White Deer Land Museum

Crystal Palace Founded

(The chronology of Museum Mementoes is interrupted by this article which was requested by several persons.)

Photo of Eloise Lane

Eloise Lane

James E. Martinas, a native of Greece, came to Pampa from Coffeyville, Kansas , where he had owned and then sold a business similar to the Crystal Palace .

With the help of Miss Lula M. Wilkins, he leased a store at 121 North Cuyler from J.N. Duncan in 1927. He began to make the wonderful candies, sodas and other delicious foods for which the confectionery was noted. Later he added other specialities, including the famous Christmas ribbon candy.

As the business progressed, Martinas was able to buy Wilkins’ share and return to Greece to marry his sweetheart and bring her and her sister to America . Jimmy and Frieda (Paraskive) Martinas sometimes spoke to each other in Greek at the confectionery. They owned a brick home at 1127 East Francis.

People who were customers of the Crystal Palace have memories of mirrors and green marble. The front section contained glass cases filled with candy and other delectables. The center section was furnished with small round ice cream tables and wire backed chairs. In the room at the back, confections were cooked in big copper kettles and turned out on marble slabs. Everything was kept spotlessly clean.

A beauty shop upstairs was operated by Jane Walker.

Many patrons were impressed by the big, beautiful nickelodeon which played one record for ten cents or three records for a quarter.

Martinas was jolly and friendly, and people liked to visit with him as well as to eat his delicious food. On Saturdays there was hustle and bustle when people from the oil fields, farms and ranches came to town. Cowboys, making as little as $25 a month in 1927 and probably furnishing their own saddles, made the most of their day by visiting the Crystal Palace, Richard Drug and the bootshop.

Elsie Lard, who worked at Krafts’ Mint (103 North Cuyler), usually ate lunch at the confectionery. She often went to the room at the back to watch Martinas make vinegar taffy and melt chocolate to pour over peanuts.

Many high school students, especially those who lived in the country, ate lunch regularly at the Crystal Palace . Among these were Annie Laurie Burleson, Ethel Hamiliton and Mary McKamy. (The high school was then at 126 West Francis.)

Viola Haggard, Louise Pearce, Isabel Baer and Roberta Montgomery saved their money until they had a quarter apiece … enough to go to the Crystal Palace and enjoy a pimiento cheese or chicken salad sandwich and a coke. The confectionery offered curb service.

Bill Greene said that Martinas would lend him $.50 when he was “broke.” After Bill and Ruth Brown were married, they were “shivareed” and taken to the confectionery. The special treat for those doing the “shivareeing” was for each person to have a malt … with Bill and Ruth paying the bill.

Wade and Ferne Duncan, Alex, Jr. and Lottie Schneider and other people who had businesses often went to the late show at the La Nora Theater (114 North Cuyler) operated by H.A. Gilliland. After the show they crossed ” Main Street ” (Cuyler) to enjoy refreshments and visiting at the Crystal Palace .

During the World War II years of 1941-45, when many new families moved to Pampa and vicinity, lines often formed outside the door waiting to be served at the famous confectionery.

In 1945, the Crystal Palace was sold to Spence and Marguerite Hearn and the Martinas family moved to California . John Gikas visited Jimmy Martinas at Englewood shortly before his death a few years after he left Pampa .

Information about two nephews of Jimmy Martinas recently came from Nicholas Matina, 32600 Highway 74, Space 67, Hemet , CA 92343 .

Pete Matinas, brother of Nicholas, left his home in Toledo , Ohio , in the early 1930s and came to Pampa where he learned the candy business while working for his uncle Jimmy. He married a Pampa girl who worked after school at the confectionery. About 1938, Pete and Laverne went to Los Angeles where they attended a school on photography and later opened a studio.

Nicholas came to Pampa in March, 1940, and worked for his uncle Jimmy until November when he volunteered for a year of service in the army. However, he remained in the service for the duration of the war. He and a Pampa girl had a military wedding in Oregon where he was stationed at the time.

After Nicholas was discharged in June, 1945, he learned that his uncle Jimmy wanted to sell the Crystal Palace . Knowing that he could get a G.I. loan to buy the confectionery, he and his wife packed their bags and drove almost non-stop to Pampa only to find that the Crystal Palace had been sold several days previously.

Nicholas returned to San Diego , California , and worked at the San Diego Post Office. It was a coincidence that the postmaster there was Don Stewart, whose name was the same as that of a postal worker with whom Nicholas enjoyed visiting in Pampa .

Nicholas and his wife, who have wonderful memories of the Crystal Palace, visited Pampa about three years ago and hope to come again this year.

Over 200 Articles, written by Eloise Lane, were published in the Pampa News. These articles may be accessed by clicking on each section below. A list of articles will be revealed that are linked to a page containing the text of the article.

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