Blinded in the prime of life, George Spencer could no longer work as a logger or gold miner. In 1922, when paralysis of the optic nerve rendered him sightless, he opened a newsstand in a shack on Sixth Street in Grants Pass.
A store owner threatened to tear it down, so Spencer moved the shack to the corner of G and Sixth streets.
In 1946, he acquired a professionally trained guide dog, Effie, and when she grew older, she helped Spencer train a successor. Blind George’s Newsstand did such a brisk business he outgrew his small shop in 1960 and moved into the west side of a brick business duplex toward the middle of G Street.
He and his dog were popular, as were the popcorn he sold along with newspapers and magazines.
Spencer died in 1968. His long-time employee, Thelma Booth, took over the business, then sold it to her son Dale. Jack Smith is the current owner, who maintains it traditionally, as Blind George’s Newsstand.
The stand still keeps poppin’ along, wafting the smell of buttered popcorn along G Street.
Sources: Booth, Percy T. "History of 111 and 115 SW G Street Building." Grants Pass, The Golden Years, 1884-1984 (Josephine County Historical Society), 1984. "Store Keeps Poppin' Along." Grants Pass Daily Courier (special history edition), 18 Mar. 2010, p. 4E.