.
Anotherfellow named tarried it on. David's store building was built by Kaufman back in the late '80s, must have been '87 or '8 or around in there. And the McConnell- Building was built back in the *80's, Creighton's Store, that's an old building. But there were a lot of wooden buildings on Main Street, an awful lot of wooden buildings. And of course the streets weren't paved on Main Street until about 1910. Before that time it was mud, and then they covered the mud with rock. It was a pretty messy set-up. And we didn't have cement sidewalks, we had board sidewalks, just like you found in the pioneer towns. The town was really divided into four sections in the early days. The center of town actually was Main and Sixth. From Sixth Street and Mair noith and west was the Lieuallen addition. And west and south was the Deakin division, and then up in Swede town and all that was the McGregor addition, and the other was the Russell addition. Howe happened this Third and Main being the center I don't know but that happened to be where the property lines wire aseyI understand it donated the main street off of their property. And Russell of course donated the of ground wherethe Russell School is. And M Gregor owned the boarding house where the Gritman Hospital is which he ran a boarding house and hotel there for some years, and then it was converted into a hospital by Mr. Gritman. And he operated that until the present structure was built. Think of having a blacksmith shop right where the Kenworthy theatre is. A blacksmith shop and a carriage snp, were operated by Zumhoff who was a character in the early days here in Moscow and Major Collins who did most of the horseshoeing and sfe on. And then Chris Anderson used to make wheels, repair carriages and all that. That was right on Main Steet.
SAM: What do you remember about Zumhoff? Why he was such a character?
HS: Well, he was a boisterous type of a fellow. He was short tempered but tenderhearted atjfat. He was, I thidc, one of first firemen of our fire departmnt which was a volunteer fire department. We had three or four of em that were in different sections of the town. We didn't have fire engines, they just had a. with a hose until later on. But Zumhoff was, as I say, as honest as the day is kng, but he was short tempered. He told you exactly what he thought whether you liked it or not, had a wonderful family of four girls, all went into the teaching field. I had one of them that was a Latin teacher in high school. And one of my first jobs that I had after my father passed away was piling six cords of sawed wood for M. F. Zumhoff into his woodshed, which he lived right back of the blacksmith shop. That was one of the first jobs I had.
SAM: What kind of tradition did they have about the old stores that had beenthere before you were there? What do you think they thought about Durham and Kaufmn, when people talked about them in the pfneer times?
HS: Well, Durham and Kaufman came out of the midwest,and they were Jewish,both of them. And they knew the business angle from A to Z. And they had a story—and I've forgotten whether it was Kendrick or Juliaetta also. And they were, of course, shrewd buyers, and they knew how to make a profit on merchandise. Well, they were here during the wet year when they didn't get to harvest their wheat.And of course, they did a credit business with the farmers, just like David's did later on. And some of those bills would run up twelve, fifteen hundred dollars and they couldn't pay 'em. So he would take a mortgage on their place or a mortgage. And from what I understand they had a good many thousands'tied up in those mortgages. Well, it got to the point where they had to have money too, so they foreclosed on em. And it left a bitter taste in the whole community here over the two. And it eventually practically drove them out of Moscow because of that. So they left here in the nineties sometime and went down to San Francisco and opened up the Emporium which finally become the biggest retail store on the Pacific coast. I've been in the store even when they hadn't moved in fliere, of course. And today of course itfs dwindled down now till what it isn't what it used to be. And the orginal Durham and Kaufman, even their families are out of it too. But that, I would judge they were here about ten years; enough that they accumulated quite a bit of money.
SAM: I've heard there was bad feeling towards Vollmer in the Troy area becauseof foreclosure during that time.
HS: I've understood that too, especially arod the Genesee area. And in fact,the town of Troy used to be called Vollmer, you know. And I think that that experience is why they changed it to Troy. But Vollmer did foreclose on, and that's where he got a lot of his land. But there were a lot of things that Vollmer did for this whole area then we were still Nez Perce County* He was in the banking business as well as the real estate business. And if I'm not mistaken he was a promoter of a railroad from Missoula down the Lewis and Clark Highway in to Lewiston which didn't pass but he tried to promote that. And eventually came through this way and down to Lewiston, and then from Lewiston out to iAAlond* or whatever that town if in the other direction.
