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Link’s McMaster's Ave. presence started with an open air market

Jimmie Link’s Open Air Market, 3701 McMaster's Avenue, March 1953. Link began his business as a front yard venture in 1949, and the market was very successful, so Link continued to expand. By 1957, he had moved his business to 4215 McMaster's Ave., and he continued in business into the 1960s. Otis Howell photo/Steve Chou collection


A single-story frame house, with a porch addition on the front, served as the popular business location for James W. (Jimmy) Link from the late 1940s through 1956. Located at 3701 McMaster's Ave., the fruit and vegetables sold by the young entrepreneur were visible to passing motorists, and easily assessable to those who stopped to shop.

A unique feature of the store was its location on an intersection that no longer exists today. In the 1950s and prior, Hiawatha Street, which is roughly parallel to, and a block to the north of West Ely Road, intersected with McMaster's Avenue directly to the south of the Link market. This allowed convenient parking and accessibility for trucks to unload.

Born circa 1913, and raised in Hannibal, James W. Link was married to Roselle Virginia Manard in August 1944. At the time, Link was a seaman second class, U.S. Navy. The wedding took place at the home of the bride’s uncle and aunt, J.F. and Mary J. Kanaley, 911 Union.

After returning from active duty, he went to work for M. Merwyn Bloom’s grocery store, 216 N. Main Street, and Link and his young family made their home at 810 Park Ave.

While learning a valuable trade under Mr. Bloom’s tutelage, Link could not be content working for anyone other than himself.

The descendant of a long line of grocery merchants based in Oakwood, the son of Albert and Albertine Rendlen Link struck out on his own, opening this vegetable and fruit stand on the outskirts of Hannibal’s northwest corridor by 1950.

Short in stature - standing at 5-foot-9 - yet possessing a memorable work ethic, James W. Link made a go of his grocery business, while his growing family lived in the house behind the market.

U.S. 36 construction

Hannibal voters approved a bond issue for the construction of Highway 36 through Hannibal in 1954. Beginning at the Mark Twain Bridge and continuing westward to Indian Mound Park, the construction plan included the purchase and demolition of a number of dwellings for right-of-way access. Among the houses sacrificed for the intersection of U.S. 61 and 36 in Hannibal was James W. Link’s property at 3701 McMaster's Ave. (Hagood’s “Story of Hannibal”)

He moved his market to the north, by 1957 relocating to the previous location of the Morton auto dealership, 4215 McMaster's. It was located on the southwest corner of McMaster's Avenue and Arapaho. Thus was born Link’s Superama.

In 1957, family members employed by the Superama included:

James W. Link

Mary R. Link, meat wrapper

Albert Link Jr., manager of the meat department

Albert Link, general manager; and

Roselle Link, checker.

Early accident

In 1959, Louise Timbrook was employed in the pastry department, near the front of Link’s Superama. Mildred Whitten of Oakwood was making a left turn into the Superama’s parking lot, when a pot of coffee she was carrying overturned. She lost control of her vehicle, and it veered into the store’s front windows. Mrs. Timbrook saw the car coming and was able to jump for safety before the crash.

Tim Rice tells a story of his days when he worked at the Superama.

“I worked for Jimmy Link at Link’s Superama, I went home to put on my white shirt and bow tie. I parked my car in front (of my house on the Grace Street hill east of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital) and something in the transmission sheered. I looked back and there went my car down Grace Street. My heart went into my throat. My ’52 Mercury started down hill and a guardian angel turned it to the right. Jimmy Roland lived on last house on Grace. Mrs. Clune had a fish pond (to the right) and my car nosed right into that fishpond. I ran down there and there was the car. The people from the hospital ran out and asked if I was OK. I wasn’t in the car. That was traumatic, there was nothing I could do. The car turned to the right, or it could have killed or seriously injured people.”

