From the centennial edition of the Observer, we learn Charles Martin started a cigar business in 1906 on the second floor of the “Netherwood Block” in Oregon with 40 one dollar bills.
Seven people were employed including George Montgomery, Ted Elliott, Bill Minch, Tony Therkelson, “Toad” Therkelson, Orin Bear and Jack Johnson.
The cigars were made, pressed, banded and boxed in boxes of 25 or 50. They sold for 10 cents and 5 cents apiece or $5 and $1.25 per box. Martin delivered cigars to Belleville, Madison, New Glarus, Verona and Brooklyn with a horse and buggy which he rented from the Fincher Livery Stable.
Martin went out of the cigar business in 1925, when he bought the Frank McDermott “pool hall” on Main Street. He was in business then with his son, Raphael. They remodeled the building and added a bowling alley – the first in Oregon.
On Nov. 23, 1936, a fire in the bowling alley was discovered by a night watchman, with flames spreading throughout. There was danger of the flames moving to the adjoining buildings — Fincher’s Garage to the north and the Opera House to the south.
Fortunately, there were only a couple of places where it broke through the outer walls, though inside the building, stock and equipment were greatly damaged. The building was rebuilt with a food counter, bar, pool table and bowling alley.
In 1943, the business and building were sold to Obie Quam. Later, it was sold again and run as the Oregon Steak House before another fire struck, and the building was demolished. The site remained a vacant lot for many years before it was redeveloped, and is now occupied by Hamm Chiropractic and Wellness and The Inspired Mat.
But a bowling alley would soon return to Oregon in 1960, when Dr. Lloyd Kellogg, Dr. Frank Dukerschein, Bill Booth and Earl Frye built an eight-lane bowling alley on Spring Street, which stands today.
The new Oregon Bowl soon formed bowling leagues and featured a bar serving cocktails and sandwiches, as well as a pool table and video games.