The Candy-Man’s “Shotgun Divorce”

January 23, 2011 by  
Filed under Columnists

At first it was just a job in the candy store at 15 North Huron, and an easy and safe one for a girl in 1911, compared to the jobs for girls in the recently-closed knitting mill over on Forest Avenue or even those in the box company around the corner on Pearl. Carrie had to make sure the boxed candy was displayed nicely, keep the cigars replenished, check that the fruit was fresh, and make an occasional ice cream soda for a customer at the counter. It was pleasant, and it was exciting to work in the city instead of being stuck at home on her father’s farm east of town. The money helped her family and gave eighteen-year-old Carrie a feeling of independence.

Perhaps too much independence, at least by her father’s standards.

ice-creamThe store, on the east side of Huron just north of the present-day Dalat, was managed by 32-year-old Andrew Pastorino, who had immigrated from Italy in 1902. A short man of medium build with brown eyes and black hair, Andrew rented rooms above the store. He shared them with his 21-year-old nephew Salviatra Annrelare, who’d immigrated in 1908, and his 18-year-old niece Mary Annrelare, who’d come the year after Salviatra.

Andrew appreciated his clerk Carrie. As time passed, he began to find her attractive. Soon he was thinking of her after hours, in his rooms upstairs. He was in love.

Although she was roughly half his age, Carrie was aware of and reciprocated his feelings. She knew her family wouldn’t approve. Andrew and Carrie’s feelings for each other deepened. They made a decision: they would elope.

The couple discussed how to sneak out of town for a Detroit wedding. Carrie would board the eastbound interurban at the downtown waiting room at 13-15 North Washington a block from the candy store (site of the recently-closed Pub 13). Further east on Michigan Avenue, Andrew would board the car at the car barns just east of the river. Then the couple would travel on to Detroit and the clandestine wedding.

Carrie’s father had other plans.

On the morning of February 8, 1911, Carrie waited nervously in the interurban waiting room for the 8:45. She spotted city policeman Officer Pierce, who on seeing her, abruptly strode off.

candymanCarrie’s father had come to town early that day, hitching his horse at the Hawkins House hotel at 216 West Michigan Avenue. He was keeping an eye on the departing cars to see if his daughter would show up to board one.

Now here he came into the waiting room with Officer Pierce.

“‘Why, hello, Daddy!’” Carrie said, as quoted in the February 8, 1911 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “‘I’m just going to the grocery store!’” The paper continued, “[She] hurriedly made for the Huron Street crossing thinking that she could avoid her father and yet catch the car. But her father overtook her at about the middle of the block and the car passed on. The groom was seen getting on at the car barns but alas, as the story goes the trip was made alone . . .”

Carrie was whisked home in her father’s buggy.

The next day, Andrew was behind the counter at the candy shop after his lonely ride home on the interurban. He was on the phone, and nearby customers eavesdropped. One of more of those customers would later phone or scurry to the Ypsilanti Daily Press around the corner at 301 West Michigan Avenue and dispense a tidbit of gossip regarding the candy-man’s telephone conversation. The paper ran another story on the thwarted couple.

“‘You can’t see me.’ ‘But I must see you. ‘No, I tell you, you can’t see me; if you come out here father will shoot you.’”

The February 9, 1911 paper continued, “It was at a candy kitchen on Huron street that one part of this conversation is reported to have been overheard this morning. The assurances pro and con came and went over the telephone to the amusement of the parties who chanced to be present . . .”

The paper went on to say, “The distracting experience of boarding a limited D. J. & C. car on which he had so fondly hoped to find a pretty fiancée and being forced to ride some distance alone on account of the unforeseen appearance and intervention of the fair maiden’s papa, seemingly proved a painful event for the candy manufacturer and the telephone was the best medium of consolation to which he could resort. Just what the next step will be is a difficult problem to solve but friends say that neither of the interested parties are of the disposition to give up easily and further interesting developments are still expected.”

“Father seems to have a gun and according to gossip, would be quite inclined to use it, so that the poor merchant’s position is apt to be either sad or perilous, or possibly it may be both.”

The Press was not finished with this story. On the following day, it published a third article about the affair which included responses from Carrie’s father, Allen Stewart. Allen claimed that he’d been in town that fateful morning just by coincidence. He denied that he knew of any business with Andrew, and denied he had a gun. He told the Press “[N]othing was really said about shooting.”

Carrie never came back to the candy store.

But Andrew’s broken engagement would not leave him a bachelor long. In about a year’s time, he married one Evelyn. Carrie also married soon after. The candy-store romance with its attempted elopement was over, though it was likely, by either Carrie or Andrew, not forgotten.

