What Could Be Cooler Than a Sixty-Three-Year-Old Photo of Joe, on a Motorcycle, in Front of The Old Goodsel Service Station?
That was a pretty cool motorcycle that Joe Dunavan was riding when he was a sophomore at St. Paul High School. But remembering the changes that have occurred on both sides of Highway 47 (then 57) is also pretty neat. I remember the location, because I lived in the house across the street when the picture was taken. That upstairs window was my bedroom (More on that later.)
I am assuming Joe was in front of the old Vitt - Goodsel service station. The perspective looked about right when we stopped and took a photo a few days ago. Much has changed on both sides of the highway since 1960.
SOUTH OF THE HIGHWAY:
The Cooney House.
Starting with the top photo, at left is the 'Old Cooney House.' That home was built in the 1880's by my great grandparents Charles Cooney Sr. and Mary Lucretia Cooney. Later, my Grandparents Charles Jr. and Hattie Cooney lived in the house. After Hattie's death, in 1954, we moved back to St. Paul and lived in the house until after Charles's death in 1958. It was a charming, old two-story home with two porches on the front, and a third on the back — also two porch swings and a covered, stone well near the back door.
Less charming was the fact that it was heated entirely with wood and coal. There was one gas line that fueled an old iron cook stove. My mom didn't have much patience with the situation, and we added more gas plumbing and installed a modern range and two downstairs gas heating stoves. Even with gas heat downstairs, the upstairs bedrooms got cold! Another problem was a very poor foundation that was collapsing into the cellar.
The Cooney "Little Store."
To the right (west) of the Cooney House is the old Cooney Grocery Store. It was a small frame building with doors on the front and back. There were windows across the front. The interior was basically a 'general store' with floor to ceiling shelving on three walls and a counter with a glass display case. The shelving behind the counter had one of the old rolling library-type ladders. There were three or four shelving units in front of the counter and that was about it. After my grandparents retired, at least one other family, I believe the Bozone's, ran the store for a while.
To the right of the Little Store (top photo) is another small building that served as an electrical and radio repair shop for the Bozone family. I believe Max DeVilbiss also ran a repair shop there before moving his electrical-TV repair work up to the main business district.
The color photo, above, also shows the east end of a house. In 1960 that was the home of Mr. and Mrs. Arnold Smith. The Voorheis Family currently lives there.
Brogan and Norris Grocery.
The Cooney house photo shown above barely made it into the camera. A year or so after my grandfather's death, my parents and I moved a block northeast to Layfette Street. At about that time they, and Charles and Magdelene Norris, were selling our business in Erie and planning a new grocery business in St. Paul. This store was built on the site of the Cooney house, which was razed in 1961, and Brogan-Norris Grocery opened in 1962. We retained the "Little Store" for a few years, using it as a storeroom for the main building. It was eventually razed .
After my parents and the Norris' retired in 1974, the grocery store saw several owners, one of whom expanded the building toward the west. Then in about 2010 Michael Beachner bought the building and turned it into his business office.
North of the Highway.
In 1960 Ella Hentzen lived directly across the street north of my grandparents' home — on the far east end of the block. That home remains with new occupants. Everything else has changed since Joe had his picture taken.
Vitt - Goodsel Service Station.
In about 1948, Art and Nellie Goodsel purchased a Kendall Service Station from Fred Vitt. Over the next 10 - 15 years the Goodsel's made several more changes. From the perspective of the top photo, I am pretty sure Joe was in the driveway of the Goodsel station. If you look at the top photo, the second story window of the Cooney house was my bedroom. I recall several evenings of loud high-performance exhaust sounds with a lot of loud talking and laughter. I learned later that some of that revelry was probably related to bootlegging liquor into still-dry Oklahoma.
In 1954, Art and Nellie opened a ten-stool diner on the lot west of their filling station. The metal diner building, which sported a neon "57 DINER" sign, was manufactured by Arthur Valentine's, Valentine Diner Company, in Wichita. after it was ordered and site preparation was completed, one of Valentine's "canned businesses" was moved on site fairly quickly. This small diner, plus the filling station, was a preview of things to come on this block.
The New Goodsel Filling Station, Grocery - Diner (1962).
The January 26, 1961, issue of the St. Paul Journal reported "Last week a new filling station was started by Art Goodsel but the cold weather has halted the work for now." Other news stories of that week reported temperatures of -2°.
In 1962, a local, upbeat publication about St. Paul's progress featured the new Goodsel Grocery, Filling Station and Diner on the front page. The large, 1/2 block long structure and parking area, included a filling station on the east end, and a much larger diner on the west end. In the area behind the diner was a small grocery store. The back of the building included a, high-bay garage and car wash. There were gas pumps in front of the building and gas/diesel pumps at the east end.
As a sidenote, for a time, there were four grocery stores, three service stations and at least three restaurants in St. Paul!
Same Building, 60 Years of Change.
After Art and Nellie retired, their daughter Viola, and husband Howard, made a pretty significant change to the west end of the building. The grocery store was converted into a dining room, and the diner was renovated with more seating. For several years the Kennedy's, and later, Melinda and Perry O'Brien, operated the restaurant as the Tic-Toc and Boot's and Saddle Supper Clubs. In doing so, they served some of the best fried chicken in Southeast Kansas. Sorry Crawford County — That's a fact!
The Lodge Steakhouse and Restaurant.
Shortly after we returned to St. Paul in 2008, the old Goodsel building changed hands and received a major facelift. Externally, the front part of the building was covered with log siding. Both the front and original service bay got new, peaked roofs. Inside wall also got the log-look treatment. All-new kitchen equipment was installed and most of the front part of the building was renovated into dining room, and a nice bar was added to the southwest corner of the dining area. The restaurant offered good menu variety ranging from lunch specials to fine evening dining. Roy and Janis Carter managed the business for a few years, until it closed.
Budd's St. Paul Lodge.
In 2020 the building took on new life. Don Budd, a Kansas City real estate developer, with a deep passion for hunting and the outdoors, bought the building and did another impressive renovation. In addition to a retail area and very nice bar in the front, the back of the building has been converted to rental lodging quarters for visiting hunters. The business is seasonal and, with it being October, we are heading into the season.
If you would like to look around the lodge, as it is now, here is a link to Budd's St. Paul Lodge website: Hunting Lodging | Budd's Saint Paul Lodge | United States (buddssaintpaullodge.com).
Some Background Information:
1. Thanks to Art Goodsel for sending me the photo of Joe in front of this folk's service station.
2. I do not recall exactly when the old Cooney store was torn down, but likely in the early '70's. After we moved to Wichita, we came home for Christmas one year and stayed with my Parents. On Christmas morning dad got a call from a customer. "Bob, you might want to check the old store building. There is something running out from under the door!" Dad and I went over to check. It was very cold, and the space heater had gone out. About 15-20 cases of soft drinks had frozen, the cans were bursting, and the floor was flooded with an oozy, sticky, frosty mess. Merry Christmas!
Thoughts 'n Things
Some 'Thoughts' and short articles about past and present-day St. Paul and the Southern Kansas - 4 State Region.