The Card Players – 1950
By Denis LeDuc
Horse harnesses, logging chains and rolls of cable hang from the ceiling. Cans of paint, varnish, turpentine, and oil line the shelves. Pitchforks, hoes and rakes stand in the corner and displays of cigars, chewing tobacco and candy cover the countertops. Bins of nails, screws, nuts, and bolts are for sale by the pound. Appliances are in the next room, and tractors and farm machinery are for sale outback.
This is a country hardware store. Nothing is fancy but everything is useful and practical. And, good service always comes with a smile.
Above are pictures of the Davis Hardware Store, circa 1950, in the small town of Davis which was located at the intersection of 27 Mile Road and Romeo Plank Road in Ray Township. Like all good country stores it carried a wide range of merchandise. Its usefulness to the community is testified by its long, continuous existence since before 1900. Like many country stores, it was a gathering place for local farmers.
The town of Davis was originally named Brooklyn (or sometimes spelled Brooklin). It was renamed Davis in 1876 at the request of the United States Post Office since there was another town named Brooklyn in the state. The name was chosen in honor of one of the earliest settlers in Ray Township when Macomb County was still a western wilderness.
Look closely at the front of the hardware store. There are no fancy, plate glass window displays to lure customers inside. The gas pumps have the fire chief ’s logo of the Texaco Oil Company and have calibrated clear glass reservoirs at the top. Gasoline was hand pumped up into the reservoir and then released. Simply by gravity it flowed down into the gas can or tank. On the left over the door is a sign for the New Idea Farm Equipment Company of Coldwater, Ohio and on the right is the sign for McCormick Deering farm implements manufactured by the International Harvester Company.
Inside the hardware store in the back, but in full view of the customers, sit four local farmers playing pinochle with a couple more watching. From the far left facing the camera are Frank Yax, Elmer Lambert, George Range, and Fred Stade. With their backs to the camera are Ernest Eisenhardt and August Goike. Standing to the right watching is the store owner Harold Luchtman.
Notice the large fuel oil stove on the right, the plaid wool jackets and caps, Elmer Lamberts railroad style hat, and the fedoras worn by George Range and Harold Luchtman.
Behind Lambert is a stack of brooms and if you look closely, there are pairs of gloves and mittens, and assorted oil cans in the lower right. Also notice Harold Luchtman’s cigar and wide style tie.
It’s autumn in Macomb. All the leaves have fallen, the crops are in, there is a chill in the air and farmers throughout the rural communities of Ray Township and beyond are gathered in their favorite local country store. They play cards or checkers, and often swap stories by the warmth of the fire.
Photographs courtesy of the Macomb Daily archives.