Tim Rice commented on this story: "It was nice to see the name of Louise Timbrook mentioned in the story. I worked with her and there were other ladies who worked as check-out clerks (no UPC scanning back then) and they were very particular about how we bagged the groceries. We started out as young kids and needed the coaching and they were quick to provide it. Other names that come to mind are Irene McNew and Lois Bush. It was amazing how accurate they were with their work. They studied the newspaper ads for the specials of that week-end. All items had to be punched into the cash register and they had to use a chart to calculate the sales tax. They also had to make change and count it back to the customer. Cash and an occasional check were the form of payment used back then."

3701 McMaster's

While the Link Open Air Market was the last to occupy the building located at 3701 McMaster's Avenue, it wasn’t the first, by far. Among the others who lived there:

Irene B. Wood

As early as 1912, Irene B. Wood, a teacher at Hannibal’s Central School, lived at this address with her mother, (Civil War widow) Maria L. Wood, and sister, Carlotta K. Wood, who was a teacher at Hannibal’s West School.

In 1916, Irene Wood was continuing her education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, and ultimately left Hannibal for the state of Washington, where she once again sought advanced education. After her graduation from the University of Washington, she taught music in the grade schools at Bremerton, Wash., and had charge of the district’s music programs.

She was soon joined in the Northwest by the rest of her family. She purchased a house with a water view, located at 663 Highland, in Bremerton, which she occupied from the early 1920s until a year or two before her death in 1968.

The little house still stands in the town’s old district.

Irene Wood died in 1968.

Milton E. (Blondie) Washburn

In 1937, the Washburn Service Station at 4151 Market Street was owned and operated by Milton E. (Blondie) Washburn.

At the same time, he and his wife, Edythe, made their home at the aforementioned house at 3701 McMaster's Avenue.

In 1959 Washburn was married to Wilma Lucille Todd, and together they operated the Washburn Nursing Home in Shelby County. Milton died in 1964, and Wilma died in 2008.

Irene Wood, who grew up in and began her teaching career in Hannibal, retired from the school district in Bremerton, Wash. She is pictured in the Kitsap Sun newspaper, on June 20, 1962. While teaching in Hannibal, she lived at 3701 McMaster's Avenue.

In 1909, two Hannibal men - Capt. W.F. Chamberlain and Silas Osterhout - purchased the tract of land formerly known as Indian Mound Park. The selling price for the 84-acre parcel was $30,000. The park had been a recreation spot for Hannibalians since at least 1895. While in operation, an electric railroad car took park visitors to and from Hannibal, via a line extended along the Minnow Branch line and on north to the park. This map segment shows the land subdivided. Note where Jimmie Link’s Open Air Market was located at 3701 McMaster's Ave., and later where Link’s Superama was located at 4215 McMaster's Ave. Map from Steve Chou’s collection.

As a teen-ager, Tim Rice stopped by his house on the steep part of Grace Street Hill, near St. Elizabeth's Hospital, in order to get his white shirt and bow tie for his work shift at Jimmie Link's Superama. The car slipped out of gear, and started rolling down the hill toward the hospital. "My heart went into my throat," he said. "My ’52 Mercury started down hill and a guardian angel turned it to the right. Mrs. Clune had a fish pond (to the right) and my car nosed right into that fishpond. I ran down there and there was the car. The people from the hospital ran out and asked if I was OK. I wasn’t in the car. That was traumatic, there was nothing I could do. The car turned to the right, or it could have killed or seriously injured people.” Photo contributed by Tim Rice.

Mary Lou Montgomery, retired as editor of the Hannibal (Mo.) Courier-Post in 2014. She researches and writes narrative-style stories about the people who served as building blocks for this region’s foundation. Books available on by this author include but are not limited to: "The Notorious Madam Shaw," "Pioneers in Medicine from Northeast Missouri," "The Historic Murphy House, Hannibal, Mo., Circa 1870,” and “Hannibal’s ‘West End,’” 47 stories of the Market Street Wedge and on west to Lindell Avenue. Montgomery can be reached at Her collective works can be found at

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