Charlie Gill1934 ad for the American Food Store: three pounds of coffee, 49 cents; three-pound jar of fruit preserves, 45 cents; bread, seven cents a loaf; large head of lettuce, seven cents; plus, three percent sales tax on food.

Archived Story

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill: High-speed train visited Dowagiac after FDR in 1934

Published 10:19am Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Century Theatre prices: 10 and 25 cents.

A local orchestra, Polly and her Pals, was playing at the Elks Club.

May 2 Miss Catherine Phillipson was Miss Dowagiac 1934 and was to compete for the honor of Miss Blossomtime at the Liberty Theatre in Benton Harbor.

The first Miss Dowagiac was Mrs. Velma (Lason) Piper of Battle Creek in 1930.

1934: Michigan Central didn’t know when the new beautiful Union Pacific high-speed train will pass through Dowagiac.

Clint Voorhees will sound the water works siren saying the train will soon pass through.
It is returning from Washington, where President Roosevelt examined it. It is capable of traveling 120 mph.

1934: Two customers came in and walked off with the penny slot machines at the Dutch Lunch. The Elks Temple steak house also lost one to the two men. City Treasurer Carrie Huff was the first person to pay the $2 head tax designed to raise money for old-age pensions.

1934: John Kauffman has the contract to construct four concrete tennis courts at the Oak Street School playground. (This has to be the father of the John Kauffman I knew, and I spent a lot of hours on those courts.)

In 1934 you could pick yourself strawberries and only have to pay 25 cents a crate.
Jan. 3, 1934: Dowagiac doesn’t know if it will have a liquor store. Under the law Dowagiac is too small to have a state dispensary. But it may be able to get an SDD (Special Designated Distributor). France Brechenser got the first one in Dowagiac. I remember his number was SDD-42, which made his license the 42nd one in Michigan. He once told me at first he had to go to Grand Rapids once a month to get his supplies. Later Dowagiac got a state liquor store which was wholesale and retail. Burlingame and Stahl got SDD number 43. I serviced both of them at the three different stores in my 33 1/2 years of working for the state liquor control system.

1934: Gordon Leich was the high scorer at the Michigan Rifle Club shoot. He was high with 186 of a possible 200 (I think they used to shoot in the basement of the Oppenheim building).

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
E-mail him at

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