FORMER ROYALTON BUSINESSES

"THOSE WERE THE DAYS!!

TATE'S SANDWICH SHOP (LATER KNOWN AS FLETCHER'S)

 Tate's Sandwich Shop was located on Main Street next to Bellina (LeVans) Dry Good Store. The shop was operated by Benny Tate, a big league ball player from West Frankfort, Illinois. This was in approximately 1946 or 1947, running it for 6 years into the 1950's, selling it then to Carl and Edna Fletcher.
Carl & Edna Fletcher of Royalton, Illinois changed the name to Fletcher's Cafe. Carl, as everyone called him, kept the door opened late, 6 days and nights a week watching and waiting for the kids coming in from a late night out.
This cafe offered sandwiches, ice cream, soda, candies, to suit our taste, in a fine
place to meet your friends, with Carl letting us use a red token slug to play the juke box
because a lot of times we didn't have money.
Helping Carl operate his business, were his wife and family into the late 1960's. All
of us who remain have very beautiful, special memories of lots of good times~~
Norma (Young) Bennett

 I, being one of many, will always be indebted to Carl Fletcher. His heart was as giving as his smile. Fletcher's was a "Safe Haven" to come to, a place where we could sit for hours for the price of a bag of potato chips and "free" catsup to go along, or just be there with friends. A purchase was of no importance to Carl. I believe we were as important to him as he was to us. This was a place where we could dance to the music of the sort that we do not hear any longer, eat a bite, and share our secrets, safe in the knowledge that while we were there, Carl would tolerate our antics, and many times, join us in a booth. I often wish that I could go back, just once, after "the game" to spend time at Fletcher's, where we danced with our "sweetie", the one at that time, while the music of the song "Sincerely" floated softly across the room. In our own minds, our futures were etched in stone, (right then, at that moment, was all that was important), and nothing outside of that moment mattered, not even the absence of a "Dance Permit"! And, Carl, we did know about the absence of a Dance Permit, but you never said a word!

How little did we know what the future held for us, and how little did we care at that time........................

"Thank You" Carl & Edna~~Lynda (Lee) Savka

 PECK'S POOL HALL


Wesley "Peck" Wilson's Pool Hall was located on Main Street. "Peck" ran the Pool
Hall for approximately 65 years after his parents turned it over to him. "Peck" along with his wife, Lillian, who also worked long hard hours running the business for more than 20 years helping out selling soda, snacks, etc. from 8:00 AM.until after midnight. There were many a day and night Mr. Wilson would sit in front of the pool hall waiting for the boys to come in. The young men of Royalton and surrounding towns could not wait to turn seventeen so they would be allowed to go in the pool hall to shoot a few games of pool. That was back before donkey kong was
the craze of the younger people.
This was the one place in town where boys could go and girls were not 'allowed to follow them. Girls were not allowed to go into the pool hall, no matter how old they were. Except for one time, three girlfriends coming home from the show and dared each other to go into the pool hall. Remember R. W., N. W., and N.Y.? The girls opened the door pushing one sister in and the other sister and friend running off from her leaving her standing alone inside the pool hall.
Another time, J.B. and N.B. had just a little amount of money and stopped in, asked "Peck" if it was all right to give his wife a lesson on how to play a game of pool. "Peck" got a big laugh seeing the way she held a cue stick, saying to her, "In all my years, I never saw anyone hold the cue stick like she did". In those years "Peck" only charged $ .10 a game, soda $ . 10 a bottle, potato chips $ .05 a bag. This couple enjoyed a wonderful evening for not much money, but a lot of love from a wonderful man in his place of business for enjoyment.
"Peck" had so many young people he helped, giving free games to them, and they appreciated him being so good to them. They would help out by cleaning up, brushing the tables, or just watching over "Peck". The boys would carry in coal and wood for heat and a free game of pool.
As the years went by the games went up to $ .15 and$ .25. "Peck's" eye sight started getting very bad, along with his hearing, but he kept on working in his pool hall until the day before he died of a heart attack on August 23,1978, in his home.
The pool hall building is down now, but the memories will never vanish of this
wonderful friend and place we called "Peck's Pool Hall".
Norma Lee (Young) Bennett
 