SAM: What about McCodell's store, did they talk about that when you were ayoung man, about what kind of an operation McConnell had?
HS: Well, it was a complete department store, groceries and all. And they usedthree floors of building too. And it probably would have been in business today had Governor McConnell not accepted the governorship of Idaho. He went down and spent four years as governor down there, and for some reason, it may have been the times. Well, ofcourse that was during that wet year too; that what affected him too 'cause he was governor from 1893 to '96—four years. And by the way, Mr. F. A. David was head of the grocery department in the McConnell-McGuire store. He had a stock; he had money in it, and he lost it all because McConnell-McGuire Store did not go bankrupt like some people thought. He just simply closed it up and sold his merchandise and mortgaged his own home and all that. He paid his bills. Maybe he didn't pay a hundred percent on the dollar, but he didn't go into bankruptcy. And after that experience McConnell of ccttrse was elected—I've forgotten, Indian agency or something. And then later on he was immigration officer for years here. Hsd his offices in the old post office building there. No, they had a wonderful store Up there and did a good business.
SAM: So what about that? You were telling me about the kidding back andforth that went on between the groceries and the clothing in David's.
HS: Well, the groceries department was at the rear of the store. And theycarried high grade chocolates which all the help liked. And eve*y once in a while why, when they weren't looking, why we'd go back there and help our selves to a chocolate. And then they even had a reserve stock of candy in a room that the elevator passed, and all you had to do was step off the elevator and go in there and help yourself there. Well it got to be so bad that the firm put a padlock on that door and instructed grocerman to tell every to keep out of it. But that didn't entirely solve the problem. So one of the groceryasn decided to put some paregoric in some of the chocolates on the top. And they knew which ones they were. And so one of the girls in the dry goods department went back ttfre and she get one of those. And it sure made her sick. She had to go home and her parents even came down to store and took it up in the store that somebody had pulled something on. But they came out of it all right. And then they used to buy watermelons, bought a hay rack load and line 'em up on the floor. Well, there was kind of an opening between th£. dry goods department and the men's department and the grocery depaitment, and of course thy couldn't sell a cracked watermelon,so every once in a while one of the fellows, during watermelon season would go down there and kick one of those watermelons to crack it.That way they had a watermelon feed. And Mr. David, coming ordinally from Wisconsin, was a great cheese man. And he used to buy cheese by the carload. And he would cure it; he'd get it fresh and then he'd cure it on the top of the storey and then bring It down. They were great big--oh, they would weigh five hundred pounds, I guess, some of those cheese. And they'd put it in a cheese cutter and you'd come and you'd buy any amount of cheese you want. Sugar tie same way. I remember sugar in those days ysu'd get a hundred pounds for $4.95. Today you're payin forty dollars for a hundred pounds.
SAM: He used to cure cheese on the roof?
HS: No, this was in the third floor; no, it wasn't on the roof. It was hotof us in the store would go up there and turn 'em every so often so that they wouldn't get cured one-sided. And that was quite a job. And then in late August they'd have the fraternity and sorrity houses and dormitories come down and the canned goods people would have a display of their canned goodo up on the third fldor and have samples and they'd go up there and sample it. Someof it was water, some of it was sugar and they'd buy their supply of canned goods for the winter that way. That's one reason why the grocery store at David's was a very big part of business in those days.
SAM: Did students have any trouble getting credit from David's?
HS: No, No, all they had to do was to put a reference down, and that mostly wastheir folks. And in later years we wouldvrite their folks and tell them that your son or daughter has come in and applied for credit and we've accepted him, and we want your sanction as to whether he should have credit or for how much. And they got some of the finest letters back from parents thanking them for informing em about it and in some cases they let em have free rein and in some cases they put a limit on em and so on. So it out very, very fine.
SAM: I'd like to change the subject and talk some about I recreation and sociallife. And before talking about it in later years, one event of your childhood that I noticed here that you mentioned before was the flood they had between Moscow and Pullman. When you were a kid you saw that, right?
