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Cameos: Downtown Minden now and then

by Minden Press-Herald

Orignially published July, 28, 2004.

Well, I am always telling you about locations that have stores different from the ones I grew up with. This column is about stores that have been torn down, about vacancies where once there was a business. One of the lines from daughter’s Valedictory was “there is nothing constant but change.” And that is surely true of Minden.

Recently I re-read Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village” and remembered some of the lines we had to commit to memory. It was with sadness I read the lines about what was no more – the cheerful village murmurs, the busy steps, and all the rest. And I remembered how downtown Minden used to be – many people walking two and three abreast on that three block area, and the many stores, and the sound of laughter, of conversation, and all the activity. So many changes now, and such a sad and lonely place, with so little sidewalk activity, except where Crichton Hardware and later Temple Hardware was located. That location is a sight to behold with Christmas lights hanging in July and all the assorted “stuff.” Some of my memories are about what was located in the vacant areas and about the things that are now there.

On the corner

Across from Minden Building & Loan there is a vacant spot where two building were torn down. On the corner in my childhood there was a variety store -Hawkins’ Variety store, later Dixon’s Variety Store. It had been W. R. Bigby’s store earlier. In the back of that building had been the location of Al-N-Way Cleaners. Across the alley or I think it is named “Green Street” on the corner is the former site of an old blacksmith shop that was operated by Mr. Irby.

Where the Minden Building & Loan is located was the site of an Esso station. In the thirties and forties it was owned and operated by Mr. Griff Hortman. Later it was Haynes Exxon Station..owned and operated by the Haynes family.

The parking area between the Building and Loan and Regions Bank was the location of our bus station. I think it was Continental Trailways bus line. I am not sure where people catch the Greyhound buses now, but I think it is at a service station on the Sibley Road.

Parking Lots

Beginning near the Methodist church, I would point out the vacancy between the Miller-Woodard-Walker Insurance Agency and the brick building that houses a business that sells hearing aids. That was Andress Motors Company from 1929 till about 1965. Before 1929 it had been Fogle Motor Company. After 1965 it was Bolen-Speede, and finally it was purchased by Mr. J. C. Johnson who moved the dealership out on Industrial Drive in about 1970 or 1971. Now the old site of the Ford dealership is just a hole in the wall where J. C. and I worked so many years ago.

Across the street was Andress Cities Service Station and the Andress Used Car Lot. Next was the Rex Theatre where we spent many happy hours. Today all this is part of Minden Medical Center Parking lot.

More changes

Where Dr. Eddie Moss, along with Dr. Carter Norman have their eye clinic was the site of a Gu;f filling station owned by the Treat family and where Obe Lowe, Robert Case Lary and Hinson Mims, Jr. worked.

The post office of my childhood was located where Hibernia Bank is today. And now the post office is around on Monroe Street. I will remind you that in my childhood the postmen who delivered mail to our homes came twice a day, morning and afternoon. On Lewisville Street Mr. Gleason was our postman.

The beautiful old Sandlin home that was located across First Street from the First Baptist Church is now gone and a blacktopped parking lot is situated. In fact it is not the church proper there on Broadway anymore, it is the Family Life Center, since the First Baptist Church Sanctuary now faces Pennsylvania Avenue.

Back Street

Back Street that once had a row of stores – Elzen Grocery, Sugg store, Warren Drug Store, Roy Miller Store, Brown Store, Kalpakis Cafe, a shoe shop, and maybe more stores. are all gone and the new beautiful Minden Civic Center is now located there. Also back there in my childhood was the Episcopal church, the jail, Abraham Dow’s store and more, but they are all gone and the land is part of the Civic Center area. On down past the lovely old Joe Miller /Mrs. Inabnett home is a finance company and that was the site of the Mark Reed filling station of my childhood.

The northeast corner of back street and East Union was the location of a filling station and the Chevrolet dealership. Today all that is gone and there is a drive-up facility for Hibernia Bank.

Now Broadway

Shaw’s Grocery store that came after Ford’s Store is now the location of Cox Communication Company, our local cable company. Webster Printing Company location was a vacant lot in my childhood and later there was an A & P store there. I bought my first washing machine, a Frigidaire from that location when Mr. West had an appliance store there. The store that was located next door to what is now Cox Communication Co. was Almand’s Feed and Seed Store. There was a back door on the side of the building where wagons and pickup trucks could pull up and load the big old bags of feed for cattle and horses.

Above that building was the Victory Hotel. I have no idea what is located up there now. It had a sort of “seedy” reputation back then. Different jobbers who sold their wares to Andress Motors Company would often make remarks about the “call girls” who worked at both Imperial Hotel and that one, too. Often they would point out girls that they said worked the hotels. I never knew with a certainty if they were joking or if there were “call girls” there.

The Old Courthouse

Downtown we all remember the big old courthouse, with its cool circular halls that always had a “bathroom” smell. So many different offices were housed there. That building was torn down long ago, but the Arizona Ash tree was preserved. Someone painted a picture of that old court house/city hall and sold prints. I had one framed for my daughter, and I have a smaller one framed in my home. So many memories of that old building. I worked in two locations there as commissioner in elections.

The old gazebo that we always called the “band stand” was moved when the new courthouse was built. There is a new, smaller version on down further in Jacqueline Park.. It is pretty but it does not bring back the memories of the big old band stand where we held our pep rallies in the fall and listened to band concerts during the summer Friday evenings of my childhood.

So many changes since so long ago. I have a hard time remembering just what all was located there back then. Only in memories can I picture all the old stores and buildings, and now even the memories dim as my mind grows older and memories fade My son calls these lapses in memory “Senior Moments” and I am having quite a few of them. These memories are sad and I hope I do forget, but for now won’t you remember along with me?

Juanita Agan submitted a weekly column to the Press-Herald for more than 15 years until her death in 2008. She was a resident of Minden since 1935. The Press-Herald is republishing select articles from Mrs. Agan’s Cameos column every Wednesday.

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