June 8, 2005

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John T. Noonan in downtown Douglas 1930s

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Cecil Linter - Western Union delivery boy


The top photo shows just about the entire north side of Center Street, Douglas, between Spring and Main Streets. The man in the foreground is John T. Norton, who owned the pharmacy and soda shop in the building that still stands on the corner of Center and Spring. We will come back to this corner with you at a later date.

Last week we told part of the story of the building that is now Chaps restaurant, located on the north-west corner of Center and Main Streets in Douglas-on the far end of the block in this photo. You may recall that the building goes back to about 1902-as a grocery store-and became a restaurant called The Douglas Café in the 1930s. Still later it became the Auction House restaurant, then the present Chaps restaurant and bar.

The building with the Greyhound sign was the local telephone company 'Central' office-with the switchboard in the front room and living space in the rear. It served, in the 1920s and 30s as well, as the local bus stop, before the Blue Star highway was built and when the route to Saugatuck went through downtown Douglas. The telephone operator at the turn of the century was Bessie Schultz. Her niece, Erma Schultz Fuller, who lives in Douglas today (and who celebrated here 96th birthday on May 9th !) worked as the operator here and later worked in the Post Office which was across the street.

The photos of the boy, Cecil Linter are a bit of a puzzle-as we can't find anything about him, except obviously, he worked for the telephone company. The photo of him with the sign was recently found in the Denison family photo collection, and the photo of him on his delivery bike turned up in the Auction House-Chaps album. Does anyone know anything about Cecil? He appears to be pretty proud of his job.

Returning to the far end of the block -after Wiegert's Café went out of business the building was again divided into two and served a variety of businesses, including Ev Thomas's real estate office on one side and an upholstery shop on the other- the building eventually became a space for auction sales, hence the "Auction House Restaurant." The Auction House operated in the early to mid-1980s.

In recent times Ed Sisk and Ed Strange reconstructed this half of the block to give us what it is today. It is interesting that when Jan Van Liere designed the new interior for Chaps restaurant and bar in the 1990s, she installed a rather famous local bar-a portion of the wood bar from the old Harding Hotel on Park Street in Saugatuck. More on that rather notorious place at a later date.

A belated 'Happy Birthday" to Erma Schultz Fuller at age 96. Some day soon we will tell the story of how she grew up as a young girl on a Great Lakes steamship. By Jim Schmiechen

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