With the closing of the Kings Rook 4 Pipe Shop downtown, Lena Heckman said she’d miss her customers and the windows she loved to decorate.
The shop moved downtown from near the interstate in the late 1980s a couple of years after it was purchased by Donald Heckman following his retirement after 50 years with the Dayton Power and Light Co.
The retirement job continued for Heckman, with the help of his wife Lena, until his death at age 91.
She then operated the store into this year while inventory was gradually taken out and the space readied for return to its landlords at the Masonic Lodge. Last week, few items remained except Lena Heckman’s recliner, some furnishings and a display of matchbooks from over the years.
The final store fixtures were scheduled for removal last weekend, said the Heckman’s son, Bud, now a resident of New York City.
He said once his father retired he had a choice. “He had a nice big glass job jar at home. He wasn’t making any dent in it. Mom suggested he make a dent in it or do something with his life,” Bud Heckman said. Donald Heckman chose to buy the store.
Lena Heckman, who’d met her husband at DP&L, said she did the store bookwork and other tasks particularly after his sight began to fail. The Heckman children – including daughters Jane and Tami in addition to Bud – always knew where they could find them, she said.
She helped extend the store’s reach to the trap shoot activities formerly held at the Dayton airport by asking Ron English of the Old English Gun Shop if she could set up shop at his booth. “I started with a tray of pipes, boxes of cigars and my money tray and it just boomed,” Lena Heckman recalled.
She was present for trap shoot activities for years to follow until the events were moved from the area.
“The trap shoot people were good to me,” Lena Heckman said. “It was like family. The women who had booths there wanted me to go along with them to other trap shoots.”
She enjoyed the trap shoot events in part due to the people from around the world who would attend, and those who would also visit the Tipp City store.
The store, with its location near the junction of interstates 70 and 75, drew people from all over because as a mom and pop shop it offered “a lot of little things” that other shops with corporate ties didn’t carry, Bud Heckman said.
Lena Heckman was known for decorating the store windows, particularly the Ohio State theme in the fall. She used some of her husband’s OSU items, someone made a scoreboard on which she’d include the game scores during the season and other people donated items over the years.
“A thing that touched me deeply was a man had been in Denmark and he didn’t get what score was on one game. He came in and thanked me and thanked me for having that scoreboard up for the year. I always remembered that,” Lena Heckman said.
The Heckmans’ poodle, Scarlet, was a popular attraction in the store for several years. “People would come in just to play with her,” she said.
She said she enjoyed her customers very much. “They became my friends,” she said, adding “thank you, thank you, thank you” to those who visited the shop over the years.
She said she’d continue living in Tipp and continue to enjoy spending time with friends. Lena Heckman will miss the activity of downtown, from the daily pedestrian traffic to the festivals and special events.
“I loved everything about the store. I loved the people, decorating the windows. I learned the pipes. I just enjoyed it,” she said.