Copyright 2003 By Bob Hibbs
Wednesday Aug 6, 2003 

Ode to a lost friend – Eagle Country Market

eagle market

A 37-year shopper fondly remembers a Goosetown neighborhood friend in the Eagle
supermarket for its produce, meats and convenience. It was closed Monday.


By Bob Hibbs

Local Historian

            A venerable old friend is gone with the closing of Eagle Country Market on North Dodge Street in Iowa City Monday.

Spouse Margaret and this writer began shopping there the better part of four decades ago when we moved into the Goosetown neighborhood.

Only five blocks from our residence of the past 35 years, we had begun shopping there even earlier when we lived in a duplex on Bloomington Street previously occupied by Press-Citizen sports editor emeritus Al Grady.

This writer had just started full-time work at the P-C as “assistant” to Grady when Al announced he had bought a house at 3 Melrose Place and was looking for someone to assume his lease at 818 E. Bloomington. He even tossed in the drapes which now hang in a corner of our basement rec. room.

Eldest son Randy, then age 4 and now 41, spouse Margaret and this writer then were residing at a place then-called C3 Frontenac Apartments next to the then-location of a Holiday Inn at the then-numbered Highway 218 intersection with newly-opened Interstate 80 northwest of Coralville, which then didn’t extend beyond the Iowa City Drive-In Theatre site – now site of Coralville Public Library.

            The former Holiday Inn intersection now hosts the massive Coral Ridge Mall across I-80 from the Frontenac site.

            In 1966 we were tickled to have a grocery so close to our new home. No mom-and-pop store at 17,000 square feet, Eagle none-the-less was a smaller supermarket reminiscent of the early 1960s era when the store was first opened by an Illinois chain.

            Horace Mann Elementary was – and still is – located catty-cornered across the intersection as it had been since its construction in 1918 to replace the Third Ward School. North Dodge Street Texaco was on the corner north of the school, now occupied by a tire store and auto repair shop.

            John Winslow operated his North Side Foods on the other corner, now a religious gifts shop.  Winslow’s was a real mom-and-pop in the neighborhood, preceded by Louis Helmer grocery during the 1940s and by Henry and Mae Louis during the early 1920s followed by Larsen & Bouck Grocery later that decade operated by Esther Larsen and George Bouck.

            The Eagle site had served Aldous Greenhouse, operated by Frank Lee as 700 E. Church St. at phone 3171 until he sold the property to Frank Eicher about 1960. Lee also operated a downtown flower shop at 112 S. Dubuque St.

Like his mom-and-pop grocery neighbor, Frank Lee and spouse Gertrude lived on the back corner of the greenhouse site at 730 E. Church at phone 6839.  Frank ran the operations, but it was Gertrude’s flower arrangements which sold so well.

            By 1964 Frank and Gertrude Lee had retired to 2613 Ferndale Dr. and Eicher had moved the greenhouse operation to the former Iowa City Glass manufacturing site at 410 Kirkwood Ave., with a downtown store at 14 S. Dubuque St.

            The Aldous/Eicher site, then, became our new neighborhood friend first called Eagle Food Center.

            Now 37 years later, Margaret has retired her “Eagle Saver’s Card” into our collection of historic Iowa City artifacts.  

            Despite the Eagle nostalgia, we welcome to the Eagle site a new “old” local friend in Lenoch & Cilek hardware operated by Jerry Meis.

The new Eagle-site store will replace one lost downtown last year when the old JC Penney building was demolished to make way for expansion of the Iowa City Public Library. The new store won’t affect Lenoch & Cilek operations at two other locations.

            It’s an easy explanation of why Lenoch & Cilek will be welcomed in this quarter. One example will suffice.

A sojourn during June took Margaret and her husband on an outing to see son Randy and family in England, with a side trip to Scotland, where standard electrical use is a 220-volt system, rather than the 110 volts used here. 

After returning, this writer stopped in the Coralville Lenoch & Cilek on the odd chance they could supply an adaptor to a newly purchased-in-England transformer which recharges the batteries in a digital camera. The original American system transformer was broken in a London hotel outlet intended only for shavers and was replaced a few days later by one purchased in York.

            You could have picked this writer off the floor when a Lenoch & Cilek clerk located the needed adaptor high up on shelf 13 in the electrical section of the Coralville store.

            That’s why trading Eagle for Lenoch & Cilek is like exchanging a high school chum for a college friend. You hate losing one, but are immediately fond of the other.

Bob Hibbs collects local postcards and researches history related to them.