|130 N. Interocean Ave.: A look at hometown history from grocery store to newspaper|
|Written by Darci Tomky|
From store shelves, meat lockers and bakery goods to printing presses, office supplies and computers, the building at 130 N. Interocean Ave. has sure come a long way since 1935.
“This building has seen a lot,” said Brenda Brandt, current publisher of The Holyoke Enterprise which now occupies the building. Located just north of the stoplight on the west side of the street, it is a structure that has witnessed much of Holyoke’s history for the past eight decades.
Grocery store built
On June 12, 1935, brothers-in-law Merle O. (Sam) Powell and Otto Brethouwer purchased land from Ed Hethcote at lot 5, block 11 in the original town of Holyoke for the expansion of their Holyoke Market. According to the Holyoke centennial history book, they made plans to move their IGA (Independent Grocers Alliance) store across the street to its new home at 130 N. Interocean Ave.
With groundbreaking on July 1, 1935, the July 4 edition of the Enterprise reported brick laying for the new building would begin Friday, July 5 after the pouring of concrete for the basement and the laying of the subfloor the previous week. Construction continued through July and August, 1935.
White stones with the IGA emblem were placed on both sides of the front of the building and a date stone reading “July 1935” was placed at the top center. They were crafted by Arthur Bim, the man in charge of the city’s dump ground, who was reported to have many years of experience at the stone cutting trade.
By the July 25, 1935 issue of the Enterprise, a skylight had arrived, a roof put on and the structure was ready for celotex lathing and plastering. In addition to the skylight, the building also boasted of having large windows in the front which would provide plenty of light as well as white walls and “an air of spaciousness.”
The Enterprise said, “The building is 25 by 80 feet, and has a wall of tile within the outer brick wall, making it one of the best business buildings in the town.”
With the big move on Aug. 19, 1935, a multitude of customers exclaimed “It seems as though we’re in a big city,” according to the Aug. 22 Enterprise.
Improvements for the new store included a modern meat display case and a vapor cooling system for fruits and vegetables. Refrigerators and cases were painted white to harmonize with the rest of the store while an unbroken line of shelving lined the north wall, part of the west side and a generous section to the south.
Powell and Brethouwer also introduced a new “serve yourself” system of trade in the center of the store where customers could help themselves instead of being waited on by clerks.
A full-page advertisement in the Sept. 5, 1935 Enterprise announced the two-day grand opening sale complete with a three-piece Hawaiian orchestra and free iced tea, coffee and cold meat sandwiches. Sales included Hershey’s chocolate bars, three for 11¢; Holyoke bread, three large loaves for 25¢; Camay Soap, four bars for 19¢; and Van Camp’s Pork and Beans, three medium-sized cans for 19¢.
The ad also reminded customers to tune into KOA every morning for the IGA Musical Menu.
Holyoke Market had a meat market in conjunction with a slaughter house located on the west edge of Holyoke near the Frenchman Creek bed. Jacob Jensen coordinated the buying as he selected the farmers’ animals for trade-ins for their groceries.
In the 1930s, Holyoke had two big shopping days: Tuesday and Saturday. Tuesday was sale day at the Hoover Sale Pavillion while on Saturday nights, almost everyone came to town, left their orders with the store clerks and picked up the goods around midnight after the show or dance at the Legion Hall.
Grocery store tradition continues
Over the next three decades, the grocery store would see many new owners and changes.
Early employees at the Holyoke Market included Wilbur Burchett, Cody (D.D.) Patrick and Erwin Weber who jointly managed the store beginning in Sept., 1943 when Powell and Brethouwer semi-retired.
In 1945, the lot to the north (present day La Mexicanita) was purchased from Fred G. Fiedler, and a frozen food locker plant, bakery and coffee shop were added. Earl Isham and his wife came to Holyoke to run the bakery.
Newspaper advertisements from 1945 reported the bakery had just received an up-to-date high-speed mixer making it “one of the best equipped bakeries of any in a city of this size.” And don’t forget that “About 9 a.m. is a good time to hook a hot doughnut.” Chocolate cakes were sold on Thursdays while the bakery promoted their white cakes on Fridays.
Burchett went on to buy the Amherst Grocery Store in 1952 which he operated until 1979.
The Hofmeister brothers—Willard, Dale and Melvin—bought the store in December, 1955, and the name changed to the Holyoke Red and White Store. Many years later, Dale bought the Holyoke Furniture Company building at 123 S. Interocean Ave. (present day J’s Home Furnishings) where he established a grocery store in 1971.
