Joseph Michael married Flora Fell, of Uniontown, Pa., in 1902. Three years later, they opened Michael’s on Gallatin Avenue. The store carried ready-to-wear clothing for babies and expectant mothers. For 55 years, until her death, Flora Michael (d.1959) managed the business, which became known as Mrs. Michael’s Children’s Shop.
Joseph Michael (b.1876) was elected alderman in 1915, promising “a clean and business-like administration.” He served for 12 years from a downtown office on Main Street.
In 1938, Joseph and Flora Michael took a cross-country train trip from Uniontown to California, visiting the Grand Canyon, Alcatraz Island and numerous points in between.
Joseph and Flora Michael had three sons, Louis, Sidney and Solbert. They lived for a time above a dairy on Fayette Street before moving to 55 South Gallatin Avenue in 1918.
Louis Michael (1902-1999) gained national attention as a teenager for his inventions. He produced a booklet for the M. W. Dunton toy company called How to Build a Caterpillar Tank, which gave instructions for building a small mechanical toy. He also designed a model battleship called “The U-Getter.” His later inventions included a method for packing darts into a gun barrel and special gloves designed for Arctic working conditions.
After graduating from the College of Engineering at Penn State University in 1925, Louis worked for American Sheet and Tin Plate Company in Pittsburgh. He later worked for the Duplate Corporation, a subsidiary of Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company in Creighton, Pa., before joining the Blaw Knox Company Road Machinery Department, where he designed machines and equipment for power plants and road building. He returned to Uniontown in 1932, after losing his position during Depression-era cutbacks, and moved between jobs in Uniontown and Pittsburgh until 1942, when he went to Virginia to take a job with the Civil Service Commission in the early years of American involvement in World War II. He worked for Army Ordnance and the Army Materiel Command until his retirement.
While attending a fraternity function in 1926, Louis Michael met Sara Schermer (1907-1992), a designer who attended the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn before opening a couturier studio in Cleveland, Ohio. They exchanged letters for years. At the start, she told him, “This fact is, I don’t want you to care for me so darn seriously.” In 1930, she wrote, “Can’t you realize the difficulty that I am experiencing? You have loved me almost from the very first, but my feeling towards you is so very new.” They married later that year.
Louis and Sara Michael adopted a daughter, Jean Laura, in 1945.
Sidney Michael (1905-1995) took an interest in agriculture as a young man. About 1920, he enrolled in the National Farm School, a Jewish educational institution in Bucks County, Pa., specializing in agriculture. He later earned a degree from the School of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and owned an animal hospital in Erie, Pa., for many years. He was also a military veterinarian during and after World War II.
While in school, Sidney Michael married Becky Feldstein. They had a daughter Elaine.
Perhaps overcome by the same “travel urge” that his grandmother Julia Miller Fell had once felt, Sidney Michael and his brother-in-law Sam Mears embarked on an 1,800-mile canoe trip from Seagertown, Pa., to New Orleans in May 1979. “It’s just something we want to do,” Mears told the Associated Press at the time. “Sidney has wanted to take the trip for years and he finally found another nut who shares his adventurism.”
Solbert “Sol” Michael (1913-2002) was first a doorman and later a salesman for his uncle Lee Fell’s clothing store in Uniontown until the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army. He lived in the Gallatin Avenue house until his death and ran Mrs. Michael’s Children’s Shop until 1980, when he decided to close the store.