Yesterdays of Demopolis
History of Frohsin's
HISTORY OF FROHSINíS IN DEMOPOLIS
Frohsinís in Demopolis opened in 1938. It was a partnership with Isidore Koch, His sister Frances Frohsin and Ralph Frohsin. There was also a store in Alexander City but I do not know the year it opened. Probably a year or two earlier.
I am doing this from memory. I am 74 years old, so if I get some things wrong do not fuss at me and make me cry.
The original employees were Lena Koch, my Mother. She was the bookkeeper for several years. Other employees then were Robert Scott Griffith, Pat Perry, Dot Chariton, Mrs. Felix Davidson (Day). I do not have the exact years they started, so I will fill in the names. Others to come on later were Claudia Biddle, Inez Cobb, Amelia Wiggins, Washington Booker. (Wash). Later years also was Mrs. Medarius. Margaret Williams came on when automation hit. I am sure I have left off some names. In 1965 I moved to Texas, but when I was home I would always go and visit the store.
When I was about 14 (1951) I worked at the store in the summer being the delivery guy. It was a big bike with a big basket on the back. I remember going to many homes with a delivery. One time my pants caught in the chain and I wrecked. I got paid $17.50 a week. I donít know if I was paid what I was worth or not. I sure got a good suntan in the summer. I work a couple of Christmas also.
I do also remember that stores closed at noon on Wednesday. One thing I remember when Dad came home he never talked business.
In 1979 my Mother was visiting me when she got called that the store had a fire.
She flew immediately back in to Birmingham.
It was decided that the store had too much damage and would not be rebuilt.
This was 1980 and the store closed forever.
I heard Dad and my Mother say that over the years many people called that they were sorry the icon was gone.
The store had a reputation of personal service. Each store clerk had their own customers. When something new came in whether a dress or suit they would call the person and tell them that had something they would like. Dad went to New York twice a year to buy at the clothes market. One time he even came to Dallas to check out the clothes markets here. He would always buy something in addition to stocking up for the next season for a customer that he knew wanted a particular item of clothing.
Over the years the store attained the icon of Demopolisí Best Store. There was also personal service to each customer that came in the store. At Christmas all purchases that were gift wrapped at no charge. Even clothes were sent out to a home on approval. Everyone at Demopolisí best store was a family. It is amazing that within several years the original employees passed away. I still remember those steps up to the 2nd floor. Dad lost a leg in 1972 (diabetes) but he could still climb those steps with that artificial leg.
I always remember when coming back to the store all the employees greeted me as Billy. I lost the Y when I graduated from High School. If anyone called me Billy I did not correct them.
I am sure I have left out a lot of facts of things and people associated with the store.
All the memories I had of Frohsinís were all good. My Dad, Isidore Koch passed away in 1988. He had all the memories that went with that store and he lived his last years with those memories My Mother passed away in 1997. I wish I had had the hine sight to record all of those memories when they were both alive.
My Mother had a bundle of knowledge I wish I had written down or recorded it. When she passed away my communication with Demopolis stopped. Every year when I would visit my Sister in Eutaw, I would never fail to come over a drive down the streets and remember when! Because of my health I have not been able to a trip back since. Last week my sister Toby Koch Smith passed away.
I do have nephews, nieces in Tuscaloosa and Northport and Eutaw. I hope I can make some kind of trip there in the future. This has been very sad to write this as it closes as I am the only left of my immediate. I hope if anyone can add something to this please do. But again donít fuss at me because I might cry!
My love and Godís blessing to everyone.
William Morris Koch,aka Bill and Billy
-We would like to thank Bill Koch for providing this information.