A piece of Polish Hill history is gone

STEUBENVILLE – A piece of Polish Hill history came tumbling down Tuesday as a demolition crew from Wellsville knocked down the walls of the original Pointer’s Grocery store on North Eighth Street.

X-Treme Clean will be paid $12,100 by the city’s Urban Projects office for demolishing the former grocery store that served as home of the Safari Lounge in recent years.

A dark brown brick two-story apartment building next door is set for demolition at a cost of $15,900 in the next several days.

Dan Galeoti, owner of X-Treme Clean, carefully maneuvered a backhoe during a driving cold rain for approximately four hours to tear down the former grocery store while Walt and Joe Beatty sprayed water on the building and falling debris.

“We have to be very careful because there are electrical lines on the side and front of this building. Dan has to get the walls to fall into the middle of the structure,” explained Walt Beatty.

“Its ready to come down now,” announced Walt a short time later as the front wall of the building was all that remained standing.

Richard “Gub” Davison visited his former home last May after learning his grandfather’s store was listed for demolition.

The brown brick structure that housed Pointer’s Grocery Store also was home for Davison and his parents who lived in a second floor apartment above the business.

“My grandfather came over from Poland and started this business. I don’t know if he built the store but I know he owned the building. The front of this building was all glass at that time so people could look into the store,” the 80 -year-old Davison recalled.

“This was a very busy place. My uncles, Joe and Walter, and my mother, Helen, worked in the store. And my cousins and I worked in the store,” he added.

“A lot of people didn’t have cars back then and there were four grocery stores on Polish Hill. My grandfather’s store offered credit and made deliveries. The store had a little brown truck that we would use for deliveries. People would call in a list of items and my mother and the other women would pack the orders into cardboard boxes. When we were still kids we would go out with an adult to deliver the groceries. When we got older we would drive the truck and make deliveries,” Davison said.

“I remember the ladies calling on a Friday for a Saturday deliver. It was usually a long list for the weekend and if they had empty beer or pop bottles or milk bottles we had to take those back to the store,” said Davison.

“This neighborhood also had Babicz store next door to Pointer’s. Afec’s was the next block over and there was another Babicz store up on Highland Avenue behind St. Stanislaus School,” he continued.

“A customer might walk in and ask for steaks. The butcher would walk back, throw a large piece of meat over his shoulder and then toss it on the cutting block. He would look at the customer and ask how thick and then cut the steaks right on the spot,” recalled Davison.

“If someone wanted a fresh chicken, the butcher would tell an older store hand who would go down into the basement, open the chicken coop and grab one of the chickens. After he cut off the chicken’s head he would wrap the chicken up in newspaper and the customer would take it home, clean it and then cook it,” recalled Davison.

“Lard was in a barrel. So were the pickles and herring. I know the store didn’t handle ice cream because there were no freezers. No one bought frozen foods in those days, so there really wasn’t a need for a freezer. But I do remember the penny candy,” laughed Davison.

“Given the condition of the neighborhood these days it is probably a good thing to take the building down. Hopefully it will lead to an improvement there. It was once a bustling neighborhood. And everyone came to the store. It was where you heard about births, baptisms, marriages and deaths. It is sad to see that all gone now, but life goes on,” stated Davison.

“I also remember the people who lived in the apartment building next door to the store. There were two families who lived upstairs and the owner of the building lived in a downstairs apartment,” said Davison.