Saturday, September 1, 2007

Back in the late 1800's a family built a home. The home was on the main road leading through a very small farming town. The town was divided by a river and created nearly two seperate towns. The south side being more rural, and the north side where businesses ended up because of the canal. This family eventually sold thier quaint family home to a man named Eddie Fry sometime in the early 20's. Eddie built on to the house to create his own business, his dream, a saloon. Eddie's saloon was popular but as the years went along it became popular with a crowd most people didn't want, it became the "Den of iniquity" as the story goes. Eventually Eddie grew tired of the bar and closed it down. Eddie sold his bar to a family by the last name of Foebel. The Foebel's saw promise in the old business, as they worked day and night and began to improve on what Eddie had started. The put on a small kitchen addition and opened up Foebel's family restuarant in the late 30's. This is where they served family meals for years and years. In the process of a growing business they became the local teen hang out. They were the soda shop of choice. Seeing a future in this the Foebels put on another addition to the building for a dance floor. This is where business took off and continued to grow. As the Foebel's grew older they lost the ambition to keep up with the place and sold it to Eldor Mohring.

This is where my story really takes off. Eldor was the first cousin to my grandfather. I never really knew the connection while I was growing up five blocks away, I just knew we were related. Our last names were the same so I was sure I wasn't wrong about that. In 1950 Eldor bought the establishment known as Fast Eddie's. They continued to run the teenage hangout until it's ultimate slow down roughly 5 years later. Eldor saw a future, he saw a new direction for the building. He and his wife Martha closed down the hang out and built an apartment for thier family in the dance hall. Doing this allowed him to rent out the house to another couple while they lived in the newly built apartmnet and collected rent money to keep the family afloat while Eldor opened the convenience store.

The convenience store was roughly a mere 500 square feet. The building as a whole at this time was 1000 square feet for the house, 500 square feet for the carryout, and another 700 square feet apartment. I was told the story of his first day in business. His first day of sales was a mere $12. His daughter Norma told me she remembered Eldor coming into the kitchen and putting his head on the table and asked Martha.. "What have I done?" What he did was slow to start but by 1965 he was doing so well he moved his family back into the house and renovated the old apartment to be his new grocery department. He then added on 1500 square feet to the back of the building to house his new dream, his hardware store. When they did this they also created a space filled with glass and doors and opened up a beauty shop to help pay the bills. Mohring's quickly became the Wal-Mart of the time. They sold fresh meats, hardware, clothes, beer, tobacco, and all the household items you could imagine. They had everything in this store. They removed the porch on the house that was on the side of the building and poured concrete for a produce stand.

In the 1970's the business was growing so much he built a room over the place where he sold produce and began selling furniture, appliances and gifts. The business was a hit. 20 years after he purchased the place it was allowing his family to live quite the life. He and his wife Martha were able to travel to Europe often and they never needed anything. Eldor's youngest daughter Norma became a staple in the business, even her future husband Elwood became a part of the business as he began working full time while he was farming. Elwood and Norma were married and they stayed on helping Eldor and Martha with the daily operations of the store. As time went on the little town began booming, more stores were opening and people began to shop elsewhere. Business began to dwindle little by little, it didn't help that Martha and Eldor were growing older and just couldn't keep up as much as they wanted. The large building that had grown to over 7000 square feet began to get the best of them.

In the late 80's Eldor and Martha were involved in a terrible car accident that took Martha's life and left Eldor in critical condition. He was not even aware of his wife's death until nearly a week later. They feared that telling him would kill him in his shape, so he did not even get to be at her funeral. It is my personal believe that Eldor never really recovered from that tragedy. The home and business that they had built together was a constant reminder of her. He began to subconsiouly give up. He couldn't keep up with the trends and no matter how hard he tried people began shopping elsewhere. The thing with a business is you need to have minimum orders to get the suppliers to deliver items to you. As business went down they couldn't reach the minimum orders and therefore couldn't keep the items in stock people had grown a custom to. This was the end. Sales had dwindled in the last five years from 6 figure sales to low 5 figures. Eldor wanted to sell for years but wanted the family to take over the tradition and the kids had thier own lives and careers and were too old to start something new.

Eldor held on, he was 91 when his family decided he could no longer run the business and it wasn't safe for him to be alone. They put him in the home where within 6 months he had passed away. The kids had decided that Elwood and Norma would run the business for 6 months, if it didn't sell as a business they would close and auction off the contents and the real estate and call it quits.

And then I came along.

1 comment:

  1. What a great piece of Napoleon history. Seems like our generation really missed out on a simpler time. So sad.