In the fall of 1932 a former Lowell resident who called himself "Van Winkle" came back to visit after a 20-year absence. Stories in the September issues of The Lowell Tribune in 1932 explained that he was not the old gent who slept for twenty years. but just an old timer who wanted to look over the old town once again.
He seemed to be seeking "Bill" Graves but guessed "old Bill got tired of waiting," and instead he looked forward to meeting Graves later on. "Well I will just walk up the street, possibly meet someone else," he said in the meantime.
He saw a sign "L. Davis, Sale on Hats."
"Howdy, didn't expect to meet an old acquaintance, but your face reminds me of someone I used to know. I am going to presume that you, like many other girls, accepted an invitation to change your name? May I ask what it was as a girl? Miller? I think I can remember how your father was in business here at one time.
"As I recall, the family included sisters Anna and Mary and a brother Mat. You say you have a niece, Marie Ashton, who makes her home with you when not busy at her work as a practical nurse. Well, that's fine to be able to have a younger person with you as company."
Leaving the Davis store, he noticed some other landmarks which brought old memories: "If I remember right, John Hack and Jim Hale had a harness shop near here. As I recall it, George Van Alstine and Dan Cleaver had a grocery store close by. Also, the Brown brothers, Mat and Bill, located along here with a line of food stuffs and dry goods."
He walked into a garage [now a part of The Davis Store]: "This looks like a very up-to-date auto repair shop. Young man, are you long about these part? Your name is Hayden eh? [Mildren "Shorty" Hayden] Seems to me that there used to be quite a settlement of Haydens over near the State Line. Nearly as many as there were Taylors at Tinkerville.
"You say that they call that Creston now? I understand that Henry Cutler, a boy raised at Tinkerville, now  a prominent bond attorney in Chicago, having some 75 assistants working for him, owns all the country around the corner and has a wonderful county place, built over and enclosing the house where his mother was born and raised."
Van Winkle then walked into the building to the west of the Davis Store, now vacant: "Howdy, Mr. Pixley, just noticed that you were quite busy; your repair rack indicates that business is good in that line. I see you have a bright young man at the desk. You say it's 'Doc' Driscoll's son? That name sounds familiar. I have seen many changes in the old town, but I would not want it to stand still."
He pointed to the corner of Mill and Commercial, now vacant: "Right across there, where that building marked 'Spindler Block' [the old opera house, a department store when it burned in 1976] stands, used to be quite a low piece of ground, with three or four buildings on it. In one a man by the name of Henry Jahrow had a shoe shop where his stepson, Frank Weakly learned the trade." [Weakly later becane a successful jeweler on the south side of Commercial Ave.]
"Another place in there was Jonah Thorn's hardware store. In that same area, the Kolb sisters ran a dressmaking shop. They married John and Ed Ault. Just across Wall St. you see a fine [Van Nada] building that apparently had been a bank. Various signs tell me that it is now an office and merchandise rooms. 'The Toggeray' is in front, Dr. Neal Davis in the rear, with Dr. Rigg, a dentist, and Belshaw and Brannon, law and Real estate, above. On this location once stood one of the first general merchandise stores in the town, owned by a Mr. Sigler.
"He was another of the men who did a big business in cattle and hog feeding. He had a large feeding yard over in the northeast part of town. He also owned practically all of the property south of and around where the railroad station now stands, lived and raised his family in the house on the hill just west of the station." [House and hill were moved when the Harding, Inc. building was built.]
"East of the Sigler store there were two buildings occupied, at different times as I recollect, by Tunis Frank and Mortimer Gragg in the furniture and undertaking lines, by Dan Lynch, Louis Berg and William Nichols as postmasters, and Dan Collins, who occupied a business room where that large merchandise room now stands. I note that the sign says 'Grant Bros.' Yes, I remember a Grant family who once lived over and across the pond northwest of town. H.W. Price conducted a general store nearby. Heard tell he was the Township Trustee and went on to be elected County Recorded."
An old friend walks up and Van Winkle says, "Say, wasn't your name Warner? Ansel Warner, whose father [DeForest Warner] had a store at Orchard Grove? I recall the Davis Family -- George and Albert and an adopted daughter, children of Samuel Davis, also of Orchard Grove."
The old visitor finally ran into his old friend Bill Graves: "Hello, Bill, how are you? You don't recall having known me, eh? Well I would have known you had I met you in Creston.
"Your mother married William Ackerman, She was one of the finest, motherly old ladies I ever knew. If not in too big a hurry, let's talk a little.
"I have been recalling how the old town looked fifty and sixty years ago. You certainly have a very fine, substantial looking bank building and it is the strongest bank in this part of the state. [Built in 1903, it now houses the license bureau.] Previous to the building of the banking house, this ground was covered by a large, two-story frame building, the upper floor used as an entertainment hall and the lower as a sales room. Cyril Sanger had a hardware store there."
Now he pointed to the building in the site of the Osburn Insurance office: "Your present  National Tea Store was once used as a meat market by Daniel Chapman, who was also a Justice of the Peace, sitting in judgement of the pestiferous difficulties of the good citizens of those days."
The visitor then said good-bye, and walked down Clark St. to talk to his old friends, the Ragons, at the Tribune office.
The Old Timer is sure that readers will agree that the old gentleman must have had a great time recalling his days in Lowell and meeting old friends once again.
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