Old Businesses and Hang-Outs of Sandwich
By FOSTA Member Chip Hamlen
Spotlighting local businesses, long gone, but still remembered by folks who lived in Sandwich when the town was much smaller.
The Dizzy Duck – In the early 1950s, an old Coast Guard building was moved to the lot near the corner of Liberty Street and 6A. Originally Arnold Lowden’s seafood restaurant, it became The Dizzy Duck under new management when Lowden went into the clam chowder business and relocated out to Old County Road. The Dizzy Duck, a lively establishment, was one of the first places in town to serve submarine sandwiches. Kids went in to play bumper pool, and Charlie van Buskirk vividly remembers the Everly Brothers latest hit, “Wake Up Little Susie,” playing on the jukebox in the fall of 1957. Locals remember an employee named “Pinky,” a short man whose head came just above the bar, and who drove a ’54 Ford Sedan with blocks on the pedals. The Dizzy Duck was later redubbed The West Wind and operated under that name until it closed. When the building was torn down, a new restaurant, Simple Fare, run by Lillian Tully, was built in its place.
The Yankee Clipper
(Or, in the local lingo, “The Clippah”)
The driving directions were simple. “Route 6A, Sandwich, at the traffic lights.” You couldn’t miss it, because at the time the traffic light at 6A and Jarves was the only one in town.
Locals came for dinner or to gather at the bar. “The Clippah” hosted many Townie wedding receptions, and, briefly, in the early 1970s, opened a back room with pinball machines and a jukebox for teenagers.
For those underage rebels who smoked but who didn’t want to get shot down trying to buy their butts from one of the grocery stores, “The Clippah” was the go-to source.
The cigarette machine was inside the door in a small vestibule off the main room. Hidden from the patrons inside, the kids quickly shoved their quarters into the machine, yanked a lever, and were gone before anyone even knew they’d been there.
THE FAMOUS NEON LOBSTER OUTSIDE THE YANKEE CLIPPER. Across the street, directly in line with the “Carte Blanche” logo, is the sign above the old Rexall. The building to the right of the Rexall is Spuds Restaurant. (Photo from Sandwich Archives as modified by John Walker)
The Rexall Soda Fountain - When Pratt’s Pharmacy closed in the Novelty Block on Jarves, Rexall opened a store on 6A in the building now occupied by Heart of Stone. Run by Al Keith, the new pharmacy, like Pratt’s, had a soda fountain. Katherine Roncarati dished out her renowned hot fudge sundaes at the Rexall, and just as famous was the phone booth out front, where teenagers tried to cram as many of themselves as possible into the small space. Perhaps the most memorable event at the Rexall occurred the day a spooked deer bolted down 6A and came through the front window. It was a close call for Charley Maley, who was having coffee on the stool closest to the spot where the deer made its entrance. The Rexall moved across the street (to what is now Home Instead) and was known first as Sandwich Pharmacy, and then Thayer Pharmacy.
Located on Route 6A, where Home Instead is today. (Photo courtesy John Walker)
Cahoon’s Snack Bar
Clarence and Mildred Cahoon ran this seasonal snack bar on Route 6A from the late 1940s to the early 1960s. Pancake plates ranged from 65 to 90 cents; fried clams and fried scallops $1.25; lobster salad sandwich, 95 cents; cup of clam chowder, 25 cents; and a cup of coffee 10 cents. Artwork created by Mrs. Cahoon decorated the walls and tables, and it was also a souvenir shop.
All three of their children (Ronnie, Donna, and Nancy) worked at the snack bar at various times, and Donna eventually worked at Sandwich Pharmacy, which moved in when the snack bar closed.
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Frannie and George’s - Talk to an old Townie about Frannie and George’s, and the words “Best cheeseburger sub anywhere!” will probably come out of their mouth. Frannie and George’s was on 6A near Main Street, across from Sandwich Mini Golf. It was strictly takeout, but locals queued up in droves for ice cream cones, frappes, subs, and the banana splits which were served in a blue plastic boat. It was big news when Frannie and George’s added “The Twist” ice cream cone, which was half chocolate and half vanilla. The very effective “bug zapper” over the order window is just as well remembered as the food.
Advertisement for Frannie and George's from "The Sandial," 1969.
JARVES STREET IN THE 1960s, showing Russell’s Market, MacNeil’s Bakery, MacDonald’s Sandwich Hardware, and Newman’s clothing store. (Photo from Sandwich Archives as modified by John Walker)
Jarves Street - There was a time when you could meander down Jarves Street and get almost all of your shopping done. Beginning at the corner of Jarves and Main, Alvezi’s store (later known as The Country Store under different ownership) sold groceries and meats. Alvezi’s is depicted in Jayne Shelley Pierce’s painting “Sandwich Street Dance.” Across from Alvezi’s, Buttner’s could meet all your clothing needs. Continuing toward 6A, the Novelty Block (now apartments) contained the post office, Al Fournier’s Barber Shop, Rolande’s Beauty Shop, Hoey’s First National, and Pratt’s Pharmacy.
Next was a small storefront (now gone) which was home to several businesses, including Caron’s Shoe Store, Carlson’s and Newman’s (both clothing stores) and The Cranberry Craft Shop.
A lane leading toward the marsh to the old Town Barn ran between this building and Liberty’s Hardware. Liberty’s was later owned by “Obie” Oberlander, then purchased by Gerry (“The Friendly Peddler”) MacDonald, at which time it became known as MacDonald’s Sandwich Hardware. The building, still in the MacDonald family, is now MacDonald’s Emporium.
An alley separated the hardware store from the next block of storefronts, although it is now connected to The Emporium. Businesses in that block included Fran’s Restaurant, The Jade Gift Shop, Fournier’s Barber Shop (relocated from the Novelty Block), The Sugar Bowl, and the first location of MacNeil’s Bakery. Russell’s Market, a staple of Townie shopping, stood at the corner of Jarves and 6A. Owned and operated by the Russell family from the early 20th century to the 1970s, the building has since been sold, but is still known as Russell’s Corner.
Originally called “The Blue Shutters,” Spuds was located on Route 6A, where Jack Conway Realty is today. “Good Food!” Spuds parking lot was also a popular gathering spot for teenagers in the 1960s and 70s. (Photo from Sandwich Archives as modified by John Walker)
Thanks to Bill Chase, Linda Crocker, Alan Raymond, Pudy Rogers, Peter Russell, Charles van Buskirk, Erik van Buskirk, and John Walker for sharing their memories for this article.