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August 14, 1980


PIX #1 - An interior view of Mechanics Bank, with E.W. Allen in the center.

Editor's Note: Today's Potluck is a continuation of last weeks column about the west side of Main Street between Center and Tiffin streets. The "contin- uation" line was inadvertently dropped from last week's segment, as well as photos for which there was not space. They may be presented later with "Feed- back."

Today's installment starts at the mid-block alley between Peter's Gift Shop and Columbia Gas of Ohio.

The accompanying photo shows that area as it is today...others as it was ap- proximately 70 years ago.

The E.P. Huss cafe was located at 115, where Columbus Gas of Ohio is now. It was handy for the travelling men arriving by interurban, and just about the center of town for the local patrons. The only women who entered saloons then came through the back door, to get a bucket of draft beer to take home. I have vivid memories as an "uptown newsey," of unruly customers who drank too much and were thrown out.


Above the saloon at 115 1/2, James Ball had a photography studio. Old Fostor- ia family photograph albums will usually contain some photos with his name prominently posted.

In later years, while I was a newsey, a Mr. Ellis took over that location with his Ellis Art Studio. The principal reason I remember Ellis so well is be- cause the first time he purchased a paper from me he asked if I would trust him for payment until the next day. I was rewarded for my "yes." The next day he paid me, saying he was just testing me...and from that time on he was my exclusive customer. None of the other paper hawkers had a chance.

Next to the saloon, where Elsea TV is now, there was at one time a popular men's clothing store owned by Wade Bros., Harry and Tom. Harry L. Wade, Lib- erty Street, is the son of Harry.

South of Wade Bros. was The Mechanics Banking and Savings Co. at 123, which opened in 1890, with Charles Olmsted as president; Levi Harbaugh as vice-pres- ident; W.J. Ferguson as cashier; and J.B. Olmstead as assistant cashier.

In 1899 it was reorganized as The Mechanics Banking Co., with O.T. Brown be- coming president; William Manecke as vice-president; E.W. Allen, cashier, and George Snyder as assistant cashier.

In later years, about 1910, that bank was reorganized and became known as The Union National aBank, with E.W. Allen as president. It operated under this name until the 1930s depression years and the "Bank Holiday," when it failed.

The Union National Building, where Tri-County is now, was built in the 1920s or at least the Directory of the year was the first time it was listed.

Some readers will remember other employees of the Union National Bank; B.M. Solomon, Otto Wonderly, George Frank, Floyd Harrison, Catherine Grant Komerak, Ruth Harris.


The Union National Bank, in its original location at 123, was where I started my first savings account, depositing small amounts weekly from my newspaper sales. That habit would be a good one for today's carrier boys. Our oldest son, Nathan, adopted the habit while he was a carrier and helped defray his educational expenses at Purdue.

The First National Bank took over the Union National Building in 1934, having previously been located where Kresges Store is now, at Center and Main Streets. Andrew Emerine was president; Andrew Mergenthaler as cashier; Dewey St. John as assistant cashier; and William Daub as teller.

Next to Union National Bank, at 123, was The James Crawford Co. Dry Goods Store. In 1892 it was known as Stock & Crawford, located farther north on Main. In 1906, after reorganizing, James Crawford became the principal owner and took up the location shown in the accompanying old photo and remained there until going out of business in 1931. In addition to the first floor room, the store also occupied the second floor and all available space in the building.


Older Fostorians will remember the Crawford family consisting of James and Mary, children, Dorothy, George, May, Virginia and James Jr. I am not aware if any of the family survives. James Sr. was one of the important figures in the local Presbyterian Church.

Our walk back through the pages of history now brings us to a drug store at the corner of Main and Tiffin Streets, originally known as Eshelman & Har- baugh, shown in the same photo with the Crawford store. I do not know when Eshelman & Harbaugh started in business, but they were listed in the 1890 Directory. Perhaps they were in business prior to then.

My fist recollection of making a purchase in the old corner drug store was as a lad when I passed it on my was to old Whittier school, and stopped to buy a couple licorice roots to chew. They were about four or five inches long, and about 3/8 inches thick. They were a penny or two, and looked like any other tree or bush root. Today's generation probably had no idea where the licorice flavoring, so popular comes from.


According to John Burk, 160 Elm St., who was employed at the old corner drug store for 16 years beginning in 1912, Don Mickey bought into the store in about 1903, and later it became known as Harbaugh & Mickey. He had married Lou Harbaugh, daughter of the partner.

In later years, after the Union National Bank built the new building where Tri-County is now, the Harbaugh & Mickey store moved into the building next to the new bank building, where the newly-remodeled Crawford Store had been.

Burke remembers many things about his years spent in the old drug store: pol- ishing the big brass nameplate at the store's entrance; making deliveries to customers; the loose standards for dispensing certain drugs back then; whiskey was sold at drug stores then...and much more for which space is not available today.

In 1936, the drug store was taken over by Ross Rowan, and in 1939 it became the Johnson Drug Store.

Some readers may wonder how Tri-County came about. It evolved from several consolidations.

In 1963 First National merged with City National of Tiffin. In 1968 it took on the Tri-County National Bank name, and on Dec. 31, 1970, Society Corp., Cleveland, acquired the Tri-County bank, maintaining the Tri-County name.

The east side of Main Street between Center and Tiffin Streets will be pre- sented in a future article.

Again, several old photos in today's article were furnished from Ray Dell's collection.

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