MILLBURN - At the age of 84, Edward A. Martin, owner of Lake County's
oldest operating grocery store here is ready to call it quits.
He has sold his stock to Herbert Messner of Millburn, operator of
a butcher shop at Mundelein. Messner plans to open a butcher shop and
antique shop after disposing of the groceries.
Martin will retain ownership of the building which is a frame
structure with false front on the east side of Rte. 45 at the end of
Loon Lake Road. Martin's home is just two doors north of the grocery.
For 70 years, Martin has been associated with the grocery, a
landmark of the Millburn community. As a boy of 14, he went to work
for the previous owner, Richard Pantall back in 1887, and then
purchased the business 50 years ago.
Martin was born in California. He was but an infant when his
mother died and his father, Frederick Martin, took him and his
sister, Hattie, east to Washington D. C. Then his father died.
"We became separated, and Hattie was adopted by Mr. And Mrs.
Pantall here in Millburn," the grocer recalled. She spent a lot of
time trying to locate me, and finally found me at Fort Foot, seven
miles from Washington. The Pantalls brought me to Millburn to be with
my sister, and that is why I am here."
Martin said that when he was 14 Pantall gave him a job in the
grocery store, and 20 years later he turned the business over to him.
The Martin store was a popular place over the years.
"The store was crowded of evenings, the men sitting around the
potbellied stove, arguing over politics, and settling all of the
problems of the community," Martin recalled.
"We had a cracker barrel and nearby a 50-pound round cheddar
cheese from which the men helped themselves without charge," said the
grocer as he produced a 60-year well-worn cheese knife which was used
to slice the cheese.
Although modern packaged goods have replaced much of the products
sold in bulk at the turn of the century, Martin's store still
maintains much of the characteristics of the original store. It
doesn't take too much imagination to carry the old times back to the
cracker barrel and bulk starch days.
Martin is retiring.
"My wife tells me its time for me to stay home - in fact she has
been telling me this for a number of years, and I guess I'll take her
advice," he explained.
"She may put me to work cooking, and I can do that too," he
Mrs. Martin is the former Eva Kennedy of Hickory Corners, four
miles north of Millburn. Her father was a farmer. The Martins have a
son, Richard Pantall, named after his father's former employer.
Richard is a major in Western Military Academy at Alton, Ill.
The retiring grocerman is always ready to furnish information
about the history of Millburn, which he said was named by John (Jake)
Strang from the fact there were five mills along the creek which the
Scots of the area called a burn.
"I knew Uncle Jake Strang and all of the other Strangs - there
were Robert, George, and Pete, and of course their sons, who were the
first settlers of the community," Martin recalled.
"There were three Johns, so we called the eldest one Jake."
A customer drew the grocer's attention at this point in his
historical narration, and he supplied her needs. Then as if recalling
his boyhood days when crackers and cheese were gratis in the old
grocery store, he reached into the refrigerator and handed her a
brick of cheese as a gift.
There are only a few days left this week in which he can do this.