The Neighborhood of Yesterday
In the 1920s and 30s the area of 33rd and California was a lively shopping and service
center . Few people owned cars so shopping was necessarily done close to home.
On 33rd street, starting from Cass north on the west side, there were at one time or
another a grocery store, upholstery shop, dentist, delicatessen, tavern, bakery, theatre,
barber shop, and a variety store. On the east side of 33rd street, starting at Cass, was a
filling station, ice house, several homes, the California Beauty School, garage, butcher
shop, and drug store.
Wohlners Grocery Store on California Street east of 33rd was wrapped around the drug
store and connected to the butcher shop on 33rd. A shoe shop, beauty parlor, and the
Master Pastry Shop were east of the grocery store. Beyond that stood St. Paul’s
Episcopal Church. The north side of California Street east of 33rd at one time contained
the Nelson-Anderson Grocery Store, beauty shop, shoe repair shop, and barber shop. In
the late 30s the Hinky-Dinky grocery store opened on the southwest corner of 33rd and
California Street west of 33rd was not paved (according to former resident Joe Lightfoot)
until about 1905. Until then, it was dirt , and a big hump existed between 33rd and 34th
Streets. This can be seen by the height of the lots on both sides of the Street today. The
hill was cut down and a brick paving installed. A creek ran from 36th Street east on the
north side of California and crossed under a wooden bridge west of 34th. It then flowed
south into Gifford Park where it formed a lake. Mr. Lightfoot said that as a boy he swam in
and ice-skated on this lake. A glance at the lay of the land readily shows how a lake was
natural in the park.
A streetcar running on a single pair of tracks first ran to 33rd and California from the east.
It ran just west of 33rd, then backed around the corner onto 33rd to the north to turn
around for the return trip. Later the line was extended to 33rd and Parker. Buses replaced
the streetcars in the early 40s.
The Bogard Drug Store had a full-fledged soda fountain that was a favorite gathering
place for high school students.
This was the early neighborhood shopping area. The following chapters will elaborate on
some of the shops and businesses.
Dirgo, Harry, 1939 picture
Lightfoot, Joe, former resident (since deceased)
Early conversations with Leo Wilwerding
Wilwerding, Leo, The Neighborhood of Yesterday, Gifford Park’s Pride, November 1991.
|Gifford Park Neighborhood Association
P.O. Box 31462, Omaha, NE 68131-0462