The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

May 19, 2013

Producers' cow has local tie


I never would have thought that the adorable Producers Dairy cow illustration on my vintage cottage cheese container that I discovered last month at the Brocton Red Barn Market was the creation of a Danville denizen!

Karen Metzen Campbell contacted me and said her dad, Bob Metzen — who owned the Colonial Parkway and was Prodo the Clown in the mid-1950s — drew the Producers Dairy cow.

Campbell said her brother, former Vermilion County Regional Superintendent of Schools Mike Metzen, guessed that the waxed cardboard cottage cheese container with their dad’s cow illustration on it is from between 1955 and 1959.

It seems that Bob Metzen was quite the illustrator, having lent his artwork for Producers Dairy newspaper ads. One of the Producers Dairy ads even features Campbell as a little girl.

Campbell said when her father passed away in 1961 at age 34, her mother sold the Colonial Parkway to Dairy Queen proprietor and former Mayor Bob Jones.

I think I will have to call my old friend Bob Jones and ask him to share his memories of the Colonial Parkway for next month’s column.

Tea time

Based on the response I received, it seems that the Stumme Tea Co., which was located at 121 N. Vermilion St., was a popular place back in the day.

Bob Peavler tells me his mother, Catherine, had worked there.

“When I was a young boy I remember a couple times I went to The Palace movie theater and after the movie, I would walk over to Stumme’s and catch a ride home with my mother,” he said.

Peavler recalled that Fred Stumme, owner of the establishment, “would sit me down and have me count a big bag of unshelled peanuts. After I was done counting them several times, and it was time for my mother to get off, he would give me the peanuts to take home.”

Floy Severado also remembers her uncle “used to trade there. He would get coffee and pecans or peanuts.”

Joyce Ann Smutz said she grew up next door to Fred and Anna Stumme in the 200 block of North Bowman Avenue.

“I grew up playing with their granddaughters, Alice Ann and Jo Ann,” she recalled. “We used to spend happy times in the store, especially when they were making peanut butter. The machine ground fresh peanuts into the rich butter — no additives — and the smell alone was so-o delicious!”

Besides its nut specialties, Stumme’s also was known for its beautiful glassware and other delicacies.

“They had a lot of nice stuff in there,” Severado said. “When I was a young girl I used to go through the alley to get there. That used to be called the alley shops, but it was Woodbury’s and the shop that used to be Stumme’s.”

Smutz added, “They also had a row of bins with glass doors that held all kinds of treats — cookies, dried fruits, etc. And our eager little hands reached right in to sample the goodies — nary a plastic glove in hand.

“Since my grandparents and both my parents came from England, Stumme’s was the place to go to buy that staple in our lives — TEA.”

Dathal Dubois said she remembers when she lived in Westville in the 1950s, she would come to Danville once a week and would always visit the Stumme Tea Company.

“They carried a wide variety of teas, and the aroma that hit you when you went through the door was just breathtaking,” she said. “On one of my trips to the store I came across a set of dishes that I purchased for $10. A few have been broken over the years, but I still have many pieces from the set.

“I always enjoyed going to the store and dealing with the nice people who worked there,” she said.

Peavler echoed Dubois’ sentiment about Stumme’s, saying, “They were good people. We need more of them today. People with heart, not greed.”

Carol Roehm is the education reporter. Contact her at 477-5174 or by e-mail at