Group of teens at Perry’s Chocolate Shop at 1220 2nd St, c. 1946. If you recognize a Chocolate Shop patron, please comment below or contact email@example.com.
On March 4, 1922, Tom Angnos opened Perry’s Chocolate Shop at 1109 2nd St. Tom emigrated from Greece to the United States in 1914, and worked on the railroad before becoming a candy maker and moving to Perry. In the early 1920s, the Chocolate Shop was a candy, ice cream, and soda shop, selling fudge and caramels for 15-28 cents per lb.
March 3, 1922 Perry Daily Chief ad for the grand opening of the Chocolate Shop at 1109 2nd St.
In 1925, George Barbes became the manager, moved the Chocolate Shop to 1116 2nd St, and began selling lunches.
December 14, 1927 Perry Daily Chief advertisement listing hot lunches and Christmas candy at
the Chocolate Shop.
The Chocolate Shop changed hands one more time, and survived a fire, before Al Kouri took over in November 1928. Kouri, an immigrant from Syria, came to the United States as a teenager in 1910. He had been awarded a prestigious high school education in France, but he didn’t like the school in Marseilles. With a group of friends, Kouri surprised his family by taking a ship to the United States instead of back to school. After sorting things out at Ellis Island, he moved to Des Moines, where he lived with an aunt and went to high school, before coming to Perry.
Kouri was one of the longest running owners of the Chocolate Shop (1928 – 1946), and under his management, the Chocolate Shop began to sell beer (1933) and moved to its 1220 2nd St. location (1937). Once beer sales began, the Chocolate Shop was divided into two, with a jukebox, lunch counter, and ice cream in the front and the bar in the back. The shop continued to be popular with high schoolers, railroaders, ladies, businessmen, and just about everyone else in town.
February 27, 1934 Komment Kolumn of the Perry High School Telital in the Perry Daily Chief. A teen criticizes a male friend for standing her up for their date at the Chocolate Shop.
The Chocolate Shop was later owned by Leonard Sorenson around 1946 – 1948, and managed by Barney Sorensen and D.D. Lewiston, who later served as Perry’s mayor. Around this time, the Chocolate Shop was briefly called Len’s Chocolate Shop, and was open for the first time on Sunday afternoons and evenings (1948).
Storefront of Len’s Chocolate Shop, c. 1946 – 1955.
After changing hands once again, and surviving another fire, Carroll and Helen Jenkins took ownership in 1956, and managed the store until it closed in 1977. Under the Jenkins, in 1964 the Chocolate Shop received a permit that allowed public dancing, as long as a policeman was present, and the addition of live music and dances cemented the Chocolate Shop as the Saturday night place to be. The Chocolate Shop closed when the Jenkins lost their lease in 1977, but a painting of the Milwaukee railroad train that hung inside can still be seen at the Crooked Rail bar here in Perry.
December 14, 1972 Perry Daily Chief ad for a Saturday Night dance at the Chocolate Shop.
This was not the end, however, of the Chocolate Shop. On January 18, 1979, another bar called the Chocolate Shop opened at 1215 Willis Ave. Unlike its predecessor, this establishment never specialized in homemade candy but was mainly a bar, which offered drink specials on Wednesday nights, weekday noon lunches, live music, fun and games on Saturday nights, and advertised a family environment, particularly on Sundays, when, by law, only half of the bar’s sales could come from alcohol. The new Chocolate Shop moved once in 1982, to 1211 Willis Ave, before it too later closed.
Thanks to Katie Edmondson, John Palmer, Larry Vodenik, and many others for sharing their Chocolate Shop memories and helping research this post. Please share your Chocolate Shop memories below, and for more, come see our exhibit on the Chocolate Shop at the Carnegie Library Museum, on display now through March 21, 2018.
Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
As many of you know, Perry is a town that flourished because of the railroad. The railroad was so prevalent here that we have many photographs in our collection that show the trains, the tracks, and more. In fact, Perry used to have so many trains that came in and out of town that we had our own roundhouse! Although the number of roundhouses is not clear from our records, we do know that one roundhouse used to be located where the elementary school is currently. What is interesting about the roundhouse, however, is that it was not just used as a place to gather trains! Readers, do you have any guesses as to what else might have happened at the old roundhouse?
If you guessed that people used to go skeet shooting at the roundhouse, then you would be right! According to the description of this photo, people would go out on Sundays and meet at the roundhouse where they would do some skeet shooting in the 1940s. What amazes me most about this is that guns were allowed so close to a place of work. If the shooters were fooling around too much, they could have injured one of the railroad workers! Perhaps this was allowed because the workers were not working during Sundays? Or maybe the railroad workers were in on it and allowed people to do this without the consent of the managers. It seems only someone who was there would know!
