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Mason County Memories


"You can't depend on your eyes if your imagination is out of focus" ~ Mark Twain


History Columns are arranged by year of publication in the Ludington Daily News



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History Column 326 Dave Petersen Businesses of days past There is always a ebb and flow to the business districts in the county, old ones pass away, some we hardly even notice or realize they are there before they are gone. Others continue on for decades and become an anchor business in their community and when they disappear and close down it shakes the foundations of the community as a shared experience is suddenly no more. We have seen and felt that loss in the past few years with the downtown Lyric, Schohl's Jewelry, Gibbs, Schoenbergers in Scottville, Market Basket, and others whose existence had woven themselves deeply into the fabric of our lives and the life of the community. Their closure causes us to stop and to reflect upon memories we have of times spent laughing, shopping, and being with friends and family. The closure of a business, not unlike the death of a favorite Aunt causes us to stop and consider our own mortality as well. How long before no one remembers having a first date at the Lyric, buying an engagement ring at Schohl's Jewelry, a family holiday dinner at Gibbs, and the kids getting a free hotdog from the butcher at the Market Basket? Here are a few views of long past businesses, many of which may have held such memories for our grandparents or even great grandparents. I wonder; did they stop and pause to remember their experiences at those establishments at the time they closed down and became a part of our collective history? If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 Heysett's Drug Store on South James Street was a local landmark where one could find most anything. Patent Medicines, Nostrums, snake oil salesmen, blood purifiers and more; we've all heard about them, many have made fun of them but at the turn of the last century, in the dawn of science and technology anything could go and it often did even in Ludington. Pic2 In Basket making logs were put through the veneer lathe, which could cut the veneer into staves on a chopper table, and then nailed into a web consisting of 16 staves. Workers could then form them in a basket machine and staple with four hoops to hold the shape of a bushel basket. The baskets were spread out like building blocks to dry. The Basket Factory could produce 80 to 100 dozen bushel baskets in a day. Pic3 This the intersection of Rath and Ludington Avenue looking south, a testament to the extreme changes over the course of a century in the life of a town. You can see the original City Hall down to the right, currently a parking lot. Maudes is on the corner on your right as well, quite a contrast don't you think? Pic4 The Scottville Hardware Company, "Hon. D.W. Goodenough being its president. The company owns and occupies a large brick store, a view of which is herewith shown, and carries a complete line of general hardware, building supplies, etc. They- also deal in agricultural implements, harness, carriages, wagons, etc., in all of which their customers have a liberal stock to select from." (quoted from a period paper) Pic5 Back in 1875 when Eber Brock Ward passed away, his local holdings were under the control of his wife, her brother was Thomas Lyons and he took over management of the local businesses for her. If you recall Paulina Stearns was a sister to these two and Ward's passing created a vacuum that allowed Justus Stearns to fill, a change that benefited Ludington greatly. Pic6 Originally called the Hanson House on South James, it is seen here as the Eliott House and it was managed by "Pap" Elliott back before the turn of the 20th century. If you look down to the north a bit you can see the building that houses the Brew Pub.

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