FISHER BROTHERS (store)
from “Memories of Old Angelica”
by Mrs. Richard McGillivray & Mrs. Emil (Matie)
Contributed by Carol Paska
Albert Fisher owned the big house in Angelica. It is still there
but now it's the white house instead of the pink and green house that I
remember in my childhood. It is across the road from where Mr. and Mrs.
Arthur Graf are now living.
Harry and Albert Fisher owned the general store, which they bought
from Andrew Spence. The merchandise they sold at that time was mostly sold
in bulk, very little was in packages. Coffee brands that I remember are
Champaine, Arbuckles 4XXXX, Mexaha and Blue Rose plus others. Tea came
in bamboo-woven casts with gunmetal and paper linings. Grandma Fisher made
beautiful sunbonnets out of this woven material and I owned one of them.
Rice, sugar, brown sugar, coffee, peanuts, oatmeal, starch, etc. were all
in large covered bins. Syrup molasses and vinegar were in large barrels.
Some brands of syrup were Clover Leaf and Kara. Eggs were brought to trade
for groceries and were brought in containers or were packed in oats to
keep them from breaking. There was box for the oats underneath the counter.
The merchants used this oats for their horses and for extra income. Butter
was also brought in crocks and traded for merchandise.
Crackers came in 30 pound boxes, as did gingersnaps and other cookies.
Later they came in 10 pound boxes but they all would get soggy in the summertime.
Candy came in large wooden pails fitted 5 pound containers like
peanut candy, creams, chocolates, hard mixes and stick candy. Horehound,
anise and peppermint were the most popular flavors and always a bag of
candy for free was among your grocery order.
K.C., Royal and Calumet were brands of baking powder and another
brand as sold in lamp chimneys, I don't remember the brand name. Arm and
Hammer soda was on the market long before I was born. There was a series
of animal pictures in the first boxes and later on it was birds - all in
beautiful color. Nobody forgot their kerosene can when they came to the
store. If you didn't have a cork to fit the end of the spout, why they
just stuck a small potato or a prune on the end. It all served the same
There was also a box of free tobacco for the farmers to fill their
pipes or to take a chew as they sat about talking of the current events
and the local news while the women did their shopping. There were spittoons
in most every place of business or if there was a knot in the floor they
used that and were pretty good at hitting the hole. Men chewed a lot of
plug tobacco such as Horse Shoe (my dad's brand), Star, Plow Boy, Standard,
Navy, Spearhead and Rope Twist. A cutting machine was used to cut off 5
or 10 cent pieces of plug. Snuff was also sold in bulk and was carried
in fancy snuff boxes made of cowhorn - polished boxes with ornamental covers
to carry the precious contents. Some women did some snuff sniffing on the
sly, but not in polite society.
Then there was tanglefoot fly paper, two sheets for $.05, it came
in two sheets stuck together and was pulled apart to set in desirable places
where flies could sit on it and get stuck. There was one caution about
setting it out - be sure it was weighted down as a stiff breeze could send
it flying and then it caught more than flies and was a mess to clean up.
A black poison fly paper came in sheets of five in an envelope at $.50
and was set out in shallow dishes of water sprinkled with sugar to induce
the flies, but this was not one of the best poisons-as children were inclined
to taste and in some cases proved fatal.
Thread was in a special cabinet as were ribbons and chewing gum.
You put a cent in a slot and got a large stick of gum which we would break
in half and still get a pretty good mouth full. Oh, yes we learned to keep
our overhead down when we were quite young and made our pennies go as far
Clay pipes were a cent apiece and we kids would have bubble blowing
parties with pipes that had broken stems. Uncle Harry Fisher would give
them to us children. A clay pipe usually went with a pail of smoking tobacco.
They were appreciated, as some of those pipe smoker's pipes got pretty
There was a lot of yard goods like Calicoes, ginghams, lawns, heavy
cottons and wool materials. There weren't too many ladies that had readymade
clothes. There was a lot of men's wear and underwear. You could usually
tell the size of the family by the underwear on the clothesline - it was
Pa, Ma and all the kids. Wool was spun and knitted into stockings. Various
dyes were used like sumac, it gave a henna color, onion skins brown, rhubarb
leaves green and then there were the commercial dyes which were Diamond
There was no such thing as buying bread. Most all women were good
at the art of baking. If you ran out of bread, you borrowed a loaf from
your neighbor; or, if you had time you made Johnny cake or soda biscuits.
The brands of flour used at that time were Cream of Wheat, manufactured
in DePere, Wisconsin. Rose, Pillsbury, New Deal, A and P's special, Sweet
Loaf, Ethan Allen, Gold Medal and others that I don't recollect. Cake or
pie was not bought either.
Fishers also sold pianos, lightening rods, eye glasses, stump pullers,
windmills, wet stones (that we kids had to turn for hours so as to have
knives, scythes and sickles sharp). Like all general stores they sold most
everything else, also oilcloth and buggy whips. Athol McKenna sold the
first aluminum utensils that we ever used in our home, it was a coffee
Fishers also had a large horse stable where they kept their horses
and a large carriage house. It was one place in Angelica that we kids had
to keep out of, as we were cautioned to keep away from the horses so as
not to get hurt. I guess it was for our own good but at that time we couldn't
see it that way. Adolph Deering, Frank Burmeister and Frank Lutz were Fisher's
There was a little red and white barn between the house and store
where Bertie kept his little brown pony. I guess Bertie's right name was
Albert. Anyway I enjoyed his pony and liked to ride in his little cart.
He and I were playmates and went to Sunday School together. I didn't know
too much about Harrison Fisher. He was brother Ray's age and he didn't
interest me. He liked the older girls. He went to high school in Seymour
and his mother kept house for him there.
Then Fishers bought an automobile - a beautiful five passenger "Wisco".
It had doors in the back but not in front and a large rubber ball called
a horn that when you gave it a squeeze it made a noise loud enough to wake
the dead. I don't know why it was needed because people sure could hear
that car coming, at that time cars didn't run top quiet.
Horses were scared stiff when they met these cars, drivers got out
of their buggy, and drove their horses in the ditch next to a fence post,
and lady drivers covered their horses face with their aprons so that their
horses couldn't see the contraption that made the terrible noise; but never
the less the autos won out. Now you seldom see a horse and buggy except
in Amish country.
Phil Amhouser was the chauffer and he wore a special cap and duster
when he drove the grand car. The Fisher's second car was a seven passenger
One Sunday afternoon, Mrs. Fisher invited Dad, Mother and I to go
for a ride in their automobile. This was my first auto ride. We went somewhere
near Zachow, had a picnic lunch and gathered beechnuts. That was one day
in my memory that I'll never forget.
Grandpa and Grandma Fisher came from Canada. They were the parents
of Albert, Harry and William. Will lived with his parents in a little house
north of the Fisher's big house. Grandpa and Grandma Fisher were a dear
old couple and all the neighboring children loved them as well as anyone
Fishers also built houses for their help and in the space of time
several different families lived in them. Emil and I lived in one of these
houses. It was while we lived there our two children were born, Carl in
1923 and Marie in 1925. Later we sold the house to Ray and Clara Martin.
They lived there until they passed away and now their grandson occupies
it. He is a technician for Curtiss Breeding Service. A storage barn was
between Fisher's house and Grandpa and Grandma Fisher's, this house and
the storage shed beside it was sold to Frank Muck and later to Louis Polczinski,
later on it was torn down and Thad Black built a home where the shed stood.
Julius Robaidek's son-in-law Orville Schulke now lives there.