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Summer reading; Kramer family connections to Odessa and Harrington


Last updated 7/24/2018 at 7:02pm

--Photos courtesy of Ed Haugen.

A bike in front of the Harrington Library seems the perfect foreground to have in a photo to kick off the 2018 Summer Reading Program.

Summer Reading Program

On July 5, the Harrington Library's Summer Reading Program began and will be held each Thursday in July. Katie Steward, library board member, volunteered to lead the first session and had additional volunteers on hand. The school program joined the library program and brought three teenage "aides" to help when needed. All together, there were 14 children and the three aides, Grace Daniels, Sammy Aldous and Tommy Christianson.

The children divided into groups of four and read to one another during the initial portion of the program. Reading aloud to and by the children is stressed as a means to incline the children to read better. When children discuss a book in small groups, they learn to listen better and gain new skills. They returned to the larger group where another story was read to them. The theme for the year had been designated as "Libraries Rock," which teaches forms of musical instruments, sounds of nature, the science of music and music around the world.

The children seemed to really enjoy their project of constructing maracas, a percussion instrument which was built with a plastic egg suspended between two plastic spoons. The egg contained a few tiny buttons. Once taped together, the instrument was functional and made its clicking sound. The remaining three weeks will be taught by Victoria and Cindie Rice, with the hours being changed to 2 to 4 p.m. in order to coordinate with the hours of the school programs. Children are encouraged to check out books prior to leaving.

Kramer Store began in 1922

With the recent Kramer Reunion, it seems fitting for the Harrington History to focus on the Kramer mercantile in Harrington, which began in 1922 when L.L. Larrabee and Alex Kramer purchased the Ellis-Miller Store, renaming it Larrabee & Kramer, a partnership which dissolved the following year. Two girls shoplifting at the Larrabee-Kramer store were found by Marshal McKinnon at the depot. When searched, the marshal "drew a pair of long silk grey hose from the pocket of one gal and fancy elastic which was stolen from Mr. Moore's store. The girls were sentenced to 10 days in jail and $10 in fines and court costs.

The standard advertising line for the partners began: "Larrabee & Kramer. Where Your Dollars Have More Cents." This ad goes on to say, "A man's underwear is a good deal like his conscience; neither show on the outside, yet both have much to do with the way he feels. For Outdoors, Indoors, Heavy Work, Light Work-Munsing Wear. Ask to see the 'Twin-Bo; Hat. The very latest. A man's Hat covers everything he knows."

Kramer's enterprising nature led him to the purchase of Moore's Groceries in 1924, and he leased that location, which had been the former Harrington Supply Company. Among the items advertised in 1924 were Ocean Mist Salmon, large size, 2 for $.50; Highest Grade Sockeye Salmon, 1 can $.50; Sardines in Cotton Seed oil, 4 cans for $.25; Sardines in Olive Oil, 2 cans for $.25; Minced clams, 3 cans for $.65; Shrimp-highest grade, 2 cans for $.45; Apples, all kinds, per box, $1.00.

In 1927, Kramer held a Grand Opening as a Federated Store, where he advertised as a dealer in general merchandise and having a grocery department. He was announcing "the chain store with local personal ownership and control." In spite of his increased business load, Kramer managed a two-day fishing trip to Montana. His fun-loving nature was seen in the newspaper that week when the tall tale he told of all the fish and 16 or 18 deer that refused to be driven off even with gunfire, "so you can believe it or not." That same year "unknown parties entered Yale and Kramer stores without letters of introduction, credentials, passports or pass keys." At the Yale store the would-be thieves broke a window to gain entrance into the warehouse, but investigation revealed nothing missing. The Kramer store was entered from the alley, a window being pried open. Only a few dollars in silver in the cash register was taken.

Words not anticipated from Alex Kramer were headlines in September 1930, "I'm Quitting." The article in part stated, "Alex Kramer, for many years one of Harrington's leading merchants, beginning yesterday, entered upon a genuine closing out sale of his entire stock of merchandise, both dry goods and groceries, and announces it as his intention to quit business." Advertisements from his two competitors continued, Moore's Grocery and The Yale Store. About a month after the sale of Kramer's Department Store, Burgan's Money Saving Stores was advertising with Alex Kramer as manager. It was not until the fall of 1934 that Kramer actually quit merchandising.

Children listen as a story is read to them out loud for the Summer Reading Program on Thursday July 5.

Kramer bid on the First National Bank building in April 1931, and moved his dry goods store into this bank building. (This is the present US Bank, corner of 3rd & Main, built in 1909.) Kramer quit the mercantile business in 1934, and began farming in earnest in the Mohler district. Alex was born Nov 6, 1897 in Saratov, Russia, and came to the U.S. when six months old. He was a graduate of Odessa High School in 1917. He married Rosa Lauer of Odessa in 1919 and they farmed near Odessa for two years prior to his career as a prominent Harrington mercantile owner. He farmed until his death in 1956.

Determining the actual location of each of the businesses owned by Kramer is difficult since the city collection of photos does not have a single photo of any of the Kramer stores. It was rare that the news columns mentioned the location of businesses.


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