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By Susan Wiggins
Mayor Pro Tempore 

Mojave's Poole Building

A Page of History


This is the third and probably the last of the historical collaborations between my brother Bill Deaver and me to write our columns.

Bill did most of the writing on this one; however I provided the memories needed for names of people from the past.

What prompted this trip down memory lane was the building known as the Poole Building in Mojave suffering damage from a fire recently.

This began as a major discussion in my family and with many of the community speculating on how the old building came into existence. Most agreed that it was constructed some time before 1948. That was the year that my parents and brothers moved to Mojave. I was not even imagined by my parents then.

The building takes up space on both streets and is huge. It has served as home for many businesses throughout the years. I remembered that when I was young there was a “secret hallway” that ran at the back and one could go from the Sierra Highway portion all the way to the end of the building that bordered the alley on Cerro Gordo.

The street was named for the mine in Death Valley where Borax was first mined and shipped to the railroad in Mojave for several years in the late 1890s.

That was part of the problem with the fire. Not only was there a common hallway, there was also a partial common attic which allowed the fire to spread more quickly. Fortunately the building was not completely destroyed and will be repaired. The common attic problem will also be addressed.

The building was owned by Richard Poole for many years and he operated a real estate business in the major portion of the structure which was located on the Cerro Gordo portion of the building.

Poole worked with others to help build homes in the 1950s in Mojave. As time went on Poole displayed many maps of the area on easels that were located right at the corner in front of the huge windows of the structure.

Poole’s daughter, Gay, operated a stationery store in a portion of the building adjacent to the alley, and delivered supplies all over Mojave.

Bill called Mike Riccomini, who now resides in Idaho, to pick his brain and Mike told him that his uncle Al Cortopassi had a men’s clothing store in the building. Bill said he had bought clothes there when he was much younger.

One of the businesses that I remember was Carl’s Drug Store, located on Sierra Highway, where the fire was believed to have started. A thrift store now occupies that space. Everyone, including me and my family, bought our prescriptions there.

Every year in January, if you asked, he would run a register tape of all the medicine you purchased that year for your taxes. He died suddenly in 1983 and the store was closed. That was the year my youngest son Clayton was born. He was a preemie and because of all the extra medical expenses we had that year, the IRS decided to audit me.

I had receipts for everything except our prescriptions. I explained how my pharmacist had died and the process he followed and the IRS auditor allowed the deduction – even without my register tape.

There was also a fountain in the building once, serving up quick food and yummy ice cream creations.

Another pharmacy was in the building before Carl’s. Vic Brac was the pharmacist and his wife Edith operated a flower shop, which she purchased from my Mother Marion Deaver. (The Deaver women are known for many talents and have always been able to multitask!)

The Mojave Post Office occupied the building portion adjacent to the alley before moving to K Street and later to its present location on Belshaw Street. Bill remembers working there for about a year in 1953, after graduating from High School.

He remembers working with Postmaster Barney Finnin, Assistant Post Master Robert Parks Young, and Chuck Wilson. I grew up with Parks’ daughters and remember spending a lot of time at their house.

The same portion of the building was used by Heather Benes to teach dancing. Bill said she had moved out of the building a month before the fire!

Ah – childhood memories. . .


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