I’m a huge fan of #tbt, or Throwback Thursday – it brings the human aspect back to our incessant information feed, and tells us something about each other. I decided to participate this week by using some old family photos and clippings of my Great Grandfather Joseph Russo and the family restaurant he ran. I look at the man in the middle of the photograph and I see my face, my shoulders, and my compulsion to always roll up my sleeves and bare my forearms. This photo gives me a lot of comfort and pride.
But then I ran into a problem: The photo and the coupon clipping don’t tell the same story.
Having seen these two images next to each other growing up, I always assumed they were of the same era. In doing some research I found there is HUGE time gap between the photo and coupon. The photo was taken possibly as early as 1912, because of the “Oscar B. Marx for Mayor” in the window reflection. He was mayor of Detroit from 1913-1918. The coupon is from 1949. Either that building is someplace different, or the family restaurant lasted longer than I ever knew… Family mystery!
Anyways, if anyone out there knows of good ways to help me complete the puzzle of Joseph Russo and his restaurant in Detroit, I’d be extremely grateful!!!
UPDATE: Since posting this minor mystery online, I’ve already received another clue at least to the longevity of the storefront listed in the coupon clipping. Brock Winstead, writer and fellow DJ on BFF.fm (host of the Eastern Shore, Mondays 2-4pm PST), brought me this via Twitter:
This is a screen capture highlighting Joseph Russo (wife Catherine) listed as restaurateur at 14825 Mack Avenue in Detroit. So now we now Russo’s Restaurant was open at that location for at least 21 years! As memory starts to serve better, I do believe that my grandfather Salvatore (Sam) Russo was born and raised in the apartment above the restaurant. I also noticed that there is an Anthony Russo listed as a barber at 14821 Mack Avenue, and I’m presuming he is family as well… What a great little neighborhood.
With a little more research (and help from some smart people) maybe I’ll be able to paint a better picture for my family and future generations. I’m still afraid, though, that the mystery of the building my grandfather is standing in front of – and the identity of the nefarious-looking characters to his right – might elude me forever. What a story those gents might make…
One more thing I need to confirm: It is my belief that this building was abandoned and/or torn down shortly after being damaged in the Detroit Race Riots of 1967. Whether or not my family’s business was still running at the time of the riots, I’m not sure about.