Augusta, Kansas: Part 11 of 12, State Street, 300 Block

Crossing 3rd Avenue and heading south on the west side, you find Mr. Jackson’s lot. He was a mechanic that seemed to limit his clientele. There never seemed to be more than one car at his place at a time. He and his wife were both pleasant people.

Next, was Howard Motors, a Chevrolet and Buick dealership. The company was owned by Ray Howard. Jack Parker reminded me that I forgot to mention that Howard Motors started out in the 600 block of State Street at the location next occupied by Mr. Blowey and his Augusta Hardware. I think Howard Motors moved into the new location in 1950 or 1951. I began working for them at the new location in the summer of 1952. I got to know the Howard’s pretty well. Ray sang with my Dad in the Augusta Elks Barbershop Quartet. Ray and Veda had 3 kids, Connie, Jackie, and Bill. Bill (William Ray Howard, Jr.) was a friend and classmate. Kenneth Markley was Service Manager and drove the wrecker. Kenny Dickinsen was Shop Foreman and Head Mechanic. Frank Prosser was a mechanic. Hank Funkey was also a mechanic. Phil Harding (brother of Cliff Harding at Scholfield-Hurst Motors) was Parts Manager. Betty Harrison worked in the office. Merle Canfield and Budd Nutter were salesmen. In late 1954 or early 1955, Ray Howard sold to George L. Findley, and it became the George L. Findley Chevrolet Company. George and his wife had come from Wichita. They had a daughter. They bought the David Allison house on Washington Lane. George hired Max Blackwelder, a CPA, to handle the financing and insurance components of the business. I think that during this period, Doug Sawtelle was in charge of the body shop for a time.

Next is the log cabin, the Augusta Historical Society Museum. I’ve already talked about this. I’m glad it’s still there and that it is being well cared for by the Director and the Board.

Next, go across the street to the east side. The only business over there was Crooks Cleaners, a dry cleaning shop owned by Jim Crooks. He was a very nice guy, and he had a son, also named Jim.

Dave Thomas


Augusta, Kansas: Part 10 of 12, 3rd Avenue

Going east from State Street on 3rd, the only business I can remember is Manka’s. I can’t think of the correct name. It may have been Manka Feed or Manka Produce. Mr. and Mrs. Manka bought eggs from the local farmers and re-sold them. I think they also sold chicken feed and other products for farmers. The Manka’s had a daughter, Shirley, who was a friend and classmate. I was talking with my cousin, Jack Wilson, a few years ago, and he recalled that when he was old enough to get his driver’s license, it became his job to drive the eggs to Manka’s. In an exchange of emails a few years ago, Shirley told me she still had the device that she and her folks had used to candle the eggs. Shirley is still with us, and I believe is still living in Texas.

Dave Thomas



Augusta, Kansas: Part 9 of 12, State Street, 400 Block, East Side

Crossing 5th Avenue and heading south on the east side of State Street, we first encounter a 2-story, white stucco building on that southeast corner of State and 5th. My first remembrance is that this was Hudson’s Department Store, operated by a lady named Florence Hudson. I remember my Mom taking me in there one time to buy a pair of bib overalls. This was real grownup attire for a grade school kid. For a few years, Mamie Hall had her book store at this location before moving up to the next block. Now, we come to the important stuff about this location. I believe that the address here is 432 State. My Mom told me that I was born in an upstairs apartment, but never told me the address or what store it was above. I was at least 60 years old before looking at my birth certificate and having it register that my birth address was 432 ½ State Street. I’ve had some thoughts of petitioning the Chamber of Commerce to install a bronze plaque on the wall of the building saying, “Dave Thomas was born here.” However, I’m realistic enough to know that the plaque would probably say, “Dave Thomas was born here. So, what?”

Next, we have Chisman Shoe Repair, owned by Jesse Chisman. Jessie’s wife was in the store on most days, taking care of the customers. I don’t remember seeing Jesse without a smile on his face. The Chisman’s had a daughter who was a couple of years older than me. I think her name was Shirley. Jesse was a brother to Jim Chisman, a mechanic, who I think worked for Martin Brothers Motors. Jim and Anna Chisman had a son, Robert, who was a couple of years older and married my classmate, Mary Burch.

Next were the offices of a young CPA named Dick Maddox. He and his wife were nice, friendly people.

Next was Lovellettes Furniture. I remember that my Mom liked this couple.

Next was Southwest Bell, the telephone Company. This was where the operators worked, back when we had operators.

I think next was the old theater. It had been closed for years. I think Mrs. Bisagno played piano for the silent movies here.

Next, I think, was Elerick’s Cleaners. Frank Elerick had died, but I got to know his widow, Pearl, as she was a good friend of my Aunt Rachel. Pearl lived a block over on School Street across from the old Coca Cola building.

The bowling alley was along here, somewhere. I tried bowling a few times and enjoyed it, but never got hooked on it.

I can’t remember what the last businesses were. Guess my brain is giving out.

Dave Thomas