Click for the latest Dalhart weather forecast.

Archives

DOWNTOWN!


Posted by: tdt -

DOWNTOWN!

By JONNA BRIDGMAN

The Dalhart of today is quite different than the small town I remember during the 1950s.

In my mind, I can take a walk down Denrock (main) Street of yesteryear.

Starting at the north end of the underpass was Porter’s Grocery. Porter’s wasn’t really on main street, but I consider it an anchor of that end. At one time during the early ‘50s, the west half was a furniture store. Coming south out of the underpass was HWB, a food distribution business.

Of course, there were cars in those days! Scott Motor Company, on the corner of 2nd and Denrock, was the place to buy a Ford. My classmate’s dad, Lou Hinds, was a salesman there.

How fondly I remember the B&B Cafe, also at the intersection of 2nd and Denrock, owned by Mr. Melton. My parents would let me drink coffee cream from the little glass bottle. Now, why are B’s in the name if the cafe was owned by a Melton? Maybe the first owner’s name did start with a B.

Across the street to the west was the Southwestern Public Service building. That’s where our parents would go to pay their electric bill.

Back in the day Dalhart had three variety stores. That was before we had heard of Walmart. Sometimes these stores were called five and dime. Of course, many items cost more than a dime. H & B Variety was on the east side of the street. Ray Holmlund, the owner, was a HAM radio enthusiast. Sprouse Reitz and Ben Franklin were on the west side. At Easter time Ben Franklin would sell dyed baby chicks. (That’s another story!)

Downtown Dalhart had parking meters back in the 1950s. Of course, the city had to hire a lady to be the meter maid. All parking was parallel. It was very important back then that students learn to parallel park. There were three or four traffic lights on Denrock, including the one at 7th street.

There was one shoe store during that era. Blonsteins was owned by a Jewish family. In the store was a shoe-fitting fluoroscope machine (using xrays) that one could look at their feet inside a new pair of shoes and see how they fit. Later, all those type of machines were removed from stores when concerns of safety arose. Here I am, over 60 years later, still doing fine!

Another Jewish family owned the Leder’s Jewelry store. They had a son, Richard, who was two years ahead of me in school. Richard died of leukemia in 1964.

There were three drug stores on main street. City Drug (Right on the corner, right on the price, right on the way home!), Squire’s Drug, and Bowers Drug (now in a newer location). Of course, all drugstores of that day had a soda fountain. My mother sent me in Bowers once to get my own ice cream cone. I couldn’t say vanilla very well and came out with banana!

We had the big choice of two department stores back in the day. There was J.C. Penney and C.R. Anthony. In Penney’s, the business office was upstairs with a wire running down to where the customer checked out. On that wire hung a cup for the payment to be sent up and then back down with the change. Mrs Fannie Ogle worked in Penny’s.

The office supply store I remember was at the corner of 4th and Denrock. Bishop Office Supply was where all the students went after school was out, especially on the first day of classes. What a mob!

North of Bishops was Bass News and Gift. While Joe Bass was alive, that was a favorite place of mine, because Joe sold dolls. I still have the Terri Lee doll my parents bought at Bass’s one Christmas.

Probably the most historic building on main was the DeSota Hotel. Ranchers met there and made many big deals. The De Sota was my daddy’s coffee shop. There was a fine restaurant inside.

In the ‘50s, there were two banks on Denrock. In the northeast corner of fourth and main was Citizens Bank. One of the bankers, L.B. Steele, would let me play with his typewriter. First National Bank was catty-corner across the street.

Two ladies dress shops completed the shopping experience for the women– Detwiler’s and Johnsons Ready to Wear.

South of the DeSota there was the De Sota Barber Shop, a news stand and then the Mission Theater. Dalhart actually had two movie theaters back in the day. The La Rita was the place for matinee shows, especially on Saturday. I was sure, as a child, that the “lovers seats” were there just for large people! The Mission Theater was just north of the courthouse.

There were two other barbershops on Denrock. First, there was the Langhorne shop. It was first started by Joe Langhorne when he stepped off a train and decided that Dalhart was a good baseball town. To support his baseball habit, he bought a barbershop. Then there was Corbitt’s shop with Doris Corbitt’s Beauty shop in the back. The north half of that building held the Priestly- Langhorne insurance office. A very important building in the history of Dalhart was the Dallam County courthouse, built in 1923. Many historic events were recorded there. Birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, land deeds, and criminal records are among the papers that can be obtained. Of course, there is a courtroom. In the 1950s the jail and sheriff’s office were on the top floor.

Located at 410 Denrock is a business that is as old as the town itself. The Dalhart Texan was established in 1901 and has been the main artery for the town all these historic years. It has seen us through hard (the Dust Bowl) and good times. I remember going there in the evening after elections with my daddy to see the results recorded on a chalkboard.

For the Dalhart people to add to the comfort of their homes was Allender’s and McIlroy’s Furniture stores. Dan Allender actually ran for president once. But, sadly, his name is not on the presidential list. Dan also was a musical composer.

At the intersection of 4th and Denrock was Like’s Used cars. It was right next to Rita Blanca Studio where Flossie Rhodes took many portraits.

Service Cleaners sat at the corner of 6th and main. I have a feeling that at one time the building was a filling station. Across the street to the south was the First Baptist Church.

Many buildings are just a memory as they have been torn down long ago. The HWB, Southwestern Public Service, Ben Franklin, C.R. Anthony, Western Auto, De Sota Hotel, Service Cleaners, First Baptist, and last but not least–the Ideal Food Store buildings are gone. Mrs Lillie Pirkle worked in Ideal. Across the street east from Ideal was a Conoco station.

Some people will remember more stores, I’m sure. The list could go on and on.

As we look to the future with unseeing eyes, do we really want to know how downtown Dalhart will look in fifty years?

I have enjoyed this virtual walk down the Denrock of my childhood! I hope the reader has, also.

For the full story SUBSCRIBE to the online edition of The Dalhart Texan, call (806) 244-4511 to setup a subscription to our physical paper or pick a copy up at one of our many convenient news rack locations. You can also stop by and purchase a paper or subscription in person at our news office located at 410 Denrock Ave.