Years ago there was a Chinese merchant by the name of Ar Shong who opened a store at First Street and Willis Avenue in the early 1890s. He had most anything that one would want to buy and was said to be a good Presbyterian.
In January 1894, a lot of stolen goods were found in his store. It began to seem like anything stolen within 100 miles of Perry was found in his store. He was indicted on larceny charges but died of typhoid fever before trial.
Also during the 1890s, Marsh Ammerman had a grocery store in the 1100 block on Second Street. Later the store was sold to Rathburn and Clevland and then in 1915 to Barton and Tutt. After Fred Barton’s death in 1929, Ansel Tutt and his wife kept on and became a Perry
The Tutts always relied on friendliness and “May I help you?” as a way of doing business. For years they kept up their delivery service for elderly and shut-ins who had come to depend on their store. They retired in 1953.
Jonn Dignan started a grocery store at 1315 Second St. and because of the store’s double width he called it the Double Header. Dignan’s first store, like many in Perry, burned down May 13, 1907, but soon was replaced was a better building. At this time. Dignan had two branch stores, one at Gardiner and one at Brough, a small trading center about 5 miles
south of Dawson in Lincoln Township.
After Dignan’s death in 1926, the place was run by his son until it was sold to Schwartz Grocery. Later he moved more south and kept on for about 10 more years.
Not long after the Breed block was put up on the east side of Second Street, M. C. Magee started a small grocery store about midway up the block, but later he sold out to the McLaughlin Brothers, Bert and Wallie.
In June 1918, Bert McLaughlin started the Square Deal Grocery by himself. The very idea of self-service and cash-and-carry became very popular in Perry. After McLaughlin’s death in an airplane in 1933, his son ran the store until he sold it in 1942 to Tony Stagnola of Des Moines.
Keith Woods started an I. G. A. store in Perry but in 1934 sold out to Paul Seaton. The Seaton brothers started in Mount Ayr, and his father ran a store in Delpos. A little time later, Seaton dropped the I. G. A. plan and joined up with the Super Value system. Then in 1949 he moved to the east side of Perry and built a new Super Value store. It cost him
around $90,000, but had some of the most modern equipment of the time.
After C. R. Hoagland’s death in 1933, his son, Harry, took over for a time but later sold out to Dreyher Grocery and moved a block east and started Harry’s Cash and Carry about 1940. In December 1936, Harry Hoagland’s brother-in-law, Everett Hart, started buying up Dreyher stock and soon the two stores were one at Harry’s location. Harry died in 1949, and Everett quit in 1954.
Back in the day, Harry and Everett had a small jazz band, and they opened a small dance hall west of town called Loyola Park. About 1933 they sold it to Starr Ellinghouse, a City Club Beer distributor and owner of the Midway and Ballyhoo.
In 1936 Ellinghouse started one of the largest private lake projects at that time when he got Bud McElhaney of Rippey and his mining crew to start digging out the old lagoon for a 10-acre lake.
At one time they were running a centrifugal pump through a sand filter around the clock to keep it filled. With a drag line and mining trucks, they hauled more then 10,000 yards from the river for a swimming beach, with 5,000 yards more for the pool bottom.
In 1947, when Ellinghouse died, the property was sold to the Perry American Legion for a recreational and training site for $37,000, but building out there never happened, and the Legion kept it open as a dance hall until 1951, when a flood took it out.