Treasured German family heirloom with Tomahawk ties to delight next generation
By Karen Rouse
MAYVILLE – “The Candy Store” is simply named; however it is not an ordinary shoppe – it is a product of labors of love spanning 90 years and two cultures, inspiring imaginations of generations of children.
This Christmas, it is surprising a new generation who will become its caretakers when Mayville resident Jane Kabinetter passes it on to her great-grandchildren. The miniature store has been lovingly restored by “Grandma Jane” with help from her friend, Joyce Hechimovich, also of Mayville.
In the span of one month, the women cleaned, decorated, organized and restocked the candy store with real candy. It is painted white, trimmed in Wedgewood blue – never having been repainted in 90 years. Its multiple drawers are all in working order. Added pieces are original old German and more modern American miniatures. Klawitter provided the garland and battery operated white holiday lights adorning the top of the store – battery operated, because turning the lights on and off would be safer for the children.
A candymaker’s hat sits on top of the store to be worn by the designated storekeeper, and a chef’s timer also sits high on top to let the children know when it is time for the next storekeeper’s turn. Accompanying the store, Jane passed on a German military medal, once worn by the man who created the Candy Store so long ago.
A letter from Grandma Jane to her great-grandchildren tells a brief story of how the Candy Store found its way to them. It follows:
‘The History of the Candy Store’
“The Candy Store was handcrafted by a father for his young son. His name was Adolph Benedict. His is a German name and he (a German soldier) became a World War I prisoner of war. After capture, he was interned in a prisoner of war (POW) camp in Georgia in the United States. The medal you now have was awarded to him for his service and bravery against our country!
“When the war ended, he was given the choice of returning to Germany or staying the U.S. to become an American citizen.
“He (Benedict) elected to stay, and sent for his young bride. She had a married sister living in Tomahawk, and that is what prompted them to settle there. A very small farm was for sale and they purchased it.
“Adolph was a trained machinist and performed intricate designs. When his wife was expecting a child, he set about making the Candy Store.
“That was about 90 years ago. The paint is original. Most of the miniatures are original. The bushel baskets are ‘signed’ and valued at $20 each. I could not find the miniature fruit crate box online. Many of the original pieces are marked with ‘Germany’ and ‘Japan.’
“Their son grew up and became a good friend of ours. Every Christmas and Easter, together with his parents, they would set up the Christmas store for Cathy and Jimmy [the Klawitter children].
“It was their wish that when the time came, it would be bequeathed to Grandpa and me.
“I am so happy it is finding a new home with you, our great-grandchildren. It’s old, it’s a treasure and it’s to be enjoyed! Merry Christmas 2020!”
The rest of the story
The Candy Store was given to Klawitter and her late husband, Larry, nearly 30 years ago by their dear family friends.
Adolph Benedict was born in Bavaria, Germany in 1898 and died in 1977 in Tomahawk. Their son, Adolph “Artie” Benedict Jr., for whom the Candy Store was created, was born in 1930 and died in 2009, also in Tomahawk. According to his obituary, Artie served 12 years with the National Guard and had one year of active duty. He had been employed with Owens-Illinois in Tomahawk for many years, and was a full-time dispatcher for the Tomahawk Police Department from 1961-1971, and worked part-time dispatching for the TPD from 1999 until his retirement in 2002.
Although Artie was survived by many relatives in Germany and many friends in Tomahawk, he had no descendents in which to pass on heirloom.
Klawitter hopes that the happy holiday memories made with the miniature shoppe will continue to generate nostalgic Christmas memories for children of all ages.
Klawitter points out that the history of the Candy Store is not only about holiday nostalgia, but is a lesson to be learned.
Benedict was a former enemy of the U.S.; however, he became a good American citizen and raised an only son that became not only a good friend of Jane and Larry’s – Artie also was a member of their wedding party and godfather to their first child.
“If only our bitter political parties could become not Democrats and Republicans but Americans, what a happy New Year this could be!”