I was recently reading one of my favorite blogs, Marian’s Roots and Rambles. Her article was about “Any Sailors in the Family.” I was a sailor, did 10 years active duty in the US Navy, but more interesting, I learned recently that my mother was a sailor as well. She mentioned that somewhere or another she had gotten “seaman’s papers.” (I’ll have to look and see if I can figure out how to get a copy of them.) She worked on a ferry boat on the Great Lakes. In the early 1950’s she cooked aboard the SS Milwaukee Clipper. The ‘Clipper was an auto/train car (and passenger) ferry that ran between Muskegon, Michigan and Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She cooked and baked in the breads department and lived shipboard a season. Of course, I was astonished and amazed. It provided her with a place to stay (albeit cramped), meals, and money to send back to her mother to support me. I had no idea.
|By Boston Public Library [Public domain],
via Wikimedia Commons
I went on to find out that the S. S. Milwaukee Clipper is still in existence. The ‘Clipper is a National Historic Landmark and dockside in Muskegon, Michigan. Their website explains a lot about the ship and its history. Built in 1904 as the Junita she was sold and completely overhauled in 1940, where a new steel superstructure was installed, she was fireproofed, had AC installed to the staterooms, and other comforts were added. I am sure that the crew quarters were tight.
Anyway, it was a fascinating side trip into a bit of my mother’s history that I had no idea about.
Sometimes talking with elderly family members can yield lots of information that is confusing and difficult to figure out. There are nuggets of really interesting information that can make the family history interesting; but, places or times aren’t quite right.
I was talking with my mother some time ago and she mentioned that back in the early 50’s she worked at “Kreskee’s” at 5th and Marquette in Minneapolis. A little bit of searching and some memory work of my own, and I figured out she worked at S. S. Kresge’s which was at 6th and Nicollet (2 blocks away). Kresge’s was known for it’s “donut counter” which is where my mother worked. At the time I was an infant staying with my grandmother up at Little Rock Lake. My mother would hitch-hike to the city about 80 miles away. Work in the city during the week and then return on the weekends.
S.S. Kresge about 1958. Office Depot resides in the same location today.
I can’t tell if it is the same building with a total facelift or if it is a new building. I suspect it is the same building with a major facelift. I found it really interesting to learn that S.S. Kresge was the predecessor of K-Mart. Some of the Kresge stores became “Jupiter Discount Stores” and others converted to K-Mart. I guess I had thought Kresge had just vanished.
She also worked at a Woolworth’s in St. Cloud (which apparently no longer exists). I need to do some more research on it.
She mentioned working at a restaurant in downtown Minneapolis. She remembered that it was a long and deep restaurant next door on the right of movie theater. She said she couldn’t remember the name of either the theater or the restaurant. In follow-up discussions with her, she recalled that the theater was on the left as you headed towards the river, was at about 4th and Hennepin. A bit of research and I figured that it must have been the Palace Theater. I found a photo of the Palace Theater but can’t quite make out the name of the restaurant. It appears that the theater and the restaurant were torn down about 1953, “to make way for a parking lot.”
The Palace Theater – About 1929 and Today
Surprisingly the Brass Rail is still there and the parking lot is there today.
Beyond it you can see the “Gay 90’s.” I mentioned it as potentially being the restaurant she worked at but she indicated that wasn’t it.
She didn’t work at Kresge’s or that restaurant long but she did worked to earn money to support me, even if it meant being absent for a while. I am really proud of her and the efforts she took.