My father had purchased a large building at 434 North Fifth Street in Calumet Michigan where he began as a dealer for Willys Knights, Overlands and Whippets. Not many years latter, he became a Chrysler Plymouth dealer until 1954 when he sold out. The building still stands as an apartment building today. I wonder if the tenants complain of an odor of car grease left over from years of car repair?

As you can see by my fathers cloths, he was always one of the better dressed men in town. In this picture, he's about 35 years old in 1929 and also the year my sister Joyce was born. I wasn't born until 1943 so I had about 11 years as a "garage kid" and loved every minuet of it.

 Left to right; Edwin Mailonen, Henry Anderson (my father), Wesley Erkkila, Rudy Petaja, Tony Sustrich, Ed Anderson (my uncle), ---? Kotajarvi.

The area of the shop where this picture was taken would be in the rear of the building shown below.

 The best selling car line my Father started out with was the Whippet. Dad and his brothers always talked about them during family gatherings. I found this one at an auction house in Rogers MN this summer.
 Father was a Chrysler dealer by 1931 and would have had a demo family car like this one.

The front of Dad's Chrysler Plymouth dealership

I can only guess this building was built around 1900 and don't know why its' called the "Reding" building but most likely the name of the people who built it. My sister said it was a general merchandise business at its beginning. From old fire reports, the building survived a couple minor fires before my father purchased it around 1928.

This is how the building looks today 6/10/2010) when the picture was taken. When we owned it, the upstairs windows were original and filled the masonry openings and the first floor had four large plate glass windows. The narrow openings were our private entrance on the left and the business entrance on the right. It's quite obvious this building is an architectural gem.


The building on the right is where the upstairs whore house was in the 1930's. It's only fitting that the vertical board siding covers its shame at this time. There was a roll up door up front where the Bridgemen Russell ice cream trucks were parked for the night. My family lived on the second floor of the Reding building and my parents bedroom was where the windows are at right. There was an incredible amount of noise in the summer when the women were leaning out the windows calling the men on the street. There were also seven Salons on our end of town that added to the racket at night.

 Back in the day, this lot was full of used cars. The building is now an apartment complex with entrance porches taking up parking lot space.

Snow removal in the 40's

It would have to be 1948 when I started Kindergarten and be awakened to eat breakfast that I first saw Dad's snow plow in action. A kitchen chair had to be pushed against the wall to look out the window to see the parking lot. It was the sound of a loud motor out there that prompted this . And there it was, a 1932 Buick Coup pushing snow from the back of the lot out into the street. The plow was made out of wood reinforced with steel and couldn't be raised or lowered but simple hinged in the middle. When the Buick backed up, the blade would freely drag on top of the snow and then lock down when moving forward. Looking on the internet, the car had a strait 6 or 8 in line engine that provided plenty of power for that early of a car. That little coup was my morning entertainment during the winter month and then a year or so later, the buick was gone. Dad got rid of the Buick and replaced it with a big Dodge Power Wagon. When I realized this, I actualy got hopping mad and how mad can a 6 or 7 year old get?

I got my revenge

The next winter, I was hanging out inside the garage as usual and heard Dad say to a mechanic, "Take the Dodge Power Wagon to get the parts from the parts store". I hurried outside without anyone noticing and quickly packed the tail pipe with snow and hid behind another car. The fellow got inside and started it up, and then it quickly died. The engine did this several times until the battery went dead. I was rather ecstatic that my plan worked even better than planed. The engine was very flooded with gas and now the fella had to bring out a battery charger. While the battery was charging, the fella aimlessly walked to the back of the truck and saw the snow stuffed in the tail pipe. He went inside and brought others out to see it including my Dad. I knew I was about to be had at this point as someone asked, "where is Philip?" At some point soon, I fessed up to it and all I said was "I miss that old Buick and hate this new Power Wagon." I don't recall being punished for this and it may be that a little kid made a point by bring the whole operation to a halt, no one got hurt and everyone thought it was amusing.

 Another entrance porch rest on the apron leading up to the roll up door that was in this back wall. On the other side of the porch, a snow shed lead down to the garage basement for storing more new cars.

 Getting even

The red building in the center is the back wall of the Whore House. Dad decided that if those people insisted on keeping our family up half the night, they shouldn't be allowed to sleep in the morning. About where that wood fence is now, Dad carried out a steel stand with car horns mounted on it. Another mechanic carried out a fresh battery. Those horns would blow a couple hours until the battery went dead.

 The building on the far left is the upstairs apartment of the Erkkila Garage family, but that's another story.