Names On High

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large

WELLAND – See what you missed if you walked with eyes looking down, not up!

We joked about that walking along King Street one sultry evening this summer.

An old saw from childhood days may have been reason peepers were kept locked on the sidewalk: “Step on a (sidewalk) crack, break your mother’s back!”

Remember?

No one wanted to be culpable for that, hence kids walked with eyes looking down.

Light-hearted banter aside, the walk along parts of King Street, West Main, East Main and some others uncovered, in a sense, names well known and not so well known. And probably in the case of most, largely ignored.

Having grown up along King Street, I recall Croatian grocer John Husnik’s business being located at 575 King St. But I must admit the on-high inscription, M. Cooper Bldg., came as a revelation all these years later.

“Goes to show no one looked up when they walked,” said one of my companions on the trek.

Long-time Wellanders will remember that a famous furniture store business had its start on the King Street strip. But its name on that building is almost obliterated by the sign of the current occupant. The name is Ablan Leon Furniture, Established 1909. The address was 244-48 King St.

The outing became a trip down memory lane in more ways than one. For example, we talked about the fountain that had been in Merritt Park, and a Christmas Nativity scene that drew onlookers from far and wide.

Another well remembered by oldtimers was the Ross store, located in, of course, the Ross Building. Its inscription is on two sides: 8 King St. and 3 Main St. and on the Main Street side is the date: 1936. It looks as stately today as it must have looked way back then.

A guess was made about the inscription on the King St. side: “Maybe it was there so passing boats could see it,” was the theory. I suppose this holds water, well maybe.

What remains to be said is that the walk was a learning experience for the three of us.

“It’s amazing when you look at the buildings up close, the detail that still stands out,” was a still-remembered comment. That was a pleasant discovery we shared.

Several other buildings were on our route but are not part of the photo compilation.

Somewhere, there must be backgrounders about the business/property owners/developers, particularly names not well known, at least by me. If so, I would like to read them.

In closing, a word of thanks to my fellow walkers Paula Esposito, who plotted the course that evening, and Tom Higginbotham.

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