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Saturday, May 23, 2015
Another landmark bites the dustPosted Saturday, March 24, 2012, at 8:18 AM
This photo, taken yesterday, shows the progress being made on the demolition of the old Mirly building at the Highway 25 curve in Advance.
Early in 1945, Ed Mirly received a "permit to build" from the War Production Board in St. Louis, Mo. They were operating under the WWII slogan "FOOD WILL WIN THE WAR AND WRITE THE PEACE."
On Sept. 18, 1945, the Mirly International Harvester Implement Company held its grand opening.
Looking at the photos taken on opening day makes me wonder if the entire 600 inhabitants of the town turned out for the ceremony. Jerry Eggimann, a local farmer, told me that there was a live band and a big dance. His dad is in one of the photos, standing in a line of men with Mirly.
The building was a prototype, one of only three built in the world at that time. One of the three was down in South America somewhere.
According to "Stubbee" May, the office manager, International Harvester couldn't provide them with more than a tractor or two at the beginning, since the war had just ended that year, and all the metal and rubber had to be used for the war effort.
By 1952, when Mirly wrote his short history of the business, his dealership had four mechanics, a parts man, a salesman, a bookkeeper and himself, working in the facility.
He wrote, "However, we will not be alone in this privilege long, as six dealers within eighty miles of me have started bases of operations on Harvester's recommended prototype."
Through the years, the company branched out into truck sales, and when that business became more lucrative, they dropped the farm implements.
C.A. Martin worked as a mechanic on the farm equipment for about 23 years, quitting when Mirly switched to trucks. Both he and May think the switch would have been around 1955-56.
Charles "Stubbee" May retired on July 15, 1982, after 30 years with Mirly. Within two years, the business was closed.
I hope to pull together a more complete history for the North stoddard Countian this week. J.R. Middleton, Mirly's son-in-law, has provided me with a treasure trove of wonderful old photos. My friend Linda (Zimmerman) Eggimann sat in my office last week and identified face after familiar face in the old 8x10 photos, taken at the grand opening.
After standing in that location for 67 years, the building will soon be gone, making way for a new Family Dollar Store.
Thus goes the way of the world. Not being from Advance originally, I lack the fond memories that the "old-timers" have for this aged building. However, I can feel their mixed emotions--pain for what is lost and hope for a new, brighter future for a small American town, devastated by the "Progress" of lost business and industry.
R.I.P., Mirly International Harvester. You will exist only in our memories.
From the quiet streets of Advance, this is your rural NSC reporter, Madeline, pausing for a moment in time to ponder the past.
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 573-722-5322.