Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 28, 2004, pg. 2
While driving past the old Albion Malleable Iron Company the other day, it made us think about all the thriving businesses that were once located along Austin Avenue in the vicinity of the plant. Today of course, most of these businesses/buildings are boarded up (if they haven’t already been demolished). We’ll stop there lest we begin editorializing, but drive along Austin Avenue today and form your own opinions as you pass by.
One well-known and respected “west end” businessman of the early 20th century was barber Konrad O. Felisky (1896-1981). Konrad was a native of Kiev in Czarist Russia and immigrated to Canada in 1913 where he worked for the Canadian Pacific Railroad and as a lumber-jack. He was invited to come to Albion in 1916 to help establish a Protestant Church for the large Russian immigrant community here. It became known as the Russian Baptist Mission which erected a church building located at 614 Austin Avenue. Note: I’m still looking for a photograph of the Star Bakery that was located just to the left (west) of the church. Does anyone have one?
After a short time in Albion, Konrad attended the Russian Bible Institute in Philadelphia for three years, and returned to Albion where he served as acting minister of the church for a time. In order to better support his family, Konrad began barbering in 1922, beginning his trade in the basement of the Ostop Veramay house on Carson St. He enrolled in the Tanner Barber College in Toledo, Ohio, and received his degree in 1924.
Konrad built a small frame structure at 610 Austin Avenue in 1924, which he later sold to Paul Koroluk who opened his confectionary store at the site. Konrad then erected another frame building at 611 Austin Avenue across the street. The south side of the first floor contained the barber shop, while the north portion was the business headquarters of the “Maple City Athletic Club,” a boxing club operated by professional boxer Joseph B. “Joe Sharkey” Pasic, and his brother Steve Pasick, both uncles of yours truly. The second floor had living quarters where Konrad and his wife Mary (1908-1996) first lived after they were married in 1934.
In the late 1930s the Gulf Oil Company leased part of the lot the barber shop was located on, and the building was moved across Sheridan Road (now Grace Street) so a Gulf gas station could be built on the corner. Konrad had a new barber shop erected next door (west) at 613 Austin Ave, which he used until 1947. He subsequently moved his business to the front of his house at 810 N. Eaton St. In 1962 he moved to 1432 E. Michigan Avenue where he barbered before completely retiring in 1971.
From the Archives this week courtesy of son Tim Felisky, we present an inside view of Konrad’s 611 Austin Avenue barbershop as it looked in the late 1920s. Konrad is standing on the right. The name of the customer is unknown. Notice the sign for Vitalis hair tonic on the right.
Konrad O. Felisky (1896-1981), with unknown customer, in the late 1920s
See also: Konrad Felisky Barber Shop
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic