Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, February 13, 2000, Pg. 15
The legendary investment advice of a few decades ago to "invest in plastic certainly reflected the "high hopes" of the post-World War II era. Here in Albion we even named one of our busy streets "Plastic Road" in recognition of this new wave of the future. Clark Street was renamed Plastic Road towards the end of World War II. The name did not catch on though, and people still referred to it as Clark Street.
Clark Street was named after Philo Clark who owned land on the east side of the road at the intersection at Five Points where the Plassman building (formerly the City Bank & Trust Company building) now sits. His daughter E. Josephine taught in the English department at Albion College for many years. Philo also farmed land along the road north of town just south of the Boyd property where several coal mines operated around the turn of the century.
Philo’s property was purchased by John Shimkus who also mined coal there through the 1930s. Relatedly, Clark Street was also known as the "Coal Mine Road" during the early 1900s, as it was the road which went to the Albion Coal Mine north of town. The east side of the street is in Sheridan Township, while the west side is in the City of Albion. Years ago when subdivisions were platted here, the city turned down annexing this area. Thus Clark Street is still the boundary today between the City of Albion and Sheridan Township.
What was "Plastic Road" like in 1946, the year after the War ended? Of course the big industry there was the Lonergan Manufacturing Company at 804 Clark Streeet, which at the time produced oil and water heaters. The other major firm on the street of course was the Decker Manufacturing Company, at 803 N. Clark St.
Heading north from Michigan Avenue, there was a toy and wood products factory owned by Don Trine. This was replaced by the Albion Concrete Products. The owners, Emil Zvonik and John Reynolds erected a Quonset hut, and produced cement block and small concrete bricks.
There was the Martin Motor Sales, erected in 1946 at 600 N. Clark St. This was operated by brothers Arthur and Gordon Martin, formerly of the Battle Creek area. They sold DeSoto autos. Today of course, this is known as Albion Motors, and the large DeSoto plaque hangs in the showroom as a reminder of years gone by.
The Hangar Restaurant was located at 710 Plastic Road, also erected in 1946, by John J. Balchhik and Floyd Konkle. It, too was a Quonset hut, a popular building design used during the World War II period. North of the railroad tracks was the new Ideal Castings Company foundry, which produced castings for the Service Caster Corp. on the other side of town, and for Union Steel Products. Today you can still view old images of years gone by on N. Clark Street as you drive by.
This week from our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the old Hayes-Wheel Hub Factory which once stood on N. Clark Street through the 1920s.
Hayes-Wheel Hub Factory
Next: REPUBLICAN PARTY
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic