Questions, Anyone?

Clarifications for pedestrians

Q. Some people walk along the side of the road facing the oncoming traffic, and some walk in the same direction as the traffic. Reader Janet Pfeiffenberger asks “Who is right?”

A. Pedestrians should walk facing the traffic. Sgt. Eric Hamp of the Alpena Police Department states, “Pedestrians are to walk on the side of the road as far to the left as possible or on a paved shoulder against oncoming traffic where there are no sidewalks. Also, pedestrians should cross the street at an intersection or designated crosswalk when possible.”

Garment factory

Q. Reader John Nethercut, formerly of Alpena and now of Baltimore, Md., has read the Alpena Garment Company was once the largest plant of its kind in the world. He wonders, “Was it really that big?”

A. Yes, it was, according to historical sources. Robert Laymen, a student rabbi serving the Alpena Jewish community during the summers of 1957-58, wrote a detailed report titled “The Alpena Jewish Community.” He stated, “During a period of two decades, from 1920 to 1940, a major business in Alpena was a ladies’ dress factory, known as The Alpena Garment Company … The company became known as the largest manufacturer of popular-priced women’s dresses in the world, shipping the amazing total of 7 million dresses annually at peak production. With its main plant in Alpena, branches were established, in Rogers City, Onaway, and Cheboygan, as many as 1,600 employees being on the payroll.”

Alpena Historian Robert Haltiner, in “The Town That Wouldn’t Die”, wrote, “It was announced on August 27, 1926 that the Alpena Garment Company, the largest plant of its kind in the world, was at work on the largest order in the history of the industry.”

“On February 16,1932, the Alpena Garment Company was at work making dresses to fill an order for Paris, France – the first time American-made dresses were known to have been sold there.

“Around 1936 the plant occupied over 100,000 square feet of floor space – 820 machines of various nature were in operation and approximately 1,200 women and over 100 men were steadily employed. That year’s output was 4,500,000 garments and wages paid were three quarters of a million dollars,(italics) all this occurring during the depths of the Great Depression!”

Garment Co. Miscellany

Q. Following are miscellaneous snippets from historian Bob Haltiner’s books.

A. *In 1920 a little factory had its beginnings on the second floor of the Reynold’s Building located between River Street and Park Place.

* In 1925 a new factory was constructed at the corner of Chisholm and Sixth Street.

* In 1925, an ad in the Alpena Homecoming Book said: “We are recent arrivals in Alpena – but we love Alpena and its people, Alpena Garment Co., The Largest Exclusive Apron Factory in the World: You are welcome to come visit our plant.”

* September 28, 1928 – Alpena Garment Company plans to make 3,120,000 dresses in 1928.

* “Serious labor problems developed , and several strikes were undertaken by the employees for higher wages. The International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) , headquartered in New York City, sent people here to organize an Alpena local of that union…”

* “July 5 , 1940 – Announcement made that Alpena Garment Company will be liquidated.”

Please send comments and questions to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, MI 49707.