An account in the Holyoke centennial history book noted the community had five grocery stores in 1957 including the IGA store, Safeway, Kelly’s, Church’s and Wayne’s Grocery.
Still a grocery store, the Hofmeisters sold 130 N. Interocean to J. Wesley Gurney of South Dakota, and Leo and Cecile Upoff, Fred and Vivian Thietje and Lyle McCormick were all employees.
Jack and Jill would be the next store name when it sold in March, 1962. Advertisements listed goods such as Del Monte Catsup,17¢; Karo Syrup, 39¢; and Wisk laundry detergent, 75¢.
The Holyoke Enterprise moves into building
After 31 years of grocery store activity, 130 N. Interocean Ave. transformed into the new location of The Holyoke Enterprise. Newspaper owners Max and Hazel Starbuck purchased the building in December, 1966.
The Enterprise has a long history of covering news in Holyoke since its establishment in July, 1900. It began as the Phillips County Republican until changing its name to The Holyoke Enterprise in 1911.
The newspaper was previously located at 138 S. Interocean Ave. which was positioned between present-day Sullivan’s Appliance and Air and First Pioneer Bank according to current Enterprise publisher Brenda Brandt.
According to Loral Johnson’s article in the July 8, 1999 centennial issue, the Enterprise used the letterpress method of production for its first 74 years. “That meant that all material had to be set in metal or wood form so that ink rollers could run over the type, after which paper was placed on it for an impression print,” said Johnson.
With the move came major mechanical changes for the newspaper to improve the letterpress printing. Johnson noted the old single-revolution Cranston press was replaced with a much faster and more versatile double-revolution Miehle press. It was housed in the northwest section of the building (present-day La Mexicanita).
The Feb. 23, 1967 issue reported the new press was being brought from Cortez in pieces and was being reassembled in the new location ready for printing March 2. With little “down time,” pages were put together at the new location and printed at the old location before the new press was in place.
Other additions were a Ludlow hot-type casting machine, an Elrod border casting machine, a photo-lathe photo engraving machine, as well as having one of the linotype machines retro-fitted with a teletype (TTS) system, all improving the printing process.
In addition to the newspaper business, the building was also home to the Enterprise’s office supply store, located in the north part of the building.
One well-known part of the Enterprise was “Clark’s Corner,” a one-page column by Ted Clark who worked there from 1951-68.
A monumental change took place on May 24, 1973 when the newspaper transitioned from the old letterpress method of printing to the new, modern offset method. According to Johnson’s article, “A photographic image of printed material could be transferred to a plate. Through a dampening and inking process the image is printed onto an impression blanket and then offset onto paper as it rolls through a press at high speed.”
Starbuck, long-time newspaper man and owner of the Enterprise, was awarded the “Golden Makeup Rule Award” in 1977 for 50 years of continuous service.
More changes would come to the newspaper business when Starbuck retired in March, 1977 and Loral and Elna Johnson of Imperial, Neb. took over ownership of the Enterprise. It was a memorable month for the Johnsons as their first issues reported headlines of the infamous blizzard of 1977.
The pages of the Enterprise were prepared in Holyoke and then printed in Imperial, Neb where the Johnsons also owned The Imperial Republican.
Shortly after purchasing the Enterprise, the Johnsons built a wall that closed off the north part of the building. After the technological change from letterpress to offset printing, the newspaper required a much smaller space without the large printing press. According to Brandt, the north part of the building was then rented to other businesses including Montgomery Ward, a hardware store, the Video Den, Body Works, Silver Screen Video and La Mexicanita.
Other remodeling projects included building a publisher’s office in the front part of the building.
Wally Machamer became managing editor when Johnsons bought the paper in 1977, followed by Brandt in 1980.
Because of the grocery store history of the building, Brandt said they made an “environmental move” in the 1980s to deactivate the cooling units in the ceiling, facilitated by a refrigeration company from Nebraska.
In the fall of 2005 the building underwent some upgrades with a major clean-up and painting project.
Of course, newspaper technology is always changing with advancement in digital cameras and computer technology. Instead of “pasting up” pages, they are now “paginated” on computers and are digitally sent to Imperial, Neb. for printing. Layout, fonts and story ideas have also been revamped throughout the years.
To sum it up, Lot 5, Block 11 at 130 N. Interocean Ave. has seen its share of changes in the last 74 years from grocery stores and finally to a newspaper, and it will surely see many transformations in the future.