Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Chariton's venerable "Fluke's" --- in two locations

Charles E. Fluke (1876-1948) had been in business on the square in Chariton for 50 years when he retired during 1944, selling "Fluke's" to his younger half-brother, Mack Young, and two other investors, Jay Roush and C.E. Dunn.

He'd begun his business career during 1893, when he was 17, by setting up a newspaper and periodicals stand --- along with a few sundries --- at the hotel on the south side that his father, Joseph (1856-1895),  leased briefly from Victoria (Branner) Dewey. That venerable building had begun life as the St. John House.

He soon moved to the first of three locations on the east side of the square --- and this photograph depicts one of them, but I can't say exactly where it was located. That's "Charlie" standing in front. The image is one of three related to the business that I moved from one location to another this week at the museum.

Fluke was a talented businessman and his shop, perhaps best described as a stationer's, developed a regional reputation for two products among many others --- wallpaper and books. If you were a student in Chariton, this is where you bought your books and, if you'd been careful, traded them in when coursework was done. If you wanted to repaper a room, a visit to Fluke's was mandatory.

During 1904 --- in the aftermath of a massive fire that destroyed the Mallory Opera Block and two other west-side buildings --- Simon Oppenheimer built the double-front Oppenheimer Block, opening his own business in the north half, leasing the south half to Charles. This image was taken soon after Fluke's had moved in.

Charles continued to operate the business at this location for nearly 40 years, until the year before his retirement, when he moved it farther south on the west side, to the location some still remember as Fluke's but more most likely remember as Young's.

Mack Young (1900-1992) bought out his partners as the years passed, but continued to operate under the name "Fluke's" for quite a few years, changing the name eventually to "Young's." His son, Dick, then purchased the business and operated it until retirement. These images were donated to the museum by Dick during 2014.

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