Archived Story

Niles envied Round Oak’s meat market

Published 2:25pm Thursday, January 17, 2013

First of four parts

In going through a bunch of many years of my acquired notes, I found this one.
It was an article in the old 1885 newspaper the Niles Republican, March 12.
Dowagiac employees of the Beckwith Stove Works have started what is to be known as the Round Oak Cooperation Co. meat market.
The market men there have been charging 15 cents per pound for steak.
Prices were higher than the boys could pay, and so started a market on their own account.
They have a manager and an agent and sell at a profit, not only to members of the organization, but also to any who may call. Best cuts at 12 1/2 cents and flank prices at six cents a pound.
The company buys nothing but young fat stock and customers are also sure of getting good meat.
Surely if steaks can be sold in Dowagiac at 12 1/2 cents, they can also be sold at Niles for the same price until Niles has such a market started like the one in Dowagiac.
In 1888, Round Oak Stove Works was shipping about 300 stove per day.
Memories of old Cardinal Charlie, a job I had as a kid was getting a scuttle of coal for the old heating stove, then shake down the old heating stove, then shake down the grates and empty the ash pan.
Old Mary Conkling and her chainless bike.
Hobos at our door for food.
Chasing the ice truck for a piece of ice.
Penny candy at Watson’s grocery. Sledding at the golf course. Saturday movies for 10 cents.
Trips to the junkyard to sell old newspapers and magazines.
Old Nicey Day Joe’s ice cream wagon.
The old Oak Street playground. Thursday night band concerts.
Cutting people’s lawns and shoveling snow from their sidewalks.
Riding on the back of old Albert Wares’ horse-drawn wagon on the way to his dump of trash he picked up in the alleys downtown.
Going to Sam Snell’s and Brechenser’s to get empty cigar boxes to keep our marbles and other kid treasures.
Buying month-old comic books for two cents with the covers missing.
Watching old Mose O’Brien stomping around town with shoes with extra-thick soles.
Those five-cent lead soldiers at the 5&10 cent store. The carbide pit at Ralph Tice’s old welding shop.


— “Cardinal Charlie” Gill

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