"Cash for Clunkers"

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2009,
Fall 2009
Original Images:

Author: Laura Bien

The current “Cash for Clunkers” program had a Depression-era predecessor called the “Na- tional Used Car Exchange Week.” Created by automakers in 1938, the promotion was meant to ease the glut of used cars clogging dealer- ships. Then, as now, people frightened by the economic climate were hanging on to their old cars, which stifled dealership turnover.

Edsel Ford, GM’s William Knudsen, and Chrysler’s K. T. Keller met with Roosevelt in January of 1938. Afterwards, Ford sales manager John Davis contacted Automobile Manufacturers Association president Alvan Macauley, to say the plan was greenlighted. From Manhattan, Macauley announced that U.S. automakers would spend over a million dollars to promote March 5-12, 1938 as “National Car Exchange Week.” The plan included a one-week campaign of billboard, radio and newspaper ads promoting the exchange of one’s old car for a newer used one.

“National Car Exchange Week” first appears in the February 28, 1938 Ypsilanti Daily Press, with the headline, “Advertising to Break Auto Jam.” The article says, “The American automobile industry moved as a unit for the first time in history today in an effort to beat the business recession with one of the great- est advertising campaigns of all time. The industry … announced Sunday that it will spend $1,250,000 [almost 19 million dollars in today’s money] in a single week to break the used car jam that has been blamed for the collapse of the market for 1938 model cars.”

On March 1, another story appeared. “Edsel Ford, William Knudsen, and K. T. Keller today threw the weight of the motor industry’s ‘big three’ behind the $1,250,000 advertising campaign to end the business recession by breaking the jam of used cars in the stocks of dealers. . . Ford, a “second generation” man of a motor family that has been known for its independent action, spoke of the industry as a whole, saying: “The one great contribution the automobile industry made to the nation in its efforts to throw off the last Depression was its demonstration of courage in the face of adversity. That same fearlessness is evident today as a united industry moves forward to start the wheels rolling again.”

By March 2, the Ypsilanti community had made plans. “Local Car Dealers Take Part in National Drive,” read one Press headline. “Yp- silanti auto dealers meeting at the Huron Ho- tel Thursday unanimously agreed to cooperate with manufacturers and 46,000 other dealers throughout the United States in a campaign to break the used car jam and to aid in sound recovery from the current business recession.” A parade was planned, and the Daily Press printed a mayoral proclamation:

“Whereas, a concerted movement to stimulate used car sales and pave the way for a resumption of automobile manu- facturing and employment on a normal basis has been inaugurated by the Ameri- can automobile industry, and, Whereas, the business interests of Ypsilanti have pledged their enthusiastic cooperation to this campaign, and, Whereas, the “Drive- A-Better-Car” movement will make an important contribution to motoring safety in Ypsilanti, now, Therefore, I hereby proclaim the week of March 5 to 12 National Used Car Exchange Week and urge the cooperation of all citizens in insuring its success. Witness my Hand and Seal, Ray H. Burrell, Mayor.”

In the same paper, a cartoon titled “AN- CHORS OR WINGS?” boosted the pro- gram. In the first panel, an antiquated old car is dragging a ship’s anchor. “Holy smoke, Myrt,” says the driver, “what’s got into this moss-grown tub? We’re shovelin’ out the price of a summer trip for gas, oil, and repairs!” In the next panel, a sleek new car appears. “Baby, what National Used Car Exchange Week did for us! More room—steel body—safety brakes—big tires—smooth engine. Looks like we’re in the dough, but most of the dough is still in my pocket!”

Ypsi’s E. G. Wiedman Auto Company, at 212 Pearl St and 15 E. Michigan, ran an ad touting used car bargains. Prices ranged from $275 for a Ford DeLuxe Tudor Sedan to $795 for a Lincoln-Zephyr Fordor Sedan (these prices, in 2009 dollars, would be $4,000 and $12,000 respectively).

On Saturday, the campaign’s opening day, the city woke up to ice and snow. Nevertheless, the parade went on as planned, featuring the Girls’ Drum and Bugle Corps and the Ypsilanti High School Band, along with a procession of some sample used cars, washed and polished, from dealerships across town. Despite the weather, the day was a success: $10,000 (about $151,000 today) in sales at Ypsi dealerships was reported.

