Tredyffrin Easttown Historical Society
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Source: October 1991 Volume 29 Number 4, Pages 169–170

Notes and Comments

Page 169


Recollections of the American Store and Acme

We received a note from Elizabeth Aiken Freund, the daughter of Harold R. Aiken and a grand-daughter of the Rev. Thomas Aiken, who as a young girl lived in Berwyn. An enclosure was titled "Notes and Comments on the article on the American Stores Company" in our March issue this year.

"I never knew," she wrote, "until the other quarterly on the Aiken family [April 1988 : Volume XXVI, Number 2] that the Thomas Aiken who came from Scotland had several daughters as well as two sons. Austin Burns was descended from one of the daughters. He and his two sisters lived next door to us on Knox Avenue when I was very small. My father may have called them cousins. They were good friends anyway.

"Nor did I remember that Austin Burns was the manager of the Acme [American] Store at Lancaster Avenue and Bridge Street. Because I could walk to that store without crossing any road, my mother sent me with a list to the store to purchase a few things. I only remember doing it once and that she had admonished me that there would be ammonia in the package. 'If you drop it, I she said, 'run,, for it will hurt your eyes.' I didn't drop it. But I always think of this when I buy ammonia! The store did have steps and service.

"Of course, American Stores was a customer of H. R. Aiken Co. He sold them a lot of butter from Iowa and Minnesota until the mid-30s when they bought directly. Louella may have been used as a name because of the Askin family, the founder of Wayne, who had two daughters, Louise and Ella, and named his home (now the Louella apartments) Louella for both of them. Did one ever hear of any other Louella?

"I wish more had been put in the article about the succeeding generations of Robinsons. They attended the Wayne Presbyterian Church, which would probably have records. I went to Baldwin [School] with Mary Robinson, a few years younger than I. In the 1980s she was president of the Baldwin Alumnae Association. ...

Page 170

"Enter Paul Cupp, with whom my husband, Ernst Freund, dealt in the 1950s. He was fully in the American Stores tradition, enterprising, open and kind. My husband was working with Bayuk Cigars, trying to introduce cigars into supermarkets. When he finally sold the Kroger chain in Cincinnati, he called Paul Cupp and told him. (Paul Cupp called him a 'super-salesman', which of course he was.) The package he had developed for supermarkets, with the help of a friend and Kroger and Paul Cupp, soon appeared in Acme Markets.

"I knew that Paul Cupp had been head of the United Way in Philadelphia and that he died in the '80s or before, but I found a building dedicated to him at the Presbyterian Hospital in Philadelphia recently and thought that was another of his good deeds -- and signs of Presbyterianism continuing in American Store executives."

And from James K. Robinson Jr., Herb Fry received a note which read in part:

"Your article pertaining to the American Stores Company I think was certainly well written and well done and brought back alot of things that I had completely forgotten about and some of the dates that I think you were good to remember. I am sure it took alot of your time to do this, but I think it was exceptionally well done and very accurate and you are to be commended on the article. I knew you were good with figures but I never knew you had the talents of an editor. ... Again many thanks for what you have done for the company in writing this historical article."


Club Members Honored

Early this summer one of our club members, Bob Goshorn, was named "Citizen of the Year" by the Berwyn-Devon Business and Professional Association. Described as "well known in the area as the local historian", he was recognized "for his many contributions to education and the community at large".

In August he was also inducted into the Chester County Intermediate Unit's "Hall of Fame", established last year "to acknowledge those whose outstanding qualities have contributed to the organization and the children of Chester County".

At the same time another club member, Sally Tollinger, was also inducted into the "Hall of Fame" for her contributions to the development of the special education program of the Intermediate Unit.


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