Ecorse Business, 1950
New Market To Carry On Family Tradition
(Ecorse Advertiser, Thursday July 20, 1950)
A family partnership composed of Mrs. Frank Baklarz, her three sons, John, Ted and Ed and daughter Jean are enjoying this week praise and congratulations from thousands on the opening of their new store. The new store at 185 Southfield Road, will be known as Baklarz Super Market and it is all that the name implies, super in every respect. Super in convenience, building, fixtures and merchandise.
The new store was thrown open to the public Tuesday but starting today and continuing through Friday and Saturday the new Baklarz Super Market will celebrate its grand opening with a sale of quality foods and the awarding of 15 valuable prizes to those attending the opening.
Crowds Throng Opening of New Baklarz Market
(Ecorse Advertiser, Thursday, July 27, 1950)
Over 12,000 residents of the Downriver area visited the grand opening of the Baklarz Super Market last weekend. Starting early Thursday morning and continuing until late Saturday night residents of this area crowded the store and taxed the facilities of this largest, most modern and complete super market.
Most of the patrons came from Ecorse and River Rouge and all were interested in the free grand prize drawing for 15 prizes awarded to the visitors at the three-day opening.
The first prize, a Maytag automatic washer, went to Mrs. P.J. Schaffer, 757 Lincoln Ave., Lincoln Park. The electric percolator, toaster and waffle iron went to Mr. Leonard McMaster, 4629 5th Street, Ecorse. Mrs. Pirvu, 240 ½ Southfield Road, and Harry Stover, 38 E. Westfield, Ecorse. Mrs. Van Wesschnane of Newport, Michigan, won the electric iron.
Winner of the baskets of food included Juan Terragas, 4550 Seventh St., Ecorse; G. Laregue, 164 Charles, River Rouge; Mrs. Nick Hoji, 857 Lincoln, Wyandotte; Mary Philipo, 4630 Fourth, Ecorse; Mrs. Wm. Powell, 2072 London, Lincoln Park; George Sowards, 4561 Seventh, Ecorse; M.T. Graham, 2782 Corbin, Melvindale; S. Southall, 1532 Washington, Lincoln Park; E.L. McGee, 26 E. Charlotte, Ecorse; Joseph Balerski, 24 Hill, River Rouge.
The drawing was held at eight o’clock Saturday night. Winners have been notified of their good luck.
By M. Sandy Blakeman
(This series of columns expressing the opinions of prominent industrialists, businessmen and citizens interested in the growth and welfare of Ecorse by Morris Sandy Blakemen appeared in the Mellus Newspapers in the 1950s).
The Baklarz family came to Ecorse in 1918, at which time the original Baklarz Market was established at the corner of High Street and Southfield road. During the year 1924 the business was moved to 185 Southfield Road. The widening of Southfield Road in 1940 resulted in the reconstruction of the Baklarz Market building. The last expansion took place during 1950 when the floor space was tripled and all modern shopping facilities were installed.
John Baklarz, whose name is well known to thousands of downriver citizens, has always been active in local civic and business groups. His paramount concern is to make Ecorse a better place in which to live and to work. He believes that opportunities are in store for progress minded businessmen, and, as we witness the progress of the Baklarz Super Market, we find his remarks are well founded.
Merchants Should Unite
“One of our greatest assets in Ecorse,” comments Baklarz, “is the community spirit of our citizens. Should you come to make your own personal survey you would discover that most Ecorse people prefer to shop at home. Ecorse businessmen who realize this fact have presented greater variety and better service and consequently have experienced rapid growth of their business establishments.
“In my opinion,” Baklarz continued, “The businessmen of Ecorse should reward this fine community spirit by organizing a joint program designed specifically for the purpose of acquainting the residents with the variety of services and merchandise which are available in their own community. This function, of course, would be a project of the Ecorse Merchant’s Association. It would include any merchant who is community-minded and who can offer an Ecorse resident the best quality of service for his or her shopping dollar.”
Andrew Bzovi, Harbor Theater
From silent movies to the era of 3-D and wide screen, the Bzovi family of Ecorse has brought entertainment to countless thousands of Downriver residents.
Andrew Bzovi and his family moved to Ecorse in 1920 and almost immediately afterwards brought motion pictures to the city. They closed the Ecorse Theater in 1948 and built the new Harbor Theater at the intersection of West Jefferson and Outer Drive.
Dan Bzovi, son of Andrew and Florence Bzovi, is manager and the owner of the Harbor Theater with his father, and has closely watched the city’s progress. Bzovi emphasizes the important role the youth of a city plays in its development.
“Ecorse is still, to a great extent, dominated by pioneers,” insists Bzovi. “Today’s problems must be met by today’s youth as well as the older generation.
“First of all,” Bzovi suggests, “we need execution of new and modern ideas in Ecorse and the only way we can efficiently reap the benefits of these ideals is by organizing our progress-minded citizens.”
Bzovi believes chain stores in Ecorse would bring new life to the business sections. He reports, however, that in his opinion, the chain stores were not given the opportunity to establish here because much of the suitable property is owned by people who ask fantastic prices for it. “The property, under the circumstances,” Bzovi says, will remain vacant for a long time. Several chain stores have investigated, and were met with opposition from the start.
“We need competition,” Bzovi insists. “We need competition to keep us on our toes and to give our people more reason to shop and live and Ecorse. We need competition to help us plan the future of Ecorse. “
The Harbor Theater was constructed at a time when the future of the entire motion pictures industry was threatened by the popularity of television. Despite these odds and the serious handicap of obtaining building materials during the war years, Bzovi was assisted by many local progress-minded civic organizations who helped him obtain approval for the construction of the Harbor Theater.
“Faith in your home town,” Bzovi concludes, “is a necessary ingredient for tomorrow’s progress.”
Don S. Kellerman, Shwayder Brothers, Inc.
Don S. Kellerman, special assignment manager for Shwayder Brothers, Inc., came to Ecorse from Shwayder’s Denever plant in 1928. His 32 years with the company are marked with countless achievements in the field of public relations. He is a member of the Downriver Chamber of Commerce, the Ecorse Rotary Club and many national and state organizations.
Kellerman is local community chairman of Junior Achievement in the Downriver area, an organization that gives high school students a working knowledge of industry – both from a management and labor standpoint.
“We are happy to announce the October 18 opening of the Downriver Junior Achievement Center,” comments Kellerman, “at Henry Street and West Jefferson Avenue in River Rouge. The surveying of the high schools from which source the J.A. members are enlisted indicates that there are more than 700 young ladies and young men interested in this program. The facilities available at present can accommodate about 160.”
Nathan (Gordon) Gevercer, Franklin 5c to $1 Store
Nathan (Gordon) Gevercer came to America from Poland at the age of 12 and settled in Detroit. He began working in a variety stores during his early teens. Gevercer is the owner of the Franklin 5c to $1 store, located at 4086 West Jefferson Avenue. His six years of doing business with Ecorse people have convinced him of the business opportunities in store for those who are willing to invest in and work hard at either new or old Ecorse business enterprises. He is a member of a large local buying group that studies the market for good quality merchandise at popular prices.
“Someone once said it’s the little things in life that count most,” states Gevercer, “and I have taken this attitude in the building of my business. Although the service or item I have to sell is an every day occurrence to me, it may be of major importance to the customer. Prompt, efficient service with a sincere attitude of friendliness is of prime importance to any business.
Gevercer believes local merchants should work together to make shopping in Ecorse a real pleasure. Joint participation in holiday promotions or monthly sales will attract more interest from Ecorse people and will add new color to the business sections.
Paul Carnahan, Great Lakes Steel
A first meeting with Paul Carnahan, president of Great Lakes Steel Corporation, leaves one with the impression that here is a man who is entirely capable of directing the operations of the Great Lakes Steel Corporation.
The dynamic personality of Paul Carnahan is expressed, not pretentiously, but in a conservative soft-spoken manner. One immediately senses the strength of purpose of a man who is pleasant yet forthright in expressing his opinion. When asked how he feels about industry and its position as a leading force in Ecorse, he commented, “Industry can be a good citizen, just as you and I.”
In the short period of time since he was elected president of Great Lakes Steel in May, Carnahan has shown his ability and desire to handle both large and small matters to the community’s best interest. For example, under his leadership a new basis of understanding has been reached between the company and the steelworkers union, which promises to have great benefit for our entire community.
His interest in community matters on a smaller scale is shown by the company’s active support in a project for youth- junior achievement. With Great Lakes as one of the “spark plugs,” several industries and businesses are providing funds and personnel to sponsor a center for downriver boys and girls where they can operate their own companies, and thus gain experience in all phases of businesses of their own choosing.
Most associates refer to him as a “downriver-minded” man. He first became affiliated with the Great Lakes Steel Corporation in 1934. He began as an hourly wage employee in the blooming mill in the slab transfer operation. He rose through the ranks and was promoted to director in charge of production in 1953. His next promotion was to vice-president in charge of sales, and in April he was elected senior vice president of the company. When George R. Fink retired from the company’s presidency last May 25, Carnahan was elected to succeed him.