By Tuesday, “first reports indicated marked increases in the sales of used cars,” said the Daily Press. “H. H. Shuart, manager of the Detroit Auto Dealers Association said dealers had reported last weekend’s business as the best in six months and that sales showed increases of 100 to 300 per cent. He said similar reports had “Cash for Clunkers” in the 1930s! continued from page 6 been received from dealers in other cities.”

The Wednesday paper quoted John Lonskey, president of Ypsi metalworking firm the Central Specialty Company. “In Ypsilanti alone, this will directly affect six factories with increased orders, meaning more employment and more money circulating in the city.

The paper continued, “In illustration of this Mr. Lonskey explained that in the case of the Central Specialty Co. there has been a drop in employment of 365 workers since the peak employment of last year when 850 men and women were employed. The emergency purchase of used cars throughout the country will result in putting automobile factories and related industries in operation everywhere with, in some cases, a 60 per cent or greater increase in demand for parts and equipment, he estimated. Many of these parts are made in this city.”

By the end of the week, National Used Car Exchange Week was deemed a success. Fifty- five old cars had been turned in by those who purchased newer ones, and a total of $18,000 worth of newer used cars had been sold. Ypsilanti dealers were so pleased with the results they planned to petition the state to mount another sales campaign in the future, this time by declaring 1932 model year cars as “marginal.” In the meantime, the 55 Ypsilanti drivers behind the wheels of their new used cars had done their part to help get the local economy moving again.

(Laura Bien is a volunteer in the YHS Archives, author of the Daily Diary Blog, and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Photo captions:

Photo 1: Ford Dealer newspaper ad for “National Used Car Exchange Week” in 1938.

Photo 2: E. G. Wiedman Auto Company newspaper ad was part of the 1938 “National Used Car Exchange Week.”

Photo 3: 1938 “Exchange Week” ad sponsored by the Automobile Dealers and Manufacturers of the United States.

From the President's Desk

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2006,
Fall 2006
Original Images:

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

We have reached a verbal agreement with the City of Ypsilanti to purchase the property at 220 North Huron Street where the Museum and Archives are located. At their meeting on Tuesday, August 1, 2006 the City Council agreed in principal with our offer to purchase the property for $250,000. $125,000 will be paid immediately and the balance of $125,000 will be due in no more than 10 years. The mortgage to the City will not accrue interest as long as the Society uses the property for a Museum and/or Archives. Lawyers for the City and the Society were asked to write up the agreement. Once the agreement has been signed the Society will launch a fundraising campaign to raise the $125,000.

The Graduate Intern Agreement between the Society and Eastern Michigan University has been implemented and Jessica Williams and Laurie Turkawski have started working 20 hours per week in the Museum and Archives (see article in this issue of the Gleanings). They are both busy organizing and packing artifacts in the basement of the Museum so renovation work can begin when the Society assumes ownership of the property. New storage shelving and storage boxes have been purchased so maximum use can be made of available storage space.

Please put the following dates on your calendar: September 15: Annual Membership Meeting; September 28 to October 15: Quilt Exhibit; December 3: Quarterly Membership Meeting and Christmas Open House; and December 31: New Year's Eve Jubilee. Ted Ligibel, Director of the Graduate Program in Historical Preservation at Eastern Michigan University will be our speaker for the September 15th Annual Membership Meeting.

We are still in need of volunteers with various skills (carpentry, lawn care, computer data entry, painting, etc.) for maintenance projects in the Museum and Archives. If you are willing to do volunteer work for a few hours each month please call me at 734–484–3023 or email me at al@rudisill.ws and we will get you started. Also, if you have writing skills and are interested in researching articles for future issues of the Gleanings we would like to get you involved.

We are receiving many favorable comments about the expansion of “The Gleanings” publication. Our sincere thanks to the authors who are writing the stories that make this expansion possible.

