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This article appeared in the August 11, 1988 edition of the Independent-Enterprise. It was written by my great-uncle, Max Blakesley, not long after the death of his brother Glen, who was my grandfather and the last owner of Blakesley's Cigar Store.

Several buildings mentioned in the article are now being used for different things, so I have inserted the current name of the building in parentheses where appropriate.

The building where Blakesley's was is now occupied by State Farm Insurance. You can still see the painted "Blakesley's" sign above the alley door.

In 1922 or 1923, a new business began in Forsyth. The entrepreneur of this enterprise was a fellow by the name of Dick Wright.

He was well known and liked, and a great sportsman. He was, among other things, a horse race starter at the Rosebud County Fair and an avid prize fight fan.

This new business was a man’s place and was, as well as I can remember, first located in a small frame building at the west corner of the present V Store Trading Post. (Hong Kong Restaurant)

Many years ago (before I can remember), it housed a saloon called the Nickel Dump, probably because a shot of booze cost 5 cents.

It is utterly impossible for present generations to imagine the lifestyle of the long-ago days and how inflation has driven up the price of all merchandise. It is also difficult to imagine that ladies did not frequent saloons and other types of “men’s places” in those long-gone days.

I don’t remember the Nickel Dump, it was that long ago. A picture of its interior, the bartender John Wangen and customers Sieverson and Spilde (not Gene) presently hangs on the wall of the Howdy Bar.

The first I remember of this building in 1920 it was the Cash & Carry Grocery and was owned by two men, one named Crowder. This was where Dick Wright began his new business.

It was named Dick’s Place — sometimes called the Wright (Right) Place. Since I began this story, I learned some more of the Nickel Dump.

Dennis DeSocio of Colstrip is interested in the history of Forsyth, unusual for a young person and probably because his parents’ families are pioneers of this area.

Dennis sent me a picture of the Nickel Dump. This picture is of the front of the building with the bartender and seven customers standing on the sidewalk.

I recognized Dougie Taylor and Dom Ross identified Danny Boyle. There are several signs on the window, one being the Scandi Bar, another the Scandinavian Bar and another John Wangen’s Place.

Possibly the latter sign gave Wright his idea of naming his place Dick’s Place.

In still another place is a large mug of beer with a large “5 cents” below. Hence, the Nickel Dump, nickname of the Wangen Place.

The merchandise at Dick’s included cigars, cigarettes, fine tobacco, roll-your-own cigarette tobacco, chewing tobacco and all types of smokers’ supplies.

Cigars were Bulwer, RoiTan, and Chancellor — to name a few. Cigarettes included Camel, Lucky Strike, Chesterfield, Fatima, Murad, Pall Mall, Spud, Listerine and Johnny Walker.

These sold for 15 cents a pack, and, for a time, two packs for a quarter. Quite a difference compared to today’s prices.

Some time later, other cigarettes were Wings, Twenty Grands, Head Play, Dominoes and a couple more for 10 cents a pack.

Roll-your-own tobacco was Bull Durham, Golden Grain and Dukes Mixture for a nickel a sack. Chewing tobacco was Star, Spark Plug, Horse Shoe, Tiger Beach Nut and more.

Dick also sold candy bars and chewing gum, peanuts, popcorn, Cracker Jack and homemade lemonade.

The Copenhagen Snuff (snoose) was 10 cents a can and now sells at the bars for $1.45 a can.

Besides conversation, the main pastime of Dick’s Place was two-bit (25 cents) Rummy card games for Trade Chips, and Ten and One Half, a card game for cigars and other merchandise. Free if the customer won and double if he lost.

In 1925 or 1926, one of Dick’s Place’s customers, I. M. Blakesley, better known as Ike, became a clerk for Dick. He replaced Charley Delano, who retired.

In 1927, the business moved to the corner of the 900 block where the present Alexander Bar (Iron Horse) is now located. This building or space in 1917 housed the American National Bank.

While in this location, Wright decided to sell out to Ike Blakesley and Jack Mason. Mason was a ranch hand and sheep herder, an exception to the rule who led the good life and had money in the bank.

