Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Ed Duskey – Part 1

I'm sure lots of old-timers in Lorain remember the Duskey Brothers service station that used to be at Broadway and 19th Street. Well, here's a nice profile of one of the brothers – Ed Duskey –  that appeared in the Lorain Journal in 1969 as part of the Bill Scrivo's People feature.

Special thanks to the Morning Journal for allowing me to reproduce it here.


Ed Duskey: A Long Run on Broadway

In 1929, Ed, Stanley and Walter Duskey opened a gas station at the corner of Broadway and 19th Street in Lorain.

A couple of months later on Oct. 29, the bottom dropped out of the market. It was Black Friday, when millionaires became instant paupers and businesses collapsed like houses of cards.

What about the Duskey brothers? If you drive up Broadway, you'll see their Pure Oil Station, doing business at the same location where they began the business 40 years ago. And if you pull up to the gas pumps, chances are Ed Duskey, the patriarch of the clan at 69, will fill up your tank for you.

Walter is the other remaining Duskey brother. Stanley died in 1958.

"It was hard for three of us to make a living off the gas pumps," Ed recalls. "Stanley decided he'd better get a job in the steel mill; then he went to Bendix.

"I wish he would have stuck it out."

The years of hard work show on Ed Duskey. They show in his tough, gnarled hands, permanently darkened with the grease of the service station. They show in his deeply-lined face.

BUT THE YEARS of hard work and sometimes hard luck have not calloused the happy heart of Ed Duskey.

He loves to sing and dance. When the Central Business Men's Association starts out on one of their bus trips to a baseball or football game, Ed Duskey's the organizer and he's up front leading the singing. His voice is a little gravelly and that goes back to the only time he was sick in his life. How he got "sick" explains a lot about Ed Duskey.

"We went to the Notre Dame football game and at the time I couldn't get anyone with an instrument to play on the bus. So for four hours, I got the people to sing.

"There was no mike. I strained my darn voice and afterwards I couldn't talk. I went to the doc and he gave me an examination and said I had high blood pressure and he told me he couldn't operate on my throat.

"A month later I went back and he told me there was something on my throat and it had to come off.

"I said, 'Doc, do you really have to operate?'

"He said, 'Well, it can be cancer.'

"I asked if I had a 50-50 chance it wasn't cancer.

"He said 'Yes' and I said 'Doc, I'll take that chance.

"That's been five or six years ago and I'm still hoarse, but I'm still living" said Ed Duskey.

Now a few months away from 70, Ed Duskey still works six and seven days a week. In fact, that's something he's done all his life – work hard.

ED WAS BORN in Wheeling, W. Va. back in October of 1899. He lived there until 1918 when he came to Lorain with his family, just after the end of World War I.

His schooling was confined to the first six grades.

"Father was sick and out of a job," he recalls. "I started in the newspaper business – carried newspapers and 54 magazines.

"I loved that game and don't know why I didn't stick with it. I was the oldest in the family and the sole support."

"I DON'T KNOW if you believe me or not, but I used to make more money back there in 1910 than I do now. I had a very good stand and I gave it to a blind man when I left Wheeling."

The family came to Lorain because "they got tired of the floods down there."

"So help me God, they had floods year after year. They simply couldn't take it any more."

Ed's first job was at the shipyards. Then came the layoffs as the nation drifted into the post war period and Ed had no job. But he was able to get on at the American Stove Co. in Lorain and worked there until 1923.

"Then I went to Detroit one day and met my wife. Actually, I knew her in Wheeling, but then she moved.

"SHE ASKED ME to move to Detroit and I did. Got a job with the R and E Shoe Company and stayed with them for four years. I got married in 1925.

"I was the top salesman for R and E," says Ed. "I was up there until 1928 when my brothers in Lorain got into the gas station business. Naturally, I wanted to get in with them and I have been here since 1929."

Broadway was paved with bricks in those days and there were four gas stations in all of Lorain. George Llewelyn Sr. was selling cars across the alley and the late Phillip Lanza had a little store across the street. And that first year the Duskey brothers pumped 7,000 gallons of gas – by hand – into Fords and Pontiacs, Studebakers and Marmon 8's.

"It wasn't exactly a heavily-traved street," says Ed Duskey.

"NOWADAYS, DUSKEY Brothers pump steady 24,000 gallons a year.

"I don't try to get all the business," says Ed."I'm satisfied with the customers I've got. I still know people from when I first went into business and they still know me."

Those first years were tough. Stanley had to go to the steel mill because the station wouldn't support three men and their families.

"Then my brother Walter and I got a house together at 838 W. 18th St. and we raised our first two daughters in the same house. Finally we were able to get enough money so he could get himself a home."

"You see," says Ed, "We went into a business we didn't know much about. We know quite a bit about it now, though."

Walter and his family finally moved into their own home. And Ed and his wife and three daughters moved into a home at 745 Hamilton Ave., Lorain.

THE GIRLS grew up – Delores is a first grade school teacher at Masson School. Mary Anne is a receptionist with American Airlines in Florida. Patty is now Mrs. Paul Bick, living on Reeves Avenue in Lorain – and the cause of great wonder to Ed Duskey.

"She is raising a family and I have three grandchildren," he says. "Imagine having three grandchildren after I was 60!"

Tomorrow: Part 2 


JIM said...

What a cool story!

-Alan D Hopewell said...

We lived a block east of Duskey's, on Elyria Avenue; we often bought pop and chips from Mr. Duskey-I did for as long as he was there.

He always greeted me the same way, over the years....

"How are ya, m'boy?"

Randall Chet said...

Wow - Miss Duskey. I was in first grade in 1970. I remember her.

Dan Brady said...

Hi Randall!

I remember Miss Duskey too, even though I didn't have her for a teacher. Did you see that someone had posted a group photo of all the Masson School teachers circa 1970 on the "You Know You're From Lorain" Facebook page a while back?