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William Stram Building

History Column

Dave Petersen

When you've driven down south James Street and looked over the buildings have you ever seen the name WM Stram looking down from above and wondered who was that guy? William Stram was a Baker and was a baker of not just ordinary bread but according to the Morning Sun of January 1905 he was the celebrated manufacturer of "celebrated cream bread cakes, cookies etc."

Not only that but he was engaged in the production of " the staff of life" (and kindred toothsome edibles.) It sounds as if he was almost able to put those elves to shame. The Bakery was originally established by a Mr. Hoar and then from 1890 to 1899 it was owned by Mr. Hilton. William Stram purchased the business in 1899 .

We quote from the January 2nd 1905 edition of the Ludington Daily Sun. " Mr Stram manufactures a superior line of baked goods and devotes untiring attention to the want of customers. The result could have hardly been other then the well merited success which has attended his efforts in his business career.

"The Bakery is supplied and completely equipped in every respect with the most improved appliances. The store is neatly fitted up and very inviting in appearance and a large stock of bread, crackers, cakes, cookies, confectionary and other toothsome goods are carried fresh everyday.

" In connection with his bakery he conducts a lunch counter where everything served is of the best and a lunch once taken there makes a permanent customer. It is so noticeably clean and so well served."

Another old business on he same street was the Hardy Brothers who were dealers in Pianos, organs and musical instruments. They were located just across the street from the Opera House ( Lyric Theatre) The Hardy Brothers store opened in 1904 and they carried sheet music, talking machines, and all things musically related in their store.

Forslind Brothers were located at 109 South James Street and were dealers in fine footwear and furnishings. These days we think of furnishings as a kitchen table couch or chair. You might think at first you can buy your penny loafers and the recliner to loaf in there but at that time furnishings had a different meaning.

"Those good dressers who must have the best at any price naturally gravitate toward this store, as they know that they are sure to be satisfied in anything they may wish in fine furnishings as well as shoes or rubbers, slippers etc, and those wishing the more moderate priced can get them at prices startlingly low considering the quality of the goods."

The store was established by Charles and Martin Forslind about 1881 in Ludington.

As we have spoken about before the only constant is change and Mason County has certainly changed over the years and we see a never ending parade of businesses that occupy store fronts, each leaves there mark on the community and many leave indelible memories with us.

The sounds in a community, like the old fog horn, and the noon whistle at the watch case, smells like the smoked fish up in the Tri City Market, the clanging of soda bottles in the old water cooled machines that took a dime. Remember having to wiggle the bottle through the wires to get the one you wanted and how good that ice cold pop in a bottle tasted on a hot day? Nothing else really compares.

My son who is 22 commented the other day about how much change he has seen in Scottville and Ludington since he was young. It kind of threw me off for a moment, I had to reconcile with the comment, try to put it in focus. I thought is he really old enough, and seen enough to be able to make that comment? A lot of things have changed in my 50 years, and when I interview people for stories that are my parents and grandparents ages they call me a kid and probably ask themselves the same question.

There is indeed a lot of change, especially if you consider change to be tearing things down, I'm going to miss the old building where Maude's Garage is, I've always thought that it was a unique building. A lot of architecture has gone away, some needed to go, others well it would have been nice to see some of it brought back to life. With that in mind it's my understanding that the Wm Stram building is going to have new owners and that they are looking for vintage photographs of the building to help them bring it back to life. Now that's the kind of change I like to see and if you have any old photos that show older versions of that building or if you would like to share a story about your families business in Ludington please feel free to contact me at 757-3240 or davep@blackcreekpress.com

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