Andrew Popalis



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Thursday, July 31, 1997
Pottsville Republican/Evening Herald

104-year-old shop will be missed
Downtown Shenandoah customers bid farewell to 'Hooksies' cards, gifts
Ed Schreppel
Community editor

It was a long time coming, but the sign in the window at 10 N. Main St. brings the news: "Going out of business sale." Soon the name "Hooks' Card and Gift Shop" won't be a part of downtown Shenandoah. The last time Shenandoah was "Hooks-less" was 104 years ago. Proprietor Roseanne Makarczyk, who with her husband, Paul, bought the business from Grace Rynn in 1988, said she would miss her customers, but decided to accept an offer from Francesco's Italian Restaurant to purchase the building. Francesco's is located in the former Nesbitt's Cut-Rate building next door to Hooks'. Its owner, Phil Logozzo, said he isn't sure what his plans are for the building. "I think I'll take some time off," Roseanne mused the other day.

She enjoyed the business, but one of the best things that came from her tenure was having had the opportunity to meet and develop a friendship with Grace Rynn, she said. Except for a sojourn in Easton with her husband, Don, right after their marriage, Grace's involvement with the store lasted from 1934, after her graduation from college, to 1988. Grace's father, Fred W. Hooks, and a friend, Richard L. Brown, started the business back in 1893. Grace and Dontook it over in 1936 following her father's death. Grace is thinner now. Her hair is white and she's a bit more frail than she used to be during her years of balancing the books, greeting customers and setting up displays at what everyone calls "Hooksies'." Don passed away 14 years ago.

Wearing a jacket and often a sweater vest and tie, Don Rynn had been an easily recognizable, dapper gentleman around Shenandoah, son of the late, well-known attorney Zigmund Rynkiewicz. The Rynkiewicz family at one time operated a swimming pool called "Rynky's" on the Shenandoah Heights mountainside. There was a time when getting a Hallmark greeting card, typing paper, poster boards or construction paper aany place other than Hooksies' was unheard of. In a curious way, the unintended link between Hooksies' and Francesco's goes beyond the present situation. Both businesses got to their current side-by-side sites because of fires. From 1950 to 1982, Hooksies' anchored the corner of West Centre and North Ferguson streets. A fire in February 1982 wiped out a row of businesses from Hooks' site to the Lyric Restaurant at Centre and Jardin. A brick wall saved the Lyric. Within two months, the Rynns moved the store to 10 N. Main St.

Several years later, an Italian-American restaurant, La Dolce Vita, was built near the Lyric on West Centre. It ultimately became Francesco's, but was destroyed by fire in 1996. It then reopened at the current Main Street location. When Hooks and Brown opened the first store back in 1893, it was at 4 N. Main St., according to Grace. She said the former Miners National Bank was at the corner, 2 N. Main, and was much smaller than the present bank, Heritage National. For a time, the early Hooks and Brown store was an exclusive distributor of the Evening Herald. But when the Herald decided to do its own distribution, the partnership ended. Hooks took over sole ownership of the store and Brown became the newspaper's circulation director. Hooks subsequently moved the store to 11 W. Centre St., which later became the site of the Paul Shockites Jewelry store. It's part of the Heritage Bank's parking lot today. When Grace married Don they moved to Easton for awhile before taking over the Shenandoah store. Shortly after the 1950 move to Centre and Ferguson streets, the Rynns bought the property next door when it became vacant and expanded Hooksies'. In addition to Hallmark cards, they offered wedding invitations, Corningware, money orders, various gift items, comic books and even Cliff Notes. They also sold post cards depicting numerous Shenandoah sites, the most popular carrying pictures of community churches. Former Shenandoah people visiting relatives would often buy the post cards, Grace said. At her North Chestnut Street home, Grace keeps newspaper clippings of major events involving the store, including the 1982 fire and subsequent grand reopening at North Main Street, and the 1993 100th anniversary celebration marked by the Makarczyks. She often thinks of her years at the store and sometimes misses them.

"I loved it," she said of meeting and waiting on customers. But after a pause she added, "As long as my husband was with me."

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