Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 21, 2004, pg. 2
The closing of Seelye’s Men’s and Women’s Wear on February 28 ended a long retail legacy in downtown Albion. It was in May, 1937 that Ralph Seelye (1905-1985) purchased the Wochholz & Pahl Clothing Store at 110 S. Superior St., operated for 27 years by brothers-in-law Frank Wochholz (1871-1940) & Frederick G. Pahl (1871-1935). After remaining at the location for a year, Ralph moved the store to 113 N. Superior St. “over the river,” and provided the owners of the building with nearly 65 years of uninterrupted monthly rental income.
Through the years, nearly everyone who lived in Albion shopped at Seelye’s at one time or another. Seelye’s was the place to go to purchase your Albion High School varsity jacket, and even specialty Albion College wear. When the Britons won the Division III national football championship in 1994, Seelye’s was the first to offer Albion championship sweatshirts ahead of everyone else--even the College!
There were no “bargain basement” sales at Seelyes--the Kalamazoo River flowed underneath. Instead, Seelye’s offered a special incentive from the late 1940s through the early 1970s called “Tiny Bonds.” It was their answer to the ever-popular “S & H Green Stamps.” With every 25˘ purchase at Seelye’s, you received a 1-inch size green “Tiny Bond” stamp. So for every dollar you spent, you received four stamps. You then licked and placed your “Tiny Bonds” in a booklet containing spaces for 102 stamps. Upon filling the booklet, you brought it back to Seelye’s whereby you received $1.00 in merchandise of your choice.
The booklets were a creation of the Pictorial Paper Package Corporation of Aurora, Illinois, and bear that company’s 1936 creation date. The Seelye’s bonds however date from the late 1940s, easily differentiated because of the four variety of telephone numbers found on them. The original booklets have the telephone number of 955-W which would have been before May, 1949 when Albion went to dial service (without having to have an operator). The next style of booklet bears a telephone number of 4533, which would have been during the 1950s before 1958. In 1958 the Albion telephone exchange added the National-9 (NA9-) prefix, and booklets issued during that time will include that designation. The final bond booklet issued in the mid-1960s will bear a 629-4533 telephone number, as the NAtional-9 designation was phased out by Michigan Bell into a 629 prefix.
We wish Dan and Ruth Seelye many happy years of retirement. From our Historical Notebook this week we present the cover of the Seelye’s “Tiny Bond” booklet, and a couple of bond stamps. How many of our readers remember redeeming these? For your information, yours truly is always looking for Albion merchant tokens, medals, and other Albion collectible items. I’ve been able to organize numerous displays of such items through the years and am always looking for new items to add to the collection. If you find any such items/objects when cleaning your attic or closet or garage, be sure and contact me.
Seelye’s “Tiny Bond” Booklet
Next: FELISKY BARBER SHOP
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic