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AADL Talks To Heritage Business Owner David Vogel of Vogel's Lock & Safe

Thu, 10/20/2011 - 4:24pm

When: October 20, 2011

Four generations of Vogels have been giving Ann Arbor what they want and need since 1913, changing the business with the tastes and tempo of life in the town. We talked to David Vogel, the 3rd generation of Vogel's Lock & Safe, who retired and handed over the business to the 4th generation, Rob and Denise Vogel, some years back. Dave has done a lot of research on the family's coming to Ann Arbor area over a hundred years ago and has collected a trove of documents, photos and family stories and shares them with us in this podcast.

The Vogel's began fixing, building and re-building "anything and everything mechanical" that farmers and businesses brought to the shop. Dave gave us a tour of the building's back rooms that house some of the equipment used back then and we've put a selection of those images up with the podcast. The business eventually changed to safes and locks and Dave talks about the "dividing line" in the 1960s, when the townspeople and students at the University of Michigan began asking for locks and deadbolts instead of sporting goods and bicycles. Dave has some interesting stories to tell about raids with the FBI and opening safes with the U.S. military.

The family is one of the older Ann Arbor "townies" and Dave keeps up with the other families that built the businesses, homes and neighborhood that define Ann Arbor. Dave talks about hunting where Pioneer High School now sits, living through World War II in Ann Arbor and the way local heritage businesses still depend on each other for support and growth.

Transcript

  • [00:00:01.96] ANDREW: Hi, this is Andrew.
  • [00:00:03.09] AMY: And this is Amy. And in this episode, AADL talks to local family business owner, David Vogel.
  • [00:00:14.58] ANDREW: Jackie and Debbie talk to David about how the Vogels came to Ann Arbor, being a locksmith before anybody locked their doors, and his adventures working as the county safe cracker for the FBI.
  • [00:00:29.43] JACKIE: Who are the Vogels?
  • [00:00:32.80] DAVID VOGEL: The first Vogel that came to Ann Arbor was from Germany. But before that, it was Poland. When Germany took over, everybody ran as fast as they could.
  • [00:00:48.11] DEBBIE: When would this have been? What time period are we talking about? 19th century?
  • [00:00:57.90] DAVID VOGEL: 1932, before the war.
  • [00:01:00.24] DEBBIE: Before the second World War?
  • [00:01:01.58] DAVID VOGEL: Right, yeah. They knew it was coming. And so, when the Germans came in, the Vogel family lost a farm. They took it away from them.
  • [00:01:14.56] JACKIE: So this would be a farm in Poland?
  • [00:01:16.95] DAVID VOGEL: Right. So they lost the farm, and they immigrated. They lost the farm but they could rent it. They couldn't own it. It was some kind of thing like that. And I'm getting this information-- I contacted a person in Germany. And through Bethlehem, here.
  • [00:01:47.10] During the war, they took everything from them. They didn't have anything. No food. No clothing. And so they sent a letter to Bethlehem asking for clothing.
  • [00:02:00.06] And that's how I made contact in Germany. East Germany it was of a person that still had, and I have in my possession. They call it-- let's see what was it called-- passport. And all Germans had to carry this passport. On this passport, it gave four generations back into Germany. So I could follow it real easy.
  • [00:02:26.99] And so we sent them clothes and everything. And then Ike got a hold of this letter. And so that's how I got a hold of the person in Germany. In West Germany, now they had the rest of family in East Germany, which was illegal to go over. But they were able to go back and forth between the two. And I got this passport. So that's how--
  • [00:02:57.33] There was two boys in the family. And both of them came to America. There was one girl. And she stayed there.
  • [00:03:10.43] JACKIE: And did they come, directly, to Ann Arbor?
  • [00:03:13.98] DAVID VOGEL: I don't know where the second boy came from. I don't know. He came to America, but I don't know where.
  • [00:03:25.06] DEBBIE: So what was the name of the one that ended up here in Ann Arbor? What was his--
  • [00:03:28.63] DAVID VOGEL: Gus Vogel.
  • [00:03:28.99] DEBBIE: Gus Vogel. Was that Gus Vogel senior?
  • [00:03:31.43] DAVID VOGEL: There was three of them in a row. And my dad said, he hated the name called Junior. Everybody calling Junior. So he says, no way any of my kids are going to be called Gus Vogel. So that's the story behind that.
  • [00:03:48.08] JACKIE: So Gus senior was the one who--
  • [00:03:50.57] DAVID VOGEL: Came over.
  • [00:03:51.10] JACKIE: Came over.
  • [00:03:52.28] DAVID VOGEL: Right, right.
  • [00:03:53.28] JACKIE: And why Ann Arbor? Did he ever tell you why in Ann Arbor?
