By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
WELLAND – Yvon Dupont couldn’t resist going back to an old neighbourhood hangout.
He returned Saturday morning to what used to be Joe Miller’s sporting goods and variety store, at the corner of King Street and Fifth Street. The address: 563 King.
The building is going through a big-scale renovation that will turn it into apartments. Joe Miller’s was the groundfloor storefront.
Dupont has fond memories of the sporting goods store back in the 1950s and 1960s when he was a kid growing up in this well-known neighbourhood. The Miller family made its home in the big building, the business itself closed around 1972.
Joe Miller was an icon. His store was a drop-in for the neighbourhood kids who bought penny candy, Evangeline pop, Hostess chips, sunflower seeds, Cracker Jack, baseball and hockey cards and other goodies. Miller sharpened their skates, sold hockey sticks and when need be, would lend them a football or baseball bat and ball to play on the makeshift diamond and football field across the street.
One of Dupont’s prized possessions is a 1957 photograph showing some of the neighbourhood kids posed for a photo outside Joe Miller’s.
He brought it along when we met in front of this well remembered hangout on Saturday. He’s glad the reno will give the building a future – in addition to its storied past.
(Joe Barkovich lives in his hometown of Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)