Report from the Museum Advisory Board

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2006,
Summer 2006
Original Images:

Author: Virginia Davis-Brown

The year is going by so fast it is hard to believe that it is already half over. Our Art Show was certainly a success with over 100 pieces of art on exhibit. There were oils, acrylics, water colors and even some combinations by artist from Ypsilanti and the surrounding areas. The Historical Society said “Thank You” to our docents, for all their devoted service, with a luncheon in June. There were 31 in attendance and some with over 20 years service.

July 16 will be the Open House for the 2006 “Lost Ypsilanti Speaks” exhibit with 18 new sites. If you missed our exhibit last year you will still be able to see it, as it will also be on display on the second floor. That will make a total of 34 sites of the past and present. It is a history of the site, what it was and what it is today.

When you visit the next time you will see that the museum looks brighter and a number of changes have been made. We have just finished doing our deep cleaning. The chandeliers sparkle and the furniture shines.

It seems August is a long way off but it will be here before we know it and so will the Heritage Festival. We will be in need of extra docents for the 3 days. It will take 60 docents to take care of the hours we are open. If you could volunteer for 3 hours we will provide the information that you would need. If you can help, please call me at 484–0080. It is your Museum so why not come and help out and see what fun it can be.

Plans are in the beginning stages for the Quilt Exhibit which will start the last of September. Last year we had 125 quilts and anticipate about the same this year. If you have any quilts you would like to display please call me so we can get the information to you. They do not have to be old ones they can be new.

Our tour count has been up this year. In the last few days of school we had over 400 people come through. Here are our dates for future events: July 16-Lost Ypsilanti Speaks; August 18, 19 & 20 — Heritage Festival; September 28 — Quilt Exhibit.

Thank you for your continuing support.

News from the Fletcher-White Archives

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2006,
Summer 2006
Original Images:

Author: Gerry Pety

As the summer of 2006 approaches I have two interns, one from Eastern Michigan and one from Emory University in Georgia. Both are in history and/or preservation studies with their respective schools. This summer, it is hoped, will be a learning experience for all of us at the Archives in addition to getting organized for the summer rush of researchers from all over America and Canada. I am glad to have these two students as we really have needed the extra brains and hands to accomplish what we need to do.

Maxe Obermeyer has been cleaning out his closets and has given us a panoply of really cool items that we did not have. Maxe donated an inaugural pamphlet from the Heritage Festival. Also included in the many items he donated were some great photo postcards of buildings that once graced the MSN campus at the turn of the century. Maxe, if you are reading this, you can't have any of it back! Mr. Gary Stewart has given us some very interesting artifacts relating to the 1923 Ypsilanti Centennial, namely some glass drink coasters in blue and purple and some yearbooks from Michigan State Normal. Thank You!

Sorry about the lateness of our maps that were to be printed by now, but we are really trying to get these done in the most professional fashion we can and Ms. Rossina Tammany, of EMU's Archives, has done some wonderful work cleaning up the map scans. I finally have these scans and it is now with John Harrington at Standard Printing. John, a member of YHS, has been helping us in the technical aspects of the project and his company will be producing the smaller version of the map. Thanks John!

Again, I am asking our members if they have any pre-1930 Ypsilanti phone books and/or city directories. These are of extreme importance as they contain information about the people of Ypsilanti; where they lived, worked, and where they did their day to day business. I have heard real horror stories about people just discarding these important resources. If you have any such items please contact me, Gerry Pety at 572 0437 as we could really use these resources.

So put on your “bestest” sneakers and come on down!

Yankee Air Museum Celebrates 25 years; 1981-2006

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2006,
Summer 2006
Original Images:

Author: Dave Steiner

Honoring Aviation History and its Participants through a Living, Flying Museum

When the historic Yankee Air Museum Hangar burned to the ground in a spectacular fire October 9, 2004 probably not many people thought the museum would be around to celebrate its 25the year. But those were people outside the organization. Within the Yankee Air Museum, the volunteers who make it happen had little if any doubt that the museum would continue. Not only would we make it to 25 years, but the museum would someday be rebuilt; bigger and better than ever. In fact the conflagration only accelerated plans that were already being formulated for a bigger and better museum complex and campus on the northeast corner of historic Willow Run Airport.

