Here I sit looking at two pictures from a quarter century before I was born. Do you ever wonder what it was like walking down Gregory’s Main Street in the early 1900s? Join me as we stroll down memory lane using the two photos that hang in a place of honor in my shop and the many stories I’ve heard over the years.
West Side of Main Street: This photo seems to be from the early 1930s. You can almost hear the old trucks and cars traveling in and out of town. Many would stop and get fresh leaded gas from the Owen & Breniser Auto Shop. Or maybe it’s time for a Mobiloil oil change with gargoyle servicing. (Later it became a Sinclair station with the “dino” looking out for customers.) The stories I’ve heard about the owner Mr. Owen are few and far between, but I’ve known the Breniser family my whole life, long enough to know Dewey Breniser was a great Gregory man. Years later, when I was about 12, I worked for Dewey’s son Elwin.
The west side of Gregory’s Main Street—circa 1930s
Let’s continue, still before my time, to the next building north, which was a store owned by the McClure’s and later became Tom’s Market. A 12-inch-wide cement slab separated the buildings there. My Dad talked of playing between these buildings as a kid, and as I grew up, all the town kids, including me, did the same, playing hide and seek or Army games. Sadly, the building imploded a few years ago and all that is left is an empty lot and many memories.
Next was Marshall’s Grocery, run by Howard Marshall with the help of his son Ed. Howard sold lots of shoes to Gregory folks, including selling me my first pair of Red Wings. And back then, a trip to Marshall’s often meant getting a treat at Miller’s Ice Cream in the same building.
Next—and I may have lost some time—was the Stockbridge State Bank and possibly a Post Office. As we continue our stroll, I’m not sure of the next building. It was later torn down and rebuilt to house an electrical and two-way radio repair shop. So, that brings us to the local pub, in the same spot where Gregory’s Country Pub is today. Many would assemble in that old pub for conversation and card playing—not to mention some of the best lies ever told! And what a great place for a Friday Night Fish Fry.
As we leave the pub and continue walking north, we come to the Howlett Hardware (est. 1894). The storefront was brought over from Unadilla well before this photo was taken. The Hardware was in the Howlett family for over 100 years before it was sold and became Bramlett’s, which is still one of the anchors of our little town. Beyond the hardware, you must rely on your imagination to fill in the blanks because these buildings don’t show in the photo. First there is the old Telegraph Office and Post Office that was run by Sam Denton—and just think, Sam was blind. Then you have to imagine the grand Trunk Railway, with a depot that was torn down when I was young, sometime around 1967.
East Side of Main Street: Now we’ll continue to use our imagination as we cross the tracks and meander south, back toward town. We’re still in the 1930s, so when you look to your left you’d see Cole’s grain elevator, which was there until it was sold. In its place now are a host of businesses, including Mugg and Bopps, the current post office, Rock Realty, Dave’s Bargains, Bob Tracey’s graphics shop, and Ace Auctions. Businesses have come and gone where the grain elevator used to be, but surely old-time Gregory residents miss watching the activity of the trucks and tractors transporting grain into town to be ground.
Moving on, south of M-36 was a gas station that was later owned by Lawrence Owen and next was Munsell’s Grocery Store (before it burned down in 1937). As we continue walking we see the wheels of a circa-1920s car peeking out of a driveway where the beauty salon is today, then a house that also may have burned during the 1937 fire.
The east side of Gregory’s Main Street, south of M-36—circa 1930s
Glance to the right of the sidewalk, just in front of the large tree, and you’ll see a rock with a ring in the top. The Gregory Hotel was at this location. It also caught fire at some point, and a new house was built in its place. But back to the historical rock that means a lot to a few of us in town. Way back, this is where visitors tied up their horses while visiting the hotel.
Fast forward to 2021. We welcome anyone who wants to visit here in Gregory. Just tie up your SUV to our boulder and take a stroll down memory lane!
This is all just my way of saying, I love my hometown of Gregory, Michigan.