Few men are more familiar with the problems of downriver communities than Paul Carnahan and it is plain that he sincerely believes that industry can – and should – be a good citizen.”
Ormal Goodell, Goodell Hardware
The Goodells in America date back to the year 1634, when Robert Goodell, a British Army officer, came to Massachusetts with a land grant from the King and settled in Salem with his family. The Goodells in this area date back to 1797, when Elijah Goodell settled in the territory when it was known as “New France,” and he and his descendants established several farms including two sizable ones in Ecorse.
Ormal Goodell was born in Ecorse in 1897, the son of Frederick and Sophie Goodell and has lived here since. In 1931 he entered business as the owner of the Goodell Hardware Company. He has been a civic leader since his young manhood and for 18 years has served in Ecorse as a member of its City Council.
Goodell paints a colorful history of the growth of Ecorse from a farming community to a major industrial center. He looks to the future as enthusiastically as he views the past. His reasoning is based on facts and his interest in the city is difficult to parallel.
“Ecorse was hard hit by the depression,” Goodell recalls, but not as severely as other communities in this area. The steel mill was under construction during that period and provided employment for many. Most property owners managed to retain their homes.
“Property has always been a good investment here. Today, real estate is bringing higher dollars than ever before. This, in itself, indicates that Ecorse is not doing so badly. Even during business slumps, it is hard to find property for sale. Real estate values seem to be increasing all of the time. With the possibility of new developments in Ecorse there is no telling how much higher property values will climb.
“One of the strange things I’ve noticed through the years,” Goodell commented, “is that much of the property here has been purchased with cash settlements. I can relate many instances where buyers insisted on paying cash. This, to me, is an indication the buyer is financially able and considers Ecorse property a good investment.”
Clarence Mead, Security Bank
It is most comforting to discuss community progress with a man who has contributed to his community through the years and who can speak with a profound authority with his background as proof of his sincerity, on the opportunities at hand for those of us who are wise enough to realize them and aggressive enough to make them a reality.
Clarence Mead came to Ecorse 32 years ago from Brantford, Ontario, where he had been employed by an Ontario bank. He began as a teller at the Ecorse Bank (now the Security Bank) and now holds the position of senior vice-president. His entire adult life has been devoted to the banking business.
Following, in Mead’s own words, are his view on the future of Ecorse that should capture the attention of every Ecorse citizen and businessman seeking new opportunities at home.
“In a few weeks I will be starting my thirty-second year as citizen of Ecorse. Although I am not native-born, Ecorse is my home. Ecorse has been kind to me, and in my humble way I have tried to repay the kindness and opportunity that it has given me…
“A few nights ago I had occasion to stop at a drive-in establishment for a late snack. This, by the way, was many miles away. The way the grounds were littered with paper and other articles of refuse usually found at drive-ins was a disgrace. I have no desire to patronize that place again. With very little effort the premises could have been kept in better condition. Have you ever noticed that in a first class hotel or store you see someone continually wiping out the ash trays or picking up papers, etc.? So, Pride of Ownership should also be foremost in our minds.
“Be proud of the place which allows you to have your name on its voting registrations. Whenever you are traveling away from the confines of Ecorse and you are asked where you are from, say I’m from Ecorse, Michigan, a thriving community on the Detroit River.”
Mrs. Sarah Slavin, Slavin’s Shoppe
One of the most pleasant business personalities in Ecorse is Mrs. Sarah Slavin, owner of Slavin’s Shoppe located at 4062 West Jefferson. Mrs. Slavin has been in the women’s apparel business since the age of 15. Her background includes nine and one half years as buyer at Russels, five years with Himelhoch’s and 16 years in her present location.
Always community minded, Mrs. Slavin advocates better shopping facilities in Ecorse. She contributes by keeping up to date on the latest creations during her New York visits, and institutes a “feel at home” policy for her patrons.
“Ecorse needs an inexpensive system of transportation,” insists Sarah Slavin. “Obviously, the most important requisite of my business establishment is customers and progress-minded businessmen realize the necessity of providing adequate facilities for the consumer public, to make shopping in their home communities more convenient and attractive. For many years I have been in favor of a low-fare system of transportation to bring almost any Ecorse business place within a few minutes bus ride from any Ecorse home.”
Mrs. Slavin sketched a tentative route for the system which would involve the use of two buses and include Visger Road, Salliotte Road, Outer Drive, Southfield Road, Mill Street, and the full length of High Street from Mill Street to Visger Road.
