Stanley Robert Smith: Like a Bad Penny

Only days after narrowly escaping charges of theft,  Stanley Robert Smith was under arrest again.  Unluckily for at least one other man in Findlay, the police gave reporters the wrong name.

201707291915353208
Findlay Courier, 19 Feb 1929

It was initially reported that 19 year old Ralph Smith was being held in the city jail.   The situation wasn’t cleared up until the next day,  no doubt resulting in a good deal of embarrassment for the innocent Ralph Smith and his family.

There were actually four men by that name living in Findlay at the time, the closest in age being a 24-year-old quarry laborer, living with his parents.  How would you like to come home from work that day?  “Son, is there something you’d like to tell us?”

By the next morning, February 20, 1929, the details of Stanley’s crime (and his identity!) had crystallized.  A full report appeared in the paper.  George Stringfellow, the owner of the S&S Drugstore in downtown Findlay, had filed an affidavit, accusing Stanley Robert Smith of passing a worthless check.

A Building With a Past

The S&S Drugstore was located at 319 South Main Street in Findlay, just opposite the county courthouse.

Hancock_County,_Ohio_Courthouse_1
Hancock County Courthouse, 300 South Main Street, Findlay; photo taken by Wikipedia user Ruhrfisch

Its name came from the last initials of its two owners, George T. Stringfellow and R. S. Shoemaker.  Both men were registered pharmacists.  George Stringfellow had been the manager of C. F. Jackson’s drug department for 15 years before purchasing S&S.

cfjacksondeptstore
C. F. Jackson Department Store (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~ohhancoc/photos/cfjacksondeptstore.jpg)

C. F. Jackson’s was a department store located at the southwest corner of South Main and West Sandusky streets.  The department store building was known as the Glass Block and was a Findlay institution from its opening in 1905 through April 1933.

319 south main findlay
319 South Main Street, Findlay, as seen in August 2015

The building S & S operated out of (pictured above) had been a dedicated pharmacy for many years.  The S & S Drugstore opened in late May 1926.  For five years prior to that, O. M. Wolgamot ran the shop as Wolgamot’s drug store.  He had purchased the business from J. C. Firmin, who had been a pharmacist there in the center of town for over 30 years.

In fact, as George Stringfellow was clearing out cabinets and drawers, preparing the shop for its grand opening, he discovered a number of old newspapers, dating back as early as 1893.

Whaddja Bring Me?

Stanley’s bad check was written for the amount of $3.80.  I’m very curious to know what it was he purchased.  What could have been worth going to jail for?

The following advertisement from S&S Drugstore at Christmas that year gives an idea of the kind of spending power we’re talking about:

gifts for everyone
Findlay Morning Republican, 19 Dec 1929

(And just so you know, toilet water wouldn’t be as horrible a gift as it sounds to us today.  It was a dilute form of perfume.  Still, I’m tempted to tell the kids that’s what they’re getting for Christmas.)

Look Down, Look Down…

When I first read about Stanley and these first two arrests, stealing butter and spending money he didn’t have at a drug store, I thought his was a Jean Valjean-type situation.  Here was this poor man, just trying to scrape by and feed and care for his family in a time of economic hardship.  However, given the rest of his history, I’m not so sure that was the case.  Just you wait…

 

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