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.

CARTWRIGHT SHOES

Morning Star, December 11, 2005, pg. 5

We hope you enjoyed the 1954 photograph of N. Superior St. in our article two weeks ago. We’ve got a couple of other downtown photographs to share with you this month. It’s been many years since Albion has had a shoe store. Those who grew up in Albion during the 1950s and 1960s can recall one particular place that was a favorite of many: Cartwright Shoes, owned by Earl W. Cartwright.

Earl Cartwright to town and opened his shoe store at 221 S. Superior St. on August 15, 1941. This location had formerly been the Miller-Jones Shoes. Cartwright’s served Albion during World War II, and into the booming 1950s when Albion’s prosperity reached its peak. The store was remodeled in April, 1954. In 1962 Cartwright’s moved to 105-107 S. Superior St., in the building that had formerly been Powers Department Store. Two long-time employees at Cartwright’s everyone should remember is L.J. Rutz, who began working at Cartwright’s in 1949. His co-worker for many years was Marge (Wasick) Murray, who often helped children in fitting shoes.

L.J. purchased the business from Earl Cartwright in the summer of 1975 and continued to operate it for another decade. Unfortunately, the buying habits of our citizens were changing, as “big name” department stores opened near the highway, and they carried shoes. Furthermore, Westwood Mall opened in 1972 and this was a big draw for our citizens. Cartwright Shoes closed in the summer of 1986. It was the last shoe store in Albion. Earl Cartwright retired to Arizona and died about four years ago near the age of 100.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Cartwright Shoes at 221 S. Superior St. as it appeared in April, 1954 with its new remodeled storefront. In stylized script between the name are three name brands they carried: Air Step, Buster Brown, and Roblee. Do you remember the Buster Brown logo, depicting a boy wearing a “Little Lord Fauntleroy” hat, and a bulldog next to him? This was the “in” brand for those growing up during that period.

To the left at 219 S. Superior St. is Mitchell’s Confectionary, operated by Sam Vafiadis. Mitchell’s was a favorite hang-out for half a century before it was closed in 1955. It featured sodas, ice cream, candy, and other treats. To the right of course, is Vaughn’s Apparel for Women store at 223 S. Superior St. This was a favorite upscale clothing firm which was quite popular in Albion. It gained a reputation as a place to get decent looking dresses and coats. Notice the parking meters in this photo, and the closeness of the parking to the pedestrian lines.

How many of our readers remember purchasing their shoes at Cartwright Shoes while growing up in Albion?


Cartwright Shoes, 221 S. Superior St. in April of 1954

Next: CHRISTMAS IN THE 1970s


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