Building on a foundation of volunteer hours and tremendous determination, the Yankee Air Museum is very alive and well, thank you. Oh, we've not done it alone. There has been plenty of support and encouragement from most organizations and museums within and outside the aviation community and the public in general. If you've been part of that effort, we give you our heartfelt thanks. If you'd like to support us, we certainly welcome you. One of the best ways to do that is to join Yankee Air Museum, and make yourself part of the force that helps make it happen. A membership application may be downloaded from our web site at www.yankeearimuseum.org, you may email us at membership@ yankeeairmuseum.org or call us at (734) 483–4030. We also encourage you to volunteer, there's always something to do.

The Michigan Aerospace Foundation, headed by Dennis Norton, Yankee founder and member #1 has been instrumental in helping formulate plans and major fund raising efforts for the new museum complex. MAF is a separate entity formed several years prior to the fire to raise major funds for the Yankee Air Museum complex. For more information go to www.michiganaerospace.org

Although Yankee may be best known for the operation of four historic warbird aircraft (B-17, B-25, C-47 and AT-19 Stinson) and currently they are the heart of the museum, Yankee is certainly not just about flying aircraft. Volunteers are involved in a wide variety of projects/ events from artifact restoration and cataloging, to movie nights and educational outreach programs. The long term plan is to build a multi-function museum complex that will be a destination location for visitors to southeast Michigan. A sign showing the plans for the new museum complex has recently be erected on A Street, off Beck Rd on the way into the old Hangar site.

In June, Yankee Air Museum volunteers disassembled and moved a Quonset hut donated by Van Buren Schools to Willow Run Airport. Eventually it will be used near the old Hangar site to facilitate visitor reception and store supplies and tools for the crews restoring and maintaining the static aircraft in the airpark. This hut is a historic structure itself, having originally been used at the Army Air Force base that was part of the Willow Run “Arsenal of Democracy” complex. Many of the aircraft in the airpark are on loan from the National Museum of the United States Air Force, and Yankee is charged with maintaining them.

Another Yankee project that will be happening this summer is moving the historic Ford Willow Run School from the southwest to the northeast side of the airport. That building will be the first in the new museum complex. Once authentically restored, it will house the new museum library. The library that burned in the old Hangar was often used by scholars and researchers as it had an extensive collection of reference materials. Its loss was just one tragedy of the fire. Yet not even two years after the fire, more than 1000 new or replacement items have been cataloged by Yankee volunteers to at least partially restock the library.

If you or anyone you know has knowledge about either of these two buildings, please contact the museum so we may give them as accurate a history and restoration as possible.

One very popular Yankee “member only” benefit, is to buy a ticket to fly on our historic C-47 Skytrain cargo plane and go on a Yankee excursion. The C-47 is the military variant of the Douglas DC-3, perhaps the greatest aircraft ever. This plane is largely maintained by professional Yankee volunteers (except for major engine overhauls) and is flown exclusively by volunteer Yankee pilots who are high-time military and/ or professional civilian pilots. It flies members to destinations of interest from Willow Run Airport. Some of the places members will be enjoying trips to this summer are; Mackinac Island, Air Force Museum (Dayton), Sault Saint Marie, Kalamazoo Air Zoo, Oshkosh Air Show, Washington, DC. Past trips included a flight to Kentucky to see Glacier Girl, the P-38 that was recovered from beneath the Greenland icecap. The C-47 is also often featured as part of Yankee movie night, when it is open for tours. This past winter, Yankee volunteers attended a fabric class taught by knowledgeable and experienced Yankee members to recover the left aileron of this first Yankee aircraft, christened the Yankee Doodle Dandy.

Yankee planes, particularly the B17 four engine heavy-bomber, are booked for air shows most weekends in the summer. For now, as we have no museum or hangar as such, appearance fees and rides in the airplanes are our primary source of income. The public may purchase a flight experience (FLEX) ride for $425 in this historic and beautifully restored aircraft. These are offered at air shows, and also Wednesday evenings at hangar two on the southwest side of Willow Run airport. The Flying Fortress last flying season had more than one thousand people climb aboard for these rides that last about forty-five minutes. The Yankee Warrior B-25 twin engine bomber, a very rare model that actually saw combat in WWII, also offers FLEX rides at air shows and Wednesday evenings. To take a ride on one of these aircraft call the museum at (734) 483–4030 or b17flights@yankeeairmuseum.org, or b25flights@yankeeairmuseum.org.

The Yankee Lady (the name given our B-17) was in the Toronto area June 5–8, where it was used in the filming of Closing the Ring, starring Shirley MacLaine and Christopher Plummer, directed by Oscar-winner Sir Richard Attenborough. This film is a WWII drama/romance. Yankee volunteer crew members were there to handle the plane, including all the flying sequences. This isn't the first time this aircraft has been in the movies however. Under previous ownership and with a different paint job it was in the 1970 Pearl Harbor film, Tora! Tora! Tora! It was also in the movie The High and the Mighty.

Yankee also operates a classic AT-19 Stinson four seater, made in Wayne, MI in 1943. A contest to christen this aircraft with a Yankee name was just completed. Now known as the Yankee Friend Ship, it is flown to local events to promote Yankee Air Museum; members only may ride in this aircraft.

Yankee Air Museum has been working closely with Eastern Michigan University, cooperatively making use of its resources, including utilizing student projects, closely overseen by professors and teachers to assist Yankee Air Museum in reaching new plateaus of service and professionalism to its members and the public. Museum Curator, Gayle Roberts, an EMU grad works closely with the EMU museum program faculty, staff and students to restore and preserve artifacts donated to Yankee Air Museum.

“Yankee is certainly not just about flying aircraft…the long term plan is to build a multi-function museum complex that will be a destination location for visitors to southeast Michigan.”

Yankee has plenty of things happening for you to attend or become a member and get involved in to help us grow. We hope you heard about and attended our Memorial Day observance at the Yankee airpark. If not, below is a list of upcoming events for your enjoyment, and to show your support for Yankee Air Museum. There is also an air show appearance list on the Yankee web site, www.yankeeairmuseum.org. Other upcoming events are also listed on the web site.

AuSable Adventure Rally June 23–25 — all three of the “heavy metal” Yankee aircraft have been invited to and will appear at this Grayling area event to benefit the Michigan National Guard families' emergency fund. Find out more on the web www.ausableadventurerally.com

Thunder over Michigan 2006-Yankee's biggest event of the year is the first weekend in August. The Yankee Air Museum Thunder over Michigan event has become one of the most talked about in aviation circles as the place to see classic warbirds. It is an event with international implications, and warbird fans from all over the world come to see this show, certainly the greatest warbird event in the mid-west. Last year airshow coordinators Kevin Walsh, Mike Luther and Debbie Stewart gathered eight of the thirteen flyable B-17's in the world for this event. Not that many “Forts” had flown together since shortly after WWII, and it was the buzz of the aviation community. That show, held less than ten months after the October, 2004 fire was a testament to the true spirit of Yankee Air Museum volunteers, and evidence of the great support the museum has seen by members of the warbird community. Many of the aircraft at that show attended on their own nickel, because they knew we needed their help. We can't thank them enough.

The Yankee Thunder over Michigan event this August 5–6 promises to be another one not to be missed. The theme this year is Battle of Britain so there will be many British/Canadian RAF/RCAF aircraft on the ramp. That means Spit-fires and Hurricanes, and one of the only two flying Lancaster four-engine heavy-bombers in the world. Skyraiders of the Vietnam era will also be featured. And there will be United States Air Force demo teams and heritage flights.

Thunder this summer will include a ground “battle” featuring authentic military vehicles, including tanks, making it one of the largest such re-enactments in the mid-west. Another highlight of their appearance will be the THUNDER RUN! This will see an escorted convoy of these vehicles arrive in downtown Belleville about 7:00 pm Friday evening August 4th. This will be FREE and a chance to see these historic vehicles in action and up close. Arrive early. Tanks TAKE the right of way. For more information about Thunder over Michigan 2006, call the museum or go to our web site, www.yankeeairmuseum.org and click on Thunder over Michigan.

Yankee Movie nights — we invite you to attend our monthly movie night this July 15th, held on Saturday evening, these usually include aircraft tours and/or re-enactors and free pop and popcorn. See more on the web site event listing. Come on over to the hangar and see what's happening. The museum store is open during these events as well as normal business hours.

GOLF WAR scramble fundraiser — on September 6th, the fourth annual GOLF WAR fund-raiser scramble will be held. This event is for plane crazy golfers of any skill level, or lack thereof. Door and event prizes are handed out, including gift certificates for the museum store. The winning team members in this non-handicapped event get a taste of immortality as their names are stamped into a Dog Tag that is affixed to a special Iron Bag GOLG WAR trophy made with steel from the old Hangar. The grand door prize for this event is a ride in the B-17. How many golf outings do you play in where you have a chance to have your name drawn for a B-17 ride? Call the museum, or visit the web site for more information about the GOLF WAR.

Hearts to Yankee Auction — this dinner/auction benefit is held in February, the first Saturday after Valentine's Day. Come and bid on the many unique aviation and non-aviation items to help raise money for the new Yankee Air Museum.

Polishing Party in April — this past April more than 200 Bomber Buffers showed up to polish the planes in preparation for the flying season. This annual event lets you get up-close-and-personal with these planes like no other event you can attend at any other museum. Make no mistake. Yankee is not your brand × aviation museum.

Spaghetti Dinner in April — also in April is our Italian Bistro Spaghetti dinner to raise money for the museum.

There's a lot happening at Yankee Air Museum. We invite you to join and/or support us and become part of the action, the fun and this extraordinary keep ‘em flying museum.

News from the Fletcher White Archives

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2006,
Spring 2006
Original Images:

Author: Gerry Pety

What a weird and wonderful winter we have had at the archives. It started very cold and then became almost spring-like in January and February. Seems that everyday was a complete surprise either because of the weather or the people that came from all over the United States to visit. I know that the spring weather will bring even more people from distant places to our doorstep. Now we only have to convince our members who live locally to come and visit. We have even had producers from PBS who are doing documentaries about this Ypsilanti area. They found the archives rich in information and pictures from the past. So break in those expensive sneakers you got from Santa Claus and run on down to the archives! We are open Mondays and Wednesdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon and Sundays from 12:00 noon to 3:00 pm.

To say that we have been busy is an understatement as we have been inundated with graduate students from Professor Ligibel's Historic Preservation Studies program at Eastern Michigan University. It is refreshing to see that they are being taught how to think and deduce the “who,” “what,” “where” and “when” of ownership of some problematic properties within the city of Ypsilanti. This is not always as easy as one might think when studying the histories of some of these parcels of land. The recording of ownership and transfer of properties was not always correctly attended to at the time it actually occurred, and this has required the city to find answers to some issues 50 to 100 years after the situation occurred. This has been a terrific learning experience for these students as they work with primary records, surveys, and directories. Dr. Ligibel's students bring vibrancy to the archives and we welcome them.

TA-DA! Our antique 1890 and 1865 maps are back. Through the generosity of Dorothy and Rodney Hutchinson they are now protected and preserved for generations to come, and they look
As you may or may not know, they were experiencing some problems that only a professional preservationist could handle. Thank you Mr. & Mrs. Hutchinson for caring so much!

We will probably be selling copies of the 1890 map in a very limited, full sized edition, on special acid free paper to raise funds for other preservation projects involving our Ypsilanti City Directories. The directories are in heavy use every day and we have to come up with a way to be able to use them while protecting them. We will keep the membership advised through the “Gleanings” about the map and preservation projects. If you are interested in purchasing a map or would like to see what this is all about, come and visit the archives. We will be taking orders in March; the cost will be about $50.00. We expect to make no more than 100 copies and we expect an early sellout. Call me at the archives at 482–4990 during regular hours or at home at 572–0437. The maps will probably be available in May and will come in their own protective tubes.

Report from the Museum Advisory Board

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2006,
Spring 2006
Original Images:

Author: Virginia Davis-Brown and Kathryn Howard

Even though the Museum was closed during January, the Museum was very busy. The exhibits all had to be changed, the Christmas Holiday decorations were put away and it was a good time to inventory “throw away and save.” Also, we conducted one tour during the month.

We thank Irene Jameson for lending her wonderful collection of small lamps to the museum for display. Most of us never realized there were so many different kinds. It is people like her who are willing to share their display that help make the museum so interesting.

One of the four new exhibits arranged was the new Underground Railroad exhibit featuring the Aray Family generations, Starkweather home, Day, Harwood farms and many others. What chances they took! Would we be willing to get involved today?

The upstairs showcase features a display of beautiful antique china and crystal. The display of antique china hand-painted French plates are from the Michael Miller Collection.

The antique amethyst fruit dishes are from our own collection coming from the Babbitt Collection given by Mr. and Mrs. Courtland Sneiker several years ago. The beautiful ambedina pitcher and the other pitcher of cranberry glass are from Mrs. Helen Marshall. Plate and cup and saucer china are all from our collections. The bobbin lace pieces were made by Kathleen Campbell.

The two glass tables on the first floor contain an exhibit of leather postcards and a collection of fountain pens, both from Kathryn Howard's Collection.

The Interurban showcase now features a piece of rail from the tracks on Washington Street dug up when the City redid the street in 2004–2005. These exhibits were all assembled by Karen Nickels and Kathryn Howard. The Valentines of Ellen Gould were displayed during February for the Quarterly Meeting. We are now looking forward to the Art Show during April 6–23. The “Art Show Open House” will be held on April 9 from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm. Thirty-one artists have been invited to display their art. We look forward to a wonderful show as in previous years.

“Lost Ypsilanti Speaks” will start on July 16 and run through August 6. This year we will feature all new sites. The Quilt Exhibit is a few months away but why not get it on your calendar now so you won't miss it! Last year we had over 100 quilts on display. Dates for the quilt exhibit are September 28 through October 15. If you have a quilt and would like to display it please contact us.

We are still in need of Docents. If you can spare 2–3 hours per month we will train you. You will have the opportunity to meet some interesting people from all over the world.

Several tours have been scheduled through April. Our new Tour Chairman is Nancy Wheeler.

June 3rd is our Yard Sale, so please bring your ‘treasures' to the Museum. On or after June 1st you may drop them off at Bill and Karen Nickels' at 311 N. Wallace Blvd. where the sale will be held. Thank you, Bill and Karen. You can see the Museum has been busy and we welcome back the ‘Snow Birds’.

From the President's Desk

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2006,
Spring 2006
Original Images:

Author: Alvin E. Rudisill

This is our fifth issue of the newly formatted “Ypsilanti Gleanings.” We have had a great deal of positive response to our new format and expanded content and we appreciate all the contributions made by authors and the volunteers. We also want to acknowledge our advertisers and sponsors whose financial support makes this publication possible. If you are interested in writing an article for the Gleanings or would like us to include articles on a specific topic please contact me.

We are in the process of negotiating with the City of Ypsilanti to purchase the museum and archives property at 220–224 North Huron Street. The purchase of the property by the Society would enable us to expend funds on deferred maintenance to the buildings and property. Any such agreement would include a “Right of Reversion” clause so that if the Society stopped using the property as a museum or archives the City would have the right to buy back the property at the same price it was sold to the Society. We are all interested in preserving the historical artifacts and written records of the people and places in Ypsilanti and the surrounding area and the transfer of ownership of the property to the Society seems to be a win-win situation for both the Society and the City.

In the next few months we will need to empty the basement of the Museum so work can be done on the foundation walls and the support wall

Thanks to all the volunteers who regularly change the displays in the museum and who plan and conduct special events and displays such as the Underground Railroad, Art Show, Quilt Exhibit and Lost Ypsilanti Speaks. The hundreds of hours of effort by these individuals make the museum an interesting and educational place for all of us.

The Archives continues to be a busy place with visitors from all over the United States who are doing family genealogy research. We are also receiving many inquiries from visitors to our web site and Gerry Pety, archivist, is kept busy following up on requests for specific information about family members who once lived in Ypsilanti.

