Most know Carol Ann Obliskey as Carol Ann Nicholson, a reporter and writer for local newspapers in recent years. Carol Ann was the daughter of Millie and Danny Obliskey and she grew up in the family home on the lower section of Downes street with her younger sister Joyce. Carol Ann graduated from Calais High School in 1958 and almost immediately began to write for the local papers.
In 1960 she wrote an article in The Calais Advertiser describing the retail businesses on Main Street in Calais beginning with Andrew Tobacco Stand near the bridge and proceeding along the south side of Main Street to Pisani’s Store on the corner of Calais Avenue and returning on the North side of the Main Street to Pickard’s Laundry.
We thought it would be fun to take this walk along memory lane. We have included photos of the various sections of Main Street described by Carol Ann. Unfortunately some of the photos are before or after 1960, but they do generally represent Main Street as it was when the article was written. The other caveat is that Carol Ann included only retail merchants in the article, omitting such businesses as banks, gas stations, hotels and theaters.
Let’s begin at Andrews Tobacco near the bridge:
1960 Calais Main Street
By Carol Obliskey
If you started in the up-river end of Main Street near the Ferry Point International Bridge, on the right hand side the stores you would come to would be:
Andrews Tobacco Stand:
was established by T.W. Andrews in 1892 and has been owned by the same man ever
since. At present Barry Burns is the manager of the more or less general store
in a wide variety of higher grade tobacco and cigars, magazines, periodicals and merchandise.
This is another store that deals in general merchandise. Owned by Fred Spinney, it is situated on the corner of Union Street and Main Street. Jumping half a block a visitor would find himself face to face with:
The Calais Seafood Market and Delicatessen
Specializing entirely in fresh fish. The only time the market will deal in frozen fish is when a customer demands it. The specialty is lobster meat which is furnished to local restaurants in great quantities. The delicatessen, owned by Ed Williamson, will also serve clams, lobster rolls or any other seafood tidbit which suits your palate.
The Maine State Liquor Commission:
Ted McLain is the manager of this store which is number 16 of 70 in the state. According to Ted the liquor store could be called the second Tourist Bureau.
The A and P:
This branch of the great national food chain is managed by Frank Eldridge and employs 35 Calais residents. Bernard Wrigley is the assistant manager.
Unobskey’s Clothing Store:
Joseph Unobskey is the manager of the recently remodeled men’s and women’s apparel and accessory store which employs about 15 people. The newest additions are the sports shop which is done in knotty pine paneling and a Blue Room which specializes in ladies high fashion dresses. The emphasis at present is on synthetic furs. With an eye out for the future, Unobskey’s is planning a huge, free parking lot behind their store and just off Main Street.
The Western Auto Associates Store: Operated by Atwood Merrill this store moved from its old location a year ago and has completely new fixtures. Dealing in hardware, cars, accessories, toys, household goods and anything else you could think of in the hardware line, this store is ready to offer anything the customer wants.
The fragrance of fresh roasted peanuts draws you to a confectionary store owned by Louis Bernardini. Owned by the same man and nearby is:
The Boston Shoe Store:
On the corner of Main and Monroe streets, this store is the home of Quoddy Moccasins, a real Downeast product. Also included in the shoe department are many brands of sport and dress shoes.
Sears Roebuck and Company:
A mail order house of the large concern, this branch is managed by Christine O’Brien and employs three clerks besides an outside salesman.
Casey’s Barber Shop:
Run by two brothers, Jim and George Casey, the establishment does all sorts of hair-clipping. “What else would you expect a barbershop to do” says Jim.
“I don’t tell people about my business, “says owner J.E. Osborne. “Let them come in and find out for themselves.” This pharmacy carries not only drugs, but top name brands of cosmetics, candy, camera supplies and even hearing aids.
The Sherwin Williams Company:
This branch of a chain which deals in paint specialties was opened in January 1960. It employs local residents as manager and credit manager while offering Washington County industry and homeowners the benefit of technical advice for interior or exterior decoration. James Casey is the manager.
A member of the National Dry Cleaners Association, Algar’s was founded in 1911 and is presently being managed by Pete Smythe. The establishment which employs seven people uses an international process, Sanitone, to clean the clothes of its customers.
