Memoirs of a Toledo Childhood: Family Business

"Memoirs of a Toledo Childhood" follows the recollections and reflections of Michael Murray, a Toledoan born in 1944 and raised in the South Side. These snippets of childhood from the previous generation, released as moments rather than a chronological timeline, remind us of what once was and the experiences and legacies that built our present. The excerpts are adapted from Murray's Memoir of a Toledoan and are released with permission of the author.

Graphic by Bethany Morgan.

My dad played cards with a man by the name of Carlton Klein who owned the Perma Bench Company, an outdoor advertising bus bench company with four hundred benches in the Toledo area. Mr. Klein wanted to retire and sell the business, and my dad thought it was a perfect business for me. The sales price was $20,000; I didn’t have that kind of money—I was just twenty-one years old. I thought about it overnight and decided to pursue it. I went to the bank with dad, Ohio Citizens made the loan; I was in business and eighteen thousand dollars in debt.

I converted our two-and-a half-car garage into a sign shop, and made an adjustable drawing board and benches for silk screening. A rented storage space and workshop on Prouty St. off Broadway near my former grade school, St. James, came with the business. My mother did my billing and kept track of the finances; my brother Jim did my taxes. I hired my retired Uncle Art to repaint all the benches a medium gray; they had been neglected for a long time.


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