STEUBENVILLE - Richard "Gub" Davison can go home again.
At least for now.
The 80-year-old lifelong city resident stood in the middle of North Eighth Street one day last week and recalled childhood memories of his many friends, a bustling neighborhood and his grandfather's grocery store.
FORMER RESIDENCE — Richard “Gub” Davison tries the front door to his former home on North Eighth Street. The building once housed the Pointer store and is now targeted for demolition as a dilapidated structure. -- Dave Gossett
The building at 208 N. Eighth St. that most recently housed the Safari Lounge has been deemed dilapidated by city building officials and is slated for demolition this year.
The brown brick structure was originally Pointer's Grocery Store. It also was home for Davison and his parents, who lived in a second floor apartment above the business.
Davison's mother, two uncles and cousins all worked together in the store established by his grandfather, Stanley Pointer.
A Herald-Star article announcing the proposed demolition of the building along with an adjacent structure on North Eighth Street prompted Davison to visit the neighborhood he grew up in.
"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," Davison remembered as he walked in front of the building.
"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," said Davison.
"A lot of people didn't have cars back then, and there were four grocery stores right here 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 delivery. 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.
"The people packing the deliveries would call out, 'Tenth Street is ready. Get these delivered now.' We would come back and we would hear, 'Ninth Street is ready, lets go' and then Highland Avenue and sometimes the LaBelle neighborhood," noted Davison.
"When we were older, every Wednesday or Thursday we would drive a larger truck to the Strip District in Pittsburgh to buy fresh produce. We would park the truck in front of the store and neighbors would come over and help unload the fruits and vegetables because they knew they would be getting fresh produce," Davison said.
"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. It was all mom-and-pop stores in the different neighborhoods," 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.
Davison also remembered customers asking for chicken.
"If someone wanted a fresh chicken, the butcher would tell an employee 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 it up and the customer would take it home, clean it and then fix it," said 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. And yes, since I worked there I got some extra candy," laughed Davison.
"I lived in the upstairs apartment with my parents. But when I was in the third grade my grandfather died and my parents and I moved to live with my grandmother on Lawson Terraces. My Uncle Joe continued to run the store, but when he got older and was in failing health, no one in the family wanted to take over the store and the building was sold," explained Davison.
Davison said he hasn't been back at his childhood home for a long time.
"The neighborhood has changed. It will be a little sad to see the building come down. But if it needs to come down then it should. It does tickle my mind to no end to come back to Eighth Street. There used to be several houses right across the street from the store," Davison said as he began to name his former neighbors.
"This was a bustling neighborhood. And everyone came to the store. It was where you heard about births, baptisms, marriages and deaths. It is sad those mom-and-pop stores are mostly gone," stated Davison.