99 South Park Avenue

99 S  Park Ave 10-10-2014Mother said she remembered buying meat at this building at 99 South Park Avenue when it was a grocery store. It’s at the corner of Park Avenue and Merriwether Street.

The only quick story I could find was in the Society News of the March 26, 1942, Missourian:

The marriage of Mrs. Hattie Huckstep Abbot and J.C. McLain of this city was performed by Rev. C.E. Fleshman at the Nazarene Church at 3 o’clock Wednesday afternoon.

“Until resigning Saturday, Mrs. McLain was employed at the Roth Tobacco Co. Mr. McLain, who operated a grocery at 99 South Park Avenue 12 to 14 years, until a year ago, has bought a residence from his mother, Mrs. Katherine McLain, at 103 South Park Avenue, where Mr. and Mrs. McLain will live and will open a grocery store.

{That has to be one of the world’s longest run-on sentences.]

His mother, who lived at 103 South Park Avenue, will move to 101 South Park Avenue.

A & P Food Store

A & P Food Store - 19 N Main - 03-02-2013

Did you know what the A & P in the A & P Food Store stood for? I didn’t either, but Terri Foley, who did The Missourian’s Lost and Saved column did all the work for me.

Here’s her information:

In 1941, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. constructed the building at 19 N. Spanish St. in Cape Girardeau to house the A&P Super-Market. Grand opening of the new store was held Oct. 14 of the same year. At that time, the store was the largest A&P store between St. Louis and Memphis, Tenn. With the opening of the new store, the company closed its other operations in town at 28 N. Main St. and 817 Broadway.

C.A. Juden was commissioned to build the new one-story brick building, measuring 70 feet by 150 feet. On the southeast corner was a three-story tower that featured interior lights and a large circular neon sign. Across the upper facade of the building was a 35-foot neon sign. The store featured a large package cheese and dairy department and a 50-foot meat case and counter. The store stocked more than 2,500 varieties of grocery items.

It was the first of the A&P stores in Missouri to have a collected group of fluorescent lights. There were five check-out stands. As cashiers checked out a customer, a receipt was printed with each item purchased and the cost. Customers could pay a penny for shopping bags.

Our family shopped there, but I think we went to Child’s on Broadway more often. I liked that store better because Mother would park me at the comic book rack just as you came in the store. I didn’t care how long she shopped as long as I had comics to read.

Altenburg Foods Closes after 150 Years

When I photographed the Altenburg Foods store in July 2011, I knew it was for sale, but it never dawned on me that the community fixture for 150 years would actually close.

A story by Amanda Layton in The Perryville News says that Gary Voelker, owner of the store since 1985, called it quits early in October to retire. It had been on the market for about two years. When I looked through the windows, much of the stock was still on the shelves.

Dates back to 1870s

The News story said the original business was started in the late 1870s when John Kunnell began peddling goods to Perry County farmers. He rented an old tavern to store his goods until 1883, when he built “Cheap Johns” next to the tavern. Kuennell sold the business to his son-in-law, Edward J. Fisher, in 1917.

Fishers ran it until 1985

The present structure was built in 1952 by George Fischer, who operated it as Fisher Finer Foods until 1985, when ill health forced him to sell it to Voelker. When the store opened, it had “modern” conveniences like shopping carts.

Everything done by hand

That was about the only thing modern. Lori Scott, who worked in the store for about seven years, said nothing was computerized: not the inventory, not the accounting system, not the checkout lane. Everything was done by hand.

Signature handwritten specials

One of the things that caught my eye the first time I drove through Altenburg were the big handwritten specials taped to the windows and doors. I hadn’t seen that in years.

Altenburg Foods photo gallery

For information about the history of the grocery, go to the link in The Perryville News. I’m including a lot of purely record shots in the gallery because it’s important to preserve the look, feel and architecture of this landmark business. Click on any photo to make it larger, then click on the left or right side of the images to move through the gallery.



Cape Grocers Association

Reader Bob Reese loaned me a copy of Cape Girardeau’s 1956 Sesquicentennial booklet. It’s full of cool historical facts, but I find the advertisements as interesting as the editorial copy. This ad for the Cape Grocers Association – CGA – is a catalog of familiar names. (Click on it to make it easier to read.)

I tried to find out a little about the origin of the group, but didn’t find much. A March 18, 1959, Missourian story said the CGA was enlarging its warehouse at 1901 Independence by 8,000 square feet – an expansion of almost 60 per cent. The membership, the story said, was up to 60 locally-owned retail outlets in Cape, Scott and Bollinger counties in Missouri and Alexander county in Illinois. (On the same page is a photo of an unnamed school being erected near Dennis Scivally Park. It would become Alma Schrader School.)

A June 8, 1932, brief said that additional warehouse space had been leased by the Cape Grocers Association at 111 Water Street.The brief’s not all that interesting, but if you scroll to the left, you can see photos of the Bonus Army converging on Washington.

Fred Lynch had photos of the Water Street building being torn down on his blog.