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Hunt Center turns back clock for Tiedtke’s Days

Second-year event has high expectations

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Crowds head to Tiedtke's Department Store downtown in 1953.

THE BLADE
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Recalling the sights and sounds, the tastes and treats of Tiedtke’s is on tap this week in South Toledo where a gathering place will be transformed for two days into a step-back-in-time department store.

Because of the overwhelming popularity of the first-ever Tiedtke’s Days at the Hunt Center, 2121 Garden Lake Pkwy., last year, organizers decided to repeat the event that pays tribute to the former downtown Toledo retail establishment.

“We had more than 500 people here last year, and we hope to have 750 this year,” said Claudette Davis, the center’s program/​activities director.

Specialties during Tiedtke’s Days, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the center, will include a candy and nut counter; the Meat Shoppe with bacon, kielbasa, jerky, casing dogs, and pickles; the Dairy Section with Amish butter and chunk cheese; the Buttermilk Bar with jumbo hot dogs, chips, and ice cream sodas, and the Coffee Shop & Bakery, with fresh-brewed coffee, pastries, and assorted breads. The Zucchini Boys will offer fresh-from-the-grill fried zucchini.

Tiedtke’s memorabilia will be displayed, and a movie about the store will be shown, among a variety of activities.

Recollections of Tiedtke’s will be shared by many who attend. Area residents not only shopped at the store, but many had relatives or friends who worked there.

Thousands of Toledoans, many drawn by nostalgia, watched as a spectacular fire devoured the former department store in 1975, two years after the local landmark shuttered its doors. Tiedtke’s had been a Toledo institution, a carnival-like combo of supermarket, mall, and midway, since the 1890s.

Bob Rieck, 73, of West Toledo, recalled the night of the fire. Heading home after bowling in East Toledo he saw flames licking skyward from the large building. He went to the scene to watch, and the next day, went back for two bricks as souvenirs of the place where he worked.

He said his mother, Edith, worked at the store as well, and his father, Bob Rieck, Sr., was the “longest worker” at Tiedtke’s, and at one time was assistant store manager in the toy department where toys went on sale for less than a dollar. “Anybody could put the toys on layaway and pay a quarter a week” until purchases were paid off, he said.

Tiedtke’s, with its array of clothing, hardware items, appliances, furniture, and fresh foods was a great place, and such a department store would be a good anchor for downtown Toledo today and would rejuvenate the city, Mr. Rieck said Tuesday during a break in a planning session for the event.

There is no admission or parking fee; featured items will be sold at minimal prices with proceeds earmarked for outdoor patio furniture and landscaping at the center.

Etta Hoot, 87, who lives in the south end, recalled that her mother, Florence Edelman, worked in the Tiedtke’s bakery and when she visited her mother at work, she would get special pastries and samples of the delicious orange cake.

Ms. Hoot’s wedding dress, which was purchased at Tiedtke’s, will be displayed during the event.

“We’re hoping for a good turnout,” she said.

Contact Janet Romaker at: jromaker@theblade.com or 419-724-6006.

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