Archive for Wednesday, June 4, 2003

Baldwin resident remembers downtown cabinet company

June 4, 2003

The business at 602 High St. doesn't look like it did when Baldwin resident Mary Barthol worked there nearly 60 years ago.

The building that currently is home to Vaughncraft Percussion, 82-year-old Barthol remembers as the Early Cabinet Co.

She said the company, owned by Ed Early and his father, John Early, moved from the Kansas City area to Baldwin in the mid-'40s.

"They moved here because they thought they could get college help," she said.

But the company really didn't attract help from Baker University students, instead hiring a number of townspeople like Barthol and her sister, Gladys Brulec.

Barthol shared an apartment with her sister in a house in Baldwin and worked for Early Cabinet Co. from 1945 until she got married in 1947.

She said her sister, Gladys, married Ed Early in 1950.

She said the company made a number of items shipped all over the United States, including wooden silverware trays and pecan wood tool boxes used in the Army.

Barthol said her job was to spray the silverware trays with lacquer.

"I probably did some sanding, too," she said, "but I liked spraying."

The building at the corner of Sixth and High streets also holds an important memory for Barthol.

"When my husband came back from the war, he picked me up off my feet in front of this building," she said. "That's how I found out he was home."

She said she can't remember when the Early Cabinet Co. closed, but she knew a lot of Baldwin people worked there when it was open.

Barthol hadn't been back inside the building, which at one time was also a Ford dealership and a mechanic's garage, until just recently when she stopped by Vaughncraft Percussion to see the changes.

"I just wanted to see what it was like now," she said.

Ron Vaughn, Vaughncraft Percussion owner, said he was glad Barthol stopped by to share her story.

"I think it is just really interesting," Vaughn said. "All these decades back and there was a different purpose for this building.

"It's the marking of history," he said. "This was a big part of Baldwin City."

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