Today's Edition Local News Missouri News National News World Opinion Obits Sports GoMidMo Events Classifieds Jobs Newsletters Contests Search
story.lead_photo.caption Patrons enjoy the weather with a meal at Angelina's Cafe at the corner of Dix Road and West Main Street. The building housed Buerhle's Grocery from 1936-61 and Bob's Market from 1961 until two years ago. Photo by Stephen Brooks

Neighborly talk and homespun wisdom poured over the meat counter at Bob's Market in the mid-1970s when Marvin Jones moved into a 600 block Boonville Road home with his family from Georgia.

"We needed and received a warm welcome that very first day we arrived," Jones said. "Bob (Propst) charmed us ... (saying) "we'll just open an account for you folks so you don't have to bother paying each time' and that's how it was for the next 24 years."

Through the years, the Propsts and their customers shared gossip and personal experiences, Jones said.

"For most of their elderly customers, like dear Vivian Tharp on Hayselton, Bob's Market was their social center, a safe unrushed refuge where they knew they were welcome and valued," Jones said.

That was a corner tradition that dated further back to Buehrle's Grocery, which opened in 1936 as Bob's predecessor.

After serving in the U.S. Navy in World War I, Henry Buehrle and his wife, Sadie, opened the store in what was then the middle of a cornfield. The couple reared their family above the twostory, red brick building.

Jeanette Dulle's family lived in the 100 block of Boonville Road from the early 1950s to the 1970s.

"The neighborhood was wonderful," Dulle recalled. "The corner of West Main and Boonville Road and Dix Road included Buehrle's Grocery ... Tasty Treat, West School, Johnny's Gas Station and Hall's Drug."

Going to and from school, Dulle remembered she and her five siblings would charge one penny for candy or bubble gum. And they often made trips for their mother for essentials like milk and bread.

"It was a life-saving store," Dulle said. "When Buehrle's sold, it was like a good friend had been taken away.

"Little did we know that nothing would change. It was the first place we would go for tomatoes."

Bob Propst Jr., and his mother, Mary Ann, continued the tradition from his father's purchase in 1961 until selling to Angie Christian two years ago.

In addition to making deliveries to elderly in the neighborhood, Propst was known to help with small tasks around their homes, too. That generosity was reciprocated when Propst was diagnosed with leukemia and customers organized fund-raisers to defray the medical expenses.

The business received the city's Landmark Award in 2002, in part because it was the last of the once plentiful neighborhood grocery stores.

"(These stores) were every bit as important to the neighborhood as the local church and school," local historian Gary Kremer wrote in "Heartland History, Volume Three."

Propst cherishes his memories of customers who were more like friends and misses the days of a more personal customer service.

"On the west end, we had a special relationship with our customers," Propst said. "We went through good times and bad times with them. "They'd come in and just talk; it was fun."

Christian, the current owner, was handpicked by Propst's mother to purchase the building and renovate the store into a cafe, which included uncovering original textured glass windows.

"She wanted something that was going to help the neighborhood," Christian said of Mrs. Propst.

In her first entrepreneurial venture, Christian said she has benefited from the walking clientele in the neighborhood and the loyalty of the older generation.

"We wanted something small and close to home," said Christian, herself a westender.

On a given day, strollers and pets may be sitting outside the brick building at the corner of Boonville Road and Main Street.

And the neighborhood theme continues.

When Christian was gone for the birth of her third child, customers sent gifts and even visited her in the hospital. And she has visited a customer who had to move into a nursing home.

"You get to know each person and their family," Christian said. "You build a bond with them."

The Jefferson City Historic Preservation Commission has honored 77 homes and businesses with the Landmark Awards since 1993.