117 1/2 First Street West

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Bloom Bookstore

Over the same threshold and through the same door, like their grandparents, three generations of students have passed into the store in which for 59 years Mr. Bloom, Mount Vernon’s oldest businessman has been selling books, paper, and pencils – to Cornellians and public-school students alike.

Jasper W. “Jap” Bloom, proprietor of Bloom’s bookstore and Mount Vernon’s oldest businessman, observed his 86th birthday in November 1959. His period of service on Main Street dates from 1898 – 1963. He began work as a clerk in the Power bookstore where he sold stringed instruments, green eye shades, Edisons, burned leather pillow tops, and whole sheepskins with Cornell seals decorating the centers. In 1906 when William G. Power was appointed Mount Vernon Postmaster, Mr. Bloom bought an interest in the store and became the sole owner in 1924.

Bloom’s Bookstore was located at 119 First Street West. The address was changed around 1941 to 117 ½ First Street West. This is the only one-story building in the north side of the Historic Commercial District. It is a merchant block – two joined stores. The Wolfe Brothers, Drs. John and Tom Wolfe built the building in 1894, and as far as the Historic Preservation Commission can tell — the building is literally untouched. You can read more by typing in “Commercial Walking Tour” in the search bar.

Jap was one of four children born to Samuel R. and Mary Elizabeth Bloom in Monroe, WI. He was 7 years old when the family moved to Lisbon, where they operated a fruit farm. He graduated from Lisbon school in 1891. He learned to play the clarinet with instruction from early-day band leaders John and Fred Zalesky.

In 1891 Jap toured the middle west and south as a member of the Lemon Brothers Circus Band. While traveling with the circus at Coffeyville, Kansas, Jap met the livery stable operator who shot four members of the famous Dalton gang following a bank hold-up. He became a member of Lozier’s “The Silver Cornets” when he moved to Mount Vernon from Lisbon in 1895.

Jap was a charter member of the Mount Vernon Chamber of Commerce, which was organized on November 30, 1931 and member of the Commercial Club formed on March 30, 1906.

He was a member of the Mount Vernon band as a clarinetist. He and Jake Klimo were the backbone of the volunteer band for years before it became a high school function.

The 1894 merchant block building at 117 ½ & 117 First Street West presently houses the Silver Spider owner Ann Silva and the Palisades Café — where happy memories are still guaranteed.

Adapted for the web from articles found in the Mount Vernon Hawkeye-Record and Lisbon Herald newspapers,  Feb. 28, 1957 & Nov. 22, 1959 by Mary E. Evans

Photo of Ann Silva & Elizabeth
Silver Spider & Palisades Café @2019