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Zaharako's Confectionery

329 Washington Street

     Ross Gillis signed my 1968 Yearbook thusly: "This is a stick up. As soon as you come on, mop the ceilings, scrape the plaster, wash all drains out, before you do that, don't worry about Joe (he's speaking of Joe Harmon here), just cut the bull!"

     Gillis' amusing play on words here perfectly captures several "Manual-isms" that we all grew to love during the time we worked at Zaharako's in 1967/68.

     It's funny: I look at the picture on the top right, and I see a much different picture than you. I see Manual, sitting on the last stool, dressed in his dark slacks and white dress shirt. His exterior is rough with a voice to match, but his heart shines through his eyes, and his smile could brighten a dreary day. Either Lew or Pete is sitting in the little office, just on the other side of the candy counter, placing orders and taking care of the paperwork, with an occasional glance up at the small mirror when someone walks through the door...

     I began working at Zaharako's while attending Central Junior High in 1967. I gave up my Courier Journal paper route, and was introduced to the world of dishwashers, bussing tables, and mopping up. My starting pay was 65 cents an hour, with any lunches deducted from my pay. My normal schedule was to work there after school, plus Saturdays.

     Zaharako's made their own ice cream back in those days in the back of the store. It was mixed up and chilled in 5 gallon, stainless steel containers, and stored in a walk-in freezer. Besides selling scoops, they also sold hand packed pints and quarts. They made their own fudge for the hot fudge sundaes, as well as other toppings. My favorite was the hot fudge, and even to this day, there is none that can top that delicacy (I came to appreciate the fact that those sundae dishes were the hardest to wash as well!). Besides ice cream, they were also a Whitman Sampler distributor, and sold loose candy. You could pick from a wide variety of candy from the candy counter on the left side of the top right picture. At one time, Zaharako's made all their own candies, but stopped doing this in the early 1950's.

     After 6 months of bussing tables, mopping up, and dishwashing, I was promoted to soda jerk. Standard attire was a white apron and soda jerk hat. One of the first and most important lessons taught about working behind the counter was: If you touch your face, wash your hands. Lew was the teacher, and I found out real quick how often I touched my face and didn't think a thing about it. For the first three weeks behind the counter, I had the cleanest hands in the USA.

     Sodas were made the same way they still are: Grab a glass (back then, we used plastic glasses, small and large), add whatever syrup the drink called for, fill the glass with soda water and ice, and stir. Sundaes were hand dipped, with topping added using a small ladle, and nuts if you wished. It was much easier to make the sundaes than wash those dishes!

     The most memorable part of working at Zaharako's was decorating the place for Christmas. When I first hired on, Lew told me that I would have to work Thanksgiving day. That was a must. Although the Confectionery was closed, this was the day Christmas lights and garland were strung, displays put in place, and ornaments hung in just about every nook and cranny of the interior. I want to say we started around 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and worked until the place looked like Santa's home. It was the only day of the year that any food eaten wasn't charged against your pay. And, it was a lot of hard work. We worked until the wee hours of the morning, only to have to get up early the next day and greet the hoards of visitors that passed through the doors. The Christmas season, by far, was the busiest time of the year at Zaharako's, and the most fun time to work there.

     Concerning the last picture on the right: There is Ann and Ted, Lew and Manual. The woman looks very familiar to me, but I can't remember who it is. I swear I remember this picture being taken one Saturday morning right before we opened. I have tried to get a good look at the guy behind the counter to see if it was me, but I just can't get that good a look. But in the end, it really doesn't matter if it's me or not. I have fond memories of working with Lew, Pete, and Manual, and that's enough for me....

Zaharako's as it looked when I worked there. The great thing about this picture is that the place looks the same today. Click picture to enlarge


Click to enlarge

Photographs by Francis O. Galbraith



Manual, Pete, and Lewis, my bosses...Click to enlarge



Click to enlarge

Photos from Columbus: 125 Years The Republic, 1997


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