Burton F. Loveland, Loveland’s Drug Store
“In February, 1919, when I opened my store in Ecorse,” states Loveland, “there were but three stores in the entire block. George Daas conducted a grocery on the corner and Joe Diskin’s hardware store was located next to my drugstore. West Jefferson had a street car line at that time and it was unpaved between the tracks. One of my early experiences was that with passing cars that would throw stones from their tires through my front store windows with too great regularity. It has been my privilege to live through the period of greatest growth in Ecorse.
“Any community will progress, I sincerely believe,” Loveland continues, “directly according to the faith and enthusiasm of its people. Faith in the good future ahead and the enthusiasm to make it a reality are two qualities that can make wonderful strides in Ecorse even beyond the most optimistic outlook.
“It so happens that I have chosen Ecorse as my home town. I have lived better than half my life here and I expect to come to the end of my days here. I came alone and as a stranger. Today there are 15 who carry my name. Any attempt at recounting accomplishments after that statement would be anti- climactic.”
“Two of my sons, Donald and Warren, are graduates of Pharmacy from the University of Michigan and are associated with me in my business. A daughter, Ruth, has completed Nurse’s training at Henry Ford Hospital while my youngest son, David, is a senior in Pharmacy at U. of M. My hope is that all will decide to make Ecorse their home and do what they can to make it a better community in which to live.
“The only reason I have for the above, other than the vanity of a father, is to prove that I think Ecorse is a good city and a good place in which to live and raise a family. It is all this because good people have made it so. It will grow into a better community if we will back up our faith with enthusiasm and make it better.
“Ecorse, as with all cities, cites Loveland, has its problems. If we will approach the solution of our problems on a high level, make of our town a model of civic accomplishments, be proud of Ecorse because it is what we have made it, and not cease trying to improve it, then we need not worry about its business or civic future in any respect.”
Fire Chief Fred A. Pudvan
The family of Fred A. Pudvan, the fire chief of the city of Ecorse, came to this city in 1902 from Bay City. Chief Pudvan is accredited with an outstanding record of achievements during his 30 years with the Ecorse Fire Department. He is active in both local and national organizations that constantly study the problems of fire hazards and seek new means of preventing and fighting fires.
Always alert, Chief Pudvan conscientiously promotes the importance of a sound fire prevention program in Ecorse and places special emphasis on the duty of all citizens to guard against carelessness that may lead to fires.
The Chief announces that Fire Prevention Week this year is being observed October 3-9, and remarks that its purpose is to direct public attention to the tremendous annual loss of life and property resulting from the fire, and to the safely measures which must be taken if these losses are to be reduced.
“Among the greatest bug-a-boos we encounter in answering an alarm are drivers who do not heed the sirens,” Chief Pudvan said. “Drivers who do not pull over or make way for the fire fighting equipment can be the cause of more serious fire damage and increased danger to lives. I appeal to every driver to be a good citizen by displaying courtesy to the Fire Department.
“Ecorse,” like many older communities,” Chief Pudvan continues, “consists of a large number of older wood frame houses. Through the years the wood and tar materials in these homes have become seasoned and vulnerable to almost instantaneous combustion when coming into contact with sparks or small flame. Fires in such homes are equally serious and difficult to bring under control. The occupants should realize that it will benefit them as well as their neighbors and the fire department if they take every preventive measure possible to insure against possible fires.”
Chief Pudvan reports that the fire department has acquired two 1,000 gallon pumpers this year, and a new ambulance has also been purchased by the city.
“Our crews are well trained in modern fire fighting and first aid methods,” he adds. “Despite the efficiency of the Fire Department there is still the threat of property damage and loss of lives. Almost every fire can be traced to neglect and carelessness. I will not endeavor, at this time, to present a fire prevention programs. Detailed instructions will be brought to your attention during the Fire Prevention Week commencing next Sunday. It is important that each and every Ecorse resident indicate his or her concern for the safely of human lives and loss of homes.”
“Fire fighting is the function of the Fire Department. Fire prevention, however, is the most important job of all,” concludes Chief Pudvan. ‘It’s your job!”
James (Jimmy) Simko
Somebody once said, “When you want to get the job done, give it to a busy man.”
As a case in point, consider James (Jimmy) Simko, well known life-time resident of the downriver area. Although Jimmy has for the past nine years, with other members of the Smiko family, been engaged in establishing a large super market in Ecorse, he has always found time to participate in many community projects and activities.
Jimmy was in charge of the carnival during the 1953-54 Ecorse Days celebration. He is active in the Kiwanis and the Ecorse Merchants Association and meets twice monthly with a volunteer group of retail food merchants who formulate advertising dollars for the food business.
“Ecorse has a future,’ declares, Simko, “but the kind of a future depends upon leading citizens who are in a position to do something about its present problems.”
He believes that the problems of Ecorse are about the same as any other industrial city its size.
