Rushville Republican

May 29, 2013

Ward: The good old days really were good

Bill Ward
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — I sort of miss the time when one could go to the grocery and get enough for a week and the cost would be only about $20 for a family of three. Gas was only 25 cents a gallon and you got your tires checked, the windshield washed, fluid levels checked and they put the gas in, not you. Bread was 15 to 20 cents a loaf and it was usually fresh baked every day of the week. I miss the smell of fresh donuts in the evening around the railroad station. Boy, were those hot donuts delicious! I miss the fresh fruits and vegetables from Meo’s Produce on Second Street downtown.

Rushville had three shoe stores, two jewelers (then three when Jake Frantz came to town). He had his first store behind the Corner Restaurant and it was only large enough for two or three at most at one time. And he had a line outside waiting to get in he was so popular. As time progressed he eventually ended up with the store that was Abercrombie’s Jewelry, which he ran until his retirement. Jake was the last jewelry store in town to shut down.

There was Rush County National Bank and Rushville National Bank and both were downtown. We had three or four ladies’ stores and all were busy. Cassidy’s had a neat deal: when you purchased something they put the money and a bill in a basket and ran it up to the office on the second floor. They made change and sent the basket back with a paid bill in it.

All the local characters, Chauncey Duncan foremost among them, would hold court daily on the Elks Club front porch right across from the Court House. Chauncey would regale you with a story and you didn’t even have to ask him to. Usually, the judge as well as other lawyers (some retired, some active) would make that porch their summer office. Doc Green had his office not far from the Elks. The Arcade was a good restaurant and had the best pancakes and steaks in town. Wilhelm’s was a good full-service restaurant as was the Elks. And the poker games held in the Elks basement were famous.

After the war they opened a drive-in on South Main Street which is now empty but still there. Dutch Miller later on ran a very profitable and good drive-in there for many years. I loved his Dutch Boys and miss them and his onion rings and tater tots. Ponslers on Morgan between Second and Third Street was another good place for lunch. Great chili and fresh sandwiches and fries and homemade pies were their forte. Nothing was made other than the chili until you ordered it. The fries were fresh, so much so they were peeled and sliced just prior to being fried; boy, were they good and greasy. My father loved to go there for lunch. After Patty and I got married and started to build our house he would go order and pick up lunch at Ponslers and we would head to Milroy to check on the house.

We had a Pontiac dealer (my dad), Buick, GMC and Oldsmobile dealer, Cadillac, Chevrolet (Spotty Christian), Chrysler Plymouth, Desoto and Plymouth as well. We, at one time or another, had a Ford dealership and American Motors dealer south of town. Ford, for some reason, never did too well in Rushville and none lasted very long. Dad sold Jeep and Crosley cars after the war but that didn’t last long either.

We had the Smoke House that sold tobacco and newspapers from all over. They had a large selection of magazines and I went there to check out the comic books frequently. I would check with my friends to see what they were going to buy and shy away from them; I could borrow or trade for them later on. Comics were a dime a comic and new ones came out monthly if not more frequently. And all of them had ads for young people to sell seeds, salves or some other worthless item and make all kinds of money. Some had a body building program on the back with a picture of two men and a woman on the beach. The big bad muscle buy would kick sand in the faces of the mousey guy and his lovely lady. The idea was don’t be the mousey guy buy this program and be the big bad guy, only be good.

If you were really young about the only thing you could do was deliver papers. Of course, they were six days a week then and they had several routes in town available for bid for younger boys of the town. We had three drug stores and they were nothing but drug stores. Rushville Pharmacy was the first in town to stock and sell additional items above and beyond just drugs and sundries. We had a shoe cobbler, several auto repair shops, radio repair shops and seamstress shops where your old clothes could be repaired if you couldn’t do it yourself.

Things have drastically changed over time and, frankly, I miss the good old days because they were just that.