A trip down memory lane through print media

By: Bob Boldman

It was February 27, 1931, and Portsmouth was contending with the Great Depression a severe worldwide economic depression that took place mostly during the 1930s, beginning in the United States. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s. Portsmouth folk took it in stride and lived their lives. The Portsmouth Times reported the news and had a column referred to as “Round about Portsmouth.” Let’s go back and see what was shaking in 1931.

First up we have, Edward Martin a Portsmouth native and member of Jan Garber’s Orchestra of Chicago, he was in the city a short time this past Thursday for a visit with home folks. The orchestra was on route from Parkersburg to Dayton, and after a brief stay in that city will return to Chicago. The orchestra is frequently heard on the radio. Jan Garber was an American violinist and jazz bandleader. Forming his own orchestra and popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The orchestra is still performing today – of course with all new band members.

Alfred Kobacker of Columbus is in the city paying a visit to the firm’s local store (bet some of us can remember Kobacker’s on Chillicothe Street.) Kobacker’s the out of business chain of department stores that was in many cities in the USA. Kobacker had several stores around the USA like in Canton, Ohio; Mansfield, Ohio; Buffalo, New York and many other cities. The chain of department stores has been gone for a long time. Kobacker’s would later open other stores, under other names such as Payless Shoes and Pic Way Shoes.

Mr. Homer Selby, vice president of the Selby Shoe Company, and E.E. Like were off to St. Louis where they spent several days on business. (Some remember the Selby Shoe Factory?) The Selby Shoe Factory opened in 1906 and in 1957 the Company was closed and liquidated. Selby’s specialty was fine women’s shoes, with their Arch Preserver line being their most popular. Selby Shoe Company Slogan “Compare and you’ll wear” also “Keeps the foot well (Arch Preserver Shoes)” Remember the mammoth building that stood engulfing all buildings around it, near Gallia and John street (northwest corner.) The many cars parked in its gigantic parking lot and workers moving to and fro, making the world’s finest shoes.

Meanwhile, in the cold month of February, Mrs. Lola Morton and Mrs. Agnes Webb of Greenup, Kentucky, visited friends in Portsmouth for a delightful afternoon. Probably catching up on all the news going on, as well as what their families were up to. For sure they would share a giving table – and partake of yummy food. The depression persisted on but families and friends would not give up. The plight would be defeated and the American spirit would claim victory. So it was to be, and life would go on. For the two women from Greenup, they would keep up their visits. Also visiting was Howard Coldiron, who is employed in Covington Kentucky. Howard visited with his mother, Mrs. J.T. Coldiron of 523 Second Street, the first three days of the week. What happened to the Mom and Son visit, now it’s I’ll text you, if I get an opportunity.

Coming from the capital city of Columbus, Ohio, Edwin James deputy state food inspector, was in Portsmouth making his usual inspections in the local eating places. In “31” that must have been quite a trip traveling from Columbus to Portsmouth. That would probably necessitating spending the night in one of Portsmouth’s comfy hotels.

Lastly it seems that Jack Selling, 13, son of Mr. and Mrs. Roy Selling of 2121 Scioto Trail fell and suffered a broken right arm in two places while roller skating near his home Wednesday. He was removed to Mercy hospital where Dr. Dow Allard reduced the fractures. Kids got outside in those days, and actually were active – no video games to keep them inside. Ode Cloud of Second street has taken a position with West End Bakery Company on Second Street near Market. Ah, the sweet smell of baked goods. Dr. and Mrs. Howard Moore of Washington Street are home from a short visit to Cincinnati. Mr. and Mrs. M.T. Stone of Circleville are visiting relatives in Portsmouth. Mr. Stone was formerly a resident of this city. The visit was pleasant and spent doing a much sharing of news and yes – probably a sprig of gossip!

Visits, business and accidents shared in the 1930s were read in the daily newspaper – it was shared for all in “Round about Portsmouth.” Today we learn the news, we communicate with family, friends, and yes even read the gossip all that information is right in the palm of our hand – and is called the smartphone. The means to communicate back in the “’30s,” was what we learned at the barbershop, salon, shopping, going downtown, over the back fence and let’s not forget – above all the newspaper. Remember when there were kids – passing the evening paper. Those days have slipped away – my thought is progressiveness is here today!


By: Bob Boldman

Reach Bob Boldman at [email protected]

Reach Bob Boldman at [email protected]