"Who Put the HOP In Hop Alley?"
The foundation for Hop Alley was laid following the disastrous blaze of November 21, 1906 which razed the two-story frame structure occupied by the J. O. Langdon Restaurant and wound up by razing the East side of the street to the I. M. Reed Blacksmith Shop at the Northeast corner of Second and Vine. Judge D. Hopson was the owner of the Langdon Building and announced that a double one-story brick would be built on the site the following Summer. The Judge was also the owner of the Barnett Brick, built in 1895, on First Street, so he opened a wooden sidewalk from the Southeast corner of the Barnett brick West to the Northwest corner of the proposed brick on Second Street. Corning was poorly drained in 1907, the ground was low, and the wooden walk floated after a rain, forcing a pedestrian to keep hopping to get from First to Second, or vice versa, with dry feet. Hop was also the first syllable in Hopson, so the new thoroughfare had two valid reasons for assuming the title, Hop Alley.
With Brown's drug store, Till Toalson's Bon Ton and Welch's bakery across the street providing soda fountain service that part of the street became a popular meeting place, easily reached from First Street, thanks to Hop Alley. The new tenants on Second Street were from South to North, the First National Bank, W. A. Schnable's Bottery, Sam Cantwell's Harness and Hardware, and Webb Brothers Pool Hall. Along Hop Alley the abstract offices with Mrs. Ethel Skinner and B. C. Hickman in charge, the Crowders law office, Mmes Daniel and Sprague Millinery Shop, B. H. Champion Confectionery, and Dr. A. B. McKinney's office on the alley. The lot back of Brown's was developed into an attractive park with trees, grass and benches. Upstairs rooms over the bank were occupied by Dentist V. H. Tate, the Corning Library, Contractor Oscar M. Williams, and The Corning Telephone office.
A bonafide ex-Corningite, on returning to Corning, feels obligated to walk through HOP Alley one more time. When old-timer Eldon Pry of St. Louis read in The Courier that J. B. Jolley had returned to Corning with his son so that the lad would have the Hop Alley thrill, he was so overcome with nostalgia he was inspired to write "The Ode to Hop Alley" which concludes this article.
The biography of Judge Hopson, who blessed us with Hop Alley will follow in next week's issue of The Courier with his photograph sent by his daughter, Marie, now Mrs. Lawrence Scott, of Little Rock.
Ode to Hop Alley
Hop Alley is fast coming to the top in popularity among other famous spots of the world.
New Orleans has its Bourbon Street, Detroit its Cadillac Square, New York City its Broadway at Forty-second Street, Hollywood has its Hollywood and Vine but only Corning, Arkansas, can boast of its famed Hop Alley.
Oh! What secret power does this strange cavernous alley have over the natives who have traveled its strange passage way in childhood, that the hunger to return to it in senior years is irresistible?
J. B. Jolley is only one of the many who has carried the memories of Hop Alley to the high seas and elsewhere, only to finally succumb to the terrible urge not only to return but to bring his son so he might see and touch the very spot. Memories of the Green Gate, Rufus Lloyd's Cafe, Charlie Davis Barber Shop, Raley and Ashbaugh, Bunch and Cherry, Bloodworths, Gib Hays Barber Shop and Doc Hicks Bowling Alley are high on the list of pleasant dreams of the natives who have left Corning but return after a life time to "do their thing" all over again. Walk from First to Second street pausing midway of the arcade to yell an Indian yell and hear their own voice echo just as in childhood.
Backward, flow backward, oh tide of the years.
I'm so weary of toil and tears
Backward, turn backward, oh time, in your flight
Let me see Hop Alley just for tonight.
Old Timer, Thomas Eldon Pry.