Saturday, October 28, 2006

Peru Retail Grocery

The Peru Retail Grocery was owned by Robert Geberin. Bob started in the grocery business when he was sixteen at Lett's Grocery in Bunker Hill. He worked 50 to 60 hours a week receiving a paycheck of $12.00. Bob married Juanita Long and eventually moved to Peru from Bunker Hill.
Bob changed jobs working for Palmer & Ditzler Locker Plant. During the war he worked at Riggles' machine shop but his love for the grocery business prompted him to return. He maintained the Peru Retail Grocery in a building on North Broadway in 1948. A few years later Bob then built his business at 167 North Broadway next to the old Y.M.C.A.
Our dad, Bob Geberin, built an apartment on the back of the lot, then proceeded building his own new store. He then built an apartment above the grocery which gave us a high-view of Broadway. The" Cozy Nook," a restaurant with good home cooking, was also added (my mom's cooking). I still picture my dad grinding meat to make hamburger. Like other mom & pop groceries people ran "tabs" and would pay at the end of the week. Eventually he bought Squirrel Food Co. which dealt in restaurant supplies. Bob serviced Peru and surrounding communities.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Richard & Joan Wylie

Dick and Joan Wylie were in Peru this week traveling with a church group from California. They were enjoying Hoosier Hospitality to its fullest.
Dick was pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Peru from 1968 to 1981. Their children went to Peru Schools during that time--Steve, Carol and Janet.
I have many fond memories of their family. We used to have church campouts on the Eel River once a year. Those that loved to camp joined in the Christian Fellowship fun. One such year the men decided to have a style show. Dick replaced his white shirt, tie, trousers, and robe for a very elegant creation that would have envied Lauren or Dior. The laughter echoed throughout the campground all the way down the river. Also, I question his ability to navigate the river as the canoe he was in charge of tipped in the water with my youngest daughter aboard. Dripping wet they finally made their way back to camp. Memories I have of Dick--full of compassion, warm & caring, very knowledgable of Peru History, reaching out in the community, and was an excellent minister.
I don't know how Joan does it--she looks the same as she did back in 1968. Unbelievable!
We miss you, Richard Wylie, former minister of First Presbyterian.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Fire Destroys Grocery

1957--Fire destroyed Clem Toepfer Grocery and Purvis Drugstore. Also damaged were Roy's Tavern, A.G.P. Corporation and apartments. The fire was first discovered in an attached shed behind the tavern. Flames shot as high as 30 feet.Fire chief Burrous thought it was one of the worst fires since the burning of the Thrush factory five years ago. Fortunately, no one living in the apartments was injured.
Mr. Toepfer decided to rebuild his store and continue serving his customers. The store was rebuilt in 1958. He continued his business until 1967. Dedicated men like Clem Toepfer are a rare breed. The children loved him and he became friends with many of his customers. Today's supermarkets lack that warm atmosphere of the old "mom & pop" groceries that were present back in the 40's to the 70's.
When i was a kid I can remember going into Fisher's Grocery close to my house. I still can remember the old pot belly stove that gave warmth to the building. My father also was in the grocery business on North Broadway. Some of these buildings are still standing but deserted. Others have been torn down. The children of today have missed the experience of these "mom & pop" groceries where you could spend lots of time picking out your favorite penny candy.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Toepfer's Grocery 1933-1967

In 1929, Clem Toepfer operated a grocery store in South Peru. In 1933, he moved his business to 316 West Main Street.
As with a lot of "mom & pop" grocery stores you could call on the phone and your groceries would be delivered. His two daughters named his delivery truck "Rattle Trap" because you could hear it coming down the street. Most customers would run a "tab" and pay their bills weekly or monthly. Clem was well-known for his homemade mincement much to the delight of holiday bakers. Very few people had freezers so customers would order meat and produce several times a week.

Clem had a wonderful sense of humor, was quick-witted, and the life of a party. Children loved him and gave him the name "Clem Kadiddlehopper". Clem's father, born in Germany, was a blacksmith and became partners with John Volpert. The business was known as Toepfer & Volpert.

A fire destroyed the business in 1957 but was rebuilt and continued serving customers until 1967. From 1968 to 1990 Clem was associated with Peru Federal Savings and Loan. Note: a car wash now stands in the location of Toepfer's Grocery in 2006.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Peru Courthouses

Peru's first courthouse was built in 1843. It was a two story brick building 40 feet square, in the Greek Revival style of architecture. It had tall white pillars reaching to the roof and a cupola with a weather vane on top. There was a fireplace in each room. On the night of March 16, 1843, it was destroyed by fire. Most of the county records were destroyed.
In 1856 a new courthouse was begun. It was a two-story building, which was of brick in the Norman Style of architecture, was completed in 1858.
By 1905 the second courthouse had grown too small to accomodate the county's business. The building was blown up. The front of this courthouse faced South.
Work then began on the third courthouse which is standing today-2006. The building was completed December 31, 1910 but was not dedicated until 1911.
A special note: In between the burning of the first courthouse and the building of the second court business was conducted in the Presbyterian Church that was located in the first block of West Third Street.