Sunday, 22 April 2018

E.J. Cossey & the Culbert Brothers

Back in the 1950s, brothers Milward Taylor "Mel" Culbert and Ivan Hector Culbert operated side-by-side shops on the Main Street of Lucan, Ontario.

The photo below shows what the building looks like in modern times...

In the 1950s, these stores were owned by two Culbert brothers. Culbert's Dry Goods (right) was owned and operated by Mel Culbert and Culbert's Bakery & Grocery (left) was owned and operated by Ivan Culbert.

Mel's "Culbert's Dry Goods" was on the right and also took up half of the left hand side. In the remaining space on the left, Ivan operated "Culbert's Bakery & Grocery". Mel and his family lived above the right hand side of the building, and Ivan and his family lived above the left side.

Dry goods stores were like small department stores, selling everything from clothing to toys, candy and housewares.

Mel and Ivan didn't just wander into the retail business on a whim. They'd received excellent training from a seasoned professional in the dry goods business: E.J. Cossey.

Edward John "E.J." Cossey. Photo courtesy of his grandson, Jay Cossey.

Edward John Cossey (1884-1966) operated Cossey's Dry Goods at 225-227 Dundas Street in London, Ontario, with another store in St. Thomas. Cossey's was a Dundas Street fixture from 1929-1955.

Cossey's Dry Goods store. 225-227 Dundas Street (just east of Clarence Street) London, Ontario, circa 1941. Photo courtesy of Jay Cossey. (Click photo to enlarge)

E.J. Cossey employed the two young Culbert brothers for five years. Mel and Ivan received excellent hands-on training as clerks in this popular store in the heart of downtown London. 

Cossey's employee Mel Culbert sweeping the sidewalk in front of the store. Photo courtesy of Jay Cossey. (Click photo to enlarge)
Zooming in on Mel Culbert

Love blossomed at Cossey's when a winsome young woman named Mary Elizabeth Patrick crossed the doorstep one day while she was out shopping with her mother. Mel was instantly smitten by this city gal and decided right there and then that this was the woman he was going to marry. So if it wasn't for Cossey's, my brother and sister and I probably wouldn't be here today!

A pencil like the one above would have been tucked behind the ears of both Mel and Ivan. Long before the invention of smartphones, pencils were handy for making notes, tallying prices, or jotting down the phone numbers of young ladies.

Mel Culbert (left) with E.J. Cossey. Photo courtesy of Vicky (Culbert) Schloendorf.

In closing, I'd like to thank my cousin, Phil Culbert for alerting me to Jay Cossey's photos of Cossey's Dry Goods store on this Facebook page. 

A huge thank you to Jay Cossey for permitting me to post his photographs. Jay, the grandson of E.J. Cossey, is too young to remember the store but he has treasured memories and keepsakes from his grandfather. Jay is a professional nature photographer in London, Ontario. His website, Jay Cossey's Photographs from Nature is well worth a visit. 

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