(Note- while Carol Ann mentioned Algar’s on Monroe Street she failed to include Hill’s Bowladrome which we find surprising)
Managed by Thelma MacDougal of Calais, this department store with its modern fountain and greatly enlarged departments is completely self-service. Tor Nilsen is the assistant manager for the store which was remodeled a year ago.
This two-floor store is being remodeled and converted to self-service. Roland Lemieux, the manager, states that the job should be finished within a week and meanwhile the store is open for customers every day and on Saturday nights.
George Bates Company:
Founded by the father of the present owner, Arlo Bates, this jewelry business has been in Calais since 1822. The store has been in different locations but always situated on the same side of the street. The specialty is fine quality diamonds and the store has always dealt in leading jewelry store lines. Bates has belonged to the American Gem Society, a professional organization for technical information and ethical practices for 15 years.
Carroll Cut Rate:
A cosmetic Store that deals in sundries and patent medicines, this establishment is owned and operated by Ted Fales. Popular brands of cameras, films, candy, cigarettes and perfumes as well as jewelry can be found in this tiny shop.
The St. Croix Music Shop:
The name might fool you because this is a most unusual store which deals in just about everything you couldn’t find somewhere else. Sporting goods, record, sheet music, novelties, hobbies, souvenirs, you name it, Cecil J. Miller, the owner, has it.
Treworgy’s Rexall Drug Store:
This newly rebuilt store is open 7 days a week, 365 days per year. It is a pharmacy which takes care of prescriptions and deals in cosmetics. It is also the home of the Western Union Telegraph Office. Robert Treworgy, the manager and owner, makes the store available at all times for emergency prescriptions.
Beckett and Company:
In charge of Frank Beckett Sr. who is one of the oldest residents of Calais, this store is part of a wholesale distributing company. Groceries can be found at this particular spot, and the specialty is the homemade candy made in the store.
A jewelry store whose owner, J.W. Rutherford, has been in the jewelry business as a watchmaker for 43 years. The specialty here is quality and good merchandise. Staffed by the members of the family, the store features Princess and Featurelock diamonds, Bulova, Elgin and Hamiton watches and leading brands of silver. Also featured is Reed and Barton Sterling.
Kelley’s Checker Market:
Jim Kelley is owner and proprietor of this grocery market which stocks fresh meat, groceries and beverages.
Situated at 30 North Street, the motto of this dry-cleaning establishment is “Prompt, Dependable Service” and the process renders the clothes completely odorless. There is pickup service over all of Downeast over a 45 miles radius, and special attention is given to emergency orders. The owners are Mrs. Louise Armstrong and John Campbell.
A. Levy and Sons:
Established in 1919 this store has expanded in order to deal in two departments. The women’s apparel shop on North Street carries fine clothes and the electrical appliance department on Main Street has been in operation since 1945.
This store has carried merchandise in the way of shoes since its first year of operation in 1862. “In the old days”, states Henry Gillespie the manager, “the store also took care of hats, canes and umbrellas. Today I believe that we are the only store in town with a built-in air conditioner consisting of a spring in the basement.” The lines which are still carried after many years of service, among others, are Buster Brown, Etta Gettick, Freeman, Peter Rabbit and Heel Hugger.
A gift shop which carries books, magazines, cards, souvenirs, jewelry and a complete wedding line, the present owners of this store are Mr. and Mrs. Byrd Pomeroy.
Presently being managed by Harold Silverman, this hardware store was established in 1939. It deals in Camping and sporting supplies, a variety of hardware, toys and auto accessories.
Another gift shop dealing in jewelry, china, glass, novelties, leather goods and ladies’ purses, this store also has a large greeting card department. Owned by Mrs. Nellie Ross, one could spend the whole afternoon browsing through the store for stationary, Towle silver, children’s toys and any other things which might catch his or her fancy.
Maine Employment Security Commission:
While a visitor to the office might not find much to buy, he’d certainly be in the right place if he were hunting for a job. Nelson Spurling is the manager.
Gordon Lord’s TV Store:
Owned and operated by Gorden Lord, the shop carries a complete line of radio and television sets, along with parts and servicing of these items. “Service to our customers” is the motto.Next week we’ll continue from Todd’s Hardware to Pisani’s and then return on the other side of the street.
To continue on the walk down Main Street, click here to read part 2.