Fairport Harbor, Ohio –
Following an abbreviated business meeting, we enjoyed the second of Fairport Finnish Business highlights.
MACKEY'S BI-RITE MARKET
Sharon O’Janpa Mackey entertained us with stories of her husband’s family business, Mackey’s Market. The Mackeys owned and operated the market in Fairport for 50 years. Their first store opened in May, 1939 in the North Star Building on Eagle Street by Ben Mackey. It took a lot of courage to start a new business during The Depression, especially since Ben had been held up at gunpoint when he was the manager of the A&P store on Mentor Avenue in Painesville.
On Tuesday, October 23, 1945, Ben closed the Eagle Street store. The new Mackey’s Self-Serve, Cash and Carry Market opened on Thursday, October 25, 1945 at 328 Seventh Street. The building at this address was the former site of Hokkanen’s Market and had been extensively updated. The newspaper article about the new store’s grand opening described it as Fairport’s first independent self-serve grocery and meat market. All visitors during the grand opening were presented with a live potted plant. The store provided shoppers “tote” self-serve carts with baskets. Click on the picture above to see the brand new self-serve grocery in 1945.
Employees at the new store were Mary Cashmere, Mrs. Marion Eddy, Sam Barkkinen, Edith Kangas, LaVerne Kautiainen, Gloria Eddy, Florence Werronen and Richard Bowen. The picture at right shows LtoR: Ben Mackey, Richard Bowen, and Sam Barkkinen.
In 1963, the store was expanded to twice its original size and a new entrance with automatic doors was unveiled.
Mackey’s store was an institution in Fairport. Perhaps the one thing the store was most noted for was its meat.
NEAL PRINTING COMPANY
David Katila spoke about Neal Printing Company. His great uncles, Neal and Carl Katila established the business in 1929. Neal first learned about the printing business at the old Fairport Publishing House. The location of the first printing business was near the corner of High and Third Streets. It eventually moved to the red brick building near the corner of High and Fifth Streets. The new company published the Merchant News from 1932-1935 and then The Fairport Beacon from 1935-1959.
The Fairport Beacon was strictly local, reporting news of club activities, churches, Mardi Gras, schools, social events, sports and council meetings. The Beacon’s circulation reached 2,100 largely delivered to homes in Fairport, north Painesville and Grand River. Children who delivered the Beacon outside of Fairport were dropped off in their delivery location and then given bus fare to return to Fairport. Yearly subscriptions were available for $1.00 or $3.00 if mailed. Once a year a contest was held and one child would receive a new bicycle. The last issue of the Fairport Beacon was printed in February, 1959.
During this time, the Linotype machine was the industry standard for newspapers, magazines and posters. Grade school children were often given tours of Neal Printing. Neal would operate the linotype and spell a child’s name on the machine. He would then give them the metal slug with the name.
The Katila brothers varied printing services continued for years beyond the Beacon. Publication services included the Harvey High School Yearbook and the Harbinger newspaper, cookbooks, Lake Erie College newspaper. They also sold business machines and office equipment.
Rose Moore said of Neal and Carl, “I will always remember them as good friends and worthy advisors who truly loved everything about Fairport, the community in which they spent their lives.”
The picture above shows l to r: Neal Katila, Carl Katila.
HEISKANEN'S SHOE REPAIR
Janet Heiskanen Smuda reminisced about the Heiskanen Shoe Repair business. Her grandfather, Iisakki Heiska had come to America in 1905 to Sparta, Minnesota. He became a shoemaker when an injury on his job as an ironworker caused him to find another trade. His wife Hilma died at age 33. They had two children under the age of 6. Iisakki moved to Fairport Harbor and started his own shoemaking/shoe repair business. The shop was located at 711½ High Street. Janet’s father Uno was taught the shoemaking/repair trade by his father. This was around the time when the “nen” was added to Heiska.
After Iisakki died in 1949, Uno took over the business on a part time basis while he worked at the Diamond Alkali. When Uno retired from the Diamond Shamrock in 1976, he converted the double garage behind the family home into his shoe repair business. This became his retirement job. He opened the business on a part time basis for 20 years. During this time, Uno taught his son Ken the shoe repair business. Then it was the grandchildren’s turn to visit their Paappa, have their works of art posted on the walls, pound nails in an old shoe, play with scrap leather, meet the leatherman and sniff the new leather.
The shoe repair services are far more varied now days. They include repair of briefcases, cell phone cases, and alteration of leather coats and jackets.
Janet Olle O’Janpa shared her memories of The Lake County Transportation Company under her father Arthur Olle. Art came to Fairport from Conneaut, Ohio where he had been the manager of the Conneaut Buick Company. When he came to The Lake County Transportation Company in 1925, he started as a mechanic. After learning every facet of the bus company’s operation, he became owner and manager within 11 years. At that time, the company had 15 buses in service and by 1946 that number had grown to 29 buses.
Art was quiet and reserved, but his friendly manner won growing admiration with fellow workers and the community of Fairport. He was a self-made man because he learned and worked with every aspect of the bus company’s operation. He held all those responsibilities beautifully for 14 years until he was killed in an accident while going to repair a bus at the Industrial Rayon Company after midnight on October 19, 1950.
During his tenure there were many ways the bus company served the community:
1. Offered daily runs between Fairport and Painesville every 30 minutes.
2. Took employees to and from both the Rayon and Diamond Alkali.
3. Provided team buses for Fairport High School athletic teams and charter buses for conventions and other out-of-town functions.
After Art’s death in 1950, the business was sold to Niles Schuster in 1953.
Jessie Hyduk Owens wrote about Art, “Mr. Olle was constantly motivated by a desire to promote convenience and comfort for the people who patronized the local buses. If it were inconvenient for one of his workers to do a job, Art would do it himself.”
Our lovely coffee table hostesses were Elaine Holson Kangas and Pat Sandhill Spivak and featured an "Angry Birds" cake. The very popular digital game is developed in Finland.
Text ©Anne Kalliomaa Pohto,
Photos ©Lasse O. Hiltunen and those provided by presenters.