Growing up in Albion, things rarely changed. Back then, it was a busy little Village with a downtown full of successful businesses. Within a few close blocks, you could walk around and buy fine jewelry, get fitted for a new pair of shoes, purchase an evening dress or a new pair of bell bottom jeans, get your prescription filled, find the perfect sailor hat or pea coat, pick up some scrumptious baked goods, take your pick of several options for a nice lunch, get an ice cream sundae or soda, get whatever you may need at the hardware store or the Five and Dime, enjoy a cocktail, get a room to stay, see a movie at the theater, take home a bag of penny candy along with the daily newspaper or latest magazines, get your groceries, and any number of other items and activities you may want! You rarely had to go out of the downtown area to get whatever was needed! And, it was a friendly, safe place to be where neighbors and friends were sure to stop you to chat or watch out for the youngsters out enjoying the day!
When I returned home after living in NC for 26 years, things had changed……downtown still looked very much the same, but most of the store fronts were either occupied with new businesses or stood empty waiting for a new owner to come wake them up. I found much of my home town “the same, but different” and had to rediscover so much.
And then there was Fischer’s News Stand……standing exactly where it was when I was a little girl, looking exactly the same, and offering exactly the same goods for purchase.
With the exception of the addition of the lottery ticket station and a couple small details, I walked in the front door and was instantly transported back to the 1960s and early 1970s when I would wander in there as a small child / young girl with a dollar and some change to buy a bag of penny candy, a comic book, a bottle of pop, and the newest edition of Tiger Beat so I could read up on all the latest gossip about Davy Jones, Bobby Sherman, David Cassidy, and the other teen heart throbs of my teen and pre-teen years! It was where everyone got their newspapers and magazines. It was where I’d often buy pipe tobacco and cigars for my Grandpa – long before there were restrictions on children buying such things because we were still trusted to take them directly home to Grandpa….and the owner knew us, so we knew our parents would find out and we’d get our tails tanned if we didn’t! It was the best place for candy – they had it all – mallo cups, bit ‘o honey, candy cigarettes, bubble gum with baseball cards, cracker jacks, those little wax bottles with kool-aid inside, fireballs, candy necklaces, and so much more!!!
When I lived in the Village, I walked there……when we moved out to the country, I’d ride my bike in to town – stopping at the orchard up the road to pick an apple to eat on the way, making a pit-stop at the little corner store in Eagle Harbor for a bottle of pop, and then in to town to meet up with friends and the inevitable visit to Fischer’s! It played a big role in my childhood – lo those many years ago……and, yet, upon my return to good ole Albion in 2011, there it was – still there – still the same! Oh, yes, the lottery signs are a clear sign that it has evolved to keep up with the times…..and the girly magazines that my brother used to try to sneak a peek at are no longer on the top shelf just out of reach……and the smokes are no longer on prominent display just inside the entrance……but, the same tall counter is there – the one I used to have to tippy toe and stretch to reach up to pay for my candy and still feel small beside…..the right hand wall is still loaded with any and every magazine you could want the entire length of the store……the candy racks are still there in the back and filled with treats to delight the children of today! Yes, the years barely touched this wonderful downtown fixture and just driving by brings back so many amazing memories!
This gave me a special warm, fuzzy feeling……knowing that it was true that the good things in life will endure and that some things never change……or do they???
Well, it appears they DO and that change is inevitable – eventually! It was recently reported that next Sunday, August 30th, will be the last day for this downtown treasure…..they will be closing!
Current owners, Gary and Denise Withey, purchased the business in 1995 and have kept it going for the past 20 years. Unfortunately, Denise passed away in February. Couple that with a decline in this type of business and Gary decided it was time to close the doors. Gary said he is very sad about his decision and if Denise were still alive, he’d probably try to keep it going. But, she isn’t, so it is the perfect time to make a change. He said he begins a new job in September – one where he can actually take a real vacation and have days off – something running a small town business tends to hinder!
I knew Gary in the 80’s when he played keyboard for my dear friend’s band – Defiance! These days, Gary plays with the local band Jonesie and the Cruisers. I, as with everyone in town, wish Gary the best of luck in whatever life throws at him from here on out. He and his news stand will be missed…….they leave a void in our downtown that will be very difficult to fill!
And, so…..the end of an era…….
Click here to read more about the closing on the Orleans Hub
Click here to read about Major League Baseball pitcher, Carl W. (“Lefty”) Fischer – Medina native who played for the Washington Senators, Detroit Tigers, and Cleveland Indians. Carl opened Fischer’s News Stand in 1959 and ran it until his death in 1963. He was known as the “Medina Mauler” and was famous for striking out Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Sam Byrd consecutively in a Detroit Tigers game against the NY Yankees in 1932. He also threw the pitches that lead to Lou Gehrig’s 41st home run in 1931 and Joe DiMaggio’s 21st home run in 1937. He was quite the local hero in his day and could often be found signing his baseball cards for little (and big) boys who visited his store!
Photos of Carl remain on the wall in Fischer’s News Stand, which still bares his name, to this day! Unfortunately, I do not know the history of the news stand prior to Carl Fischer’s ownership, but I believe it was a main street fixture for many years prior to that time under different ownership and likely a different name. Maybe someone can comment on this post with the prior history details and I can update this story to include that information.