197 King St.
Today: Yves Delorme Linens
Yesterday: The Palace Market, 1922-1956
On the menu: One pound of smoked beef tongue, 37 cents (Dec. 6, 1933)
The son of a butcher, Leroy Nelson in 1922 took over the 22-year-old Palace Market from Louis Sorg, a pork sausage specialist who had sold his wares at various locations. Nelson, according to a newspaper ad, was “well known as a very thorough meat man.” Indeed, within one year, The Palace Market had to install a second phone line to accommodate customer calls.
Eventually, The Palace Market adopted the slogan “Not the cheapest, but the best.” Patrons entrusted Nelson with their most pressing meat-and-fish quandaries, including what to do with the first albacore tuna ever caught on Folly Beach: The man who captured the nine-pound fish in his bare hands asked Nelson to sell it.
Yet The Palace Market mostly stayed out of the news, other than when it was targeted by thieves. In 1938, one particularly daring burglar made off with six hams, including two from Virginia.
“Don’t cook the two Virginia hams at first,” Nelson advised the crook in a message carried by The News and Courier for its readers’ amusement. “Soak them. They’ve got to be soft.” As Nelson explained, “I just want to protect the reputation of the Virginia ham. I don’t care what he does with the others.”
Nelson in 1952 temporarily shut his shop for health reasons, and was hospitalized again the following year. The News and Courier published a letter from a customer who’d had the chance to visit with him.
“Leroy Nelson is a hardy, determined man,” John McGowan wrote. “He is also opinionated, and like all butchers — for what reason the rest of the world has yet to find out — an optimist!”
The Palace Market closed in 1956, but Nelson lived for nearly two more decades.
— Hanna Raskin