Graham John Terry Jr., commonly called “Jack,” was born on July 21, 1912 in Dryden Township to Graham John Terry Sr. (1886-1976) and Iva Rae Lockwood Terry (1892- 1971).
About 1925 Jack Sr. opened his own meat market at 133 South Main Street on the north side of what’s now Mikey’s. In 1929, he bought Dr. Adam Price’s office at 121 South Main Street and moved the shop there.
Jack Jr. graduated from Almont High School in 1930. He was an accomplished athlete. He played football, tennis, and pole vaulted for the track team. After graduation, he attended Michigan State College. He majored in chemistry and played in the college band. The band was invited to the White House to play for President Herbert Hoover.
Once he completed his education, Jack went to work for Great Lakes Steel in Wyandotte but that only lasted a month. He couldn’t stand the heat and returned to Almont to join his parents. They slowly converted the store from just a meat market to a small grocery.
In Almont on September 6, 1934 Jack married Martha Jean King. Martha Jean King, commonly called “Jean,” was born on March 1, 1914 in Almont to William Harrison King II (1888-1961) and Nora Marie Muir (1888-1966). Martha Jean King graduated from Almont High school in 1932. After graduation, she went to work as a beauty operator.
With limited space, the grocery store offered limited options. The shop used and earned the advertising slogan: “The Narrow Store with the Wide Reputation.” The store was only about 15 feet wide. As you opened the door, the check-out counter was to your right. Shelves for bread were located around the base of the counter. Against the south wall by the counter, on the bottom couple of shelves was where the “penny candy” was located. Looking east down the first aisle, you saw the meat counter at the back of the store. On both sides of the aisle the shelves were piled high with canned goods and cereal. There were only a few brands and only a few of each item. Most of the stock was stored in the basement which meant the shelves had to be constantly restocked.
Terry Boldt, Class of 1966, worked at restocking shelves. His father, Howard, worked as a butcher in the store. Terry worked to keep the shelves full. When he was not restocking the shelves, he was carrying the bags out to the customer’s car. The shelves extended high up the north wall with light weight merchandise located on the upper shelves. They used a ladder to restock the shelves but used a long pincher to grab down one or two items.
At the back of the store was the meat counter where you would almost always find Jack Sr. and Jack Jr. This was a true “butcher shop.” If they didn’t have the cut of meat you wanted, they would cut it for you. My mother would go in and order “ground round” instead of getting hamburger. One of the Jack’s would grind the meat and wrap it in butcher paper, not plastic, and tie it with string.
When we moved into our home on Bordman Road, some of the floors were covered with butcher paper which my parents got from Jack Jr. He sold them a roll. When the paper was too badly worn, we removed it and replaced it with another covering of paper.
As you returned to the front of the store, up the second aisle, the center shelves held more canned and boxed goods. Along the south wall were the refrigerator and freezer units, which held the milk, soft drinks, frozen foods (which were just beginning to be offered), and ice cream.
Reaching the check-out counter, your bill would be rung up on an old style brass National cash register. No computers and no bar codes. Jean Terry (Jack’s wife), Jean Carpenter, and occasionally, Grandma Terry would check you out.
Kmart’s initial corporate philosophy about selecting what items to carry was “Most of the best and the heck (cleaned up) with the rest.” They may have learned something from the Terrys.
In 1928, Jack Sr. purchased the David Cochrane house at 303 West St. Clair Street.
Jean and Jack would have four children. Their first born was Audrey born June 17, 1936, who was followed by Thomas on September 20, 1938— both born in Almont. They were followed by Phyllis born about 1944 and Beth born about 1946. Beth is living in the home today.
As the children grew up, they helped out at the store—stocking shelves, carrying bags to cars and taking inventory.
Grandma and Grandpa Terry eventually would purchase Dr. Oliver P. Strobridge’s house at 210 West St. Clair Street and move there.
The Terrys would operate the shop until 1971 when it was sold to Keith Myers. The shop was sold after Iva had passed away on March 7, 1971 (her 79th birthday). Grandpa Terry would continue to work at the store for a time.
After Jack Jr. and Jean’s children had completed college and the store was sold, Jean and Jack retired to Traverse City. Jack loved to hunt and fish and there were many opportunities to do that around Traverse City.
Martha Jean King Terry died on April 1, 2002 in Traverse City. Graham John Terry Jr. passed away on November 11, 2004 also in Traverse City. Jean and Jack were laid to rest in Scotch Settlement Cemetery in Almont.
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.