Clerking at the Ostrander Store
Mena Graf (1889-1979) was the daughter of Charles and Rosa Graf. She lived at 204 Farnsworth Road across the street from the Graf Garage, which is now Peddlars’ Alley. Mena Graf, wrote a column for a local weekly newspaper The Standard called “Mena’s Meanderings” back in the 1960s telling of local history along with an advertisement of the First National Bank. She mentioned that at one time she was a clerk at the W.H. Ostrander Store on Third Street. She was one of nine clerks and received $20.00 a month working from 7:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. and on Saturday until 11:00 p.m.
Ostrander’s was a general store and they sold everything from shoe laces to meat and delivered things to customers by horse and wagon. They had a large grinder to grind coffee and every order had to be ground. They sold Lion and Arbuckle coffee for 16 cents a pound. Most of the things were in bulk, such as sugar, buckwheat flour, prunes, crackers and other things all arrived in barrels. They also sold china dishes, shoes, wallpaper, gasoline, coal oil and sweet pickles. Pickles were in brine in a barrel and the clerk had to “fish” them out.
We know from canal store ledgers that the Wakeman Archival Center has that the canal stores in the early 1900s were selling bread for 10 cents, butter for 18-20 cents, lard for 12 cents, soap for 5 cents, and 2 boxes jello for 20 cents, corsets for 50 cents and corset laces for 2 cents.
Mena left Ostrander’s and took a typing and shorthand course at Davis Business College then went to work in Toledo. She rode the Ohio Electric Train daily to work in Toledo. Later, in 1914, she took a job at the first bank in Waterville started by Ernest and Christie Shaffmaster from Michigan. It was located at what was until recently known as Koral Hamburg. The Waterville State Savings Bank opened its doors in 1923 at the corner of Farnsworth Road and Third Street where she worked for more than 40 years.