HS: That's right. Well, that was in around 1918. And I've forgotten what time ofthe year. It seems like it was in January or February we had a great thaw and then right after the thaw it froze stiff as a board. Everybody got out their skates and we were to skate on the Pullman Highway. where it is now. But it was all flooded clear across there and we could skate down to Pullman. And that lasted for about two weeks. Everybody was out on skates. I know I got a German skates that I had for years. So that was I think about the worst flood we've ever had. Oh, we may have had one more that Pullman got pretty hard where there was about three feet of water in the Main Street of Pullman. And sandbags didn't even hold it. But in later years they haven't had any trouble to speak of.
SAM: Well, what was the social life like in the twenties in the community in thoseearly years before World War I?
HS: Well, we had a Moscow band for one thing. And I happened to be in the band, playedcornet. And we had a hayrack fixed up with seats. And every Friday night we'd play on Main Street, a different corner every Friday night so that each business house would have some publicity out of it. Well, we did that for a good many years and then some Sundays we gave a concert in the park. Well, in 1912, our band was a pretty good band, Ed Cleary waa the leader. And the Rose Festival over in Portland, the Elks wanted to send the band over there and it developed into a north Idaho band. So we had forty-eight musicians and we went over to the Portland Rose Show and we competed against forty-eight bands and came home with second prize on that. Well, that was an incentive to keep the band going.
SAM: What kind of music did you play?
HS: Well, it was a ragtime music; "Oh you Beautiful Doll" and "Alexander's RagtimeBand," and there was a new piece that came out at that time and when, i stop, we'd play on corners and people would get out in the street and dance. There was a band of music that people liked, had lots of harmony in it, and they enjoyed it. I know evenings we used to go around to the different rathskellers and play and people would be dancing on top of the tables even. It was that interesting.
SAM: How many were there in the band?
HS: Oh I think we had about think it was forty-eight pieces in the band,though our city band wasn't that big, no.
SAM: That's what I meant, the city band.
HS: No, our city band was twenty some odd pieces. But we enjoyed it. And thenthat of course we formed a dance orchestra which I played in at the old ten cents a dance. And there were evenings that we would make as much as ten, twelve, fifteen dollars and night a piece, playing for that.
SAM: Did you keep the numbers pretty short?
HS: Yeah, you didn't give any encores, I'll tell you. And then our Moscow band didlots of playing around other territory here. We went.to Potlatch and played for their celebrations. They used to have a lot of celebrations there during the real lumber business up there. Andover to Colfax and down to froy and around.
SAM: I've been told that some religious groups had a pretty strong gripe aboutdancing at the time, didn't feel that it was good for people in Moscow.
HS: Well, there was a fellow from Spokane came down here and started a mandolinand guitar club. And it seems to me he gave em all lessons in one class, he take there didn't you individually. And I've forgotten, " must have been 25 or 30 of us that took those lessons and after we had ctmpleted the course, I think he gave us eight or ten lessons, he gave a concert in the Methodist Church. Well, that disbanded the organization, but there were my sister and myself and Eggan and Jenny Peterson formed a little group of our own. And we played at lodges and churches and young people's places, the pieces that we played. Well, we were invited to play at the Lutheran church one Sunday, which we did. And of course we played waltzes and two-steps. Well, there conservative Lutherans in the group that thought it was out of place. And we got a little criticism on that so we never played in a church after that.
SAM: I guess what I heard recently was that there was some feeling that if theydidn't like drink they feltthat any drinking was wrong, might also feel that dancing was wrong, perhaps. That some people felt that way—that they were both wrong.
HS: Well, the Methodist church was pretty strict on dancing and playing cardsin the early days here. That was taboj? And I thine it wasn't till up in the 20's, I guess before dancing generally got to be more popular. I know when the Mormons came in here in the 20's, they're great on youth work and they allow dancing in their recreational room and things of that type. And that helped things out a little. So there was a group that was against both dancing and cards. But we've got a different civilization today.
SAM: What about your work with the scouts? When did that start in?
HS: Well, that started around a Sunday schoolclass in the Presbyterian churchin 1920. There was a lady teacher who had seven boys. And they were all boys that had a lot on the ball. Hie was at a loss to know what to entertain them with. So she nsked me if I would help her out, which I did. And I formed a little athletic club around her class,) which we met every week, and then we took a few hikes and so on. A little later on there was a scout troop in town hebecame an excutive, and he was interested in organizing the town in scouting. So he came to me and asked me if I wouldn't like to convert that class into a scout and then enlarge it. So I go along with him at first because we were having a good program as it was. But I eventually fell for it, and I knew nothing about scouting. So when we went into it we started out with these seven boys and we built it up to thirty-two boys of the community. They weren't Presbyterians by any means. And we had a very interesting program. We had good backing from the church and from the parents and through that we developed a campsite out on Moscow Mountain which we used quite often. And every year between Christmas and New Year's we'd go out for a three day stay in the mountains in the wintertime and take our skiis and toboggans out there.A one year I was just overloaded with boys, I took boys in from other troops.
