Albion Interactive History / People / Earl Caines

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People

Earl Caines, 1888

Builder +
Darrow street houses
Homer Blair farm, East Erie

Earl Caines was a well known Albion builder and roof contractor in the early 20th century. He was born nearMarshall on September 17, 1888, and on January 31, 1917, he married Ruth Wolcott, daughter ofL.J. Wolcott, president of HomesteadLoan and Building Association.

Caines began his general construction business in 1915 at 102 S. Huron Street. Earl and contractor Perry Sharp owned a double house in the 400 block of E. Cass Street. In back was a big warehouse; Curt Warsler used one end of it for his cement work, and Earl and Perry used the other half of it for their warehouse.

Caines had the ability to use the square for all sorts of measuring and was known for his remarkable talents with it. “His instrument was a square,” said his son George, in an interview conducted with this author in 1987. “He could use a square like nobody else in the world. What he would do was saw all the lumber, even the rafters, andhand measure them with a square and send them up to his crew and they’d put them together. That’s all he would do all day long is use that square.” (Interview with George Caines, January 23, 1987)

Caines built all of the houses on Darrow street when it was being developed. His last construction job was the Homer Blair farm on E. Erie Street. Caines went into the roofing business in 1931 when the Depression came, and used his Cass Street warehouse as headquarters. His son George remembered those days,

He was struggling in the roofing business, and… there was a terrible hailstorm; great big golf-ball sized hail. My dad went around and repaired all the roofs that he had installed, free. That gave him a push. It was the best advertising he could have ever had. (Interview with George Caines, January 23, 1987)

He opened a retail store at 120 N. Superior Street (demolished)  in February 1935, for the sale of paints and painting supplies. He moved the Caines Paint and Wallpaper store to 212 S. Superior Street in 1936. He died July 10, 1945.

His son George (born September 7, 1922) began working at the store in 1939 when he graduated from Albion High School. He attended Cleary Business College inYpsilanti for one year and then entered the military during World War II. George returned from the military and took over the store after his father died, and continued to operate the store. During an interview, George pointed to the sign painted on his front window:

That sign up there on that window, was the last job Clyde Trine did before he died, in the late 1930s. He was up in his 80s then, and he shook like a leaf, until his hand touched the glass; then he was just as steady as anybody could be.

Source: Frank Passic. Homestead Savings and Loan and the Builders of Albion: One Hundred Years of Service, 1889-1989. Albion, MI: Homestead Savings and Loan Association. 1988.

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