Photo of Moses Himelhoch (Cropped from The Detroit Free Press Photo on “Personalities” Page, 05 February 2018)
Moses Himelhoch (Mose), or Mr. M., died in 1939 at age 61. His 72-mile roundtrip backpack peddling trips with his father at age 14 to Bad Axe helps to better understand this man. The barn used to store their goods is also where they slept.
He was somewhere to the right of Calvin Coolidge, glorifying self-reliance and demanding maximum effort, while immediately rejecting excuses. He was Himelhoch’s™ “Mr. Inside,” unilaterally handling all phases of finance and store operations management with an iron hand.
He had nothing directly to do with buying, but at all times was familiar with each departmental budget as well as both buyers’ and salespersons’ performance levels. He created and monitored his own meticulous accounting and control systems, tracking each unit of merchandise from purchase order to point of sale. From time-to-time, he himself would audit each sales check, and if any error was uncovered, woe be onto the poor guilty salesperson who had to go to his office!
He would go through the store, and if the salespersons were seated and talking, and he also found a broken zipper or loose button in stock, he would send them home and tell them to loaf on their own time. During the store’s move in the early 20s to its famous seven-story Woodward Avenue/Washington Boulevard location, he had to ride in each truck hauling merchandise. He trusted no one.
He was tough! Chuck Himelhoch says that he can still hear him, “Alright, then where did you go, how long were you there, and what did you do next?...etc.!!!”
Actually, he was a softie with a tremendous heart. Our excellent alterations department was staffed in the main part by seriously disabled people. One Christmas after he had his heart attack, he asked Chuck to drive him. Chuck and Mose spent the day going to the homes of numerous employees where Mose left off his personal checks. He made it his business to be genuinely concerned with the trials and tribulations of employees in need. He was their friend and benefactor. Long-term employees revered him, and they were proud to work for a man with such high and demanding standards.
Most significantly, he and his wife Emma, who were childless, intentionally adopted Dorothy, a little girl who was a hopeless neurologically-disabled victim. She could hardly speak and suffered severe shaking. How Mose loved her, taking her to New York for theater and fancy restaurants. He devoted himself to her rehabilitation and she lived a relatively able life.
Chuck, Mose’s nephew, looked in on Dorothy in later years. When in high school, Carol, Chuck’s daughter, made regular visits to spend time with Dorothy and to clean her apartment. When in her 80s, Dorothy was a recluse who could not walk but managed on her knees. Chuck recalls paying her a visit and found her completely happy because as a devout Christian, she said, “The Lord’s always with me.”
Mose made horrible investments in the Depression, but he left his wife and daughter generous insurance benefits.
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