Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 26, 1999, pg. 15
Have you ever noticed when eating at a restaurant the various advertisements found on placemats at your table? This has been one creative way businesses can maximize their advertising dollars. In the 1920s and 1930s, a similar idea was used on something everyone had: ink blotters. In the days before ball-point pens there were fountain pens. Your would dip the tip of your pen into a bottle of ink, and before you started writing you would touch the tip onto an ink blotter where any excess would run off. You could then start writing on your pad of paper until the ink ran dry, and then the process started over again. Ink blotters were made of thick absorbent paper, like a light cardboard.
Ink blotters were quite common, and someone had the idea of printing local advertisements on them. These were inexpensive, and stayed on a personís desk as a reminder of a local establishment. I know of two of them from Albion dating from the late 1920s. The first is one from the "Motherís Cupboard" restaurant which was located where the downtown Dair Bar/Deli is located on the corner of E. Erie and S. Superior Streets.
The second one is from the John Quigg radio repair, 1212 Highland Avenue. It measures 6 x 3ľ" in length, with light grey paper. John (1907-1997) was the son of Charles and Martha (Root) Quigg, and came to Albion with his family in 1914. A 1924 graduate of Albion High School, John took a keen interest in radio repair, repairing them at the family home on Highland Avenue. John would repair radios and even wired houses while still in high school. Our featured ink blotter dates from this period, circa 1925. Today of course we have numerous persons who have similarly excelled in the computer field. Apparently the radio was contagious, as Johnís brother Floyd Quigg was a member of the local Albion Radio Club and a member of the first statewide radio convention in the late 1920s.
John went into the service in 1927, where he worked as a typist in San Francisco. His fingers were so sensitive that he was transferred to the Intelligence Division where he was used to work out combinations on safes when the combinations were unknown. "His fingers were so sensitive that he could feel the tumblers drop," wrote his brother Norman in a letter to yours truly last month. "With such a talent it is fortunate that he didnít end up with the wrong crowd!" Norman quipped.
After his stint in the Army was up, John married and returned to Albion in 1930. He operated "Johnnyís Fixit Shop," fixing anything electrical and mechanical, including radios. He did this for two years, and then re-enlisted in the Army as an intelligence worker, and later served with the Criminal Investigation Department of the Military Police during the Korean War. Following his retirement from the military, John was employed giving driving tests in San Jose, California, but also continued to repair radios, as he had done in his youth. He died in San Jose, California on February 7, 1997.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present the John Quigg radio repair ink blotter advertisement, circa 1925. How many persons have other ink blotters with Albion advertising on them? These are unusual mementoes of Albion history, indeed. Special thanks to Norman Quigg of Concord, California for supplying information for this weeks article.
John Quigg radio repair ink blotter advertisement, circa 1925
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic