Return of Education Movie Night

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: Hosted By James Mann

Education Movie Night in the Archives will return this fall, beginning on Friday, September 11, 2015. Movies will begin at 7:00 pm, in the Archives of the Museum. The educational program provides free admission and free popcorn. Entrance to the Archives is on the north side of the Museum, on the side opposite from the parking lot.

Friday, September 11, 2015
Moby Dick 1956, Running Time: 1 hour 55 minutes
Film adaptation of the novel by Herman Melville. Consumed by rage, Captain Ahab (Gregory Peck) seeks revenge on the great white whale, Moby Dick, who maimed and disfigured him.

Friday, September 18, 2015
The Long Voyage Home 1940, Running Time: 105 minutes
Adapted from four one act plays by Eugene O'Neill, and set in the early days of the Second World War. The crew of the cargo ship SS Glencairn set sail for England with a cargo of high-explosives. Members of the crew begin to suspect that one of their number is a spy. John Wayne plays Swedish sailor Ole Olsen.

Friday, September 25, 2015
The Informer 1935, Running Time: 91 minutes
Based on the novel by Liam O'Flaherty. In Dublin of 1922, wracked by Civil War, Gypo Nolan, a brute of a man, turns informer and sells out his friend Frankie McPhillip to the Black and Tan for money. Now Gypo must try to keep suspicion from him, as others search for the informer. Victor McLaglen received the Academy Award for best actor, and John Ford for best director.

Friday, October 2, 2015
Submarine 1928, Running Time: 93 minutes
Two career Navy men (Jack Holt and Ralph Graves), are the best of men, until both fall in love with the same woman. The two have a falling out, and vow never to speak to each other again. One of the two is transferred to a submarine, which, while on maneuvers, collides with a ship. The other, a deep sea diver, is called on to save the men trapped in the submarine.

CHAUTAUQUA at the Riverside

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: Val Kabat

Founded by Tom Dodd to interject some heritage back into the Ypsilanti Heritage Festival, Chautauqua at the Riverside has perhaps been Ypsilanti’s best-kept secret since its first appearance in 2012. Now organized under the auspices of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, Chautauqua at the Riverside is looking forward to a bright future—beginning with this year’s event on Saturday, October 18, and you are invited to attend!

The event takes its name, in part from its venue: Ypsilanti’s own Riverside Arts Center on North Huron Street.

There will be eight 45-minute presentations, organized around the four traditional pillars of a Chautauqua (arts, education, recreation, and religion), beginning at 10 a.m. The grand finale of the day will be a three-hour performance by Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band, a group that’s been a mainstay of the traditional jazz scene in Washtenaw County for the past 40 years. The complete schedule (including each segment’s sponsor) follows. You are encourage to attend some or all:

In addition to the individual sponsors, we are fortunate to have received a grant from the Michigan Humanities Council, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Because of these grants and sponsorships, admission to any and all of the segments is free, but donations are gratefully accepted. Come to some or come to all of the presentations. And if you’d like a little break, please enjoy the area walking tour that has been prepared for the occasion. The tour booklet has been made possible by a contribution from the Ypsilanti Heritage Foundation.

10-10:45 a.m.: “Stevens T. Mason: The Boy Governor”
Don Faber, speech-writer, news-writer, and history writer
Sponsored by Phoenix Contractors, Inc.

11-11:45 a.m: “Mothers and Warriors: Native American Women in Michigan History”
Kathleen Chamberlain, Professor of History, Eastern Michigan University
Sponsored by the Olson-Bellfi Financial Group of Wells Fargo Advisors

12-12:45 p.m.: “The Power of the Written Word Translated Through Music”
Ypsilanti Community Choir
Sponsored by the Ypsilanti Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

1-1:45 p.m.: “Frederic Pease and the 100th Anniversary of His Namesake Auditorium”
Kevin Miller, Director of Orchestral Activities, Eastern Michigan University
Sponsored by Eastern Michigan University

2-2:45 p.m.: “A Conversation with Henry Ford & Thomas Edison”
Rob Chrenko and Russell Doré, Doré Productions
Sponsored by the Washtenaw Federal Credit Union

3-3:45 p.m.: “Those Damned Michigan Men: Law and Order in Civil War Michigan Regiments”
Steven J. Ramold, Associate Professor of History, Eastern Michigan University
Sponsored by Bank of Ann Arbor

4-4:45 p.m.: “Michigan Cities: How Did They Get Those Crazy Names?”
Pat Grimes
Sponsored by Haab’s Restaurant

5-5:45 p.m.: “Wait, Wait! Don’t Confuse Me” (inspired by NPR’s “Wait, Wait! Don’t Tell Me®”)
A panel of local raconteurs will try to stump the audience with their knowledge of historical (or not) photos presented to them.
Sponsored by Premier Choice Realty

6-9 p.m.: Paul Klinger’s Easy Street Jazz Band
Traditional Jazz and Dixieland Music
(Cash bar and light refreshments served in the lobby.)
Sponsored by Sesi Motors

On display in the Gallery:
“Great Lakes Small Works”
An annual exhibit featuring two- and three-dimensional works by artists from the seven Great Lakes States and Ontario.

On display in the Lobby:
“Vintage Postcards from Southeastern Michigan”
from the collection of Lisa Mills Walters

Contact: P.O. Box 980551, Ypsilanti, MI 48198-0551

The Big Beat "Keeps You Rockin"

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: Fred Thomas

During the early 1950’s music fare heard on radios was a mixture of big band, standards, crooners, pop tunes, and novelty songs. This was also a time of great innovation and drastic change in popular music. Forms from a great variety of sources came together to create a new sound. Because of the simplicity and the strong basic beat, this sound had great appeal to the younger generation. Young people certainly took an interest in radio and records. Parents were shocked! They considered this novel sound primitive and obscene, which made it even more appealing to their children. The unique sound assumed three basic forms, similar in beat, but different in sound because of their very diverse origins. Rockabilly had its origins from Country and Western. Rhythm and Blues was derived from Black Gospel and Southern Blues. Pop Rock was more of a popular music sound with a strong up-tempo beat (courtesy of The Old and Gold Show, WDTR, radio, Detroit)

These recordings, not widely played on mainstream radio, were being broadcast in 1951 by Alan Freed, a late-night disc jockey at station WJW in Cleveland. This amalgamation of genres would become known as “rock ’n roll”, a name Freed would later be credited with advancing. His program was called “Moondog House” and became popular with young kids in Cleveland and beyond. By his choice of music alone the Moondog earned their trust. In fact, Freed would be credited as one of the early prime movers of “rock ’n roll” and the early rock concert business. Soon he was doing live rock shows. The response was remarkable. No one in the local music business had ever seen anything like it before. Two or three thousand kids would buy tickets, all for performers that adults had never even heard of.” (courtesy of Wikipedia)

A fascination with music and records has consumed countless hours of my time. The bug bit me at age thirteen. The pursuit of them was unintentionally initiated by my brother Jerry who was three years older. In late 1954 he began bringing home 78 rpm records with unusual titles and playing them on his small three-speed record player located in our bedroom. There was Sh-Boom by the Chords, Crying in the Chapel by the Orioles, Chop Chop Boom by the Danderliers, and others. All were by vocal groups, and had unfamiliar titles.

One afternoon I asked him to let me go along to the record store, only to meet immediate rejection. However, a plea to mom by this little brother cleared the way. Magee Music was located at 303 West Michigan Avenue opposite the original Cleary College. There I discovered the force that drew him to these strange new sounds. It was the attractive, young miss behind the counter. Discussing the up and coming artists and buying records put him in her presence. I don’t recall how long his infatuation lasted, but the roots of my music and record involvement can be traced directly to his fondness for her.

My growing interest was reinforced by a 200 selection Wurlitzer jukebox at Cecil’s Drive Inn, the restaurant my parents opened in 1955 at 1215 East Michigan. A Dearborn vending service maintained it and the cigarette machine. If I were present when their rep finished his duties, he always left me a generous supply of nickels so I could keep the selections spinning. Hearing the songs encouraged paying customers to do the same. This activity broadened my knowledge of songs and artists. In addition, the current tunes entertained me as I busily performed my table cleaning and dishwashing duties.

Fast forward to April 1958. The Michigan Industrial Education Society was holding an exhibition in Lansing where prize-worthy projects made in high school shop classes throughout the state were being shown and judged. As high school seniors, two buddies and I were afforded the opportunity to take Friday off school and visit the popular display. A unanimous decision to accept the offer was immediate.

