TheSessions IGA Store in the 30s and 40s
In August 1928, myparents, Stuart and Ruth (Douglas) Sessions, borrowed from Dad's PrudentialInsurance Policy and also from Maggie Bos and boughtthe grocery store at 308 Butler Street from Stephen Newnham.This was in the Heath building, with Bird's Drug Store on the corner.
At one time duringthe depressions the average total sale was 18 cents a day, with some day'stotal sales as much as $12. At one time the current bills payable was greaterthan the total assets. When the folks took over the store we moved to theapartment above the store. It is here that most of my Saugatuck memories begin.
Before I was oldenough to be out on the street by myself, I was at one time tied to a pole inthe alley behind the store where there was a sandbox. I don't know if my olderbrother Donald was tied too, or if I was just by myself, h being a small townpeople stopped and visited with me, and everyone helped keep track of me.
A stairway with adoor opening between our IGA store and Bird's Drug Store on the corner, led tothe second floor. Up the stairs to the left, over Bird's Drug Store was thetelephone office.
Farther down thehall, beyond the telephone office and over Bird's Drug Stare, was an apartment wherethe head telephone operator lived. I remembered visiting her there. I think hername was Mrs. Shaw.
Down the hall, inthe back corner also over the drug store was another apartment. Aunt Virginiaand Uncle Cordon lived here at one time when Cordon worked in the grocerystore. I remember Aunt
At the top of thestairs to the right was the entrance to our apartment, right over the grocerystore.
I can remember Dadtrying to help people to eat as well as they could, or make their money go asfar as possible during the Depression. One day he suggested to a woman wholived behind Parrish's Drug Store and had a big family that she buy a fivepound bag of corn meal and make corn mush. That seemed to be a good idea, butthen they came back to buy milk and sugar. This ruined the idea of feeding thefamily on the money they had.
All our producecame by truck from
We got ourwholesale bread from the Dutch Boy Bakery in
Much of the businessduring the depression was conducted on charge books. Customers would buy theirgroceries and most other things on credit and when they got their WPA checksthey would pay their bills. I am sure that most families never had enough topay all their bills. Our IGA store was independently owned but we got ourwholesale groceries from the warehouse in
I was less than sixyears old when I was aware that ours was a hand-to-mouth existence. We werebetter off then some because we had food from the grocery store.
The grocery storeseemed big when we had to run from the front of the store, where the counterwas, to the back to get item by item as the customer asked for things. Whenself-service came into use, and the customers waited on themselves, it wasreally great. The last couple of years I was mostly at the check out. Then Igot tired of standing in one place.
Almost everythingwas sold in bulk, other than canned goods and cold cereal. Sugar came in 50 poundbags and we would sack it into five-pound bags. I think flour came in clothbags and was not repackaged. Rice, beans, nuts, etc., came in large quantitiesthat needed sacking in smaller paper bags when purchased.
Cookies came in a12 to 15 pound square box. We had glass tops with a metal edge that fitted overthe top of the box and allowed one to see the cookies, but keep them covered.It also made it easy to open the cover and help ourselves to one when we passedby.
We also sold homebakery goods made by a German family which lived in
Two things Iremember happening at the store. One was the day the eggs exploded. We had noway of candling eggs at that time. We put a dozen eggs in small brow bags and kepteggs on the back side of the bread rack without refrigeration. I don't know howlong they had been on the shelf when one bag exploded. The mess and smell wasterrible. The other experience was when a can of molasses exploded. The smellwas not bad, but the mess was very hard to clean up.
When the weatherpermitted we put benches in front of the store on which we would pilewatermelon in season and other produce. In late summer we had gladioli thatwere grown on a farm halfway between
I carried cases of cannedgoods, 25-pound bags of sugar and flour and all other groceries, from when Ifirst started working at the store. Dad was a good boss to work for, but we allworked hard. He did not complain or care if those who worked for him ate someof the merchandise. I got paid at the same rate as non-family clerks.
By the start of World War II I was working at the store most of thetime, that is, after school and on Saturday. We had a butcher who did most ofthe meat cutting, but Dad was able to cut meat toy. In the summertime we wouldgrind as much as 50 pounds of hamburger at a time for the restaurants. This wasoften my job. I liked working with John Biller, thebutcher.
Weekdays during the summer when there was a lull at the grocery store,I would go next door to Bird's Drug Store and go behind the soda ` fountain andhelp them make sodas, sundaes, etc., for customers. Then after helping thecustomers I would make myself a sundae and sit at the bar and eat it beforereturning to work at our store.
Because of the war and rationing food coupons became a part of everydaylife. We had meat stamps, sugar stamps and canned goods stamps. These all hadto be counted and put in books and turned in for us to buy from the warehouse.Some food items were hard to get, like pineapples and bananas. Sometimes folkswould have to take their food stamps with them when they were going to visitfor more than a day or two, so their hosts could get enough food.
We sold the grocery store in May of 1945 and the folks packed up mostof our household furnishings and moved them to
I went to work atone of the restaurants on the main street. When Sunday morning came around andthe church bells rang, I knew I didn't want to stay at the restaurant and workSundays. The man who had bought our IGA store was floundering, not knowing whatto buy and how. He was glad to have me back and help him know what and how toorder what was needed. Because certain items were still hard to get we hadstockpiled such things as salad dressing, so there would be enough for thesummer trade. This was one of the items he had sold out without continuing toorder more and so came up short before the summer was half over.
Three donations of books have recently been received by the Saugatuck-DouglasHistorical Society and will eventually be part of a now-forming researchlibrary.
By Van A, Wallin (Published by Author) 1930
The subtitle of this volume is "A History from Stratford-on-Avon1791 to Wallinwood-on-the-Grand 1933." Betweenthose two places the Wallin family stopped in the
It is one of the most interesting chapters in the book because most ofwhat happened in the
He describes a childhood near the millpond and the games that thechildren played in the woods. Also the great fires of 1871 and how he and hisbrother fed the workers who stayed up all night to keep the tannery buildingsand woodpiles from lighting from the sparks all around them.
When Van was still in grade school his elder brother fell through theice in
A copy of the bookwas given to the Society by
The Civil WarVeterans of
By Leonard G. Overmyer III
This book is acompilation of soldiers from the
Dunn began his service as a member of the 5th
Major Dune wasactive in the GAR after the war. The horse which he had taken to battle livedfor many years and was ridden in Memorial Day parades. Myrtle (Warner)
CentennialAnniversary Celebration of the East Saugatuck Christian Reformed Church1869-1969
(Published by the
A hard cover bookpublished by members of the East Saugatuck Christian Reformed Church 1869-1969was contributed to the Saugatuck-Douglas District Library book sale and givenby the Friends of the Library to the Society for placement in the researchlibrary.
When increasingdecentralization of Dutch settlers made it difficult for those in outlyingareas to get to church, the formation of a new congregation at
The congregation'sfirst church building was destroyed in the fires of 1871 and rebuilt, with muchhelp from the community the following year. The 1872 building, an imposingwhite clapboard structure, was razed in 1966 in favor of a modern A-frame styleedifice.
The name of thedenomination was changed from "True Reformed"to "Christian Reformed" in 1890 and the name of the community from