Cardinal Charlie recalls fire alarm boxesPublished 9:24am Thursday, May 23, 2013
I’m sure there are a few people around who remember that little old man, “Nicey Day Joe,” and his horse-driven ice cream wagon plying the streets of Dowagiac years ago.
No matter the weather, old Joe greeted his customers with, “Nicey Day.”
Back when I was a kid, our sidewalks were plowed of the fallen snow bright and early in the morning by Albert Wares and Loyd Hunt using their big wooden plows, which were driven by their faithful old horses.
If I remember, Albert had a blind horse.
Another thing I remember back in the 1930s were those little red fire alarm boxes around town, usually attached on a telephone pole high enough so little kids couldn’t reach them.
One pulled the alarm box if you saw a fire to report it.
When the fire alarm whistle was blown down at the city waterworks on Chestnut Street, you could tell which of the alarm boxes had been pulled by the number of long and short sounds.
Three longs and two shorts would be box 32, which was Pokagon and Cherry streets.
I remember box 15 was at Wayne and Front streets. This was the closest box to my house at 501 Orchard.
I’m sure a lot of Dowagiac people remember old Don “Deac” Reshore, an old-time lawyer and a neighbor of mine. I guess he used to be quite a baseball player in his earlier years.
I remember how he used to ride his old bike with his pants leg rolled up so as not to get his pants caught in the chain as he rode to town.
He would lean his bike up against one of those big elm trees in front of Dr. Loupee’s office on the corner of Orchard and Division.
No need to lock up the bike back in those days.
He would then proceed up to Front, where he had his law office upstairs over what is now Zeke’s.
Dowagiac used to be full of grocery stores.
Besides A&P, where Ridge is now, downtown were Kroger, Gribler’s and Redner’s.
There were lots of ma and pa small neighborhood ones also.
Watson’s and Three-R Foods were on North Front, Al Mitchell’s was on Oak, Leo Parker’s on Wayne, Harry Arney’s on East Railroad, Bill Bailey’s on East Telegraph, Walt Taberski’s on East Division, along with Bill Hartsell’s, Rein Leitke’s on Jefferson, Joe Parker’s on Sherwood, Hiemstra’s on West Railroad, Swartz’s on Prairie Ronde, C.C. Paul’s on Main, Hunberger’s on Pokagon and several others like Penza’s, Pevin’s, Wright’s and Wenglarski’s.
Does anyone besides me remember the strong aroma of that fresh-ground 8 O’Clock coffee as you went into the old A&P store years ago?
“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
Email him at email@example.com.
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