We had forty-elnt boys out there. We went out there in dry weather, went out incars, some boys hiked out, and when we were up there it snowed. And the parents got a little concerned about us being up there so they got ahold of a couple of bobsleds and went out there to bring us back to town. Well, the camp was over and we wens just getting ready to hike back in when they picked us up. Well, the nice thing about that particular campsite was that we had a cabin up there, a house up there that a banker had built years ago as a kind of simmer resort and he abandoned it and we fixed it up- put bunks in there and got bedsprings from town. And we housed all the boys in that house except twelve. And they had to build lean-tos outside which they'd been taught how to build and they slept out in the open which they got a ilk out of they loved it. And feeding em was quite a problem because some boys liked sotiic things and some didn't. And I had my older scouts act as cooks with supervision. And we had good meals and they enjoyed em and we wound up to the last day wen we wanted to get rid of every thing. So we had a great big kettle.we made stew in so we took bread, we took eggs that we had left, we had peas and potatoes, I've forgotten—anyway we dumped the whole works into the pot and let it boil. And there wasn't a boy in the camp that didn't think^it was great. (Chuckles). Some of the boys that were picky wouldn't eat this or that had to eat it or starve. They found out that they liked it.
SAM: What kinds of skills did you teach the boys in scouting then?
HS: Well, it was the regular scout program of trustworthiness and ., helpful,friendly, kind, obedient, cheerful, brava, clean, and reverent. Those were all taught them with the different tests that they took like cooking, fire building, hiking, swimming, schoolwork, religious wrk all combined into the program that made a character building organization of it. I had three scout troops in my time and was troop committeeman the rest of the time 'cause I spent about years in scouting. And when I completed I got the highest award that scouting gives you, the silver which was awared me later.
SAM: So it was a lot more than camping skills, but were camping skills very mucha part of it, to get along, survive in the outdoors?
HS: Well, hiking and camping because nature is one of the programs that's in scouting,and there is one test that every boy has to a fourteen mile hike and make observations on his hike: what he saw, perform a good turn on that hike, and return the same way, and then write up a two hundred word theme onwhat he saw and did. I have dozens of those filed away now that when some of these older scouts come here and visit with me I get those out and I read em to em to see 'they remember what they did, on that fourteen mile hike. Now I think it's a wonderful program and of course all boys don't enter into it full-heartedly, but most of em do. And for that reason in 1926 the Kiwanis Club, I was a member of Kiwanis, scouting had dropped tremendously in the community here through financing and one thing or other. And it was dead for a year except the troop I had which met in my basement. And Kiwanis had just started in '26 and they needed a boys and girls' program, is one of thebational programs of Kiwanis. So I was at the meeting and I proposed to them if they wanted to put scouting back on the map here in Moscow I'd be willing to see what I could do about it and head it up. Well, they just fell apart like duck soup. And they says, Well, how much do you think it will cost?" Well, I said,"Well, I think start out with about two hundred dollars." So they went along weth me and we used that two hundred dollars to set up five scout troops. We had a hundred and twenty-five boys in scouting in within, I would say, three months. It went over so big that the community then went into the Scout Concil which was in Lewiston and we boy scouted in Moscow ever since.
SAM: Were you all involved in the starting up of Grizzly Camp as a boy scout camp?
HS: Yes, it was Camp Laird first. And then it was later called.
HS: I spent several weeks up there when they had their summer camp.Itwas a very satisfactory place and it is today a very good scout camp for boys.One problem we had in scouting: most boys don't go into scouting or don't take up scouting after they're fifteen years old. That meant they had three years of scouting and a lot of 'em didn't want to quit The young fellow at the university who happened to be a sea scout and we knew nothing about sea scouting and he came to me and suggested that we start a sea scout of these older boys 'cause that takes in boys from fifteen on up.So we immediately organized a scout troop or a sea scout troop out of these older boys. And they had, I imagine 20,25 boys in that program,which helped to carry on their scouting program.He operated for about three years and of course, he was through at the university and then it was taken up by somebody else and then it finally petered out for lack of leadership. But the nice thing about the sea scout troop,they happened to name it the Sea Scout Sampson,which I was proud of.
