Gunnill and Carlson

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Water fountain in front of Gunnill and Carlson (Courtesy Fenton History Center photo collection).

Contributing Writer
Joan V. Cusimano Lindquist

One of the mainstays in Brooklyn Square businesses was a popular news room called Gunnill and Carlson, established in 1924 and named for the original owners, Fred J. Gunnill and Luther E. and Ernest C. Carlson. It was located at 26 South Main Street on the western corridor of the Square at the convergence of Market Street and Forest Avenue. Russell Wuertzer became a partner of Gunnill and Carlson in 1936 and remained its sole owner from 1959-1972 when the store was razed during urban renewal.
Gunnill and Carlson carried tobacco products, magazines, comic books, newspapers (local and out-of-town publications), gum, candy, ice cream, and soft drinks. It was also a place where followers of major league baseball teams could get an up-to-the-minute posting of scores, inning by inning, that came into the news room by ticker tape. John A. Swanson recalls a man named Patsy who was as colorful as any radio announcer of major league games during the 1940s and early 1950s because he not only shouted out the home runs, but gave it a spin by announcing “Home run, DiMaggio, third inning, two on”!
Sam Milioto, along with John Swanson, had a special interest in baseball. They were battery mates on the Jamestown High School Red Raider baseball team from their sophomore through senior years, 1947-1950. Sam was the pitcher, often stamped with the old-time moniker of “hurler” or “chucker,” to John’s position as catcher. Thus, battery mates!
Sam started to work at Gunnill and Carlson mostly on weekends from 1945, when he was still in junior high school, to about 1950. But Sam really didn’t consider it “work.” His job was to post major league baseball scores, inning by inning, on a large blackboard installed on Gunnill and Carlson’s back wall as they came in. During the time Sam was employed at the news room, there were only sixteen major league teams: eight in both the National and American Leagues. Not one of the teams was west of St. Louis in those days, and games were played in daylight hours. Sunday’s games were usually double-headers (two games for the price of one). Sam’s “pay” for posting scores was usually a Coke, Pepsi, or comic book!
The physical features of Gunnill and Carlson were quite simple–small and narrow. There were rows of newspapers and magazines on one side and a counter with cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, and the cash register on the other. One thing special about the location of Gunnill and Carlson was the public water fountain that stood on the corner just in front of the store. John Swanson recalls that watering hole as an “ever-flowing fountain” that provided refreshment on a hot summer’s day or that provided “ammunition” for his and his pals’ water pistols for a water fight on their way to Main Street! And on bitterly cold days, John remembers ducking into Gunnill and Carlson to warm up before trudging the rest of the way home during a Jamestown winter.
I am indebted to both Sam Milioto and John Swanson for information from their articles “Gunnill and Carlson” and “Stolling Through Brooklyn Square” that appear in my third book, Remembering Brooklyn Square: The 1930s to the 1960s” and to Barb Cessna of the Fenton History Center.