WALNUT STREET: Early Businesses
by Ann Angel Eberhardt
Years ago, the borough of Sharpsville, Pennsylvania, population approximately 5,000, had its own little “downtown,” a place I knew well in the 1950s and 1960s. It consisted of a row of businesses on either side of a block-long two-lane paved stretch known as North Walnut Street. Side-by-side, in buildings possibly constructed in the late 1800s, were stores offering a variety of goods and services, such as hardware, men’s or women’s wear, insurance, jewelry, newspapers and magazines, barber services, groceries, lunch, or miscellaneous items in a five-and-ten-cent store.
The Sharpsville Advertiser Printshop
Around 1950, my father, August Angel, began his printshop business in a storefront on that street while our family was still living in nearby Wheatland. The following is an excerpt from his memoir, Trivia and Me:
One day, as I leafed through the classified section of The Sharon Herald, I saw a three-line ad for the sale of a print shop in nearby Sharpsville. For further details, I drove from Wheatland to Sharpsville and was greeted by Mr. Cubbison, who was seated behind the counter. A young high school boy was operating a 10 x 15 C&P [Chandler and Price Co.] hand-fed press in the back of the room. I scanned the shop quickly and asked the sale price. Both shop and price were favorable because I realized the shop’s potential as a moneymaker.
Mr. Cubbison must have been startled when I told him to write a receipt of $700, and I would take over the shop as soon as he could let it go. He said I could start the next morning if I wanted to, so I gave him the cash and we shook hands. Mr. Cubbison came out from behind the counter, seated in a wheelchair and aided by his young helper. As he beamed over the unusual and spontaneous sale, I asked for his good wishes. He remarked that I made a good deal and would find the shop profitable, then wished me the best of luck.
We shook hands again and he was wheeled to his car for his last commute to Youngstown, Ohio, where he lived. He was glad and relieved to give up the shop and eliminate a long daily drive to work. I was happy and proud to be the owner of my first print shop. Though I hated to lose the income from the steady work at the Sharon Steel [as a draftsman], I was enthusiastic about the new adventure and gave Sharon Steel notice of my departure. The purchase of the shop changed the direction and goal of my life.
My brother, Mike Angel, and I would both accompany our dad in his Model A Ford panel truck to the shop on weekends. While Dad printed flyers, booklets, letterhead stationery, programs, receipts, etc., on his hand-fed presses, Mike and I would pretend we were office-workers as we played with the assortment of rubber stamps and scrap paper. We have never forgotten the distinct smell of printer’s ink and the solvents Dad used to clean the presses.
Memories of Other Walnut Street Stores
More about Walnut Street in the 1950s and 1960s from Mike:
I spent a lot of time on Walnut Street (most of it was doing useless things): Lee Supply and Company, Chuck McCracken’s News Stand, the pool hall, where I spent many unproductive, but wonderful hours learning how to be a punk, Five & Dime (the lady working there would not take old money, only shiny new coins and crisp bills).
Next to an apartment building sat Mahaney’s Clothing Store. When Mahaney’s store closed, I remember they either auctioned or sold vintage items such as button shoes and knicker trousers. The owner, George Mahaney, was the mayor when we moved to Sharpsville.
Across Main Street from Mahaney’s was the drug store and the grocery store. Underneath that row of buildings was a tunnel where the creek ran. We would walk through the tunnel for the entire length from Mahaney’s Store to the railroad tracks.
On the corner of Main and Walnut was Hurley’s [also known as Burke’s Dairy]. Most every Sharpsville male of our age knows of Dick Hurley and the good times we had hanging out at his place. I don’t remember that very many girls hung out there.
Next door to Hurley’s was where an older man and wife had some kind of business. I remember buying certain year pennies from him for my coin collection. The same building was where the Cubbison Printing Company was when Dad purchased the business.
I can’t remember the other businesses on that side of the street except that another 5 & 10 cent store was established after the one (only shiny new coins accepted) across the street went out of business.
To be continued…
— Mike Angel (SHS 1960), London, KY,
Ann Angel Eberhardt (SHS 1958), Goodyear, AZ,
and excerpts from August Angel’s memoir, “Trivia & Me”, 1996.