Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 9, 2007, pg. 10
Buying a bicycle for your son or daughter for Christmas this year? Back in the 1950s and 1960s there was a special place here in Albion where you could purchase such an item: Porter’s Bike Shop. Located at 202 N. Superior St., Glenn Porter’s (1907-1996) establishment was a familiar place for those who grew up in Albion. It was there that many boys and girls took their bicycles and tires to get repaired.
Glenn had come to Albion from Lansing in the early 1930s and worked as a pattern maker in Albion’s foundries. He married Lucille Slaughter (1913-1975) here in 1936. The family home was at 920 N. Monroe St. Glenn began repairing bicycles and small engines in his garage in the 1940s. The business grew, and so he moved his shop to 106 W. Porter St. (no relation to the street name) in back of Dale Nutt’s Sportsman’s Shop. It operated here from the late 1940s until around 1951. At that time he moved his business to a garage at 206 E. Cass St. next to the old White Mill.
Around 1956, he moved his business to the old Gibbs & Sanders Fuel Office building at 202 N. Superior St. It was an old two story brick building which stood just south of the railroad tracks on the east side of N. Superior St.
Glenn sold the first Schwinn “English style” bicycles in Albion, a novelty at the time, which were “up-a-notch or two” in prestige than the “Western Flyers” sold at Western Auto down the street. The Schwinn’s had the brakes levers on the handlebars from which a cable ran to the tires, rather than by pushing backwards on the pedals as most other bikes did. The first Schwinn was sold to a member of the Dean family. Glenn also sold the “Magneto” motor bike, a predecessor to today’s moped. It was pedaled like a bicycle, but by pedaling, it started a small combustion engine that took over and was rode like a small motorcycle.
Glenn also performed a variety of handy tasks at his shop, like sharpening scissors, skates and push-type lawnmower blades; repairing locks at homes and on cars, repairing lawn mowers, small engines, outboard motors, and sewing machines. He also sold Toro, Jacobsen, and Wheel Horse lawn mowing equipment. Just like physicians of his day, he spent part of his time making house calls. People depended upon him to keep their lawnmowers and bicycles serviced.
As far as hobbies, Glenn sold model airplanes at his shop, and built flying model airplanes. He was the founder of the Albion Stunt Jockies, a group of about 25 enthusiasts who flew their model airplanes in a field east of N. Clark St. north of Michigan Avenue. The club used to meet at the VFW, and held competitions with other clubs in southern Michigan.
Glenn sold his business in 1965 to the Yinger family. He went back to pattern making at the Albion Pattern Company until his retirement age 72 in 1979. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Glenn Porter, and also a side view from the early 1960s of Porter’s Bike Shop. How many of our readers remember Porter’s Bike Shop? Special thanks to son Kenneth Porter of Clarkrange, Tennessee, for supplying information for this week’s article.
Glenn Porter (1907-1996)
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All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic