In 1917, Herman Brammer and his son, Will, decided to expand their shoe store and build that three-story, brick building that still stands on the north side of Yosemite Avenue. At about the same time, they determined to bring Jim Brammer, Herman’s stepson, into the business by placing him in charge of the new clothing department.
By all accounts, Jim was enthusiastic over the opportunity, and in October 1917, he was making ready to launch his new business venture. That’s why most Maderans were shocked when they learned he hanged himself.
To be sure, Jim Brammer had been somewhat depressed of late. His haberdashery partnership with Gerson Price had gone sour. A small disagreement a few months earlier had pushed Brammer to buy Gerson out. Then in an about-face, he sold the business back to him.
Apparently Brammer had second thoughts; this threw him in the throes of such a depression that he took off for San Francisco. That’s when his father stepped in and made him the clothing department offer. With that, Jim returned to Madera and moved in with his brother, John Brammer...