I started to say on Kiwanis,it was one thing Kiwanis did too.There were a number of people in tovm here felt that we were not getting the boys that ought to be in scouting.Not particularly under privilege, but boys that thought it was sissy and so on.So I proposed that we see what we could do and find out who those boys were.So I went to the superintendent of schools,Fulton Gale, and asked him for the name of boys that were giving him trouble.These were boys that were in the seventh and eighth grade and probably freshmen in high school. He gave me a list of about nine,ten boys that were giving him trouble. So I went back to the boys and girls committee of Kiwanis and told this. So they says,"If you want to head it up, why we'll go ahead and back ya."That was another two hundred dollars. So formed an athletic club and we had our bylaws. Based pretty much on the scout program . Only worded different. And I operated that the first year and Kelly Cline, or Hod Helpert the next year and Kelly Cline the third year.And we had a very fine baseball team and a basketball team. We played different teams around in the community and ...
SAM: This group came from the trouble making kids?
HS: I went to these boys that were the trouble makers and I said, I told'em what kind of a program we would put up for 'em.They went for it and I said we need more boys than that. You get more boys to join the group. Of course, they went out and got their same kind.So we had a baseball team with a reserve on the bench of about six and basketball team with reserves and it worked out very fine. I thought it was a mighty good program and it was something that was suggested to me that we werent' reaching those kinds of boys. SS: There's one question that ask people about the old times and today. How do you think it compares.Looking back, what do you think the best times were for Moscow?
HS: The best times? Well from a business standpoint, we had what you'd calla recession now in 1921 and 2. Long in there. And it affected the whole community because business dropped considerable. Well we got over that and immediately business went right up in 1929 we had some of our best business years then. And then of course when the depression come on in '30,31 and 2 why we all had to take salary cuts, business dropped almost fifty per cent and sales.And it took us actually up until World War II before business got back on its feet again and then of course, things just popped during World War II. Then after World War II was over business was I think the best business that Moscow ever had along '48 and 9.In fact the store had its biggest increase in business during those years when we had another slight recession when Eisenhower went in. That didn't amount to anything.And then when Kennedy went in there was slight recession. Then when Johnson went in, things started picking up again.We had good business during the latter sixties. I think as a whole, Moscow and Latah County's been very fortunate through all the business cycles except for one in '93. We've come out of all of 'em. We had bankruptcy's been few and it's a pretty good place for business and it still is.
SAM: Looking at social problems that we have today,what do you think aboutwhat the energy problem means for the future?
HS: Well we know that the world needs agriculture.lt needs wheat and barleyoats, peas and all that. We know that the farmer is not going to be let down on energy to produce a crop,he's going to be alright. The rest of us may have to tighten up and do a little more walking, probably ride a bicycle and cut our heat down a little.Not waste as much as we're doing. Probably raise more garden stuff. I think all those things, we're going to have to do in the next few years.If we're going to come out alive on this thing. Cause really I think we're headed for a real depression. This recession they call now is really the begining of it.Usually those things start in the fall of the year. Stock market goes down in the fall. And economists don't agree. Some of 'em say we're going to have it some say we're not. Some say it's going to level off. And others say we need a depression to get people back to their senses.Just like you were saying, people drive 55 miles an hour they forgot about that, a lot of ?em now.They're driving 70 and 75. Just because we've got plenty of it now.
SAM: Do you think economic problems are recent or long standing?
HS: They've been building up for years. They've been building up ever since1932 when Roosevelt went in.He started things in the first place. He saved a lot of businesses when he put a mordtorium on the banks and mortgages and one thing or another. He didn't solve the problem entirely. Maybe it's something that's going to happen every generation. As far as right now is concerned,I think our federal government is resbonsible for deflation. If we have a depression they're responsible for it. Probably more so than the people themselves, because they've encouraged them.To spend more money, accept federal money. Look at the programs they've got today. If you build a courthouse, we'll furnish 70% of it. Or if you build a new schoolbuilding.There's a program for that.The government's just overspending themselves and they're forcing it on the people. The people could get along without that if they wanted to.Now that it's the common; thing to run to the federal government to back you on just those things.
