A 1949 stroll down Michigan Street

Mike Boys Pilot News Consultant
Published July 10, 2008
Return with us now to those thrilling days of yesteryear. Put on your Ball Band high top tennis shoes, jump into my time machine and let’s turn back the calendar to — oh, let’s say about (click, click, click, click) how does 1949 suit you? The time when you couldn’t tell whether the Studebaker car was coming or going. OK, NOW, HANG ON HERE WE GO ———— > > >W H H H H V V V O O O O O P P P P A A A Whoooooopp > > > WOW! Hey, it worked! Here we are in 1949! We landed at the northeast corner of Michigan and Washington Streets right in front of the Boston Store. We will be walking south on the east side, across the bridge then cross Michigan Street then north on the west side and will identify the stores as we go.
Come on, let’s take a walk —— we just left Sam Titlebaum at the Boston Store now we will walk across Washington Street and wave to Harry Bechaka at the Candy Kitchen. We can see the teen-agers getting a hamburger, fries and a shake for 75 cents; next is Skinner’s Pharmacy where Roy and Merritt are tending to business. I see the soda fountain is busy. Next is Widener’s Shoe Store, City News Agency, Montgomery Ward, Lad & Lassie, Ball Shoppe, a ladies clothing store, Swearingen’s Shoe Store, there is Paul fitting shoes on someone; Model Pharmacy, say hello to Bill Ruggles while he is fixing a soda for a Plymouth teen, next we have the Bear Cat Store, where Delmas and Bill Whitesell will help you with automotive parts, then Miller-Jones Shoe Store, Powell’s Hardware, now we cross Garro Street and say hello to the three Harolds (Harold Rose, Harold Pifer and Harold Cox) at Marshall County Trust and Savings Co., Hi Harold! (one Harold will cover all three); Tanner’s Drug Store, Mayse Hardware Co., say hi to Vin Ball at The Ball Co., menswear store, J.C. Penney Store, Nellans Appliance Store, hi Carl, Price’s Steak House, Electric Maid Bakery, Merriman’s Grocery, hello Pete, hey, there is Wib Wetherhead cleaning up the lobby after a movie at the Rees Theatre. Now, we’re crossing LaPorte Street and walking by the Lackey-Murphy Real Estate office, next is Yoder’s Food Mkt., then Short’s Cigar Store, now we cross the Yellow River bridge to Rudd Ford Motor Company showing the new 1949 model. The Burnham Glove Factory is busy on the second floor. Next we stop for a cup of coffee at the Pilgrim Coffee Shop, and then we go past Pat’s Shell Station.
Now we cross Michigan Street and walk by the Plymouth Police Station and water works, Plymouth Monument, Grant’s Gulf Filling Station, Hi Tiny!; next is Goldie’s Grill, Mark’s Barber Shop, Ziker Cleaners, Howard Hillis Law Office. Next we cross LaPorte Street again heading north and pass Rittenhouse Furniture, Hi Rit! Hey, there’s Homer VanGilder showing a customer a new living room suite. Next is the Community Bake Shop, Pesch’s Tavern, Morris 5c & 10c, Store, (which we called the BIG dime store). There is Don Gardner, Mgr., giving some candy to his daughter Bonnie Lou, who is a senior at Lincoln High School; next is Peoples Drug Store. Oh, look their soda fountain is selling banana splits for 25 cents. Next we see the A & P Grocery, and G&G Food Market, next is what we called the little dime store, Schultz Bros. Co. where Roy Abel is manager. They always had hot roasted peanuts, now we are passing Shroll’s Bakery, m- m- m- m he is baking fresh bread, next is Lauer’s “of course”, menswear store, where Marc Lauer is waiting on a customer. Now we cross Garro Street and say hi to D.L. McKesson and Florence Hoham at the Marshall County Building & Loan, next is Bosworth’s women’s clothing store, and there is Bill Laramore; Weick’s Shoe store is next then Kizer Jewelry store and we see Gilbert working on someone’s watch; next we pass a very popular place where we see Tom Bowles changing the movie posters at the Rialto Theatre, where you could get a Saturday double feature, serial, cartoon and maybe see a famous cowboy side- kick, “Smiley Burnett” in person. All of this for only 25 cents then you would go next door to Gus Gavalas’s Kewpie Grill, for a hamburger, coke or coffee and a piece of pie for 50 cents. Next is the Plymouth Office Supply; Main Tavern; as we move on, next is the Puritan Cleaners; now we pass Jimmy’s Lunch, Derf Jewelers, as we wave to E.V. and Dick Derf. Now we notice the Kreamo Bakery mural on the North wall of the Robin Hood. We now cross Washington Street and wave to Stan Nickel at the Standard Oil filling station.
Do you remember these other 1949 businesses? — Plymouth Farm Supply 210 E. LaPorte St.; Jeffirs Motors, Dodge & Plymouth on W. Jefferson St; Roy’s Nash Sales on W. Jefferson St.; Ball Motor Sales De Soto and Plymouth on E. Jefferson St.; J.R. Klapp Studebaker Sales and Service, 203 E. LaPorte St.; Don Parker Packard Sales, 227 E. Jefferson St.; you could by a Hudson from Truman Motor Sales on East Jefferson St., have cabinets made at C.L. Morris Lumber Co. 700 W. Jefferson St.; City Coal & Ice on W. Harrison St. Vic Stockman Refrigerator Service; Coca-Cola Bottling plant, 420 W. Garro St.; Don’s Shine Parlor & Sporting Goods, Davis Brake and Wheel Shop.
Another thing I remember is the phone numbers. The Pilot-News for example had three phone lines and two digit numbers which were 19, 20, and 21. Other businesses and residential phones had three and four digits. At my home our number was 233. We of course had to verbally give these numbers to the operator, or “Central” as we called her, who then connected you to the party you were calling.
Well, I hope you enjoyed our trip down Michigan Street the way things were in 1949. It has been fun. Maybe we will take another trip in the time machine.
We had better get back to 2010. Here we go .. . . . (click, click, click, click) > > > W H H H H V V V O O O O P P P P P P A A A W hoooooppppaaa Well, that’s it for now. . . So until next time. . . . . this is my view from the Pilot house.

Mike Boys is a lifelong Marshall County resident, former newspaper owner and former public officeholder. The dictionary defines a Pilot House as “an enclosed area on the bridge of a ship, from which the vessel is guided.” His views, opinions and news appear Fridays on the Pilot News Opinion page. To contact Mr. Boys online, e-mail mboys@thepilotnews.com.