  • [00:04:00.31] DAVID VOGEL: It was known freedom. Freedom township. Back there they said, they treated you right. There's no discrimination. He wanted to go to Freedom township. Well he ended up in Ann Arbor. So that's the story about that.
  • [00:04:20.39] Everybody wanted to come to Freedom township. When they got off the boat.
  • [00:04:24.85] DEBBIE: Did he bring skills with him that he could use right away in Ann Arbor?
  • [00:04:29.61] DAVID VOGEL: He was a mechanic. I guess you'd call him. He could fix anything. Anything mechanical he could fix. And then he started-- [INAUDIBLE] he started as a laborer and mechanic in Ann Arbor. He lived down on Fountain.
  • [00:04:59.09] But he got cancer. And he only had one child, Gus Vogel. He died very young.
  • [00:05:06.40] JACKIE: Gus senior died very young. And when did he open the store? You said he was a--
  • [00:05:14.22] DAVID VOGEL: 1913. I've got a picture on my wall at the store of Gus junior in the back of the store.
  • [00:05:28.79] JACKIE: Is that right?
  • [00:05:30.26] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah, you could see-- before cars they used to have a hitching post, and half my store was that area. And they built out in front. If you walk in my store, you can still see the front of the old building there.
  • [00:05:48.77] Back in the old days, they drove horses. And they tied it up. That's called a hitching. They'd tie up the horse there. And that's the hitching area. Where usually a horse and carriage. And they'd come in like that.
  • [00:06:06.26] And it was old wood in the front. Well when they paved, then everybody built out in front. But you can see it. I got pictures of the old building in 1913 with Gus junior in there. And the men working.
  • [00:06:28.97] But anyway, so there's only one boy.
  • [00:06:34.63] JACKIE: OK can I ask, in 1913, what kind of business was a Vogel?
  • [00:06:40.02] DAVID VOGEL: Mechanical. Anything mechanical. I never saw my grandfather. I'm taking it from what they told me. They repaired anything mechanical. Guns, lawn mowers, umbrellas. They sharpened old rotary lawn mowers. Skates, scissors, knives.
  • [00:07:10.39] Everybody shaved with a knife. They sharpened them. Repaired them. That's what they did before the war. Anything mechanical they fixed. Or tried to fix.
  • [00:07:27.84] JACKIE: When did this start becoming locks and saves? Do you remember that?
  • [00:07:33.81] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. There's like a dividing line. When my dad took over, Gus Vogel the third, he bought it from my grandmother, which was a widow. Just before the war.
  • [00:08:03.69] There was nothing in the store, absolutely nothing. He bought an empty store. He bought the name and the building. So that's what I heard because they needed everything for the war effort.
  • [00:08:20.90] He took over in 1913, and started filling the store in. And I was born in 1940. And I remember as a child, helping him put together bikes. Bikes and sporting goods were the main thing in the business.
  • [00:08:43.56] JACKIE: That is in the '40s?
  • [00:08:45.60] DAVID VOGEL: No '60s.
  • [00:08:47.38] JACKIE: '60s.
  • [00:08:48.46] DAVID VOGEL: I'm 20 years old about then, a little younger. Before I went into service. And in fact, we had two stores.
  • [00:08:57.18] JACKIE: Is that right?
  • [00:08:57.57] DAVID VOGEL: I ran the second store up on Church, six 11 Church. We had a second store there. But around 1960, things went downhill in Ann Arbor. Drugs came in town. Everybody was getting broken into. So everybody had to have a dead bolt.
  • [00:09:17.78] So bikes and locksmiths came together at the same time. We couldn't handle it. It was so much business in locks.
  • [00:09:28.76] Before 1960, nobody locked their door. It was a trustworthy community. You could leave your door wide open, and nobody would bother it.
  • [00:09:38.19] But at that time, had trouble-- drugs come in town. So everybody had to have locks on their doors. And when the students come back, a lot of bikes had to be put together and sold as new. And all the locks had to be changed because of the students coming in town.
  • [00:10:04.61] We just got snow balled. So we decided to get out of the bikes. That's when. So our main business was locksmith work. Change locks, put in dead bolts and stuff. And we gradually got out of sporting goods, bikes, and everything else. So that's how we narrowed it down.
  • [00:10:33.75] The second store-- when I went into service, I was drafted. They just closed down the second store. And that's where we ended up just the one store downtown.
  • [00:10:49.00] DEBBIE: To back up a little bit, when the family first came to Ann Arbor, where did they live? And did you--
  • [00:10:54.47] DAVID VOGEL: Fountain.
  • [00:10:54.93] DEBBIE: On Fountain street? Did they stay at Fountain street?
  • [00:11:00.45] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. Well I can give you dates if you want.
  • [00:11:07.92] DEBBIE: Sure. So was that walking distance for you to work? You could walk to work. Or your grandfather?
  • [00:11:13.59] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah, Fountain was just down the hill five blocks, which back in those days was nothing.
  • [00:11:20.60] DEBBIE: That's why I asked.
  • [00:11:21.86] DAVID VOGEL: Everybody walked.
  • [00:11:23.54] JACKIE: Well he hoofed it here and I say, can I get you [INAUDIBLE]? And he said, no I hoofed it. And I said, well, that's old Ann Arbor way.
  • [00:11:33.82] DEBBIE: When you had the bikes-- when you were doing the bikes, did you get a lot of the university students come looking for bikes?
  • [00:11:39.53] DAVID VOGEL: They all came at once, the beginning of class. That was the hard part. When they first come and start, they all would get a bike instead of a car. Because there was no parking.
  • [00:11:51.91] And we were just swamped. We couldn't-- we had to turn down work. We just couldn't handle it. And we had two other people. I don't remember the names.
  • [00:12:03.63] That's all they did is put bikes together. That's how busy we were. And then when locks came in, and they started wanting locks on the doors, and their keys . changed. See all students come in, they got to have new keys. They have to have a lock on the door and all that. It was just a total disaster. We couldn't.
  • [00:12:22.28] JACKIE: What's your favorite lock company?
  • [00:12:29.08] DAVID VOGEL: Probably Schlage.
  • [00:12:30.46] JACKIE: Is that right?
  • [00:12:36.77] DAVID VOGEL: Nowadays, the companies do not care who sells their locks. It's just volume. So there is no-- in other words, they tried to cut out the locksmith and the wholesaler. In order to buy direct. And to do that you have to do X amount of dollars. And nobody could do it alone.
  • [00:13:05.88] You take five or six. We tried to get around that by five or six locksmiths shopped together and we bought together. To meet this, but pretty soon they just said no. So that kind of cut us out.
  • [00:13:22.70] There is no company-- I don't know what you want to call it-- it's just the lowest price you can buy it. But Schlage is a very old company. It's a California company. And I went to their factory and saw how a locks made. It was very interesting. Anyway.
  • [00:13:51.71] DEBBIE: Did your dad ever talk about whether the business was effected by World War II? If you had to do things differently, or it was harder to get--
  • [00:14:00.58] DAVID VOGEL: You couldn't get anything. My dad bought the business from my grandmother. Who is a widow. It had two children. And she I guarantee she died. She was in the hospital for 10 years.
  • [00:14:21.35] JACKIE: Your grandma?
  • [00:14:22.23] DAVID VOGEL: My grandmother. And so she ran out of money. And so my dad bought her share, bought the business, and the name from my grandmother. And Marian [? Cope ?] was the daughter. So there's just two children, my dad and Marian.
  • [00:14:49.99] So he bought everything from them. So they could pay my grandmother's hospital. That's when my dad got the store, got the business, and it was nothing there. Everything was during the war.
  • [00:15:05.66] You couldn't buy anything. We even had a hard time buying locks. It was just no metal around. So he bought an actually an empty store and the name. That's what I remember.
  • [00:15:21.90] DAVID VOGEL: How'd he stay in business?
  • [00:15:24.32] DAVID VOGEL: Repairing. In other words, you've got something, you've got it in your hand, I can fix it. That's how he stayed in business. That was the main thing. That's why they were so busy. You couldn't buy anything new. You had to fix what you had.
  • [00:15:44.48] I couldn't remember the time they put it on razors-- you know people with razors how they shave-- they would fix those dumb things. Sharpen them and fix them. Old scissors, I can't remember it. Umbrellas, they'd fix those strands. They put new canvas on top. Anything you want fixed, they'll fix it.
  • [00:16:09.56] It's mechanical. Anything mechanical they'll fix it.
  • [00:16:12.75] JACKIE: Service first. So it was more service and than goods Now can I ask about the building, you've been in the same building ever since the beginning.
  • [00:16:24.67] DAVID VOGEL: From day one, 1913.
  • [00:16:26.15] JACKIE: Do you own the building? Do they own the building?
  • [00:16:29.08] DAVID VOGEL: I own it.
  • [00:16:30.17] JACKIE: Now was it always just the storefront and people live on top or?
  • [00:16:36.09] DAVID VOGEL: Nobody's ever lived on top. It's just storage on top. The old building, say 1913, if you go down the alley there, you'll see a built on front. The old building was from, I'd say 40 yards, was not there. From the old building, it was beyond back. I go all the way back to the Schwaben. That's my property line back.
  • [00:17:15.82] And what they did is they built on front. I can't tell you the date that they built on in front. It's probably after the war. I can't tell you off hand, when they built on the front.
  • [00:17:35.96] But I know my dad built on the front. So he's the one that-- but before that it was just a very small area of a building. In fact, you can see, if you come in my store, I got pictures when electricity first came in. You know knob and tube? You ever heard of that?
  • [00:18:03.50] What they did in the old days, when they first put electricity in your building, they drilled through the wood. And they put a piece of plaster. This knob and tube. One positive, one negative. And then they ran, on each side of the two by four, or actually it was a four by six in my store, all the way back to one on each side.
  • [00:18:29.59] Now everything is together. But that's the way they did it. And I took out all that knob and tube, and put in grounded wire. That's how old that building was. Nobody ever did anything to it.
  • [00:18:43.89] So if you go in the store, you can still see the old motor. And everything was driven by belts. I don't know if you know what a belt is. A motor drove a belt. And you can put it here, and you can put it.
  • [00:19:04.27] You can still see that in the back of my store. Everything was driven on by belts. They had lathes. They had a machine that sharpened those old rotary lawn mowers. It set the lawn mower down and sharpen it. And they had an attachment that would sharpen skates.
  • [00:19:28.97] And then we had a man that sharpened-- all he did is sharpen razor blades, scissors, skates. That's all he did all day long. So anything that needed sharpening, we'd sharpen.
  • [00:19:44.24] JACKIE: Now do you have a list of old prices? From those days? Like how much was someone charged for sharpening a razor blade or a lawn mower. Do you have old prices that your dad might have been charging? You don't remember?
  • [00:20:03.12] DAVID VOGEL: I don't. Well, I cleaned house and I threw all of that out. So I--
  • [00:20:08.32] JACKIE: But you still have some of the equipment though, right?
  • [00:20:10.69] DAVID VOGEL: Right.
  • [00:20:12.24] JACKIE: So--
  • [00:20:12.78] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:20:13.01] JACKIE: That would have been really fun to see those. And have
  • [00:20:16.42] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:20:16.69] DAVID VOGEL: It's still there. It's all there. Driven by one big motor, and then everything is by belts. And that's all in the back. I said I wasn't going to tear them down. So--
  • [00:20:27.35] JACKIE: No, no, no. You've got a treasure there.
  • [00:20:31.60] DAVID VOGEL: So you can see everything there. How it was done and-- prices. I think I had prices. But I don't know if Rob kept them or not. I found a lot of old stuff. In fact, I found-- back in the old days, they tracked your deed back to when we-- Rob's got, I don't know if he still kept it, but he had a record of the Vogels four generations, all the way back to the first person that came to Washtenaw County.
  • [00:21:15.03] They did that when we got the title for the store. So he could show you that.
  • [00:21:24.10] DEBBIE: When you moved into the safe business, to the safe and lock business, did you start having more interaction with the Ann Arbor police department?
  • [00:21:33.85] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. I had more reaction with the FBI than the-- I had to go on all the drug raids. So they'd come to a safe, I had to open it up for them.
  • [00:21:47.79] JACKIE: That must have been fun.
  • [00:21:49.30] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. And then in my younger days, I did all the work for the military. Like if a scientist at the university died and he had a safe-- in service, I had a classified clearance. So I could go in and open this safe for the government. Because he had top secret documents on research and development. So I did that for the university.
  • [00:22:24.72] But I didn't like doing that. But whenever there is a drug raid, I had to go in to either change the locks after they haul them away. Or if they had a safe, I had to get in. And get the documents out. But that lasted-- I did it for the whole county for a long time, for about three or four years.
  • [00:22:47.15] And I finally said, I didn't want it. I was the last guy in the line, on the raid. But I still didn't like the idea.
  • [00:22:57.67] JACKIE: Now does Rob do that now?
  • [00:22:59.45] DAVID VOGEL: No. In fact, I don't know if he does that for the police department or not. I don't know. I've been out of the business for seven, eight years.
  • [00:23:18.44] I had trouble with my hands. And I couldn't handle the little parts of a lock. So I had to retire. So I didn't want to but that's the way it was.
  • [00:23:33.55] Well they're all cleared up now, but the ends of my hands, it like shorted out. I guess would be just like a psoriasis. The ends-- the feeling went downhill.
  • [00:23:49.84] And I couldn't do the work with my hands. And if I can't use my hands, I'm all done. But--
  • [00:23:57.23] DEBBIE: Did the police ever bring you in to try and figure out how a safe got broken into? The other end of it. This is a safe, maybe they broke into it at a business?
  • [00:24:08.54] DAVID VOGEL: No, not really. I know they've-- for [? Schlender, ?] I don't if he told you. He got broken into. He couldn't figure out how they got in, if they got key or not. I figured out that they made a key to his locks.
  • [00:24:26.12] I showed him how it was done. But they didn't know how to do it.
  • [00:24:30.20] JACKIE: Now can you tell us how the thief did it?
  • [00:24:33.70] DAVID VOGEL: It's called impressioning.
  • [00:24:36.47] JACKIE: So somebody must have had one of their keys then right?
  • [00:24:40.06] DAVID VOGEL: No, you can start. I can make a key to your door without having your key.
  • [00:24:44.74] JACKIE: Good, I'm going to call you.
  • [00:24:47.27] DAVID VOGEL: It's called impressioning. You move a key up and down. And it leaves real little tiny marks saying, this is not right. And you keep filing down and you can actually make a key without having one. And I was taught that.
  • [00:25:06.18] DEBBIE: So someone had to stand by their lock, by their doors, and just jiggle until they got the--
  • [00:25:13.12] DAVID VOGEL: Until they got the right key. And I showed him. I took the inside of a lock out. And I showed him. When you try to do that, you stick a key in, and you pinch. Locks are made out of pins, five pins. And when you trap it, you try to turn it, and you trap the pin.
  • [00:25:34.42] I gave the library here what a lock is. I think I gave it to you. Anyways, I gave somebody how a lock is made.
  • [00:25:48.31] And, what you do is these pins, if you trap it, and then wiggle a key, it leave a little tiny mark. And it also leaves a mark on the pin. So when I took his lock apart, I showed him a pin where it's been wiggled on. And that's how they made a key. He's now got a key that you can't be duplicated.
  • [00:26:13.27] That's how they did it. This was 20 years ago or something. He got broken into and nobody knew. His safe broke two days ago, three days ago.
  • [00:26:25.17] Guy went to dial, and the dials on the safe came out his hand. So I tried a couple--
  • [00:26:34.15] JACKIE: So they still call you now, to fix those.
  • [00:26:37.48] DAVID VOGEL: Well, I'm old friends with [? Chuck. ?] All I got to do is go in his back door, I'm 20 feet from his back door. We're good friends.
  • [00:26:49.79] I tried to manipulate his safe. And I couldn't do it. I lost my touch. But I used to just be able to feel.
  • [00:27:04.61] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:27:04.92] JACKIE: So what did they have to do? Drill it out?
  • [00:27:06.68] DAVID VOGEL: They had to call another man, and drill it out. Took him two days to get in it.
  • [00:27:11.83] DEBBIE: So what we see in the movies sometimes, with them doing that little thing with the hands that really was true?
  • [00:27:17.35] DAVID VOGEL: That really was true. Right.
  • [00:27:20.16] DEBBIE: People could have a knack for being able to--
  • [00:27:22.63] DAVID VOGEL: Right, I could do that. That's why I had my clearance. I could do any house, any safe, any time.
  • [00:27:32.30] DEBBIE: Well good thing you're a good guy.
  • [00:27:34.88] DAVID VOGEL: Well I wouldn't get far. Like I said, I had clearance. And they've got my fingerprints and from one end of the country to the other. And that's an advantage.
  • [00:27:44.39] Because a safe company comes out with a new safe. They send me the material. Anybody in Washtenaw county, they used to call me-- a safe company-- and says, I sold this guy a new safe. It's not working right. They'd call me and I'd go fix it. So they sent me all the material on new safes.
  • [00:28:04.29] JACKIE: Do you sell safes?
  • [00:28:07.59] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah.
  • [00:28:11.13] DEBBIE: Who started the puzzles in the window?
  • [00:28:17.56] DAVID VOGEL: That's Rob's doing. I think Jeff, the other person in the store. He's in the store. I think he did it.
  • [00:28:29.16] DEBBIE: How long ago was that? Because I have to do this, I'm hooked on those.
  • [00:28:35.20] DAVID VOGEL: I don't know. Three years I think. Three or four years.
  • [00:28:39.51] DEBBIE: Do people come in and ask about them? Or ask if there's a prize?
  • [00:28:43.75] DAVID VOGEL: They get stomped on it. And they'll come in and they'll them. They can't figure it out.
  • [00:28:51.53] DEBBIE: You will tell?
  • [00:28:52.51] DAVID VOGEL: Oh yeah.
  • [00:28:54.07] DEBBIE: I just get mad and--
  • [00:28:56.40] DAVID VOGEL: No and in fact, I think he had the, if I remember right, you can go online and you can get it too. I'm not sure of that. I haven't been going in the store lately. But I think you can go online and get it. Or just walk in the store and they'll tell you the answer.
  • [00:29:14.01] But they've been doing it for three or four years. That really went over big. It was just a fun thing to do. It's an eye catcher. My guess is.
  • [00:29:25.73] JACKIE: Now tell me about Rob, how is he related to you?
  • [00:29:29.98] DAVID VOGEL: He's my brother's boy.
  • [00:29:31.71] JACKIE: All right, now your brother chose not to go into the business? Was he in the business?
  • [00:29:38.28] DAVID VOGEL: No.
  • [00:29:38.54] JACKIE: Your brother? No.
  • [00:29:39.16] DAVID VOGEL: He did work but he was a fire officer. He worked for the fire department his whole life. And they're on one, and off two. So on the two days he was off, he would work in the store. Or before, he had a hair salon in Ypsi.
  • [00:30:03.48] So when things got too busy, he would come work for my dad and I.
  • [00:30:12.84] JACKIE: Now why did you choose to go into business?
  • [00:30:16.90] DAVID VOGEL: Why did I? I don't know. Before I was drafted, I worked down at Cushing Malloy. This is before I was drafted. Two years as a lithograph printer. I printed books.
  • [00:30:36.54] And when I was drafted, I went into service. And as soon as they found out I did that, that's what I did in service. I made books. And then I got-- over to Fort Sill, Oklahoma Artillery Missile.
  • [00:30:56.62] And then I had to have clearance because I was making the books for these missiles. So I had to have clearance. That's how I got my secret clearance.
  • [00:31:10.89] JACKIE: And then--
  • [00:31:11.66] DAVID VOGEL: That's all I did. I did have orders to go to Vietnam. But I had made a few friends and got them canceled.
  • [00:31:22.73] JACKIE: So from then you move into safes?
  • [00:31:25.99] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. As soon as I got out of service, I started working for my dad. It was right there. He was so busy he didn't know if he's coming or going. And so I worked for him at the main store for probably six months, a year.
  • [00:31:47.93] And then I started the second store up on campus. And that lasted I think two, three years. And like I said, we couldn't handle it. So we closed the second store, and started getting out of all kinds of things. That's when things really started changing.
  • [00:32:06.97] DEBBIE: When did Rob come into the business?
  • [00:32:12.42] DAVID VOGEL: When I got sick. When my hands gave out. Then I sold him the business, and willed him everything else. So it's all going to go to him.
  • [00:32:29.03] JACKIE: Is he your only nephew?
  • [00:32:31.23] DAVID VOGEL: Right, I never married.
  • [00:32:33.82] JACKIE: So?
  • [00:32:34.63] DAVID VOGEL: He's not my only nephew. He's got a sister.
  • [00:32:38.66] JACKIE: And does she work in the business too?
  • [00:32:40.84] DAVID VOGEL: No, no, no. Rob's the only one.
  • [00:32:43.41] JACKIE: Now how did Rob get interested in the business?
  • [00:32:46.09] DAVID VOGEL: He worked for me for a while also. On this one day off-- he works one and two days off.
  • [00:32:53.52] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:32:53.78] JACKIE: So he's the fireman.
  • [00:32:55.28] DAVID VOGEL: Right, right. So he's got two days, he doesn't do anything. He started working for me. You're just starting out. You've got two kids to feed, and all kinds of bills. You worked wherever you find the work.
  • [00:33:09.72] JACKIE: So he's not a fireman still, is he?
  • [00:33:11.92] DAVID VOGEL: Yes.
  • [00:33:12.55] JACKIE: Is he?
  • [00:33:13.12] DAVID VOGEL: He's the second one down in the fire department.
  • [00:33:15.99] JACKIE: Is that right?
  • [00:33:17.29] DAVID VOGEL: Right. That's where he is today. That's why he couldn't be here. He is a--
  • [00:33:21.19] JACKIE: So do you see the next generation of Vogels getting into the business?
  • [00:33:25.63] DAVID VOGEL: You'd have to ask him.
  • [00:33:27.51] JACKIE: How old are they?
  • [00:33:30.96] DAVID VOGEL: I think one is-- the daughter's 13. And the son is maybe ten or something.
  • [00:33:41.70] JACKIE: Does he work? Do they come and work in the store?
  • [00:33:44.86] DAVID VOGEL: No. Not yet but I expect that they'll get interested. Right now they're just going to school.
  • [00:33:52.79] JACKIE: Very good.
  • [00:33:54.74] DEBBIE: What kind of changes do you see coming for the business? For Rob? What's going to happen to Vogel's?
  • [00:34:01.89] DAVID VOGEL: Well, it's a dying business for one. The only part that's going to survive is the service area, not the selling. That's why you don't see much locks or anything. Because we can't compete with the big discount places. So services is the only thing and probably electronics. We're all going to electronics.
  • [00:34:26.49] So that leaves keys out. The cars are doing that now. In other words, you don't carry a key anymore. You just carry like a garage door opener. Click it, and your car unlocks the doors, and starts up.
  • [00:34:44.62] So I think the locks would be the same way. In other words, you're just going to dial your remote, and unlock your door at the house, turn the lights on, the garage door goes open, and you drive in.
  • [00:34:56.63] DEBBIE: Is Rob learning about that--
  • [00:34:58.90] DAVID VOGEL: It's getting real close to that right now. But that's why there used to be a locksmith in each town. And I'm the only one left in Washtenaw County. That's how consolidating it is.
  • [00:35:14.86] JACKIE: So you must serve a much larger area now.
  • [00:35:18.02] DAVID VOGEL: I won't go Ypsi. I don't want to get shot.
  • [00:35:21.52] DEBBIE: But you serve the whole county. There's still plenty of people with all kinds of locksmith issues.
  • [00:35:26.44] DAVID VOGEL: I'll go the other way.
  • [00:35:28.93] JACKIE: How far do you go the other way? Jackson?
  • [00:35:31.47] DAVID VOGEL: No, no. Washtenaw county. I'll go to Chelsea. I got the hospitals there and all the commercial places out there. Mostly Washtenaw county.
  • [00:35:45.54] DAVID VOGEL: Do you ever get someone who comes in, and brings something to you, and says, what is it? And can you do something with it? An old piece of equipment or that they're trying to figure out what it is. And they've heard through word of mouth.
  • [00:35:58.34] DAVID VOGEL: All the time. In other words, a lot of people have these little safes. They forget [? the combination ?] [? to their safes. ?] We get that all the time. When I was working, people for 20 years they never forget. They want a pair scissors sharpened. I haven't sharpened scissors in 40 years. Well, they still come in the store wanted scissors sharpened. Or razors sharpened. Or something fixed.
  • [00:36:25.46] And we just don't do that anymore. But not too much. Old locks. We get people come in with old bit key locks. Back in the old days, they called old skeleton key. That's called a bit key. And those old locks that come in, want those fixed all the time.
  • [00:36:53.16] And if it's not broken, but just broken springs or something, I'll do that. But all the time.
  • [00:37:01.92] DEBBIE: So you get to see a little bit of Washtenaw history.
  • [00:37:04.37] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah. From top to bottom.
  • [00:37:07.94] JACKIE: We were just reading another article about all the heritage [? businesses ?], like [INAUDIBLE] and [? Son. ?] All of you congregate in the same street. And all of you seem to stay for a long time. Well, you know [? heard ?] the little brother's is gone out and Schlenker's. But was that the Main Street? That produced all the services?
  • [00:37:32.62] DAVID VOGEL: That was the main part of town. In other words, Main Street is Main Street. That's the main street.
  • [00:37:41.26] It started moving up to State Street, and the University expanded. So that's college.
  • [00:37:50.66] That's why the old businesses stayed down on Main Street, just off of Main Street. On that side of town. That's the German side of town. So you got division and everything. They kind of stayed together.
  • [00:38:07.92] JACKIE: Division separate the German community, and the English community.
  • [00:38:11.89] DAVID VOGEL: And the English, and the University. It's up that way.
  • [00:38:19.22] JACKIE: And how far does this spread? Like you said you went all the way to Fountain, right?
  • [00:38:23.35] DAVID VOGEL: Pardon?
  • [00:38:24.15] JACKIE: You lived on Fountain street, so--
  • [00:38:26.06] DAVID VOGEL: The first Vogel lived on Fountain. The second Vogel lived on Crest. And I live out by Pioneer Highway. I live on Sanford.
  • [00:38:42.05] [INTERPOSING VOICES]
  • [00:38:43.90] DAVID VOGEL: Right. I was brought up on Crest, and lived in the same house as my grandmother did. I think 1940, '50. I think around 1950, my dad bought a house out on Sanford. I was about 15 or so. I remember moving in, but that's about it.
  • [00:39:35.36] Let's see, '60's, about 1958 I think it was, around in there. We built a house in [? airy ?] subdivision, which is just off of Stadium between Stadium and Scio Church.
  • [00:39:54.60] Because I remember as a kid, I loved to hunt. I used to take my gun and walk across Scio Church to go hunting.
  • [00:40:06.32] JACKIE: Now why did they move out?
  • [00:40:09.96] DAVID VOGEL: Who moved out?
  • [00:40:10.77] JACKIE: Your dad moved further out. I mean right now the Old West side is really desirable for--
  • [00:40:17.21] DAVID VOGEL: Well, he got his own house. See we lived on Crest. We lived--
  • [00:40:21.36] JACKIE: With your grandmother.
  • [00:40:22.10] DAVID VOGEL: With my grandmother. And when she got sick, they sold that house. And so my dad in the meantime, my dad bought this new house. He just bought his own house. That's all it was.
  • [00:40:41.24] DEBBIE: Did you ever go to any of the Michigan football games? Or get involved in--
  • [00:40:44.57] DAVID VOGEL: All the time
  • [00:40:46.88] DEBBIE: --Because you would've been close to it, out there.
  • [00:40:48.58] DAVID VOGEL: Pardon?
  • [00:40:48.80] DEBBIE: You would have been close to--
  • [00:40:50.49] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah, sure. I knew Harry [? Socada ?]. We used to go to all the football games. And as a younger kid, we used to climb the fence to go in. So I was seeing all the games. But Harry [? Socada ?] worked for the University, and he always had tickets available for us to come in.
  • [00:41:11.34] So we went to a lot of them. I quit going when he died. But I still listen to them all the time.
  • [00:41:27.63] When I was a kid, I was five blocks Scio Church and beyond, before all those houses. It used to be just farmland. And I used to go hunting in there. In fact, I was one of the first people that shot a deer. Just cross Scio Church Road.
  • [00:41:46.78] DEBBIE: Did they have hunting seasons back then?
  • [00:41:50.95] DAVID VOGEL: Yeah.
  • [00:41:51.30] DEBBIE: Yeah, so they still had hunting seasons back then You had to get permits.
  • [00:41:55.89] DAVID VOGEL: Right. You had to get a license. And that was farmland. If you take Greenville-- I don't know if you're familiar with Greenville and Scio Church. Ernie [? Shenck ?] owned all that farm.
  • [00:42:15.39] His parents owned a pet shop. And he owned 80 acres. All that land there. And we used to go hunting there. So that was when I was a kid. Before I went in the service. I remember I'd grab my dog and gun, and walk four blocks, and I was in the wilderness.
  • [00:42:39.40] JACKIE: Yeah, Ann Arbor is building up--
  • [00:42:41.26] DAVID VOGEL: Well it's going so bad, it's unbelievable.
  • [00:42:43.72] DEBBIE: And it was very sudden too.
  • [00:42:45.26] DAVID VOGEL: Pardon?
  • [00:42:45.79] DEBBIE: I remember going to Ann Arbor in the early '60s, and it still felt very rural once you left the downtown area. So the boom was very quick and sudden I think.
  • [00:42:58.76] JACKIE: Now do you do much with the German population, the German community?
  • [00:43:03.41] DAVID VOGEL: No. No, after I did the genealogy on all my lines and had written down, I didn't. I didn't do much of it anymore. But over in Ypsi, there's a church called Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints. And they are in genealogy. And they keep records of the family.
  • [00:43:38.69] I'd say it's part of their religion of the ancestry, and recording the history of their families. That's the only thing I ever did is visited that place and got records of the eight, around 1880. That's when the big 1840 to 1880 is when the big immigration of Michigan started.
  • [00:44:07.50] They've got records back then. I got that, all the records, I could get my hands on, and recorded the stuff.
  • [00:44:16.21] JACKIE: How did you become interested in genealogy?
  • [00:44:19.14] DAVID VOGEL: I took a course in college. My grandfather, on my mother's side, never knew his grandfather. Before he died, so I said, well the records are all here in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor's has got one of the best records in the country. And I said well we can track down who they are. And he'd tell me about when he was a kid. We're talking World War I now.
  • [00:44:51.93] That gets you a picture that he was very young. And his parents died young. He was out on his own at the age of eight. So he was in World War I. And he went out to Copper Harbor, up in the UP. And he was an officer protecting the mines.
  • [00:45:21.22] And that's where he met his wife. And they married and came back here. He was a Bell. And I traced his line from the records here in Ann Arbor all the way back to England.
  • [00:45:39.41] So everything was, you know the old days, before all genealogy became a big thing. You could walk in the county courthouse. And I say, I want to look at the books. And they just hand them to me. And you can go through all the old books from day one, all the marriages, all of deaths. So I had a chance to record everything before they charge you for walking in the door.
  • [00:46:10.08] ANDREW: If you'd like to learn more about Vogel's Lock and Safe, visit their website at dev.vogelslock.com
  • [00:46:17.09] AMY: Music for this episode has been from The Score to the Back Page. Composed and performed by Steven Ball, available at aadl.org/backpage.
  • [00:46:27.10] ANDREW: AADL talks to David Vogel has been a production of the Ann Arbor District Library.
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October 20, 2011

Length: 00:46:37

Copyright: Creative Commons (Attribution, Non-Commercial, Share-alike)

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Subjects
Vogel's Locksmiths
AADL Talks To
David Vogel