“We need more people and more facilities in which to house them,” Simko claims. He suggests the construction of apartment houses and hotels for working men who now live too far from their places of employment.
“Ecorse,” according to Simko, “is a poorly planned city for business purposes, with the river a boundary on one side and the railroad practically dividing the other side from the West Jefferson Avenue area.
“The parking meters,” he continued, “have aided the parking situation somewhat, yet the customer traffic must still circle the block to find parking space. The layout of the business section will not attract chain stores or heavy investors.”
In Simko’s opinion the overall picture could be improved by creating an attractive, more conveniently located business district. Simko visualizes a modern shopping center on Southfield Road with adequate parking space. Since Southfield Road is a well traveled thoroughfare and is centrally located between three sizable communities. Simko believes that a well-organized shopping district should attract many out-of-town customers.
He admits there would be many problems involved in changing the location of the business district of the city, but is certain they could be ironed out by merchants who would be interested in such a project.
Ralph E. Brant, Superintendent of Schools
One of Ecorse’s most enthusiastic supporters is Ralph E. Brant. Who has been superintendent of schools in this city since 1948. His enviable record of achievements as an educator began in 1923 at August, Michigan. Since then, he has served as superintendent of schools in Caledonia, Vassar, Menominee, Owasso and now, in Ecorse.
The foresight and efforts of many people have been instrumental in the development of Ecorse’s fine educational program. Ralph Brant must be counted among those visionaries who have developed the school system in Ecorse into one which visiting authorities describe as among Michigan’s best.
Four other businessmen have presented their views in this column concerning the needs of Ecorse and mentioned ways to improve the city. Being a resident of Ecorse only six years is hardly long enough to give me the background to appraise the city’s assets and liabilities.
During my twenty seven years as a school administrator, twenty-four of which have been as a school superintendent, it has been my privilege to live in six different communities. It has been my general observation over this period of time, that under similar circumstances people do not vary a great deal.
“Human beings seem to follow a general pattern in growing up, going to church, to school, marrying, raising families, trying to make a living, and experiencing similar joys and sorrows.
“I count people as the greatest asset any community has, and if the people in one community act differently than any other it must be because of some unusual situation in that particular community.
When a man and his family think of moving into a community he usually asks the following questions and these could well apply to Ecorse:
Does this community provide modern up to date schools for my children?
Does the community provide good churches?
Are the living conditions such that my children will grow up in a good environment?
Are there opportunities to make a living in this community, or am I close enough to drive to a place of employment?
Generally, a man’s first concern is for his family. Good churches and schools seem to be his paramount concern. Being an educator, I will confine my remarks to the contribution the public schools in Ecorse can make to this community. As you are well aware, with in the past two years the Ecorse Board of Education has built two schools, the Ralph J. Bunche Elementary School and an addition to the high school which will be completed in September of this year. (1954)
This high school addition is largely vocational. It was built to provide educational opportunities for the 80% of guys and girls who do not plan to go on to college, but desire to find opportunities to make a living directly out of high school.
The Board of Education and I believe the improved curriculum of printing, wood shop, machine shop, auto mechanics, general household repair work, cooking, dress making, decorating, radio work, swimming, dramatics, etc., will do much to help equip boys and girls to qualify for job and leisure time opportunities when they leave school.
To whom are they indebted?
You, Mr. And Mrs. Ecorse, for providing modern school facilities to help them along their way in 1954, as some one helped you and me twenty or thirty years ago, to meet the demands of those days. The children in Ecorse, a manufacturing community, deserve as good facilities as the children in a residential community like Grosse Pointe.
City’s Oldest Retail Store Changes Hands
(Ecorse Advertiser, October 25, 1950)
Charles Siegel of Detroit this week purchased and became sole owner of the Ecorse Department Store, one of Ecorse’s oldest retail establishments.
Although a newcomer to this area, Siegel has had a long and varied experience in both men’s and ladies’ apparel and will carry on the policy that has so successfully established the Ecorse Department Store as one of the outstanding establishments in the district.
Quality merchandise at a fair price will be the store’s watchword, Siegel said.
“In selecting a location to establish my own business and make my home I chose Ecorse because I believe this city offers greater possibilities than any other in the metropolitan area,” he said.
“Ecorse is just the type of city that I like and it will be a great pleasure to me to take in active part in all civic activities.”
Siegel is making no radical changes in the store at the present time but has plans whereby the Ecorse Department Store will eventually become one of the finest and most modern in the area. He will welcome all the city’s patrons to the store and hopes through offering quality merchandise at the lowest possible price consistent with quality and giving personal service to attract an even greater list of patrons.