As a kid I think I visited every town in Eastern Kentucky, usually with my Dad. Jackson, Vicco, Hyden, Campton, Prestonburg, Irving and many others. There was no comparison between those towns and our down town Hazard.
Our Main Street was always bigger and better and cleaner. We had more schools and more churches. There was a big variety of retail stores, grocery stores, restaurants, and drug stores.
Major’s Department Store carried a good line of clothing merchandize and shoes. Sterling Hardware had everything else you might need. Besides just hardware they sold sporting goods, refrigerators, radios, and a selection of American Flyer electric trains for Christmas.
Down town had banks, two nice movie theaters, two Dime Stores, Firestone and Western Auto stores, pool rooms, liquor stores and a fully equipped shoe repair store.
If you could afford it you could buy any kind of new automobile you desired. Chevrolet, Ford, Chrysler, Plymouth, Dodge, Oldsmobile. They were all well represented. I remember right after the end of WWII, people heard that the American factories would soon be cranking out new cars once again. What would the new 1946 Fords and Chevys look like and what would they cost. They hurried down to their favorite dealers and plunked down a hundred dollars to get in line for the first cars to arrive in Hazard. Sure, they were going to cost more than they did in 1941 but nobody cared. They all wanted a new car!
One of my favorite places was Western Auto. Besides auto supplies, they sold Bicycle tires & tubes and parts. They also sold air rifles and BBs. My Dad bought a .22 rifle and pistol there along with .22 caliber ammo.
I enjoyed eating lunch at the J.J. Newberry dime store. Around 1946 “Birdseye” first came out with their packages of frozen vegetables. The giant frozen peas were new and different and they were a standard item on the Newberry Lunch Menu. Wow, they were really good. Lunch was about 50 cents.
If you wanted a nice dinner you could get a T-bone steak across the street at the Hazard Lunch for a dollar,with all the trimmings. Ma Combs served a great meal for Lunch, also for Fifty cents.
Main Street in Hazard was busy day and night. Something for everybody. Especially on Saturday night when everybody went to down town and jockeyed around for a good parking space where you could get a good view of all the action.
The big sports attraction was the Hazard High basketball gym up there on top of Baker Hill. It was small but there were a lot of classic games played there along with some classic players & coaches.
There have been a lot of changes between the old and the new since the 40s. If I still had a choice I would still prefer the older.