By JAN COYNE HENKEL
Originally published in the Wyandotte Echo
You walk up the cement steps, pull open the door and straight ahead you see Mr. Liptow sitting way in the back of the store. He may not have seen you but he knows you are there because on the left side of the door you came in there is a bunch of work gloves hooked to a string which was connected to a cowbell. When you opened the door the gloves raised up in the air and when the door closed they were lowered. Seeing that and hearing the cowbell told Mr. Liptow you were inside.
You have just entered Liptow’s Egg Station. We, in the neighborhood (now the McKinley Neighborhood) just called it Liptow’s. The building was over one hundred and sixty-years old. When it was torn down it was discovered, from things in the attic, that it had been a saloon at one time. It was a big building with the store on one side and the family’s house on the other. In the middle of the aisle in the store there were stacks and stacks of egg cartons. Yes, there they sat, not in a cooler; just on the floor or shelf, I don’t exactly remember which. And by the way, no one ever got sick from eating them either.
Mr. Liptow’s name was August (Gus) and his wife’s name was Nada. They had three children, Chuck, Jan and Jerry. I talked with Chuck Liptow who filled me in on some of the history of the business, which began in 1935. First at 4th Street and Pine, Liptow’s was a wholesaler of butter and eggs, supplying restaurants, stores and bars. Then in 1947 Mr. Liptow moved to another location on 15th Street and Eureka. In the 1960’s he moved back to 4th Street and Pine where he ran a retail store. His eyesight and hearing wasn’t what it used to be and he finally closed the store around 1986 or 1987. Sadly to say part of the problem was with youngsters who would come into the store and take advantage of his difficulty hearing and seeing. One would keep him occupied in one part of the store while another one would steal things somewhere else.
My late husband, George, spent much time talking with Mr. Liptow. He heard stories of the family business and was given some old negatives from which he developed pictures. One of the pictures was of a wagon with “A. Liptow Grocer” printed on the side. In the picture Mr. Liptow, as a young boy, was standing next to the wagon that belonged to his father’s grocery store.
While talking with my neighbor, Jean Miller, she said her brother, Earl Brown, used to work for Mr. Liptow. He used to drive the Liptow van to Irish Hills to pick up eggs from a poultry farm there. He would take his mom, Emma Brown, and his son Ray along for the ride. Jean says he delivered eggs to local stores and restaurants including the one she worked at, The Channel Coffee Shop. The Coffee Shop was located on 2nd Street and Eureka back before the area was changed into a parking lot for Bank One on Eureka and Biddle.
I heard that Liptow’s supplied eggs for Bob Evans at one time. We just liked to be able to send our boys, Pat, Mike and Chris, there for milk, bread, cereal or whatever we needed in a hurry. Chris says when he went in for milk Mr. Liptow would go in the back to get it and you would hear a cow moo. He says he was a funny guy.
You won’t see the store on the northwest corner of 4th Street and Pine anymore. It was torn down and all that remains is the house portion of the building, which has been very nicely remodeled. But when we drive by, in our minds, we still see those cement steps and the pipe railing and think of the “good old days” around town when you could still run to the “corner store.”