Stop 59: The 1916 St John’s Barber Shop and Wade Varner Mahoney Market
The Book Shack in the 1916-year-old building that housed the St. John’s Barber Shop which was a part of Touchton Drug Store and later the W.V. Mahoney Market.
Next, we come to a second-generation family in a 106-year-old building with a twist: The Book Shack! This stop holds history of a variety of businesses and marks the space of 14145 7th Street.
When Joanne Kassabaum opened The Book Shack in 1979, she said romance novels were her most popular genre in her used book store. As others found her book store, mysteries became more popular.
The Book Shack is now a 43-year-old multigenerational business as Joanne’s granddaughter-in-law took over the business in 2016. Kristy Kassabaum is a middle school English teacher with a deep seeded love of reading. Their shared mission is to create an atmosphere that encourages literacy and which passes on love of reading to future generations.
As for previous occupants in the small building that adjoins the Touchton Drugstore building, here are a few accounts.
The Wade Varner “W.V.” Mahoney Market was housed in the building tucked between the Touchton Drug Store Building and Williams Department Store, an ideal location with the ambiance of old town Dade City in the shadow of the historic courthouse. The historical 1915 and 1920 Dade City Sanborn insurance maps from the Library of Congress show that a ‘market’ occupied the space while historic photos reveal a barber shop was situated in the space as well. Wade Mahoney and his wife, Irene and six children, all of whom toiled at the store and were an integral part of the community.
The location was also used as a Barber Shop attached to Touchton Drugs (St. John’s Barber Shop) and the building was owned by the Dr. Charles Floyd Touchton family who were in the adjoining drug store to the north of the location. Several barbers occupied the site. J Thomas Touchton remembers the iconic “red and white barber “pole” outside the drugstore and one of the barbers at the location, a navy veteran named Howard K. Valentine (1906-1987). (Over time, perhaps other names of the other barbers and workers will be added.) We also know that the Barber Shop had an entrance into the Touchton Drug Store, and surmise that the Barber Shop ala Touchton was a second-generation business at the site. “I remember standing in the barber shop as a young boy and watching my grandfather be shaved,” recalled Touchton.
More recently prior to the Book Shack, occupants such as Glades Pottery, LKJ’s Finishing Touches, and the Village Garden, Inc. occupied the space as businesses.
The Book Shack business was previously housed beside the Dade City Post Office and then shifted to a shop on Martin Luther King Boulevard until locating at its present historic site.
Joanne ran the Book Shack for 37 years, selling mostly paperbacks. She possessed an uncanny talent for assisting customers in locating a special book. The charm of the store and friendliness added to it.
That same ambiance with Joanne’s Granddaughter-in-law, Kristy Kassabaun is still evident since her 2016 entry as proprietor, and the addition of a toy line, candles, out-of-print books, and events add to the charm which reflects the over one-hundred-year history of the space.
At the corner next to The Book Shack is a stucco-covered two-story building that is labeled Kiefer’s Village Jewels. At first blush, this is confusing because the building is actually called the Touchton building. We will try to clarify as the trail of its history weaves a bit.