Laura Bien is the author of “Tales of the Ypsilanti Archives.” Contact her at ypsidixit@gmail.com.

Depression-Era Ypsilanti Cooperates to Combat Its Children’s Rickets

January 17, 2011 by  
Filed under Columnists

Some of the Depression’s hardest-hit victims in Ypsilanti were its youngest.

In 1933, the city’s municipal Welfare League and the Red Cross provided needy families with food, stove fuel, small emergency stipends, ready-made clothing, and cloth yardage with which to sew clothes. Occasional shipments of federal flour arrived, and many area farmers donated surplus produce to the “city barn” behind the then-City Hall at 206 North Huron (the Showerman/Quirk residence). But the assistance, though sincere, was ad hoc–and the supplies unpredictable.

It would be two years before Franklin Roosevelt created federal welfare programs, including assistance to children. However, the government did have a Children’s Bureau, headed by social worker Grace Abbott. She estimated that in 1933, 20 percent of the country’s children suffered from inadequate medical care, housing, and food.

When cases of rickets began appearing in Ypsilanti children that year, it was clear an extra effort was needed.

Rickets is a dietary disease caused by a vitamin D deficiency which inhibits calcium absorption by bones. Children with rickets can develop a bow-legged look due to weakened leg bones. Left untreated, rickets can lead to permanent bow-leggedness, an increased risk of bone fractures, and even seizures and breathing difficulties in severe cases.

rickets-adOn February 7, 1933, the Ypsilanti Welfare League took out a large ad in the Ypsilanti Daily Press. It featured an image of two disconsolate children superimposed with the words “Gee, I’m hungry.” The ad said that of 425 children of city welfare families, 150 were preschoolers. The ad also said, “Several cases of Ricketts [sic] have been reported to health authorities in the city because of undernourishment.”

The Welfare League’s plan was to stage a night of fundraising carnivals held at local schools. Admission was to be 25 cents [$4.10 today]. The money would be pooled to purchase milk from local dairies to supply to needy children. Vitamin D-enriched milk had been available on the market beginning in 1931.

Participating schools included Roosevelt High School (now EMU’s Roosevelt Hall), Prospect School (now Adams Elementary), Central High School (now Cross Street Village), Harriet School (now the Perry Child Development Center) and the stately Woodruff School (now demolished).

Each school planned a different program of entertainment. After paying admission, attendees could visit multiple venues, not unlike Ypsilanti’s onetime New Year’s Jubilee festival.

“Prospect School’s program will be in the form of a Depression masquerade,” said a February 13 Ypsilanti Daily Press article. “Old time and modern dancing will be provided” to live orchestra music, with prizes for best mask.

Roosevelt School also planned a program of modern and old-timey dancing to live music, the paper said, as well as an additional performance by acrobats.

Harriet School planned a musical program with performances by the Harriet School band, the Golden Leaf Jubilee Singers, and the Charles Hughes Tap Dancers and Musical Revue. There would also be a minstrel show. Other performances among the schools included comedy skits, vocal soloists, and accordion music.

rickets-ad22On the night of Monday, February 13, Ypsilantians flocked to the schools, with quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies in hand. “There was a generous response Monday evening to the call of [the] Ypsilanti welfare committee,” said a February 14 Ypsilanti Daily Press article. The paper noted that many people unable to attend had nevertheless bought tickets, to aid the effort.

The milk fund drive was a success, raising $315.91 [$5,200 today]. The Welfare League met and “arrangements were completed to immediately begin distribution among undernourished children of the city over 5,300 quarts of milk,” said a February 18, Ypsilanti Daily Press article.

The article said that city welfare director Fred Older, city nurse Helen Firestein, and city social worker Inez Graves would be in charge of arranging the milk purchase. “Several milk dealers in Ypsilanti have already declared their willingness to sell the regular standard grade of milk and deliver it in bottles for six cents a quart . . . exceptional care will be exercised in making up the list inasmuch as the fund must be made to reach as far as possible.”

At six cents a quart, 5,265 quarts could be purchased (1,316 gallons), close to the Welfare League’s estimate of “over 5,300 quarts.” If the milk was distributed only to the 425 welfare family children mentioned in the Welfare League’s initial ad, each child would receive about three gallons.

For some children, the milk’s arrival may have been too late to arrest or ameliorate their rickets. For others, it was the first sip of milk they’d had in over four months–and, when the 3 gallons was gone, their last, perhaps until spring. That was when the Welfare League planned another fundraising event, one that would again reveal the milk of human kindness.

Laura Bien is the author of “Tales of the Ypsilanti Archives.” Have an old-time story to share? Contact her at ypsidixit@gmail.com.