KOZER'S GROCERY
SMALL ENOUGH TO KNOW YOU
BIG ENOUGH TO SERVE YOU

 Kozer's Grocery was built by father Joe Kozer in March 1923. It was closed by son Ted Kozer
December 15,1984, after 60 years of family operations. Joe Kozer was a coal miner and
operated the store with his wife, Mary, until his death in 1933. Mrs. Kozer continued to
operate the store raising her three children, Gen., Stella and Ted, who all worked in the store. Genevieve passed away in
August 1975 and Mary Kozer passed away in October 1978. Stella resides in Herrin, Illinois and Ted remains at the
home place in Royalton.

At one time Royalton had 12 or more grocery stores. On the East side of town at one
time four grocery stores existed. Three of these stores were operated by Polish
operators: Nieberzdoski's. Bogdajewicz's and Kozer's. The other grocery was Derbak's.
December 20,1944, the Kozer Store was gutted by fire from a pot-bellied coal stove.
Mr. Jim Fiss and Sons who were local carpenters returned the building into its original
status in short order.
The store was well known for retailing imported Polish canned hams and genuine
Polska Kielbasa polish sausage. Prior to holidays of Easter and Christmas, we would
sell as much as 240 lbs. of the polish sausage. People from all of Southern Illinois came
regularly for these products.
Prior to each long holiday week-end Kozer's would display a slogan "Remember to
drive safely - the life you save may be a Kozer customer".
We delivered to 35 to 40 customers each week. We had many full time and part time
workers and would like to once again say "Thank You" for helping Kozers operate
successfully for over 60 years.
Thanks, Stella and Ted


MARY'S ROYAL DINER

 

 One of Royalton's unique businesses was the Royal Diner. It is no longer being operated, having closed in 1990 at the time of the death of Mary Ferrari, Manager and cook for 42 years. She began working at the Diner in August, 1948, intending to "help out" the new owner, Steve Covilli, for only a few months until his wife could take over. Mary and a partner, Genevy Daniele, did such a great job that Steve had them to stay on. Mrs. Daniele moved from Royalton in 1952, leaving Mary to operate the Diner. She had some part-time help, such as her sister, Emma Beavers, who helped a few hours most days.
Originally, the Diner was a railroad car diner on some unknown railway in the early 1900's. After its retirement from service, the car was refurnished as a diner, complete with marble counter and swivel stools. It was brought to Royalton by a former mayor, Mike Schibert, in the late 30's or early 40's after it had already been used as a restaurant on Kedzie Avenue in Chicago. Schibert brought the diner to Royalton on a railroad flat car and placed it at South Main Street on a vacant concrete foundation slab of a movie theater that had been destroyed by fire. It was operated by the Schibert family until 1948 when it and the adjacent tavern were sold to Steve Covilli. To step inside the diner-was to step into another long-gone era. The green ceiling bears the unmistakable arch of the railroad car it once was. Each of the fifteen wooden stools along the marble counter has its own brass footrest near the bar. Worn ceramic tiles cover the front wall below the row of passenger-type windows. The floor is white terrazzo. Mary had dozens of live plants near the windows.
However, it was the food and not the surroundings that brought most of the customers to the Diner. Mrs. Ferrari's speciality--homemade ravioli (sometimes made daily)--earned her a reputation throughout southern Illinois and many parts of the country. She was the daughter of Italian immigrants and learned the recipe from her mother. Spaghetti and meatballs, chili mac, and hamburgers were also favorites of many customers. In the beginning, they offered a daily blue-plate special. Her customers were an extended family for this great grandmother of six. The family atmosphere among her and her customers was what Mary would strive to have. The regular morning "Gang" of coffee drinkers sat around each morning talking and enjoying each other's company. For many years, about 45 to 50 school children walked down to the diner from the school to have lunch. Then it was a bubbling, noisy, and busy place. Mary kept the Diner open daily from 8 to 8 except on Sunday when the hours were 4 to 8 p.m. She rarely took a vacation, was healthy, and didn't retire until an illness in 1988 forced her to cut her hours to just weekends. She was most happy when she could be at her Diner among the many, many friends she had acquired over the 42 years. Mary died in June, 1990, and the Diner has been closed since. It has a new owner, Roger Orlandini, as of July 1993. The tavern is being operated but as of this writing, the Diner remains closed.


