Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, July 27, 2003, pg. 20
We continue with our theme of Albion in the 1950s. Beginning with the end of Prohibition in the early 1930s, there arose the need to transport legal alcoholic beverages to all of the area taverns and retail establishments and restaurants that sold beer. For many years that need was filled here by the Albion Beverage Company. The ABC was a partnership of three Calderone brothers: Victor (1891-1979), Santo (1897-1972), and Joseph (1890-1979). Victor and Santo had operated the Calderone Brothers shoe repair business at 103 W. Porter St. in the late 1920s.
Switching from shoes to beverages, Santo and Victor opened the first Albion Beverage Company at 111 W. Porter St. in 1932. This location had previously been the site of the Michael Magnotta Market & Grocery in the 1920s. As the brothers saw the business opportunities expand, Santo moved to Battle Creek in 1935 to begin operations there. Joseph joined the group and opened his portion of the firm in Jackson--all under the name of the Albion Beverage Company. Thus the ABC was in all three cities, and there are still Calderone descendants in all three communities today.
The brothers were natives of San Biago, Platani, Sicily, Italy and had immigrated to the United States in the early 20th century. Victor of course was well known as an accomplished musician, having played clarinet professionally in the acclaimed Liberati band in Chicago. He later played for the Albion City Band for many years.
When the two other brothers moved, the Albion headquarters of the ABC run by Victor was moved to the Wiener building at 210 N. Superior St. owned by Albion Mayor Norman H. Wiener. His firm, the Albion Iron & Metal Company, handled scrap metal and coal shipped by rail. The office of the ABC was on the second floor, north side, while the distribution warehouse was on the first floor of the north side of the building. There was a railroad siding next to the building that was used to haul scrap iron in railroad cars. The tracks crossed Clinton St. and joined the main line west of N. Eaton St.
The ABC distributed mainly beer, but also distributed wine, and through the 1940s handled soda-pop, too. Heavy wooden barrels containing the alcoholic beverages would be rolled across the floor into waiting trucks for local delivery. Trips would be made to Detroit and Frankenmuth to pick up the beer from the manufacturers there. Three of my Kulikowski uncles worked for the ABC: Joseph drove truck for Santo in Battle Creek, while George did the same for Victor in Albion. In addition, John Kulikowski would be called in on occasion to help unload trucks when they arrived. One big customer of the ABC was Fort Custer west of Battle Creek. German prisoners-of-war would be used to unload the beer trucks to waiting thirsty GIs. During the 1960s the Calderone brothers retired and sold their portions, and the Albion and Jackson branches were closed. Santo sold his portion in 1967 but it continued to operate with new owners under the ABC name until recent years.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an historic photo of the Wiener building as it appeared in 1954, shortly before being remodeled and the Tom Maker IGA was added to the south side. The words “Albion Beverage Co.” are painted on the side, with faded words of the Albion Iron & Metal Co. along the top of the building. The ABC office was located on the left, upper story. Notice the railroad tracks across N. Clinton St. On the far right is the old Darrow Boat factory building, which by then was being used as the Albion Bowling Lanes. Our second photograph shows my uncle Joseph Kulikowski standing next to his ABC truck with Frankenmuth advertising. He turned 85 years old several weeks ago and just finally received his World War II medals--58 years late. How many of our readers remember the Albion Beverage Company?
Wiener Building, 1954
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic