Friday, December 9, 2016

J.L. Hudson's Dept. Store Christmas Meet-up

Towards the end of November I received an e-mail from Mike Hauser [one of Detroit's foremost authorities on J.L. Hudson's Department Store, and c0-author of two books about the store] inviting me to a Christmas dinner at Macy's Lakeshore Grill at Troy's Oakland Mall.  The Macy's store used to be a Hudson's store before it underwent multiple transitions, and the restaurant still serves many of Hudson's food items on its menu.

Mike is a former Hudson's employee - known as a Hudsonian.  The Christmas meet-up is a tradition that began back in 1998 with the "Hudson's gang" - a group who spent a year extracting items from the vacant flagship store on Woodward Avenue for the Detroit Historical Museum. After the implosion of the building the group missed the ediface so much that they felt an annual meet-up would help cure [or at least diminish] their "Hudson blues."

I am the least qualified to be included in this group that meets annually, but Mike knows my passion to learn about Hudson's eateries and tearooms, and has been SO helpful in my research to write a Hudson's cookbook. He is such a kind and generous man. The gathering was this past Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.


In front of Santa's big chair are L-R:  Mike Hauser [kneeling]  lst row: Grace, Me, Carole, and Maura.  2nd row: Annie, Dan, Curtis, Bruce and Scott.  

The first person on the left in the photo below is Bruce Kopytek [and his wife Carole next to him]. Bruce designed, wrote, and maintains the Internet website, The Department Store Museum [www.thedepartmentstoremuseum.org].  If you have a favorite department store that no longer exists, chances are good you can read about it at his website.  He is also the author of a book about Jacobson's - another Michigan department store that no longer exists. 


On the right side of the table below are Mike, Carole, Bruce, Curtis and Scott.  At the far end on the left is Maura, his wife.  Scott and Maura are former owners of Sweet Afton Tearoom in Plymouth, MI [which I've blogged about previously].  Maura is an 'original' member of the "Hudson gang." She studied architecture and had an interest in the Hudson's building. Mike said the abandoned building was dirty, without electricity and heat, and homeless people took shelter inside - definitely not a place most women would be daring enough to enter. But Maura was brave and determined, and got to see first-hand some inside, behind-the-scenes areas of Detroit's most iconic department store before it was reduced to a pile of rubble on the side of Woodward Avenue.


Second photo above: Annie [very knowledgeable about Hudson's history and involved with the Detroit Shoppe at Somerset Mall], Grace [a Hudsonian], and Dan - also an original member of the "Hudson gang."  He was in high school when artifacts were being removed from the store, and Mike was one of his mentors. He's now an attorney. 

When I arrived at Lakeshore Grill, Mike was the only one there, and he said "I've got something for you," as he handed me a large yellow mailing envelope.  An 80 year old lady he knows was downsizing her possessions and invited Mike over to look at her collection of Hudson's memorabilia. She worked in Hudson's food service management most of her career, so included in the memorabilia were Hudson's recipes - what I've been searching for with little success.  She gave the recipes to Mike and Mike gave them to me.  I was so happy I could have hugged his neck!


The recipes are in large food service quantities, but with the help of the culinary department at Macomb County Community College I can probably get them scaled down to family size - perfect for my cookbook project.  MERRY CHRISTMAS to me, from Mike Hauser!!!

Below is a 1957 Hudson's recipe.  I have no idea how many servings are in 14 gallons of clam chowder, but the pot it was prepared in must have been huge.


I figured it would be sacrilege not to order a Maurice Salad and bowl Canadian Cheese Soup at this "Hudson gang" gathering.  And, of course, a pot of tea [herbal since it was 6:00 p.m. and I wanted to sleep that night!].



Pictured below is one of Hudson's famous popovers, and bowl of Canadian Cheese Soup.  It tasted as good as it looks!


~ Yummy Maurice 'half' Salad ~


Mike was down at the other end of the table chatting with Maura and Scott when they delivered his Chicken Pot Pie [another Hudson favorite], so I took a picture of it.  Annie jokingly suggested that I take a little taste, but I said Mike's a generous guy, but he has limitations, I'm sure!  ;-)


It was a GREAT evening.  Thanks so much for inviting me, Mike, and for your most generous gift of Hudson's recipes!  I don't feel like I contributed much to the evening's conversation, but I sure had fun listening to everyone else share their memories of Hudson's, and other Detroit stores of yesteryear.

Mike is a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the stores and other establishments that once occupied downtown Detroit.

As for the cookbook, I've been inspired anew to get on with the project.  It'll be a nice winter project after the holidays are over.  


3 comments:

  1. I am so thrilled for you, Phyllis! To be regarded so high as to gift you the recipes is very special! I look forward to your cookbook!

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  2. Oh wow! I love this post! We lived in Grand Rapids when I was young, and a trip to Hudson's for shopping and lunch was a real treat-my sister, mom and I still talk about it. They would serve kids meals in a little paper shopping bag imprinted with circus images which we always took home to hold our "treasures" in until they fell apart. We had several of those to story barbie clothes and other odds and ends for years. Please do the cookbook-I think it will be fascinating.

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  3. What a treasure you were given! And what a nice gathering. I'm so glad Mike included you.

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