On top of everything else to draw you in to Broadway Market were the watermelons chilling in the horse tank. 

Ancestors, Legends and Time

The last of the neighborhood markets

Jeanne Newby

Twenty-two years ago as we were preparing for Thanksgiving dinner shopping, we were given the announcement in the Nov. 19, 1999, Sentinel that “Broadway Market is closing.” It came as a shock to many who were faithful shoppers of Broadway Market, which had been in business for 75 years.

Steve Wallace, who owned the Broadway Market for the last 25 years of business, stated Broadway Market was the oldest grocery store in the Four State Area. He said he felt bad that the market was closing down while he was in charge. But competing against the big supermarkets was a tough battle.

The smell of chili simmering through the day and buying a chili brick to take home for dinner is something we really miss (although you can still get it in Oronogo at Wallace’s Fast 4 U convenience store).

Many a youth received their first paycheck from Broadway Market. The previous owner, Jessie Cooper, would refer to all those young people as “My Boys!” Jessie and Harvey Cooper bought the store in 1947 with her parents, Lee and Daphne Webb. Harvey remembered that the store was only 12 feet by 50 feet then, and part of the building had dirt floors. The store was originally a fruit and produce stand. Memories go way back.

Broadway Market was a regular stopping place as the students left high school and headed home. A can of pop and a candy bar were usually enough for them to make it home.

Some of Jessie’s boys (young people) that she named off were: Floyd Shirk, Gary Dawson, William Waggoner, Richard Spencer, Walter James, Bob James, Kay Clark and Jo Leonard, along with her own sons, Orval and Howard.

It’s been 22 years and YES, Broadway Market is still missed. A pleasant memory of Webb City’s past!

Broadway Market’s early years  

This memory is from Debbie Webb Lounis… a real member of the Broadway Market family!

Reading about the memories of the old Broadway Market, there were some people left out of the articles that contributed to the wonderful memories we all have of the Broadway Market. I would like to include them in my memories. The Broadway Market was owned from 1948 to 1970 by my grandfather, Lee Webb; my father, Jack Earl Webb, and his twin brother and my very special uncle, Gene Webb. They co-owned the store with the Coopers. It was an effort of all combined that made the grocery store a success for so many years.

Dad and Uncle Gene had also been in World War II and had suffered severe injuries. They overcame the obstacles of their injuries and created special memories for many of us.

Uncle Gene was in charge of the produce and he could always be found arranging or checking to make sure it was fresh and looked great. I used to love going into the store so I could spend some time with him. He always used to joke around with the customers and made them all feel like part of the family.

I remember going to the store when I was little with my mother, Mary Lou Webb, and my sister, Cheryl, to get groceries. Granddad would be behind the meat counter (with an unlit cigar in his mouth) but he always had time for a hug. He made the best ham salad and brick chili that I have ever eaten.

Dad ordered groceries, put together the newspaper ads each week and took care of the payroll. He unloaded the groceries when they came in and made sure the shelves were stocked.

Some of the things I remember most were the red pop machine outside the store and the watermelon tank, along with a variety of other things that would be on display in front of the store. I remember trying to help Dad go get the screens to lock up everything on display outside the store at closing time. There was a firework stand for the 4th of July and live Christmas trees at Christmas.

The Broadway Market provided special services to customers such as delivering groceries to their house. They would take the order over the phone, gather the groceries and deliver them in the old panel truck. They not only carried the groceries to the car for people but also to their front door. That is a service you can’t find anymore.

Webb City High School was only three blocks from the store and a lot of students walked to the store for lunch. Several high school boys worked at the store through the years. Probably the most memorable to me was the late Willie Waggoner. Willie would always pick me up when I went in the store and carry me around (I was about 6 or 7 years old). Willie always had a joke or a prank to play on someone. He delivered groceries to our house and would tell Mom to fix him something to eat. It was usually summer time and very hot so she would ask him if there were other groceries on the truck to deliver: his reply was, “only ice cream.” Everyone loved him and really enjoyed being around him. Willie was on vacation from the Broadway Market when he was killed in a car accident at the age of 17. This left a big hole in the heart of the Broadway Market family but an even bigger one in the Webb family.

Through the years, a lot of special people worked at the store. Just a few of the names that come to mind are: Dave Throop, Richard Spencer, Jim and Gary Dawson, Ralph Platter and Kay Clark. I wish I could mention all of their names because they were all part of the memories we have of the Broadway Market and part of our family. Thanks to all of you for making those memories special.

Thank you Debbie, What great memories to share.

Jeanne Newby

A lot of us appreciate the Bradbury Bishop Fountain, but Jeanne actually worked behind the counter making sodas while she was in high school. She knows everything about Webb City and is a member of the Webb City R-7 School Board.

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