When you drive through the commercial section of Keyser today, especially Main Street and Armstrong Street, you see a lot of empty buildings. At one time, most of these buildings had successful businesses. Some people remember these companies, others don’t. My intention is that this series will inspire memories of these companies. In December, I started the series by presenting my own company, Shapiro’s Stores. Earlier this year, I focused on Keyser Movie Houses, GC Murphy’s, and The A&P Store. This final part focuses on Peoples Pharmacy and the businesses I remember – old and new – that make downtown what it is today.
Part 6: People’s pharmacy and more
The other day driving through downtown Keyser brought back memories of all the old businesses that once lined Main and Armstrong streets, as well as side streets.
I often remember the good old days… many businesses, including my own Shapiro stores, are gone, but not forgotten. I can’t help but think of the song “Everything Old is New Again”. I remember clothing stores like Shears Ladies Store, Kaplon’s Men Store, The Army & Navy Store, and McCoole’s Men’s & Boy’s Store; jewelry stores, including Clements’s, Ebert’s, Rinard’s and Frank’s; television / appliance stores, such as Lane’s and Weese’s; auto / hardware / variety stores such as Western Auto and Gardener’s Hardware; small stores like GC Murphy’s, The HP Store, Coffman-Fisher and Maurice’s; a variety of restaurants / hangouts including Rosemont, Taste of Home, Merryray, Kemp’s and Cozy Korner; grocery stores such as Shepp’s, Harman’s and Water Street Grocery; theaters / cinema / entertainment venues including the Keyser Theater, Liberty, Music Hall and Pool Hall; newsstands and card shops like Kessel’s News Stand, Village Card Shop and Book-a Rama; shoe stores, including Calemine’s; and camera stores and photography studios such as Grayson’s Camera Shop, Keyser Studio and G&G.
Pharmacies were known for more than drugs. I remember buying canned candy at Romig’s Drug Store. The one I frequented the most, since it was closest to my store, was Peoples Pharmacy. It was located at the corner of Main and Armstrong streets. In addition to filling prescriptions, they sold items such as small leather goods, watches, nuts, and other items.
It was originally owned by Gene Clevenger and his wife Elsie (they also owned Elsie’s Dress Shop adjacent to the pharmacy). Dr Clevenger directed it for many years. He sold it to Dr George Harmon, who then sold it to Dr Rudy Sites. The official name of the pharmacy was Peoples Pharmacy, but my family and I often called it Rudy’s Drug Store. During Rudy’s tenure, many great people worked there: Betty Johnson, Ida Ball, Walter Likens, Madonna Pyles, Dottie Zacot, Diane Pamepinto and Dr Brenda Condron, to name a few that I remember. . The drugstore had a full soda fountain and they served delicious malts, sodas, and other frozen delicacies. I remember visiting Rudy’s fountain frequently and buying a five-cent coke… and I remember Betty making the best milkshakes in town!
After:OLD KEYSER STORES: A&P
As I walk around the block again, I see some of the older establishments that are still operating today. On Main Street, M&T Bank, Christy’s Florist, and Minnich’s Flower Shop are places I frequented during my young business years. The Royal Restaurant, opened in 1904, offers excellent burgers and the best chili ever. Martie’s Hotdog Stand offers excellent beef hot dogs with all kinds of toppings. Mane Street Studio is a full service salon. Queen’s Point Coffee offers wonderful coffees, teas and sandwiches that you won’t find anywhere else in town.
On Armstrong Street, Melody Music has been in business for 30 years and offers quality musical instruments and guitars. Good as New occupies the buildings of my old Shapiro; they sell a variety of bedding, furniture and other items. Across the street is the Keyser Decorating Center, which features quality rugs and floors. I also see Solar Mountain Records on Armstrong Street – I remember buying Bart records to listen to on my old player.
As I walk out of the city center, I see the Candlewyck Inn on Mineral Street and remember the many good times my family and I had eating there.
All of these establishments – and more – grow the economy of downtown Keyser. Whether old or new, these businesses add to the ambiance and nostalgia of the city center.
So the next time you hear the beautiful tune “Everything Old is New Again”, think of downtown Keyser; there is no place like that.