Call this the Accidental Series, because I hadn’t planned to write three columns in a row about the Historic West End, the new designation for Old Baytown.
But here I go again. Third time around, more memories of Old Baytown are coming right up.
One of the most popular doctors in town was Chauncy Dolph, an eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, who had an office on the second floor of the Baytown Drug Store on Old Main, now called Harbor Drive. Dr. Dolph used to give vouchers to his young patients for ice cream at the soda counter at the Baytown Drug Store. After he relocated to a new office on Minnesota, he continued the voucher system with Jimmy’s Drug Store across the street.
When I was 20-something, past the age for ice cream freebies, I went to Dr. Dolph’s new office. A blood vessel had burst in an eye, and being melodramatic me, I feared the worst. Dr. Dolph assured me I was going to be OK, and would I like an ice cream voucher?
I took it.
Cone’s Pharmacy – the forerunner of Scarborough’s -- did business on Market Street, and with one aunt employed at Cone’s and another at the Baytown Drug Store, I felt like a privileged customer at those two soda counters. Jo Buford, who worked with Aunt Pooch at the Baytown Drug Store, gave me my nickname, Jonesy. Every time I entered the drug store, Jo would announce: “Here comes Jonesy!” (Jo was the mom of my classmate Mary Lou Buford.)
J.R. Cone, who ran the pharmacy where Aunt Rachel worked, was the husband of my piano teacher. I used to buy sheet music at the pharmacy, but I doubt Mrs. Cone – who was strictly classical and discouraged students from playing popular tunes -- would have liked my selections. Instead of Bach, Beethoven or Brahms, I was more into “Mairzy Doats and Dozy Doats.”
The official name of Jimmy’s Drug Store was Tri-City Pharmacy, but no one called it that. It was Jimmy’s, as in Jimmy Frazier, pharmacist/owner. Jimmy’s was a favorite hang-out for school kids, especially from nearby Baytown Junior High. Bev Bergeron, brother of our classmate Meredith Bergeron, worked the soda counter at Jimmy’s, and the future professional entertainer kept us laughing.
Their dad, City Councilman Rufus Bergeron, built several structures in the middle of the downtown business district. All have been demolished now except the empty Humble Waffle Shop building.
One time I got into the biggest argument over the location of Rettig’s Ice Cream Parlor in Old Baytown. After I wrote that Rettig’s stood next to the Blue Arrow Café on Market, a reader said, “Wrong! It was located on Market near the Cherry Street intersection.”
The reader was right and so was I. Rettig’s had two different locations, the first one next to the Blue Arrow.
A sought-after fixture at Rettig’s was the juke box, and the most popular selection was Tommy Dorsey’s “Boogie Woogie.” People played it over and over.
We liked going to the ice cream parlor before or after we saw a movie at the Arcadia Theater up the street or a semi-pro baseball game at the Humble Oiler baseball park around the corner.
The Arcadia was H.E. Brunson’s pride and joy until he built a bigger and more elegant edifice, the Bay Theater. At the Arcadia I cried for the first time watching a movie. I was about 4 years old and became hysterical when Pee Wee, a sweet little kid in “Boys Town,” got hit by a car. I sobbed so loudly that my mother had to take me to the lobby to calm me down. I don’t think I cried again at a movie until years later when the Bay Theater featured “Mrs. Miniver.” I lost it when Greer Garson’s daughter-in-law Teresa Wright got killed in World War II in England.
Every time I looked at the air raid shelter next to the Community House, I thought about “Mrs. Miniver.”
Wanda Orton is a retired managing editor of The Sun. She can be reached at email@example.com, Attention: Wanda Orton.