We are always in need of volunteers. The duties include a wide variety of possibilities such as serving as a docent in the Museum, researching articles for the Gleanings, assisting with the writing of grant applications or helping with maintenance of the building and grounds. If you would like to volunteer please give me a call at 734–484–3023 or email me at al@rudisill.ws. I will refer you to the appropriate team leader for assignment.

For Information about upcoming Society events, visit us on-line at:

Report from the Museum Advisory Board

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Winter 2005,
Winter 2005
Original Images:

Author: Virginia Davis-Brown

What an exciting fall this has been at the Museum. We were thrilled when we had over 400 visitors see our “Lost Ypsilanti Speaks” exhibit. We have decided that it will continue next year with new sites as well as the old ones. We hope that it brought back some memories and you were able to better understand the history of Ypsilanti.

This year we were able to have the “Quilt Exhibit” again and what a wonderful exhibit it was with 127 quilts displayed throughout the museum. It seemed that every one was different and had it's own story to tell. We want to thank all who were kind enough to lend us their precious quilts. Our special thanks to Sandy Knight for demonstrating the technique of quilt making.

There are two new exhibits now on display at the museum, one is a collection of 54 miniature lamps that were loaned to us from Irene Jameson's collection. They are all different and beautiful. The other is honoring people who served in World War II with a display of uniforms and items of that period. You must come in and see them.

It is a busy time as we have decorated the Museum for the holidays. The Christmas tree is up and all the decorations are in place waiting for the Open House on December 4, from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm and the New Years Eve celebration starting at 6:30 until 10:00 pm. If you have not spend part of New Years Eve with us before, we invite you to come to our house to enjoy the music, refreshments and visiting with old friends and maybe meet some new ones on the last night of the year.

It has been a wonderful year for all of us and we thank you all for your support, but there is one thing that you can do for us this next year. We are always in need of docents, so if you have a couple of hours a month that you could spare please let us know. You can always call me at 484–0080 or let anyone at the Museum know and we will be in contact with you to receive training.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the Ypsilanti Historical Museum!

Antique Mini-Lamps on Display at Museum

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Winter 2005,
Winter 2005
Original Images:

Author: Joy Anne Shulke

Antique mini-lamps will be on display at the Museum through the Christmas holidays. Irene Jameson has loaned approximately 60 lamps to be displayed from her original collection of about 300 lamps. Mrs. Jameson and her deceased husband, Paul, accumulated the lamps over 40 years. He was a Michigan Bell repair-man who was originally interested in glass items, especially paper weights. These interests lead to mini-lamps. After his retirement, he became an expert in the repair of spinning wheels. The assemblage is unique in Michigan because there aren't many mini-lamp collectors in this state. Usually, the Jameson's had to travel to Ohio, Pennsylvania or New York to find the lamps.

Glass was not manufactured on a large scale in Michigan. That is because manufacturers needed natural gas as a heat source to make glass. Each glass company specialized in their own glass pattern and colors. The most desirable are made of colored milk glass. Most lamps found today are about 75 years old, although there are some that are over 100 years old. They come in different colors, heights of chimneys, different shaped burners and bases. Finding a complete lamp is difficult. Approximately 20% did not have their bases and 40% are missing their shades. And they may have the brass collar missing.

Mrs. Jameson shared a little of her knowledge about the lamps. Mini-lamps were used somewhat like we use night lights today. They also were called “sparking” lamps since, when the lamp went out, the gentleman was expected to go home. In the 1930s and ‘40s they were sold as “perfume lamps” because scented oil could be in the base so that, as the lamp burned, the room took on a lovely aroma. As we talked, she pointed to one of the museum's mini-lamps on a shelf in the kitchen. She said it probably was sold in a dime store and is missing its shade.

The Jameson's collected “everything”. She became interested in the mini-lamps because they were pretty. She uses them as decoration in her home, at dinner parties, and when the electricity goes out. She mentioned an orange one, which alone to her is ugly. But in the fall it fits in perfectly with the decorations on her mantle.

The Jameson's collected other items beside the lamps. She has begun down-sizing the various collections. She has passed on her favorite mini-lamps to her children and grandchildren. The museum is proud and lucky that she is willing to share them with us and the public. Please avail yourself of this opportunity to enjoy these lovely little lamps from the past.

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