Donated Picture Creates a Saline History Mystery

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 07/21/2016 - 14:14
Saline grocery store in 1927 shows everything for sale inside. The man on the left is unknown. The woman is Mamie Schrader.

This photo of a Saline grocery store in 1927 was donated by Laura B. Stoll. A note mentions the store was three stores east of Ann Arbor Street on the north side of Michigan Ave. The note says “Mr. Cook” and Mamie Schrader are shown in the store.

As it turns out, the man is not Mr. Cook. I showed this photo to Bob Cook and Wayne Clements in February 2015, and Bob assured me the man in the photo does not look like any of his relatives.

Basically, people in Saline with the name Cook or Koch would likely be related to Bob Cook. So, the man’s identity is not known.

This is one of the joys of historical photos. In nearly every case, there is something unknown, something mysterious.

I call this a History Mystery.

Mamie Schrader is not a mystery. She was widowed in 1925 and left to raise two children alone. She left the family farm in York Township and rented a place at 210 N. Harris in Saline.

In between her work as a domestic in private homes, during the height of the depression, she landed this nice job as a grocery clerk. 

Bushels of apples and potatoes are seen on the left. Above, on a shelf, boxes of Greenan brand cakes and cookies are on display. A large tin or bucket of crackers is nearby, and big loaves of Wonder bread are stacked on top of a glass case.

The glass case displays dishes and silverware.

A box that says Kerr Wide Mouth, Glass Manufacturing is sitting on the pickle barrel, probably to supply women who can fruits and vegetables.

On the left wall, Oxydol and Lava Soap are displayed in an arch shape. Near the ceiling, straight ahead, a sign boasts “Oleomargarine sold here.” Above it, “Kellogg’s Bran” is shown. Chase and Sanborn teas and coffees are advertised.

Round containers of Quick Oats are visible on the right, next to big boxes of shredded wheat. Waldorf paper rolls are stacked near the ceiling, and whisk brooms are displayed hanging from that shelf.

On the right, Schust’s Crackers are sold in big boxes. Open bins of candy are on the right, at easy eye level for children or adults. Above that, Life Savers mints or fruit drops are displayed at 5 cents.

This store was selling mostly food items. Grocery stores in the 1850s and 1860s tended to sell all sorts of things, including clothing, hardware, and paint in addition to food.

Apparently modern grocery stores are going back to the 1850s, sell-everything model. Big box stores today are combining food sales with furniture, office supplies, clothing, electronics, and toys.

Maybe we’re going back to the future.

Thanks to Bob Cook and Wayne Clements for their advice on this photo; thanks to the Saline Area Historical Society; Saline District Library;; Find a grave; Polk city directories; and Census records.


Martha Churchill is a local historian. She can be reached at


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Martha A. Churchill
BA in Journalism and Anthropology at UM in 1973. Law degree at Cooley Law School in 1979. Member of Milan City Council since 2004. Practicing attorney. Genealogist since 2001; local historian since 2006. Free-lance writer.