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RACKET STORE RECALLS MEMORIES
December 30, 1983

PIX #1 - Interior of Kieffer's store. Frank Kieffer is on left and his son Kenneth (Fat) is on right.

PIX #2 - FRANK KIEFFER Photo taken in 1945 after retirement

PIX #3 - Kieffer's Racket Store, originally named New York Bargain Store (note awning) at 310 S. Main St. Carrie Aldrich, a clerk, is pictured in front of store.

PIX #4 - The rear of Kieffer's store, showing 42 animal pelts which resulted from hunting trips in area. Pictured are (left to right): Dan Kieffer, Frank Kieffer and Arthur Slosser. Note two-tiered billboard on South Street.

PIX #5 - Tom Bricker's Mobil Station at corner of Main and South Streets.

(Author's Note: On Oct. 29 and Nov. 5, 1981, the "Potluck" columns carried articles about the west side of South Main Street from South to Crocker. I intended to continue the history of the opposite side of the street. However, historical photos of that area were not available, and it was only recently that Mrs. Carl (Doris) Clark, 229 E. Lytle St., came to the rescue with some from her family collection. Some from other sources also became available then. The story follows.)

In earlier articles about South Main, I believe I said that area was where the village of Rome was established, and it was there that some of the first business establishments were which continued as Fostoria.

The Fosters and Crockers were two of the pioneer families to settle Rome and develop the business district which continued to thrive when Fostoria was born and on into the early part of this century.

RECALL THIS CORNER VIEW?

One of the accompanying photos with today's article is not an "oldie" in the true sense of the word, having been taken in about 1962 when Tom Bricker's Mobil Station was at the corner of Main and South streets.

That corner has been a favorite location for service stations since the early 1920s. The land where the many different filling stations were located and the row of frame building facing Main Street, extending southward, were owned by Fred Crocker, a descendent of John Crocker, one of Rome's early settlers. In fact, Fred Crocker had a filling station on that corner lot, No. 132, in 1927.

As far as I can determine, K & W Oil Co. was the first filling station to lo- cate at that corner in 1924. Pearl Oil Co. had a station there starting in 1934, followed by Burkhart & Son in 1936. The "son" was Cecil who started The Black Cat. Then came Friendly Service Station at that spot in 1938, Wilson's Auto Service Station in 1947, Tom's Mobile in 1962, Bob's Mobile in 1964 and South Main Street Sohio in 1970.

When Sohio quit business there, Tip-Top Thrift Bakery had a retail store in the building for a year or more. After Tip-Top quit and the building stood vacant for awhile, the city purchased the site and the building was demolish- ed.

The city parking lot was then expanded to occupy that whole area where the filling station was and where the buildings faced Main Street in earlier days.

KIEFFER'S STORE OPEN 38 YEARS It was in that area where Kieffer's Racket Store, featured in today's article, was located many years.

I am indebted to Doris Clark, mentioned earlier, for the historical photos which illustrated the store. She is the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Frank Kieffer who operated the store for 38 years.

The store was originally started by John Kieffer, the father of Frank, and it was called the New York Bargain Store. Although the store started in the 200 block, perhaps next to Commercial Bank, it later moved to 310 S. Main St. where it remained until the building was demolished. It then moved to 326 S. Main and continued there until Frank retired in 1943.

John Kieffer came to Fostoria from Tiffin and established the store in the early 1890s. When he sold out to his son Frank in 1905, he returned to Tiffin. Altogether, the store served Fostoria buyers for nearly 50 years.

Merchandising must have been a favorite profession to the Kieffer family. John, the founder of the store, also operated a fish and poultry market on South Washington Street in Tiffin. After retirement and return to Tiffin, he operated a watermelon stand at the Seneca County Fair each year. In his younger years, he was a member of the Tiffin police and fire departments.

The one photo shows an exterior view of the store building, which was owned by Fred Crocker. When that photo was taken, the awning labelled it "New York Bargain Store." The other photo of the interior will remind older readers who will recall the store and the large variety of merchandise Kieffer carried.

DORIS CLARK RECALLS IT ALL

Doris Clark spent some time around the store when she was a girl and remem- bers much of the merchandise, so she made a list for this article.

Those things included: men's and women's hosiery, men's and women's hankies, ribbon, lace, hat netting, razors and blades, toys, fishing equipment, hunt- ing and fishing licenses, lanterns, nails, nuts, bolts, kerosene, turpentine, paint, varnish, screen wire, oil cloth, tools, jewelry.

Boots, galoshes, gloves, ladies' hats, men's straw hats, candy, gum, peanuts, combs, dishes, pots, pans, twine, thread, needles, tablets and pencils, gar- den tools, seeds, watches, alarm clocks, pails, flower pots, shoe laces, stove pipe, hair nets, hat pins, cuff links.

Mrs. Clark recalls that when he sold a screen door he would also hang it for the customer. She also recalls how her father bought fresh roasted peanuts by the barrel and would lay the open container on its side in the window with the nuts spilling out to attract attention and create desire.

Fireworks was an important item for the kids for the Fourth of July. I re- call that he stocked everything--sparklers, snakes, pinwheels, roman candles, torpedoes, all sizes of firecrackers, skyrockets. Kieffer's place was the headquarters for fireworks for kids from all over town.

Kieffer also bought and sold animal pelts. The one accompanying photo shows the rear of the store and some of the pelts he and his friends placed on the wall to cure. There were pelts from 19 coons, 13 skunk, nine opposum and one mink.

STORE MEMORABILIA STILL EXISTS

One of the first checks Frank Kieffer wrote to pay for merchandise for stock- ing his store when he took over in 1905 was to L.S. Baumgardner & Co., Toledo. It was for $25 and was drawn against his account at The Mechanics Banking Co., Fostoria. The canceled check is among Doris Clark's memorabilia of her father and the business.