Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, July 13, 2003, pg. 2
During the next few weeks we will be featuring some articles about Albion in the 1950s. Perhaps you saw the legal notice in the paper a couple of weeks ago about the July 9 zoning hearing asking for a variance on the number of parking spaces required for the former Save-A-Lot parking lot on S. Eaton St. The citizens of Albion very much miss a grocery store at this location. Hopefully any legal and code challenges can be overcome and a bargain grocery store can again be opened on the site. We hope our community leaders will continue to try and woo another grocery store to this location. I’ve noticed many Albion people shopping at the Save-A-Lot in Marshall since the one here closed.
Of course the aforementioned building at 110 S. Eaton St. was for many years Albion’s A & P Store Supermarket. Do you realize that this building will be 50 years old next year? It was erected in 1954 to replace the A & P (which stands for the Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company) market that was located at 315 S. Superior St., where Sanders Furniture is today. Construction at the new site was completed in the fall of 1954, and the new supermarket opened on Tuesday, November 16. The parking lot contained spaces for 92 cars--making it one of the biggest parking lots in Albion at the time.
Manager of the new Supermarket was Bronson native John Kehoe, who began working for A & P in 1937. Kehoe helped educate Albion shoppers to the “self serve” “one stop shopping” age, a modern concept that A & P helped bring to our town. Prior to the three major supermarkets in town that all opened in 1954, Albion was dotted with neighborhood grocery stores. You would stand at the counter and tell the clerk what you wanted, and he/she would go to the shelves behind the counter, pick out the items for you, and place them on the counter. You might have also went to a meat market for meat, to a bakery for bread, and have your milk delivered to your doorstep by a local dairy. With the new A & P, however, everything was under one roof. You picked out yourself what you wanted, placed it in a wire basket on wheels and carted it yourself to the check-out counter. What a revolutionary concept!
The new store boasted 12,000 square feet of floor space, and 3,500 different grocery items. It had a 30-foot bakery section featuring Jane Parker (remember that brand?) breads, pies, rolls, and related items. The meat department contained 80 feet of refrigeration display space, managed by Kelly Choate. The dairy department was headed by Harold Wilkinson, while John Richardson handled the produce section. Assisting manager Kehoe was Lewis H. Quick who served as assistant manager, and Lillian Frank who handled the financial books. Head stock clerk was Walter M. Herriff, and Jennie Okley was the head checker. Several of these persons worked there for many years.
Kehoe “retired” in 1975, and the store was closed in 1976. The building was purchased by Kehoe and reopened as Foodland in October, 1976. The business was later purchased by Calhoun Stores, Inc., and was closed by the IRS in August, 1994. It was reopened as “Southfork Store,” but that was closed in June, 1995. In 1996 the building was again reopened, this time as Save-A-Lot which was suddenly closed earlier this year.
From our Historical Notebook this week, instead of a “structure” photograph of the building (which we pictured previously in the September 4, 1994 edition of this column), we instead present a couple of people photographs from when the store first opened. The first is of a beaming manager John Kehoe in his brand spanking new modern and clean store. The second photograph pictures head checker Jennie Oakley. Look at some of the items, such as the Jane Parker bread, the Ann Page (remember that brand name?) peanut butter, and of course, the 8 O’clock coffee which was just about the best coffee in town. For the record, on the left under “This Week’s Best Buys,” per pound, shank fresh ham was 39¢, ground beef 39¢, chicken fryer parts 59¢, and Lake Erie fresh perch fillets 45¢. How many of our readers remember the A & P store?
On this internet version, we also present photographs of other original A & P employees: Lewis A. Quick, assistant-manager. Walter M. Herriff, head stock and receiving clerk. Harold Wilkinson, head of the dairy department. Lillian Frank, bookkeeper. George Robey, A & P district produce supervisor with an unusual banana display.
John Kehoe, 1954
Next: DICKERSON’S CLEANERS
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic