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.

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