See related story on page 10.October 1969.
"The Andy Williams Show" was debuting as a television series.
The Vietnam War was taking its toll on Americans, physically and emotionally.
And Phil Cowley was opening the doors to The Bashful Barn, a furniture upholstery and gift shop which would eventually develop into a downtown Boyertown antiques centerpiece.
Some 38 years later, Phil has emptied the store and sold the attractive piece of real estate at Philadelphia and Reading avenues in Boyertown.
And the longtime innovative entrepreneur (who celebrates his 76th birthday in November) is now back in his native Arizona, relishing a well-earned retirement and just beginning to get caught up with relatives and old friends.
Truth be told, Phil Cowley would probably not care for the "entrepreneur" moniker, his straightforward, "common man" approach a throwback to his growing-up days in the 1930s and 40s ... and his matter-of-fact business style in the Boyertown of the 70s.
His original vocation was education, and his early years were spent as a teacher and principal in Arizona. That passion eventually led him to Philadelphia and Temple University, where Phil was working toward his doctorate degree. (And he was earning a paycheck as a Philadelphia public school teacher.)
With friends in Lobachsville, he discovered a "rundown house with no roof" which he eventually purchased as a fixer-upper. And shortly thereafter, he was impressed by that corner property in nearby Boyertown, once the home of the Castle Hall Cigar Factory.
Phil and business partner Gary Slade would transform the "Hansel and Gretel Children's Shop" into the Bashful Barn, the latter name originating from old barn materials/equipment originally used in the transformation.
"When we took that big (Hansel and Gretel) sign down, we found these big, nice windows in the front of the store."
"We actually bought the building from Nora Billmyer, for about $62,000. And about 23 years ago, we purchased the Boyer apartment building (11 East Philadelphia Avenue) and converted that into the Twin Turrets Inn (bed and breakfast). Gary was the innkeeper."
The inn would later be sold to current innkeeper and Boyertown mayor, Marianne Deery.
For more than two decades, Phil resided in a spacious apartment located above the Bashful Barn operation. And that dual residence/business ownership surely contributed to his nurturing of the property, the periodic painting and decorating and unique landscaping which resulted in a most-welcoming facade for tens of thousands of motorists traveling through that major intersection.
Bill and Linda Flederbach (Boyertown's Main Street Manager) have purchased the property, with settlement actually taking place earlier this week (actually Monday morning at 9).
With the legal/real estate details out of the way, Phil departed from Boyertown by 12 noon on Monday, and a non-stop flight took him from Philadelphia to Phoenix, Arizona. He was in Snowflake, Arizona, his retirement destination, by 10 p.m.
Phil actually hails from St. John's, Arizona, where his brother and sister-in-law, Gordon and Aileen Cowley, currently reside. His sister and brother-in-law, Deanna and Gordon Farr, live in Snowflake. (No less than 12 nieces and nephews also live in Arizona.)
"I'll retire in Arizona ... most people don't believe that I'm almost 76. I kept enough furniture to furnish a small house (in Snowflake). Everything else was either sold locally or went to the Conestoga Auction Company (Lancaster area firm). We're talking about nine large truckloads ... there'll be a big auction in the spring ... and a smaller auction was held on Friday."
"In a sense, it's the end of an era ... it's been a fun time. I've had wonderful thank you expressions from special friends here in Boyertown." (More on that next week.)
The window placards on the store at 1 East Philadelphia Avenue, Boyertown, simply proclaim: "Thank You, Boyertown, for 38 Years ... Phil."
After nearly four decades, Boyertown's loss is Snowflake's gain.