My, how times have changed! Today we would be surprised to receive a valentine or a how-to guide for marriage from our local retail store, but that was just what Hickeys Men’s Department Store used to do. In the 1950s Hickey’s, once located on Washington Boulevard at Clifford Street, published a pamphlet entitled Knowledge for Bridegrooms and others. Hickey’s had the know-how and expertise to prepare men for the most nerve-wracking time of their life: their wedding day. This guide for the groom-elect covers each step from the purchase of the engagement ring, to how to properly ask the probate judge teller for a marriage license. It also gently reminds to keep your calm when pronounced man and wife, and not to forget to kiss your bride!
Edward J. Hickey opened his men’s department store on Woodward Avenue in 1901, after having been General Manager of J.L. Hudson’s since 1881. In a 1911 Detroit Times article, Hickey credited the training he received from Hudson as “the greatest contribution to [my] success.” Hickey’s store, which catered to an elite clientele, flourished but eventually followed its loyal patrons to Grosse Pointe. Unfortunately due to economic decline, the renamed Hickey’s Walton-Pierce closed its doors in 2009, but not without leaving behind fond memories of Detroit’s fashionable past.
Valentine’s Day is much more than a holiday that some loathe and others cherish. Ultimately, like a wedding, it is tradition. These topics are further explored in Saying I Do: Metro Detroit Weddings, an exhibition at the Detroit Historical Museum now through May.