2013-03-15 / Community

Then and Now – Bagley’s Variety Store

A Window on the Past
By Kathryn DiPhilippo
South Portland Historical Society

This week, we are featuring a photo that shows the tiny candy store that was operated by Harold Bagley. As you can see in the photo from today, the building is still there across the street from Mahoney Middle School. The store was in operation for nearly three decades – from the late- 1940s to the mid-1970s. Our thanks to the many Facebook contributors for helping us document the history of this shop and its beloved shopkeeper. In their words:

“My neighborhood friends and I (Scamman Street kids) used to bring our returnable bottles down and exchange them for candy! He was a very nice man, and we were always amazed that he knew right where every kind of candy was in his display case despite being blind!” – Deb Dagnan

“Mr. Bagley was a great guy. Went there all through high school. When we were kids he would show us how he could know a ten from a twenty, etc. Penny candy. Those were the days! I remember the mint julips and banana splits were two for a penny and I loved the Squirrel nuts!!!” – Maureen Mehlhorn


Those who “like” South Portland Historical Society on Facebook shared many memories of Bagley’s Variety Store, pictured here. (Courtesy photos) Those who “like” South Portland Historical Society on Facebook shared many memories of Bagley’s Variety Store, pictured here. (Courtesy photos) “I used to skip school and hang out with Harry at the store. We would talk about everything, but while talking, Harry would get me to sweep his floor and take out his trash. He was a real great guy.” – Michael Killinger

“It always amazed me how many of us he knew and remembered ‘by voice’!” – Dick Gorman

“Harry’s was always packed. And the smoke could be too much. But in the end there was candy and that trumped everything. Well, that plus Harry was a good man.” – Dan Clancy

“Harry would trust you on paper money, but if you knew him, as I did growing up next door, he would always put the five’s, ten’s, etc., in his side pocket and ask someone he knew later. Amazingly he put a block foundation under the store himself.” – Pinky McArdle

“I remember him well and our hang out after school. Penny candy. He was so nice and patient with all us kids.” – Linda Levesque

“Harry Bagley was an icon in the late ‘50s. A blind store keeper across from the high school, he was loved by SPHS. I remember once a Deering high student, at an SPHS home football game, shoplifted some minor thing from the store. Some large and angry SPHS guys tracked him down. It was the worst day of his life, and probably still is. I doubt he ever shoplifted again.” – David Ivers

Historical society: 767-7299

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