I don’t remember the sale price of the establishment, but it seems to me it was $500. A good sum of money in those days and an individual with that amount of money in the bank was comfortably well fixed.

With the purchase of Dick’s Place by Blakesley and Mason, the business became known as Blakesley & Mason for a short time; then was named The Club Cigar Store.

In 1928 or 1929, the business moved to a location now occupied by the Finishing Touch dress shop. My earliest recollection of this location was Katzie’s News Stand and Confectionary Store, owned by Ed Katsenstein.

Not long after the move, Blakesley determined that he and Mason were not compatible as business partners. Mason wished to make fast money in the Club Cigar by having a sideline known as a “blind pig.” A place where customers could go to the back room and buy a shot of bootleg booze.

Blakesley was against such an operation. He had a variety of customers, one of whom was George Chapin (former sheriff of Rosebud County), a liquor enforcement officer and one of the regular – and  enthusiastic Ten and One Half players.

Other customers included C. S. Patterson, sheriff, his deputy Francis Nertney; chief of police Billy Straw, and later Floyd Whitey Dowlin, Mayor Lou Paine and bankers R.C. Mountain, Bob Ross and L.A.  Jacobson.

In January 1930 Blakesley advised Mason that he would sell out to Mason, or he would buy Mason out. Mason decided to sell out and the Club Cigar became Blakesley's Cigar Store.

I have often wondered what conditions would have been if Mason had taken over. I do not recall the price of the transaction.

In January and March of 1930, Glen and Max Blakesley became clerks in the Club Cigar Store, a family business that was to last for 56 1/2 years. Probably not an all-time record, but certainly some kind of a record for at least one family member (most of the time two members, sometimes three) to be associated with and directly in control of the business.

Shortly after the Club Cigar Store was purchased, April 7, 1930, Blakesley decided to expand the business and installed a soda fountain (price $1,200; payments were $30 a month), hamburger grill, bun warmer and such.

Items for sale included all types of sandwiches, ice cream sundaes, milk shakes, malted milks and pastries.

Card games, in addition to rummy, pitch and ten and one half, were penny ante and nickel ante poker games. Also various types of punch boards, pull boards and nickel, dime and quarter slot machines.

In the poker games, it wasn’t unusual for a penny ante player, if he won, to move over to the “big” game. There, if he lost, he moved back to the penny ante game.

In early 1933, the “Bootleg Days” ended and 3.2 beer became legal. Hard liquor (whiskey) was legalized and was available for sale in 1934. Blakesley’s had beer in 1933 but did not secure a hard liquor license until sometime after 1938.

Once again, I’d like to mention that Blakesley’s was family-operated for 56 1/2 years. My dad, as part owner and clerk, was there longer than that by a few years.

Also, I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t mention that my mother, Mamie Blakesley, and my sister-in-law (Glen’s wife), Dorothy, had much to do with the success of Blakesley’s with their homemade goodies, pies, cookies, doughnuts and especially that famous homemade horseradish mustard which I’ll always believe could have been sold commercially.

One of our competitors used to buy (or we gave it to them) small portions of it which we thought was for their personal use. When we discovered they were using it for sandwiches they were selling, the transactions ceased.

I also think I should mention that two other Blakesleys worked for a short time at the store — Ray Blakesley, a cousin, and Glen’s son Noel before moving to Oregon.

I don’t recall Bruce’s working there except to help with the cleaning and arranging of fixtures. The grandchildren also helped with the cleaning.

Max Blakesley departed the store Aug. 6, 1938. Glen was there continuously, except for two years in the Army during World War II.

I have probably missed mentioning someone, unintentionally, as this story could have been much longer. No doubt something has been missed.

Ike passed away in August 1948, Mamie in September 1949 and Dorothy in 1971.

Glen, always overburdened with sentiment from the time he was a small boy, just could not part with Blakesley’s Cigar Store. He was working there when he was going with his wife, Dorothy Larson of Harvey, N.D. They were married in Harvey in 1930. His sons were both born in Forsyth while he was working at the store.

So it was in May 1986 that he turned the key in Blakesley’s Cigar Store for the last time, and walked away never to return. He passed away on Jan. 24, 1988, the birth anniversary of his mother, Mamie. Truly the end of an era.