LIFE ON THE PLAINS: Stroll along west side of Main St.

A postcard showing Main St., in Waterville, after an ice storm with iced lines and plowed Waterville, Fairfield & Oakland trolley tracks running the middle of the street, on March 10, 1906.

by Roland D. Hallee

A couple of weeks ago we traveled out of The Plains to take a walk down the east side of Main St. This week, we’ll take a stroll down the west side. On this side, because we are talking about more than 60 years ago, there are a few gaps that this old brain can’t remember, but we’ll come close.

The west side of Main St. actually started down by the traffic circle. As you came up Water St., once you passed the Lockwood Little League baseball field, was W. A. Taylor Co., kind of an appliance store, but with other amenities. Next came Waterville Hardware Store, where I spent a lot of time, especially where I used to buy my hockey sticks, made of all wood, and cost 75-cents. The blade was straight, no curve. Nothing compared to the composite sticks today, that have no wood in them, and cost upwards of $350 and more.

After that, across a driveway, was the building that housed Atkins Printing, and photo shop. There were apartments on the other two floors. Cross Silver St., and we had Barlow’s Shoe Store, where the Paragon Shop now sits. Next to that was A. W. Larsen’s store, a shop where you could buy any kind of plastic models. That was a hobby of mine back then, and I purchased a lot of the “classic” cars to build. Also, every week, you would go in there to check out the latest rock ‘n roll, 45 rpm records that were popular at the time. Everything from Ricky Nelson, to Connie Francis, Ray Coniff Singers, Elvis, and more. I bought a lot of them, too.

The space SBS Carbon Copy now occupies was the Emery Brown’s Department Store. Mostly women’s clothing. Moving further along, we see Berry’s Stationers, followed by Dunham’s of Maine clothing store. This store was more famous because it carried the line of Hathaway shirts, which everyone knows were produced in Waterville. The mill at the time was located on Hathaway St., which runs parallel to Front St., from Appleton St.

Along that same stretch was Day’s Jewelers, which is still operating today.

After Dunham’s was McClellan’s Department Store, which later would house CVS Pharmacy, and Northern Mattress Furniture Store, until recently. That space is now occupied by the Record Connection. At McClellan’s there was a lunch counter that was very popular with downtown workers. They probably made the best milk shakes in town.

Next in line was Depositors Trust Co., a bank that is now Key Bank. This memory does not recall what was on the corner of what was the west extension of Temple St., now the entrance to the Concourse, where Key Bank drive-thru is located. For some reason, I seem to think it was an Army-Navy store.

The next stretch of buildings, where the Colby dormitory stands, is a little foggy for me. The corner building escapes me, but the next one would be Diambri’s Restaurant. That was a popular hang out for high school kids. The best french fries and brown gravy in town.

Following that was Beal’s Stationary Store, then Foxy’s Billiard Parlor, and the famous Park’s Diner, a 24/7 joint that was a converted railroad caboose. Every table had initials carved in them of what appeared to be every high school sweetheart couple that ever existed. Many lies were told in that place. Once, while my wife and I were on our way to Canada, we stumbled across the old Park’s Diner in North New Portland, to where it had been moved decades prior. Walking through the doors was like entering into a time warp. Nothing inside had changed – even the initials were still there.

After crossing the Appleton St. extension, there was J.C. Penney store, where Care & Comfort is now, followed by Giguere’s Super Market, Waterville Savings Bank, where I secured by first home mortgage, in 1970, and finally, the U.S. Post Office, at the intersection of Main and Elm streets.

As you can see, Main St. was a diverse business district with many options available to the shoppers. Again, there may be a few gaps in this stroll, but for the most part, you can see how different Main St. is today.


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