Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
As you do your Christmas shopping this week, be sure and stop at the Albion Chamber of Commerce in downtown Albion to look over my Albion history books and materials. These make great “stocking-stuffers” as extra gifts, even my Riverside Cemetery tour programs. They are filled with all sorts of interesting tidbits of information about Albion and its people, especially this year’s program “The German Hill Tour of Riverside Cemetery.” It’ll be the talk of your Christmas family gathering. Get your copy today.
One of my favorite photographs of downtown Albion is really not a photograph, but a drawing. It appeared on the cover of the August, 1954 issue of the Circle-A-Tor magazine, the official monthly publication of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. This particular issue was printed during the time when Albion was booming. Businesses and industries were flourishing, and there was a housing and office shortage. The second stories of our downtown buildings were occupied either by physician’s offices, or living quarter apartments. By 1960 our population had risen to 12,749 persons, up from 10,406 in 1950.
The cover of this particular issue focuses on the center of the downtown district with the title stating, “AMICO LIVES HERE!” (AMICO is short for Albion Malleable Iron Company) The issue portrays how the AMICO and Albion lived, worked, and played together as a community. It shows how this particular local industry spent much time and money in not only the lives of its workers, but in the community as well.
AMICO President Collins Carter (1906-1983) wrote an excellent editorial in this particular issue stressing the importance of local industry to participate in community life--words which apply even today. He stated:
“No man is an island unto himself. Those words are truer today, in our shrinking world, than when first spoken. Nowhere is this more true than in one’s own community. Industry has long recognized that it has definite responsibilities to the community: responsibilities beyond those of its product and the creation of jobs. Albion Malleable has for 67 years been an intregal part of the community of Albion. During that time it has constantly strived to be a good neighbor.
It has been deeply interested in developing good schools, housing, and fine recreational, cultural, and health facilities. We have taken part as a company, and have encouraged our personnel to participate in religious, charitable, and service groups. We believe that by working with others in civic activities, true neighborliness is established within a community.
Another major responsibility of industry in relation to its community is planning for the future. To meet competition, a company must keep its produce, its methods and its employee relations at the front of its industrial group. Doing so creates more jobs, the need for more goods, and thereby draws the company and its community closer and closer.
We want AMICO to be a good industrial neighbor. It is not ‘An island unto itself,’ but rather one with the mainland of Albion. Its success rests on being favorably known for both the quality of its products and the way of its community life.”
One can sense an aura of healthy vibrancy and local committment in a drawing such as this. As we view this depiction from nearly fifty years ago, let us appreciate the foundations upon which our community was built, as we all strive today to make Albion a better community in which to live. There is still a great potential in our downtown area, and the words of Collins Carter in 1954 encouraging industry to actively participate in community life ring just as true today.
From the Archives this week we present the cover of the August, 1954 issue of the Circle-A-Tor. Unfortunately, the name of the talented artist is not given. In the center we see the locally-owned Commercial & Savings Bank, with a sign pointing to “free parking” in the back by the Buick Garage. To the right, who could forget that antique clock which once stood in front of Tuchtenhagen’s Jewelry? Also to the right we see Frosts Shoe Store, one of Albion’s oldest downtown businesses, having been founded in the 19th century.
On the left, Nick’s Soda Shop was a favorite gathering place for many years, and is now the home of the Albion Community Foundation, and the Albion Volunteer Service Center. The Foundation, of course, was the recipient of several hundred thousands of dollars from the estate of its founder Thomas T. Lloyd (1912-1978), who served as executive vice-president of the Malleable. Lloyd envisioned the Foundation to be used for enriching the lives of the people of Albion, and the initial funds for the Foundation came from money earned at the Malleable.
The Bohm Theatre is still a landmark in Albion today, and is depicted here with its 1940s-era marquee. The Bohm is showing the picture “This Moving World,” an industrial film that was partially filmed here in Albion at the Malleable plant.
Circle-A-Tor Downtown Albion, 1954
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic