Saleem Cottros thinks the unknown grocer pictured in Do You Remember? on March 28 may be the grocery store of George Masuad Saleeby. He remembers Mr. Saleeby had a mustache and thinks that may be him in the photo.
Saleeby’s grocery store was located on the first block of North Dargan Street on the west side, not far from Kress. Mr. Saleeby had a peanut parching machine which he rolled out in front of his store in good weather to lure customers with the aroma of roasted peanuts, Cottros recalls.
Mr. Cottros was born here in 1931 and his father Gus Cottros operated Gus’s Cafe at 159 (later 175) N. Dargan St., on the east side. On the same block and side as his dad’s cafe was another grocery store operated by Mike Shire. At the end of this block, (on the west side and close to the railroad tracks) was Lylo’s Grocery. Lylo’s was located in the building later occupied by the Army Navy Store.
In the early and mid-20th century, downtown was the center of activity for Florence, Cottros commented. And on Saturdays, everyone in the county came to town.
Mr. Cottros remembers going to his dad’s cafe in the early morning hours on Saturdays, when he would help out in the back of the restaurant. He remembers the street activity as the grocers put their apples and produce in front of their stores. He also remembers the chatter of Arabic being spoken as Mr. Saleeby would holler over to Mr. Shire and then Mr. Shire would holler over to Mr. Lylo and friendly batter who go back and forth. Mr. Cottros’ mother was of
Lebanese descent, but his father was Greek. Although he never learned to speak Arabic, he could sometimes understand what the men were saying.
T he sign above Mr.
Saleeby’s store read George Masaud. Sadly, Mr. Saleeby died in the late 1930s or early 1940s. His two sons, Eddie and Mitchell ran the store for a while after he died, Cottros recalls.