THE NAME OF "BRICK' HARDCASTLE HAS BECOME AN INSTITUTION IN THE
VILLAGE OF ROYALTON
BY: JOHN D. HOMAN
TAKEN FROM ARTICLE IN THE
CHRISTOPHER PROGRESS DEC. 1979

 Robert Hardcastle is his proper name, but everyone in the village of Royalton knows him as "Brick". "Brick" is the town barber and has been so for well over 30 years now. Born in Isoline, Tennessee 74 years ago, Hardcastle moved to Royalton at the age of two. As a teenager, "Brick" worked as a shoe shine boy for barber Bill Chapman. Chapman told Hardcastle that he should learn to become a barber because he was too small for the coal mines.
"Brick" spent three years learning the trade and acquired his state license to practice. He later worked in Chicago and then barbered in Hollandia, New Guinea during World War II. A couple of personalities that Hardcastle recalls include Admiral Kincaid, a well-recognized navy man and the Heavyweight Boxing Champion of the World, Gene Tunney. At that time, service men didn't have to pay for their haircut, but Tunney gave one dollar nevertheless.
"I kept that dollar and had him autograph it for me. I've still got it in the house someplace," and "Brick", who claims the signature was smeared because when he used to carry it in his billfold, the money got wet once when he was fishing.

Hardcastle is married to Carlene. The couple has been united since 1936. They have one daughter and four grandchildren residing in Johnston City. One of 13 children, "Brick" has five other brothers and sisters still living. There is Otis, Warren, Lincoln, Norma, and Maurene. "Brick" settled down in. Royalton after the second World War and established his business in the location he is at presently (Main Street). "My business was here. All I had to do was open it up," he said. When the mines were prospering, "Brick" prospered. "When I started out barbering, haircuts were fifty cents and a shave was a quarter. Now, a haircut by itself is $4 during the week and $4.50 on Saturdays." The veteran barber also pointed out that he, by no means, is a hair stylist. "If a guy comes in here with long hair and asks for a trim, I tell him to go somewhere else." "Brick" demonstrated his trade, using two fingers to pick up the hair and then gauging how much to cut. "I would also be classed as a good shaver because I am light handed," he explained.

Besides barbering, Hardcastle served the Franklin County Board for 20 years under the role of Assistant Supervisor. He worked out of the Zeigler Six Mile Township Building. "Brick" prided himself on his aggressive if not stubborn character. "I wasn't scared of anybody. I could whip about all of them," he said. A couple of customers in the shop teased him and said that he wasn't too tough. Mike Derbak, 59, of Royalton, was the most vocal. "All the weaklings and sissies would come over and beat up "Brick" even some of the girls." "Brick" simply looked at Derbak and began cursing in a low tone. The exchange went back and forth
considerably until the subject was changed over to cards and who was good at what in the Royalton VFW Hall. "Brick" works three days a week now (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) and has done so for many years. His wife and daughter want him to give up his work, and "Brick" says that isn't likely to happen in the near future.
I like to be over here with the guys and talk. They expect me here. Some have said that if I quit, they will come over to my house for their haircut and I don't want that. This has been a good town for me to work in. If I only made $15 - $20 a week, it would be enough for me to take care of my wife and me with Social Security and all." "Brick is also different from other barbers not just in atmosphere (he has a porcelain barber chair rather than metallic and antique wood chairs and razor strap keepsakes), but in general appearance. He dresses up and even wears a tie. "When you are a barber, you are in the public eye. I don't think anyone would come to get a haircut from you if you were dressed like a farmer." He gave an example of someone attired in overalls.

