By Rick Palsgrove
Something my dad always told me was that, if you need something, you can always find it at Bolenbaugh.
He was right. Every time I went to Bolenbaugh Hardware in Canal Winchester over the past decades I always found what I needed. But those days will soon be gone as the owners of Bolenbaugh Hardware are retiring and closing up shop in the near future.
“It’s time,” said Bolenbaugh’s Joe Bitler.
According to the book, “Canal Winchester: The Second Ninety Years,” by Lillian Carroll and Frances Steube, Bolenbaugh Hardware has been a fixture in downtown Canal Winchester since 1887. Originally housed in a one-story building on East Waterloo Street. The business has been in its current home at 4 E. Waterloo St., since 1908.
The first time I went to Bolenbaugh was around 1960. I went there with my dad when I was about five years old to pick out my first tricycle. My initial visit to that old store, with its gathering of working men surrounded by tools, gave me one of my first glimpses into the mysterious world of adults.
I saw the shiny green tricycle I wanted sitting high on a shelf (well, it seemed high to someone who was age five). They hauled it down and let me ride it up and down the aisles of the store while my dad paid for it.
That tricycle was my first burst of freedom in my small little kid world. I rode and rode that tricycle up and down a hill on a now long-gone sidewalk leading to an open field that once existed by our house on Clark Court in Groveport.
Another early memory of Bolenbaugh is also from when I was a kid. It was there that I got my first real leather baseball glove. The glove was black, which I liked because it made it stand out from all the brown leather gloves my schoolmates used. I used that glove for years until the combination of wear and tear and my growing hand necessitated me getting a new one. I bought that second glove at Bolenbaugh too, though this time I went with a traditional brown glove. I used that glove primarily in pick-up softball games in my teen years. I still have that old glove. It is in a closet with a battered softball firmly entrenched in the pocket of the glove.
As I grew into adulthood, and particularly when I became a homeowner, I shopped at Bolenbaugh frequently. I liked the comfortable, friendly, welcoming small town atmosphere of Bolenbaugh Hardware. There was always a sense of history about the place. Plus, if you had a repair question or needed information about a tool or anything else they had in stock, the employees there would always give you a useful and helpful answer. They always knew their stuff.
I bought many things at Bolenbaugh over the years including: lawn mowers, hand tools, a wheelbarrow, ladders, basketball nets, softballs, badminton birdies, a wooden croquet set, rakes, a shovel, pitchfork, nuts and bolts, a toaster oven, light bulbs, screws, nails, grass trimmers, a handsaw, panes of glass, paint brushes, tree trimmer, furnace filters, gasoline cans, oil cans, flashlights, a pocket knife and countless other things.
Dad was right. You really could always find what you needed at Bolenbaugh.
Farewell Bolenbaugh Hardware, thank you for always being there when I needed you.