In Freeport, it was L.L. Bean who ruled, but in Windham, it was H.H. Boody.
Before “You should have bought it when you saw it at Marden’s” or discovered that Reny’s is a Maine adventure, if you lived in Windham prior to 1960, “anything you could possibly want to buy could be found at Boody’s.”
Boody’s was established by Howard H. Boody in the latter part of the 19th century. He built a general store in the place where the old Windham Hotel had stood at the corner of routes 302 and 115. This was one of four Boody enterprises that resided on the corner at that time and it’s how “Boody’s Corner” was given its still-popular name.
Boody was determined that his establishment would offer any service or modern convenience the Windham community could possibly want or need. Over the years, he employed a tailor to keep residents looking sharp, he had penny candy for the children, he sold wash tubs and rubber boots, grain, ice, and, eventually, tires for automobiles. In a 1938 Town Bicentennial pamphlet, some of the goods being advertised were camper supplies and building materials, with free dishware being given as a thank you for a customer’s patronage.
It was a large, sprawling store, a general store in every sense. By the late 1920s, the store was also home to the town post office, a library, and a barber shop. Sadly, on Thanksgiving Day 1930, Boody’s Store, along with five other homes and businesses, burned to the ground by a devastating fire.
Luckily for the town, the post office records and equipment were saved from the blaze. They were kept in three safes in the store and Boody, with the help of other Windham volunteer firefighters, was able to pull the safes from the fiery building and salvage what was needed to keep the post office in operation.
Of all the people in town, it was Howard H. Boody, a town selectman and one of Windham’s biggest property owners, who suffered the greatest losses from the fire. He estimated his individual loss at $65,000; he only had $14,000 in insurance coverage.
Not one to be kept down, Howard Boody rebuilt his enterprise and it remained a favorite shopping place for many for years to come. Longtime Windham resident Diana Libby recalls living in the apartment above the store. “I remember my mother doing her grocery shopping there,” Diana recollected. “They sold fresh meat and fish and they had an open keg full of pickles you would fill into jars and could take home with you.”
Diana also remembered the creaky old wooden floors in the building and the old-fashioned feel of the store. “It was just like you would imagine an old general store to be,” Diana said.
Boody’s eventually closed in 1960 when the Boody family sold the business. It had been a successful venture in town for approximately 80 years. When it was sold, it became Meserve’s Market. Meserve’s also burned and closed in 1965. It was later replaced by a Dairy Queen that has since moved to another location nearby on Route 302.
Boody’s Store was a popular shopping spot in Windham for decades.