One other interesting note about Hardcastle is that he sets out a box of bubble gum for kids to come by and get some and it doesn't cost them anything. "I figured I'd better do something. I knew some of their fathers wouldn't buy them anything," he said
smiling at another customer. That's the way "Brick" is, always joking. As the saying goes, they broke the mold, when they made "Brick". A little tongue in cheek humor there. . . Before I left his shop, I couldn't resist. I had to know how "Brick" got his nickname. "When I was five or six years old, my uncle Frank Hardcastle used to run a moving picture building. It was before there was a theater. And, they had some Vaudeville acts there. One of the songs was "Old McDonald Had A Farm." And, instead of singing "here a quack, there a quack, everywhere a quack, quack," I said "here's a brick, there's a brick."; The nickname stuck. . That's some story. It's not exactly a hair-raising experience and you can't really call it a close shave, but you can say that it was an uncut version of the truth.

NOT MUCH CHANGE IN KUHNKE SUNDRIES IN 31 YEARS OF
BUSINESS AT ROYALTON
JUNE 25, 1980
BY: DOUG CALDWELL

Things have changed in the last 31 years, gasoline is a $1.30 a gallon, can cokes are 40 cents each, a gallon of milk is close to two dollars, but Eva Kuhnke's smile is just as bright as it was 31 years ago, when she and her husband Sam purchased Kuhnke's Sundries. Sam and Eva bought their store on June 28, 1949, and it is still located on South Main in Royalton. The Kuhnke's remember 42 businesses in Royalton area at one time but only a handful remain. The Kuhnke's were married nine months and living in Chicago when they were notified that a drug store in their home town was available for purchase. The Kuhnke's didn't hesitate and left their secure jobs in Chicago to come back to Southern Illinois. But did they have any doubts about their success???
"No, I knew when I left from Chicago that the store would be a success," Eva Kuhnke related. "When we made up our minds to purchase the store we didn't have any alternatives. We were determined to make the business a success." The Kuhnke's have not changed much to the store they owned for 31 years. Yes they had some little changes to the building. Their source of heat changed from a pot bellied stove to a coal furnace and now to natural gas. But they have instilled an honest, relaxed atmosphere which makes customers comfortable when shopping or just visiting at Kuhnke's. Business for the Kuhnke's started well from the beginning as the July Fourth weekend brought many people into the store. "Royalton in 1949, was a booming town, with two mines nearby and the business was pretty good," explained Eva; "We had people standing in line outside to order cigarettes or special things they wanted." "Hadacol was a hot number in patented medicine around Royalton for a time." laughed Eva. "Hadacol was a liquid vitamin - which contained 11 percent alcohol. People would wait in line for that order." In 1957, Sam went back to the railroad, a job he had In Chicago before the Kuhnke's moved back to Royalton. The mines closed during this time and Sam wanted to provide extra income to help maintain and remodel their store. But the closing of the mines didn't force the Kuhnke's out of business. People still came in to get various items in the store. One of the favorite items people came into Kuhnke's Sundries for was ice cream. People came in droves to taste the old fashioned ice cream the Kuhnke's had on hand for the customers. "Back years ago the church people and younger people would congregate here, eating our old fashioned ice cream," said Eva. "We even had curb service." "Curb service is like what you would call a drive-in window," Eva explained. "Cars would come by and stop outside the store entrance and honk their horns for service. We had a boy go outside and take the customer's order. Most of the time it was an orderfor ice cream. We sold a lot of ice cream. We had a 10 hour service from 8 a.m. to 11p.m.''
The summer months were the busiest ice cream months for the Kuhnke's, as they made more than 250 gallons of ice cream a month. In 1972, the last year, the Kuhnke's made their own ice cream, the Kuhnke's made 3000 gallons in this 12 month period. Not as many church groups or young people congregate at Kuhnke's any more but people still come for miles away to taste the good ole' fashioned ice cream. "Chocolate and vanilla were the favorite flavors customers like the most for their malts," explained Eva. "The favorite soft drink is a cherry coke." Eva still makes her own syrup and secret recipes today, although they have stopped making their own ice cream. "But we purchase an ice cream which tastes like the old fashioned kind," said Eva. Eva also has high standards with her soft. drinks and malts. "I make my own syrups and in don't like it I wouldn't sell it to my customers," said Eva. "I want to sell.. soft drinks and malts which taste good." Prices have risen since the Kuhnke's started their business, thanks to the rising inflation and costs. Cones cost five cents a dip, and cokes were also five cents in 1948. Today that same cone will cost you 45 cents and a small coke is now 20 cents. But, the quantity the customer receives is more than the average store. Inflation, recession, high costs, has today's economy affected Kuhnke's Sundries. " "We sell just as much but the profit margin is just not there." stated Eva. "We don't have the volume larger stores have but people have accepted the rise in prices. Inflation has driven small businesses price up but we try to keep prices as low as we can. This helps people from not wasting gas going out of town for every little thing." Kids are a frequent clientele in Kuhnke's. They come to visit Eva for various reason: for ice cream, to show her a new hair style, to share their gripes or just to have a friendly conversation. "I feel I get along pretty good with the kids," said Eva. "I think I would be in trouble if I didn't enjoy the kids who come in here. I don't think I would have lasted long in the business."
"I listen to various people who come in here," Eva acknowledged. "They come in here with their complaints, kids show me report cards or tell me something about school. " "Before closed campus at the school in Royalton, the kids came in groves and congregated here all the time," explained Eva. "They would come here for their lunch and after school was out. They would even meet here before ball games, waiting for the bus to pick them up."
Winter is a season when business slows down at Kuhnke's. But as business slows
crocheting increases at the store. "Crocheting is popular here in the winter," said E. "Women come here to
exchange patterns and to show each other different ways to crochet. Everybody helps each other when crocheting." Retirement may be in the future plans of Eva Kuhnke but it also may not. "If I closed my doors where would the ladies go to congregate?" asked Eva. "To me this is just not a store but a place to meet together and help each other out." Business is a pleasure in Eva's eyes and she would have it no other way. She helps other people out by listening to their problems, showing them a new pattern in
crocheting, selling them an item in her store or just fixing a delicious cherry coke. The Drug Store was previously owned by Doc Bennet, Gordon Shafer, Sr. and Bob Roberts. Kuhnke's had the store open until 1987. Sam passed away in 1985 and Eva in 1987.

