Back in 1963, Skippy Carroll purchased Etscovitz Garage on Main St. from Sam Etzcovitz. Sam was 63 then and had been in the automobile business since 1919. Sam's brothers had also been in the auto business, and, in fact, they did so until their deaths. Their story is one of unusual success.
The 5 brothers, Jacob, Sam, Ellis, Abe, Max and their two sisters, Sarah and Ida, were born of Russians emigrants who came to this country in the very early years of the 1900's. Along with their first six children who also had been born in Russia (Max would be born in Fort Kent), Louis and Rose Etscovitz settled in Fort Kent and raised their children. Sam and his older brother, Jacob, began selling cars in Fort Kent in 1919 and were partners for several years. Eventually they would take the other 3 brothers into the business. In the '20's Sam married Ann Soloman and lived for a few years more in Fort Kent. In the late '20's Sam and Jake had decided to expand their business of selling cars and started a branch in Presque Isle. Sam purchased a home on the corner of Main and Howard and soon built a garage almost next door. In 1927 he purchased the firm of R.N. Barker who sold Studebakers. Soon in 1934 he added Olds, Plymouth and Dodge. Later there would be added Cadillac and Packard and in 1949 he would carry Olds and GMC trucks as an exclusive line. Fords were the cars they couldn't sell; that franchise belonged to a Mr. Ochs of this city.
After the war, Sam and Jake split their business, Sam remaining in P.I. and Jake returning home to Fort Kent to carry on the auto business there. Eventually, the other brothers would establish their own car dealerships: Abe in Caribou, Max in Houlton and Ellis in Bar Harbor.
Back in the '50's, I went to school with Abe's daughter, Laura, a very pretty and smart school girl. Abe and his family lived on Dudley St. and by then Sam and his wife had sold their home on the corner of Main and Howard and moved to Barton St.. After a fire, Sam bought a home farther south on Dudley. He and Ann lived there until their passing in the '70's. Laura lives in New Hampshire and has recently lost her husband. You might recall that Abe owned and operated Northern Sales and Service in Caribou for many years. Sam and Ann had 4 children: Barbara, Betty, Janet and Basil.
A 1952 issue of the Star-Herald lists as employees at Etscovitz (there were 14 in all): son Basil as an assistant, Perley Duprey as shop manager, Charlie Tompkins as manager of the parts department and Gerald Johnson in the body and fender department. The sales staff included Merle Hagerman and Frank 'Skippy' Carroll and the office staff was headed by Fred Derosier and assisted by Louise Perry.
During the war Sam and Ann also owned and operated the P.I. Laundry, an old building that stood just about 100 feet south of where First Citizens is today at the crotch of Parsons and Dyer. The business was purchased by Ann's brother-in-law, Sam Ross, in 1945. Ross completely renovated the plant in 1945 and a dry cleaning facility was added.
In the '40's Ann established an antique business in her home on Main St.. Later, the business was moved to State St. right across from Roy's Army and Navy. Ann's Antiques did business on State St. for at least 20 years.
Basil, Sam's son, would carry on the family business after the sale of the garage to Skippy Carroll. A new facility to sell cars was built just south on the Houlton Road sometime in the '60's. It now stands as the ARTS (Aroostook Regional Transportation System) Building. Last week I told you that the Shaleks and the Etscovitzes would become connected by marriage. Remember that the Etscovitz brothers had two sisters, Sarah and Ida. Ida had a daughter, Lena, who would marry Stan Shalek in the '40's. Stan and Lena (Lee) would bear two children, Ian and Ellen. Ellen is the person to whom I owe a debt of gratitude for supplying much of the information contained in this 4-part series.
Next week we conclude this 4-part series with an article highlighting Stan Shalek with a profile on the Shalek Bag Co.
Again, I invite any commentary on past or future stories in 'Forgotten Times'. Please direct your comments to my e-mail address, RAG111@webtv.net, or letters to the editor in care of the Star-Herald.
last updated : April 27, 2011