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Down Springfield’s Memory Lane

POSTED: May 29, 2014 5:16 p.m.
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An ad from Feb. 8, 1946, for the Dedge and Arnsdorff Motors

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Over the course of the next few weeks, I am going to attempt to tell the story of Springfield’s businesses, especially those during the years of the original Mars Theatre’s operation.

If any of you have ties to a business on Laurel Street, please get in touch with me. You will find out who made the blocks for the Mars and about the big boom in 1948-49 when several businesses got new buildings. Sometimes I will mention the business and on other occasions I will be able to dedicate a column to the business. We will go from south to north and try not to miss anything.

Today I am exploring those businesses operating in Springfield but not on Laurel Street.

The Dodge-Plymouth dealership owned by J.W. Dedge and Frank Arnsdorff was located facing Cleveland Street between Oak and Maple Streets. It opened in February 1946.  The accompanying advertisement for Dedge and Arnsdorff Motors announces the grand opening. This building was lastly used as a storage building for Walt’s Furniture Store.

Cap and Nora Burns lived in the house at 104 First Street (current location of Ronnie Brooks’ State Farm Insurance office). Cap Burns ran a mill where he ground corn for meal and grits and cleaned rice for customers. He did some tinkering fixing things and some blacksmith work, too. This business operated behind their house and into part of the area which is now the Springfield United Methodist Church Family Life Center.

Thompson’s Funeral Home was located at the north end of Maple Street (currently the home of Gethsemane Church). It was owned and operated by Leslie Thompson Sr. and was the first funeral home to operate in the county.  There was an insurance business that operated out of the office and the hearse served as the first ambulance in the area. The business was later purchased by Tommy Strickland.

Hammy Rahn operated a blacksmith shop near his home, which was at the intersection of Oak and Second streets. He shoed horses and sold horse and mule tack. A horse trader, he dabbled with this and that. His wife had one of the first electric washing machines in Springfield and she provided laundry services for many people in the area.

Ralph Rahn operated a feed, seed and fertilizer business in the second block of East Second Street, featuring Purina products. George Chance and Durell Hagin purchased the business and continued to operate it. Later, it was sold to Dr. Ray Webb and his son Darwin and the building burned during their operation.

The building remnants were removed. Darwin now operates a landscaping business utilizing the empty lot for his trucks, etc.

A canning plant was housed in a building on the grounds of Effingham Academy (400 North Ash Street) and operated in the 1940s by the vocational department under I.B. Johnson’s supervision. Individuals took their fresh vegetables there, did all of the preparation themselves and canned their vegetables in metal cans rather than glass mason jars.

Once the cans were prepared, they were sealed and processed using the equipment at the plant. My father Arthur Exley was hired to run the canning plant when he was still in high school at the Academy. He fired the boiler and took the fees.

This was written by Susan Exley of Historic Effingham Society. If you have photos, comments or information to share, contact her at 754-6681 or hesheraldexley@aol.com.

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