Highland News Leader

Victory over Japan brought business boon to Highland

Roland Harris
Roland Harris

J & H Machine Co. was formed in 1946 by partners Otto Jakel and Leonard Heim. Their building was owned by Alfred Voegele and was in the alley just behind Ziegler Jewelry Store, at 1008 Laurel, and Voegele Studio, at 1010 Laurel. (Later, this building became the Victor Seifried Baby Shoe factory.) In 1951, J & H Machine Co. was dissolved, and two separate businesses formed. Otto Jakel started Jakel Manufacturing Co. at 400 Broadway, and Leonard Heim started Helvetia Tool Co. at Mulberry and 13th streets. Both were very successful businesses.

While I was researching J & H Machine, on Pages 116 and 117, in the Sesquicentennial Book, I read the words: “Japan’s official surrender was Sept. 2, 1945, aboard the battleship USS Missouri, the official VJ Day.” I just couldn’t resist writing about the happiest day of my life — up to that time — Victory in Japan, Day. Very shortly VJ Day, I was reassigned from my field artillery battalion, on the island of Leyte in the Philippines, where we had been practicing for the invasion of Japan.

Twenty-six of us who had typing in high school were sent to Manila, on Luzon Island, to the No. 1 Station Hospital, where we interviewed the Americans who had been held as prisoners of war by the Japanese. I interviewed an American soldier who weighed just 82 pounds. The POWs’ stories of the Japanese atrocities on our soldiers made our sleep almost impossible. Our dreams were terrible. Just three weeks later, I was made acting first sergeant. I was then assigning other men to their jobs, instead of conducting interviews and typing.

Sesquicentennial Book, Page 116 continued with, 1946, the boom year for new Highland businesses, and I quote: “Mrs. Stella Klein sold Klein Fashion Shop at 1221 Main St. to Omar Dressel (today a small apartment unit) …

“Elmer Koch and Alvin ‘Tiny’ Schumacher opened Highland Pontiac at 712 Broadway and were selling Pontiacs …

“Lloyd Frey returned home from service, resumed ownership of the Standard Service Station, along with his brother, John Lewis Frey, at the southeast corner of Broadway and Walnut …

“Alvin Landolt’s blacksmith shop in Grantfork welcomed back his brother, Elmer Landolt, and they added welding to their business …

“Erwin Steiner bought out his brother ‘Rox’ Steiner in Steiner Brothers Store, 809 Broadway (now Foppe DeSigns Inc.) …

“With Lt. Roland Tschudy home from the Navy, his father, Dr. Felix Tschudy, retired as a dentist after 42 years …

“Mary, Mrs. Alvin, Beinecke arrived here as the first English war bride. Alvin became the new Kaiser-Frazer auto dealer. The first French war bride, Mrs. Bill Mollet, also arrived …

“In April 1946, Mabel Yann (later Lang) bought the Ros-L Beauty Shop …

“Earl and Morris Zobrist opened a Mobil Gas Station at Pine and Broadway (later known as the Castle, and still later, Picket Fence) …

“Art Jacober and Wally Stoecklin opened their Freeway Garage at the Freeway Corner, Route 40 and Illinois Route 143, and were displaying the new Hudson. Freeway Corner also included the Freeway Restraunt of Mary Luber and later Bert Apken. Fred Leutwiler sold his City Garage (in the 1000 block of Broadway, now part of the parking lot) to Leslie Ellis and Earl Williams, and they opened E & W Chevrolet, which later became Williams Chevrolet & Oldsmobile. (It was then located at the corner of Route 40 & Route 143, known as the Freeway Corner.) …

“Eldridge Steiner returned from service and reopened his men’s clothing store at 919 Main St. (now Lee’s Fine Jewelry Loans & More) …

“Russ Hoffman bought Pat Spencer’s interest in the Highland News Leader. (Spencer had written the 1937 “Centennial History of Highland” book.) …

“Orville Heim bought an interest in Voegele Studio …

“All seven sons of Mr. and Mrs. Edward P. Frey came safely home from service …

“Al W. Huth sold East End Mercantile at Main and Cypress to Walter & Flo Boehmer. (Today, this is an apartment house on the southwest corner.)”

Next week, I will continue VJ Day and Highland Business changes in 1946 and 1947.

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