©John H. Beaumont 2007-2022 All Rights Reserved
Clifford’s Corner
The Shop on Main Street Part 2 This is the 2022 Memorial Day Edition of Cliff’s Corner. In Part 1, I told the story of my dad’s shop, where it was located, the layout of the shop, the machinery, and some of the best known customers. In Part 2, I’m telling readers about the neighborhood in which the shop was located and something about our neighbors. My recollection of the shop and neighborhood dates frin about 1946 until the mid-1950s. The shop was at 5517 South Main St., the middle of the block between 55 th St. and 56 th St. The buildings were old then; they’ve long-since been torn down. Construction was wood and plaster. The owner of most, if not all the properties in that block on the west side of the street, was Gus Kroeger. Gus was an older guy, who lived with his wife in a two-story wooden house, around the corner on 56 th St. west of Main. Here’s the Dorsey connection; Gus’ son, Johnny, was a plumber (Kroeger Plumbing) who had four daughters, who all graduated Dorsey High School. They lived on Valley Ridge, north of Angeles Vista. So much for background. At 55 th and Main, there was a Mobil gas station. There was a small office in front, just behind three pumps, high test, low test and diesel fuel. On the back of the property was a garage, for mechanical work on cars and trucks, and a body and paint shop. Alonzo Gray, a big African American guy, owned the station. Five or six cars parked next to the garage would fill the lot. Next to the gas pumps, there was space for two cars to pull in for gas. A big truck couldn’t pull in for gas; there wasn’t enough room next to the pumps. Just south of the Mobil station was a vacant lot, maybe 30-40 ft. wide. There was no sign about building something on the parcel; the weeds just grew. The next parcel south was improved with a big, old two-story duplex on it. West of the two-story house were four or five old, wooden garages. My Dad used one of them to store wooden molds for making cast iron products. Also, there was enough room to park a car. In all the years I went to the shop, I never saw anyone use the other garages, a mystery. Ma and Pa lived downstairs, in the duplex. I never knew their real names. A stairway in the north side of the duplex led to the second floor, where Mrs. Henderson lived alone. I only knew her name because she’d stop at the front door of the shop, once in a while, and say Hello to my dad. She was usually in her bathrobe, on her walk down to or back from the grocery store down the street. Her reddish-brown hair matched the color of her bathrobe. Next to the duplex and south on the block, was the Shop on main Street. The shop had about a 30–40-foot frontage, and a depth of about 100 ft. Behind the building, there was an outdoor paint booth, used for machinery painting. Next south of the shop, was a barber shop. It was small, one barber chair and three or four seats for customers waiting. Although the barber shop was in business for many years, the barber and my dad didn’t communicate much. He was African American, but I’ve forgotten his name. Next door and south on the block was a variety store (like a Five and Dime) that owned and operated by Olga Fidel. My dad always referred to her as Olga Smirkovitch, because she always had a smirk on her face. She had a daughter, Clarice. They were Lebanese. They lived in the Los Feliz area. I never visited the Variety store, as I thought Woolworths and Kresses were cheaper, and had better stuff. Clarice was older than I, and liked to tease me. Last on the block was Fidel’s Grocery Store. The Fidel brothers, George and Jim, ran the store. They had produce, canned goods, dairy products and a meat counter. The only cash register was in the front of the store, next to the meat counter. The only time we used their store was when we ran out of soft drinks or I wanted a quick ice cream bar. The Fidel boys and my Dad were good friends. Well, now you know the shop surroundings and the shop neighbors. Part 3 could be a shocker. Watch for it. BTW, the shop phone number was Adams 49440. I doubt anyone will answer.
May 31, 2022