SAM: What do you think is the role of business in problems of the economy?
HS: Well they say that when you put controls on, people try to work aroundthem. Its just like prohibition days.When they.cut out liquor, why you had the bootlegger.And its no different today. People themselves have got to have a different attitude towards the whole problem rather than live today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
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5:00 - Playing games as a boy; social life was centered around the church; cleaning brick from the burned down administration building
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Segment Synopsis: Playing games as a boy; later social life was largely centered around the church. Fourth of July celebration, horse race down Main Street. Moscow's baseball team. After the university burned down, he and other boys cleaned brick there, and because he didn't strike he got an easy pile.
10:00 - Going to work for Creighton's store; going to work at David's; Running the men's department at David's; David's business practices
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Segment Synopsis: Going to work for Creighton's as a stock boy. He got a job in David's as a salesman in 1910 because he was Scandinavian, and this displeased Mr. Creighton. He ran the men's department until 1950 at David’s, which for years was the biggest department store in North Idaho, selling groceries and dry goods as well. David’s found that students at the university were even a better credit risk than farmers. David’s gave farmers script for produce, some of which was of poor quality. Rural farmers made only a few family trading trips a year to Moscow. Moscow's draw as a trading center.
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Segment Synopsis: The blue serge suit of 1910. The wild L-system suit style of 1912. Four years later it was English style; wearing one of these suits to the San Francisco World's Fair of 1915, Harry sneaked down to the depot. The trip was by train to Portland and boat to San Francisco. Free lunch in the beer halls of San Francisco.
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30:00 - How he learned about clothing and the secrets to selling it; treating women with as much respect as men
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Segment Synopsis: He learned about clothing from the experienced salesmen and the store's tailor. The secret of selling was to let the customers express themselves. David's made good on faulty merchandise and had a reservoir of good will. Women often selected the men's clothes, and he treated them with much respect as smart shoppers. A woman who shrewdly bought for her large family.
38:00 - Cost of suits and who bought them until the Depression; discussion of different types of clothing
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60:00 - Durnham and Kauffman foreclosing on debtors; Vollmer boasting about the railroad; McConnell managing to pay off debts before going out of business
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Segment Synopsis: Durnham and Kauffman foreclosed on many debtors during the depression of 1893, leaving a bad feeling which virtually drove them out of the area. Vollmer boosted a railroad from Missoula down the Clearwater to Lewiston. McConnell managed to pay off his debts when he went out of business.
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74:00 - Skating to Pullman and back in 1918; playing cornet in various bands and winning at the Portland Rose show; Resistance to the dancing and cards
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Segment Synopsis: Skating to Pullman and back after the flood and freeze around 1918. Harry played cornet in the Moscow band, which played "ragtime" on a different corner every Friday night. They put together a North Idaho band which took second prize at the Portland Rose Show in 1912. People danced on table tops to the band. As a dance orchestra they played in other towns and charged ten cents a dance at Egan's Hall. A man from Spokane gave guitar and mandolin lessons, and later Harry and a small group gave performances. Resistance of some to dancing and cards.
82:00 - Starting scouting and going on three day winter outings on Moscow Mountain; Kiwanis reviving scouting
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Segment Synopsis: Beginning with a social group of Presbyterian boys, Harry started scouting on a large scale in the county. Three-day winter outings to Moscow Mountain. All the boys liked "everything stew." Learning skills to build character. The fourteen mile individual hike. Kiwanis revives scouting with $200 and Harry's leadership.
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94:00 - Doing business in the 1920s and 1930s; how business did during the war and after; Moscow being very fortunate
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Segment Synopsis: Early businessmen and businesses. Pleasant Home. Hodgins Drugs; Hodgins and David’s always bet a suit of clothes on the winner of the Presidential election. Moscow Hotel. Shields always drove his horse and buggy to work. C.B,Green, M.E.Lewis, O.C.Carssow family grocery. George Webber, Hawkin Melgaard, and others. Washburn and Wilson pea business. Doctors. Neely's livery barn and auto business. Judge Adrian Nelson. Collins and Orland Hardware.