In any case, it looks like this is what people would do for fun during the 1940s. Readers, what do you do for fun on the weekends? Let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another Hometown Heritage Blog!
Hello readers and welcome back to the Hometown Heritage blog!
Many of you, like me, probably remember when Perry used to have a railway instead of a bike trail. There used to be the whistle of a train near every-day and cars would have to wait for the trains to pass. The Milwaukee Road, as evidenced in the art in the Hotel Pattee, used to pass through here as well. In fact, I found some interesting pictures about the Milwaukee Road in our collection!
First, we have a picture of the last Milwaukee train to leave Perry on March 23, 1980 at 6 P.M. Although not that interesting of a photo, it shows the slow progress of the railroad leaving Perry. The next photo, however, creates some questions for me. The picture is also of the Milwaukee Road, but has a note that says it is the “Rip” Track Area. From the looks of the picture, it seems to be an empty road, with a bit of track near the bottom of the picture. This is where my questions start! I looked up what a “Rip” track is supposed to be and according to Wikipedia it is short for “repair inspect paint” track. Yet to me, it seems like there is no track here! In addition, the picture is dated to 1980, the same year when the last Milwaukee train left Perry! Perhaps this means that it is the ripping up of the train tracks in this area? It would definitely appear this way, since the area is covered in dirt and the track at the bottom is covered up. However, I do not know for sure, as our database does not provide much information. Since this happened in 1980, perhaps some of you readers may know? If you do, please let us know in the comments, and join us next week for another blog post!
We all know that Perry used to be a small town, built up around the railroad. Many towns sprang up around the tracks of the railroad, are plenty of them survived until today. However, did you know that there used to be another town quite close to Perry, and that its name was Angus?
Angus was a coal-mining town that was about four miles northwest of Perry. It served as a terminal for the M. & St. L. Railroad, which was the Minneapolis and St. Louis Railway. Now Angus used to be a thriving little town in the late 1800s. From what I have heard, it grew rapidly, even to the point where it used to be a bigger town than Perry (in the 1800s). A lot of this growth centered on the coal mine, as you may have guessed which I believe was the Mc Elheney Strip Mine. Of course, the entire town was not just about the mine. For example, one part of the town was called “Whisky Row”. All of the bars were in this part of town, and there are plenty of fun stories involved with it. My favorite that I have heard is about the law enforcement around these bars. Apparently Angus was a town that sat on the line between two counties, and Whiskey Row was right were this line was located. According to the stories, if someone got into trouble with the law at the bar, there was an easy way to get out of trouble. They could simply step to the other side of the bar, since it was in a different county, and had different jurisdiction! Now I am sure this did not work exactly as it sounds, but it is a fun little story.
Unfortunately, Angus was not to last. By the early 1920s, the town had started to die out. The reason why it started to die out it is simple: the mines started to close. Without the mines, Angus could not support itself, and many of the people moved to Perry. Now there is not much left to Angus, but there is a plaque marking its location. If you have time, do not hesitate to go look at the plaque, or come by Hometown Heritage to see some of the photos. We have a lot more photos than just what I have put here!
Today we are going to talk about something other than Perry, Iowa. Of course, we are not going to far, just down the road about 8 miles to a little town called Bouton!
Nowadays, Bouton is a quiet little town, if you can even call it a town. All it has is a post office, a bar, a fire department, and baseball field. Other than this, there a few churches, which mostly sit unused, and a magical little place called “Friendship Hall”. That is right; there is not even a gas station of any kind! The place is so small, you can literally stand at one end of town and see all the way to the other side (trust me, I know). However, did you know that Bouton was not always like this?
Way back around 1910, Bouton had a lot more to offer then it does now. For instance, did you know that Bouton once had a High School? The High School was a simple building with two stories with only a few rooms and was built around 1910. The classes were not very big, but that is typical in 1910. The high school even had a band that played in various parades. A high school is not the only thing that Bouton used to have. Bouton used to be a big enough town to hold parades, such as the Sauerkraut Days Parade that you can see pictured below (As to the activities of Sauerkraut Days, I can only imagine copious amounts of sauerkraut being devoured).
“Why did Bouton used to be so big?” you may be asking. Well, here is the answer: Trains. Bouton was a railroad town, where the town springs up around a train stop, to provide services and living spaces for the workers. Unfortunately, just as the trains left Perry, so the trains left Bouton. The trains left Bouton before they left Perry, but the result is clear: the town started to shrink. The last students to attend the high school, for example, attended in 1941-42. Eventually, the town shrunk down to what it is today. Thankfully, Perry has not taken the same route after the trains left, and has stayed vibrant. If you wish to know more about Bouton in the old days, please stop by and look at our collection!