THE SUMMER OF 1963

I have been going through the Soo Evening newspaper archives, and in doing so, it has brought back many memories. I can’t begin to tell you how much fun I have had in doing the research. I think it might be fun, now and then, to share some of what I have found. I hope it will bring back some pleasant memories for you too. Enjoy!

A lot was happening back in July of 1963. I was six years old back then, and I have to admit I have gotten such a kick out of looking at all the old ads.

Take a look at that Neville’s ad. Can you imagine buying steak at 39 cents a pound today? We will never see that again. That was an ad in the July 18th newspaper. Vegetables for five cents, Oreo sandwich cookies at 75 cents for two packages. Amazing.

I ran across an ad for new Ramblers selling at Soo Rambler Company at 2601 Ashmun Street. Prices ranged between $42.00 – $51.00 a month for a new Rambler. Prices were around $2700.00 back then.

That particular ad had me smiling. When I was 12 years old, my friend Karen and her mom drove me home in their Rambler one day. Karen and I were in the back seat giggling. We turned off Easterday Avenue onto one of those side streets headed towards Lincoln School. Each block had a stop sign, and we coasted through all of them as Karen’s mom explained that the Rambler’s brakes weren’t working. I remember closing my eyes at each stop sign thinking, “My mom wouldn’t like this.” So when I saw the Rambler ad, I had to chuckle. I’m not sure I ever told my mom I was driven home in a car with the brakes not working, but I remember that incident well.

Callaghan’s Market, on Ashmun Street, had a sale that month. A dozen ears of corn were 49 cents, bologna at 39 cents a pound, and butter was 59 cents a pound.

I remember that little store well because it felt so cool inside when I entered the door. The floors were wooden and scarred. The store was located next to the Karmelkorn Bakery, where my dad worked. When my grandfather passed away in 1965, my grandmother, who didn’t drive, had her groceries delivered by Callaghan’s. I remember her calling her order in by phone in the morning, and it was delivered to her home later that afternoon.

Just above Callaghan’s ad was a small ad for an optometrist in town, Claude D. Quist, located on Ashmun Street.

Barish Bros. was holding sidewalk sales on July 18th and 19th. Women’s tennis shoes were $1.77, men’s long-sleeve sweatshirts were $2.77, and women’s pedal pushers were $2.97. I remember my mom wearing pedal pushers. What great memories.

Kresege’s had an ad in on July 18th also. A tuna, chicken, or ham salad sandwich was 59 cents, a banana split was 28 cents, and a 16-ounce jar of Marzetti slaw dressing was 59 cents. They also had three yards of cotton material for 99 cents, foam sleeping pillows for $1.27, and sheet blankets at 88 cents.

I loved that store. My mom’s friend, Betty McKay, worked behind the Kresege’s lunch counter. I thought I was such a grown-up at six years old, climbing up on the stool at the counter with my mom. I remember they had delicious full-size submarine sandwiches for 59 cents and small pecan tarts. I don’t recall the price of the pecan tarts, but I remember they sure were good, though not as good as what my dad made at the Karmelkorn Bakery.  

Babcock’s Furniture had a moving sale that month, although I couldn’t find where it said in the ad the new location they were moving to would be. Dinette sets, a table with four chairs were $49.95, and Innerspring mattresses were $39.95.

One of my favorite stores was Piggly Wiggly. How I loved that little pig on their sign outside their parking lot. I always enjoyed going there with my dad. The store, located on the corner of Seymour and Easterday, also had an ad in July’s newspaper. They had 5 – 28 ounce cans of tomatoes for $1.00, a pound of carrots was 10 cents, two loaves of white bread were 47 cents, and a 25-pound bag of Gold Medal, King Midas, and Pillsbury flour was only $1.79. Now that was a deal. And if you shopped on Wednesday, you got double Gold Bond gift stamps that could be later redeemed at the store.

At Soo Theater, Walt Disney’s “Savage Sam” was playing. The Starlite Drive-In was showing “House on the Haunted Hill” with Vincent Price.

The Penthouse Restaurant, at the intersection of M-129 and Ashmun Street, had Filet Mignon for $1.25. The ad says they were open around the clock and served trout, whitefish, barbecue ribs, and delicious ham steaks.

While researching this story, I often wore a big smile on my face. Many wonderful memories came back to me as I looked at the ads from sixty years ago. But as I write this, there is a sense of melancholy too. It seems so long ago, and many of those people I loved and remembered are long gone. Many old businesses are closed, and those prices will never be seen again. Memories are great, but they leave me wanting for those good old days again. That’s where melancholy comes in. As I age, I find myself looking back a lot. I think of those times as “the good old days.” It’s fun to take a walk down memory lane. It’s fun to keep a journal to share these times of history with others. After all, it’s a part of our local history. And now and then, it’s fun to walk down memory lane and think back and remember.  

Written by: Laurie Davis                                                                                                                       

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