Last week I covered Calhoun businesses from the 1970s that were mentioned in the newspaper. Although I mentioned Mr. Jim’s Beauty Shop, which in the ‘70s was located next to Hayden Insurance on Main Street, I failed to mention that our own museum curator, Anita Ayer Austill, was the manager there for several years. Having “4 operators,” I’m sure the place was hopping!

This week I cover Buttonsberry and Island businesses: For Buttonsberry, Howard’s Grocery and Restaurant, with Earl & “Tooter,” was still the place to go. My husband, Tim, fondly remembers going there for their blue plate specials.

Island had a new strip mall built in the ‘70s, called Worthington Plaza, and one tenant was Artie’s Beauty Isle. “Give a whirl and change your image! Let our skilled beauticians help uncover a pretty new do for you!” Artie Morris was owner-operator, along with operators Jo Ann Ashby and Rhonda Cook. Later in the decade ownership changed to Jo Ann, and the new name was Jo Ann’s Beauty Isle. Joining Jo Ann and Rhonda was Judy McCormick, and besides hair styling, they also offered ear piercing. Another hair establishment in town was Hughes Barber Shop, run by G.E. Hughes.

Green Valley Farm Supply opened a new farm facility in 1977, and could offer many new products and services, including farm hardware, animal health, lawn and garden supplies, general feeds and a complete line of passenger tires.

“Service and Customer Comfort is Our Motto,” said one Island Standard Service ad. With Red and Leamon at the helm, they provided work on mostly cars and trucks, with the occasional tractor being repaired there. A AAA-accredited station, and an official vehicle inspection station, they also provided 24-hour wrecker service. In 1979 they were selling regular gas for 83.3 cents a gallon. Other gas stations in Island included Transit Oil Co. and Iney’s Gas Service.

In 1970, Mike’s Market became Wilkerson’s Market, owned and operated by Ronnie Wilkerson. Miller’s Market, with Ricky & Grace Miller, sold groceries and specialized in wholesale produce, in season. Using their own trucks, they brought in produce from Florida, Georgia and Michigan. In 1979, their Fair Week special on canning peaches was $2.75 per peck.

Jon Bradshaw was your agent at Island Insurance—the agency designed to give you “personal service, quality protection, competitive rates and local convenience.” Silver’s 431 Insurance Company offered coal miners temporary health insurance “at a very reasonable rate.” First Security Bank’s motto was, “Together we can make it happen. Let us all work together.” Jim Silver was there to serve you at 431 Mobile Homes, “The Instant Housing Experts.” They would trade for “good furniture, automobiles or land.”

Brown & Johnson Sporting Goods was McLean County’s only sporting goods store. They would buy, sell and trade all types of guns. During one clearance sale, camouflage suits were selling for $7.95.

Howard’s Restaurant and Pit Barbecue specialized in barbecued chopped mutton, pork and ham, potato salad and burgoo, and offered barbecue-plate lunches daily with home-cooked food. Run by Mr. & Mrs. Sidney Scott, Scott’s Restaurant and Pit Barbecue then took over when Howard’s closed: “For your catering needs, let the Scotts work with you.”

“For all your carpet needs, come to Carpet World—quality carpet, at everyday low prices.” House of Discovery, owned and operated by Vicki Drake, said “Make us your macramé headquarters…offering macramé and craft needs since 1977.” J & R Fabrics, owned and operated by James & Ruby Coin, had all of your sewing needs, including all polyester double knit at $2.99 per yard.

June’s Flower and Gift Shop had “flowers for all occasions,” and said to inquire about ceramic classes starting soon. “Look for that different kind of gift at Kathy’s Jeans ‘n Things,” which offered clothing for men, women and children. The “Island Botique” featured Nancy King lingerie, Hanes underwear, dress clothes and work clothes. One sale offered 1/2 off men’s dress slacks—regularly priced at $9.

Colburn & Son Building Service had an ad saying, “Need a carpenter? Contact us for free estimates—no job too large or too small.” Another service in town was Kirtley Koin Laundry and Service Station.

The Island Mercantile Co., then owned by Buddy and Ruth Hoagland, offered Checkers drinks at 6 for 59 cents, latex wall paint at $4.49 a gallon, and Fields Wieners for 65 cents a pound. Kirtley Hardware, under new ownership in 1979, had a sale that included a 13” color portable TV for $279.95, and a 12” black & white portable ac/dc TV for $98.

And for entertainment there was the Island Pool Room, run by “Buck & Bill.” Next week I’ll cover another McLean County town.

There will not be an annual in-person meeting of the McLean County History Museum membership this year, due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting us to no more than 10 people in attendance. We are mailing or emailing information to members, on volunteering or nominating people for the Museum Board—depending on whether we have an email address for you or not. If we have no email address for you, we will mail the information to the last mailing address we have for you. Please call or email us with any questions.

The Museum and Treasure House are open Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, the Museum from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the Treasure House from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The Museum is at 540 Main Street, Calhoun. You can reach us at 270-499-5033, or by emailing If you leave a voicemail message, we will get back with you as soon as we can. Hope to see you soon at the Museum and/or the Treasure House!

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