Starting in 1940 or possibly the year before, Charles Popp opened the “Modern Shoe Repairing” shop on North Main Street (122 North Main where H & R Block is today).
Charles was born on November 16, 1883 at St. Anna, Hungary (part of Austria-Hungary) to Geza Popp ( -1919) and Elizabeth Herbonezki Popp ( -1924). He was oldest and only boy of five children. Two of his sisters also immigrated to the mid-west.
While serving in the military, Charles learned the trade of a cobbler – shoe repairman.
After completing his military service, Charles married Elizabeth Anna Broxater (typically called “Anna”) on June 25, 1905 in St. Anna. Son Carl Peter Popp was born on May 3, 1907 in St. Anna. It appears that shortly after Carl’s birth. Charles immigrated to the United States by himself in 1907. The following year in 1908, Anna and Carl followed Charles to Cincinnati where the 1910 census shows him working at a stove factory.
Anna’ parents followed Charles and Anna to Michigan in 1911. They established a farm in Waltz, Wayne County, which is on the border with Monroe County.
There are three main records that provide a trail for the movement of people – census records, birth records, and military draft cards. Each of these indicates a residence location. However, Charles and his family leave a record that is difficult to follow.
The 1910 U. S. Census for Cincinnati, Ward 11, shows Charles and Anna with sons Carl (born in Hungary) and Nicholas (born in Michigan in 1909). Nicholas’ World War II draft card shows he was born in Croswell, Michigan. This indicates that they originally settled in Croswell and then moved to Cincinnati. However, Mary (1911) and Peter (1912) were also born in Croswell. Theresa (1913) was born in Michigan but the location is uncertain, possibly Hamtramck.
Daughter Elizabeth (1917) was born in Waltz, Michigan, which marches Charles draft registration when he was working on his father-in-laws’ farm.
The 1920 U. S. Census for Cincinnati, Ward 14 taken on January 17, 1920, shows Charles and Anna living there with Carl, Nicholas, Mary, Peter, Theresa, and Elizabeth. Charles is the proprietor of a shoe repair shop. Daughter Anna was born July 10, 1920 in Michigan but the location is not known. This may have been because Anna moved to be with her parents while the baby was being born.
By 1921, they were living somewhere in northern Macomb County probably between Armada and Berville. Son John was born in Romeo in December 1921 and Rose was born in Berville in 1924. Virginia “Regina” was born in 1925 in Wayne County.
Where ever they lived, Charles worked both as a farmer and part-time shoe repairman. On the 1940 U. S. Census for Almont, they were living and working in Almont.
Charles set his cobbler’s bench and shoe horn up in the north window of the shop and repaired shoes. They also sold “William Penn” brand men’s shoes and “saddle shoes” for women.
Their many grandchildren would stop by the shop after school. Granddaughter Pauline Wolfram would stop and be treated to homemade sauerkraut.
In 1954, Charles and Anna wanted to retire. They had not officially put the business up for sale but had told a local realtor that they were considering it. Bob and Wilma Buell offered to buy the store if Charles would stay on for a while to help them learn the business.
Bob and Wilma had been operating Charles Foster’s diary farm on Hough Road for about ten years. Mr. Foster was selling the cattle and the farm so Bob and Wilma needed both a place to stay and a means of supporting themselves. The store provided both of those.