Here's some from my piece on the Subway News Stand and its 57 years at Mayo Clinic. There are so many good stories from these guys that it was a struggle to know when to stop writing.
One memory that didn't get in was Ben Kaplan picking up the daily horse racing newspaper from the Rochester 400 train every morning. Local legend said it took 400 minutes to get from Chicago to Rochester.
During the winter, sometimes the bundles of publications would get frozen to the train car and an ax would be needed to get them out.
There were five guys always waiting in the Kahler Hotel to buy those racing sheets, he said, but he declined to name them.
It used to be common to see almost everyone in Mayo Clinic's many
waiting areas, patient rooms and staff cafeterias reading a handy
magazine, newspaper or paperback book.
For the past 57 years,
much of that printed paper flowed from the Kaplan family's Subway News
Stand in downtown Rochester. However, times and reading choices change.
"Today you don't see that. Now they all have an iPad, Blackberry or
Blueberry or whatever. You know, all of that electronic stuff," says
84-year-old Ben Kaplan, who started the news stand with his brothers.
On Aug. 31, the long story of the close partnership between the Kaplans
and Mayo Clinic will reach its end. The fifth and final version of the
family's news stand will ring up its last sale.
changes in the industry and rising prices convinced Steve Kaplan and
his uncle Ben that it was time to close up shop at the end of their
The Subway News Stand is tucked inside the Mayo
Clinic Gift Shop at the heart of the Gonda Building on the downtown
campus. There's no word yet what Mayo Clinic has planned for the space.
"We've enjoyed serving patients and employees. We've made a lot of
friends over the years," says Steve Kaplan, as he sits surrounded by
postcards, newspapers and magazines. "The people are what we'll miss the
While talking about the past, a shopper with a magazine
under his arm paused on his way out to tell Steve that he had spent a
lot of time in shop during the past four years. "I'm really sorry to see
Kaplan, who started helping his father and uncles when
he was just seven, has been a familiar face in the Gonda Building since
it opened 10 years ago.
It all started back in 1947. That's
when three Kaplan brothers — Milton, Hyman and Ben — purchased a
wholesale distribution business called the Rochester News Agency. It
sold papers, magazines, books and more to city news stands.
business quickly grew, and they bought a sibling firm in Wisconsin, the
La Crosse News Agency. When the Mayo Building was constructed, Milt
Kaplan met with Mayo official Bill Harwick about opening a news stand in
the new building.
"He said, 'We'd been thinking about it. …
Send me a letter, and I'll put it in my file," remembers Milt Kaplan,
who now lives in Milwaukee. "They hadn't started the building yet. About
nine months later, he called me to meet with the architect."
Just like the Gonda did 47 years later, the new Mayo Building opened in
1955 with a Kaplan news stand leasing space in its subway. Most
magazines, like Readers Digest, cost just a quarter. Cigarettes were two
packs for 25 cents.