Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

RUSTENHOLTZ GROCERY

Morning Star, November 16, 2003, Pg. 19

As we approach the Thanksgiving and Christmas season, I’d like to remind our readers that my Albion history books and materials are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. These make great gifts for friends and relatives. Even my latest Riverside Cemetery tour booklet about the numerous flagholder markers would make an interesting “stocking stuffer” they’d appreciate. I’m down to the last box of my lastest book “Albion in the 20th Century.” Once they’re gone--that’s it. If you were planning on getting one of these for someone for Christmas, it would behoove you to purchase one sooner than later. Finally, be sure and let your relatives know that they can read my weekly history articles on the www.albionmich.com website.

This past summer we ran a short series about Albion in the 1950s. We’ve got a couple of more articles left over that we can squeeze in for our readers this month. As we mentioned in a previous column, Albion was once dotted with neighborhood grocery stores. Photographs of these stores are somewhat scarce, and this writer is always on the lookout for such photographs.

One such neighborhood grocery during the 1950s was the Rustenholtz Grocery, located at 408 Washington St. in the heart of a working class neighborhood. Many of its customers worked at the nearby Gale Manufacturing Company, or at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The store had originally been operated during the 1920s and 1930s as the Blackburn Grocery. As was the custom of the time, the store was attached to the house. One portion was living quarters; the other contained the grocery.

In 1937, the Blackburns sold their house/store in order to be near their daughter who lived in Pennsylvania. It was purchased by Edward T. Rustenholtz (1893-1957), a native of Kentucky who had earlier worked at the Gale Manufacturing Company for 13 years as a molder. He spent several years farming in the Homer area before acquiring the grocery store.

Rustenholtz and his wife Flossie (O’Dell) moved to the residence and continued operating the store. Their son Arnold joined them in partnership with the business in 1946. Following World War II, Albion was booming, and a modernization era was on the horizon. In the early 1950s the Rustenholtz’ built a new cement block and brick store on the site, and renamed it the Rustenholtz Super Market. They carried the Quaker brand of canned foods.

The opening of the huge A & P Supermarket just two blocks away in 1954 no doubt had a significant negative effect upon business. There were changing neighborhood demographics as well. Following the death of Edward in 1957, the family continued running the business for about a year. It was then sold around 1959 to Jackson Prison correctional officer Leonard E. Spring and became known as the Spring Super Market; Leonard was helped by his wife Virginia. After a couple of years the business was sold to Sam Spicer, Sr. The 1963 Albion City Directory lists it as “Spicy’s Super Market,” while others list it as “Spicer’s Super Market.” Partner in the firm was Sam’s son, Sam Spicer, Jr.

During the 1960s the store was included within the Urban Renewal project boundary, which resulted in the demolition of numerous houses in the area and the loss of neighborhood business by the early 1970s. The store is last listed in the 1969 directory. The house and store were subsequently demolished. A new residence was erected on the site which today is the home of Albion City Councilperson Betty Branche.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1950s-era outside fall photograph of the Rustenholtz Super Market. There are Halloween decorations in the window. We can see that corn was selling for 20¢ a can, peas for 19¢, and a 12 ounce can of “Prem” was 52¢. How many of our readers remember the Rustenholtz Super Market?


1950s-era fall photograph Rustenholtz Super Market

Next: GALE NEWS


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