My world is always full of surprising twists and turns but I never imagined that a Saturday morning would be spent in search of Boston Friedel. This particular quest actually started several months ago.
The owners of this distinctive stone building along Route 66 in Kingman, Arizona were working to unravel its mysterious past. Since working with Kingman Main Street on phase one of a narrated, self guided walking tour, documenting the history of the buildings in the historic district has been a passion. And this particular building has intrigued me for quite some time so I offered my assitnce.
It is now home to Scoops on 66, a delightful handcrafted ice cream shop. It was originally a cafe. But when did it open and who built it?
In Search of Answers
Well, the gas station next door opened in 1947. The picture of the station show the building with a simple cafe sign. And there is ample evidence that it was a cafe in 1940.
Becky Fawason, director of the Kingman Area Chamber of Commerce, turned up an interesting item of unknown origin in old records. “September 1925 – November 1925, Judge LeRoy V. Root – Temporary Chairman while organizing Chamber office located in Boston Friedel’s lunch room in the 200 block of Front Street (now Andy Devine Avenue, a rock building next to the Highway 66 car wash.”
That simple note opened an entire can of worms, and deepend the mystery of the building with its distinctive window and door trim. There are numerous buildings in Kingman with the same trim work, but we have yet to decipher their origins. These include the Assembly of God church built in 1936, the Siesta Motel built in aboout 1929, a wing of the Richardson Auto Court built in the mid 1930s, and the Bell Motel razed several years ago.
In Search of Boston Friedel
The note from the chamber of commerce raised an array of questions. In 1925, the core business district centered on Fourth Street, and Front and South Front Street. Here you had the railroad depot, the Harvey House, a Packard and Chalmers dealership, and a gas station, cafe and free camp ground for travelers on the National Old Trails Road. The Loving and Withers store with office block, several restaurants, the Palace Saloon, Hotel Beale and Hotel Brunswick, Palace Saloon and Old Trails Garage were also nestled at this intersection.
Front Street deadened at the Powerhouse, First Street, just one block from the building now housing Scoops on 66. And across from the Powerhouse, now Locomotive Park, was the county rodeo grounds and ball field. So, why would there be a cafe and a chamber of commerce office two blocks from the main business district on a dead end street?
Well, I decided to delve into newspaper archives. How hard could it be to find stories about someone with a name as distinctive as Boston Friedel? As it turned out, it was more difficult than imagined but I wasn’t surprised.
The first discovery was dated November 1920. I learned that “Boston” was a nickname. And I learned that he opened an “eating emporium” across from the Santa Fe Depot. This raised more questions. Across from the depot on Front Street was a pharmacy, a restaurant ( but not Boston’s), a Ford dealership and a store. So, was Boston’s emporium across from the depot, south of the tracks?
There was a gas station on the corner of South Front Street and Fourth Street directly across from the depot south of the tracks. Next door was a small cafe with unknown name, and a free campground.
And A Bit More Confusion
The water was muddied even more with discovery of a snippet dated September 9, 1921. “Boston” Friedel has opened a horseshoe lunch counter on South Front Street, in a new building erected for the purpose on land leased from Mary Sweeney.” The stone building used by Scoops on 66 is on Front Street, now Andy Devine Avenue.
The search for Boston Friedel is in its early stages. But I have yet to even determine his real first name. I have learned that he was active in the local gun club, but the articles just say Friedel. And there are a couple of interesting items associated with county elections published in the late teens. One article notes involvement by J.L. Friedel. Another notes L.J. Fridel, and a third reads Robert L. Friedel.
And now a quest has become two. What is the history of the little stone building? And now I am in search of Boston Friedel. But this is Jim HInckley’s America, and we share America’s story. And Mr. Friedel, and Scoops on 66, is definitely a part of that story.