JOHN LOVELACE'S GROCERY STORE

     

 CLERKING IN THE CLOVER FARM STORE

A story that I like to tell an occasion has to do with my first job. Nowadays, most young people expect to be paid the minimum wage of over four dollars an hour. Not so when I applied to Mr. John Lovelace for a job in his Clover Farm store. At first, he accepted me as temporary helpon Saturdays, which were the busiest days. He explained two things to me: "The pay is not much, but it gives you an opportunity to meet the public." He was right on both counts.

It was the summer of 1936. I was going on seventeen; I already knew everybody in town (the public). The pay was one dollar a day, a day that began at 7:00 A.M. and ended at about 6:00 P.M. In other words, I was earning one dollar a week, a little less than ten cents an hour. By the next summer, however, I was working Monday through Saturday and had received a pay raise to $10.00 per week. Not bad, and I always had money!

Working as a clerk in a grocery store was different than nowadays. When folks came into the store, they told the clerk what they wanted. He went to the shelves, found the items, wrote prices on a scrap of wrapping paper and totaled them. There was no self-service. There was no cash register slip that listed the items purchased along with prices.

Working for Mr. Lovelace was an excellent learning experience. He was a very honest man, and he trusted me to be the same. We developed a relationship that included something more than boss/employee. For example, he and Mrs. Lovelace took me with them to the annual Clover Farm Picnic at Giant City State Park.

Clover Farm was a voluntary chain privately owned and operated rather than a store like Kroger which was company owned and operated.

Russ Stephens

Brother of Mary Esther Stephens and Mary Emma Stephens