Our destination was the Lansing Civic Center. Once there, the search for the exhibit hall took us throughout the multi-storied building. Passing a Coming Attractions announcement board, my attention was drawn to a colorful poster announcing The Alan Freed Big Beat music tour show on stage Sunday, April 27th. My interest was piqued. I had read plenty about Alan Freed and his concerts, but never had the chance to attend one. I couldn’t believe the playbill! When I saw the list of performers, I knew I had to drive back the ninety miles for the show, and I convinced others to accompany me. Next, prior to locating our intended destination, a detour to the box office was made and tickets, priced from $1.75 - $3.50, were purchased. The Big Beat Tour monopolized discussion during the drive home.

I was super excited as I looked forward to seeing seventeen acts. Fourteen of them had a song on the national Top Ten chart including: 1. Jerry Lee Lewis - Great Balls of Fire; 2. Buddy Holly - Peggy Sue; 3. The Crickets - Maybe, Baby; 4. Chuck Berry - Sweet Little Sixteen; 5. Frankie Lymon - Why Do Fools; 6. The Diamonds - The Stroll; 7. Danny and the Juniors - At The Hop; 8. Billie and Lillie - La Dee Dah; 9. The Chantels - Maybe; 10. Larry Williams - Boni Maroni; 11. Pastels - Been So Long; 12. Dicky Doo and the Don’ts - Nee Nee; 13. Screamin’ Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell; 14. Jo Ann Campbell - Wait a Minute; 15. Ed Townsend - For Your Love; 16. Billy Ford and the Thunderbirds; and 17. Big Rocking Band.

The return trip to the Civic Center went smoothly. Extra time was allotted in case of unforeseen travel interruptions. None occurred. Once inside the auditorium ushers directed us thru the maze of aisles to our seats. Anticipation electrified the youthful multitude awaiting the rock and roll performers. The sight of the emcee approaching the center stage microphone set off uncontrolled audience pandemonium.

One by one, individual acts appeared on the stage, and were greeted by deafening applause. During some performances multiple spectators, overcome by gyrating rhythms, spontaneously leaped into the aisles and began dancing. Uninterrupted by such fanfare, the bands kept the auditorium rockin’ through their final songs which usually brought loud yells for “more” from admiring spectators.

The enjoyment of this dynamic concert experience had one downside. We needed to be home by eleven p.m. and that required a premature departure. However, Chuck Berry was a favorite, so we decided to stretch our luck and not leave until we saw him. After being awed by two of his numbers, we felt the passing of time necessitated leaving immediately. On the way out I stopped for a glance back just as Chuck was doing his infamous duck walk across the stage. I never saw him in person again.

When I recall The Big Beat concert now I am impressed by how many performers like Buddy Holly, The Diamonds, and Danny and the Juniors still prevail today. Most, like bright stars, reached their peak, and then faded into oblivion.

In addition to The Big Beat tour, Alan Freed had a TV program called The Big Beat, and made a movie called The Big Beat. The Del Vikings sang a song titled The Big Beat. It was written by Fats Domino and David Bartholomew, not by Alan!

(Fred Thomas moved to Ypsilanti in 1948, graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1958, and then from Eastern Michigan University in 1965. He currently lives in Phoenix, Arizona. He is a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: In 1949 Jerry Wexler, and editor at Billboard magazine, substituted the term “rhythm and blues” for the older “race” records and “Rhythm and Blues” was born.

Photo 2: In 1951 Alan Freed, a late-night disc jockey at station WJW in Cleveland, began playing an amalgamation of genres which would become known as “rock ‘n roll.”

Photo 3: The 78 rpm record player became very popular in the early 1950s.

Photo 4: Poster for the Alan Freed Big Beat music tour show at the Lansing Civic Center in April of 1958.

Photo 5: Chuck Berry was one of the favorites who played at the Lansing Civic Center in 1958.

Photo 6: Many performers like Buddy Holly, The Diamonds, and Danny and the Juniors are still popular today.

Balloon Ascension

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: James Mann

There must have been excitement in the air in Ypsilanti in late July and early August of 1859. Mr. Bannister, the aeronaut, was to make a balloon ascension from Ypsilanti on Thursday, August 4, 1859. In the days before powered flight, balloon ascensions, someone riding in a basket under a bag filled with gas, was the only way anyone could fly in the sky. Balloon ascensions were little more than carnival side shows, a form of entertainment. A great crowd could be expected at such events, as, most likely, few had ever seen such a thing before.

“We are informed by Mr. Bannister’s agent, that the ascension to take place at Ypsilanti on Thursday will be the only one made in this vicinity this season. Those therefore, desirous of witnessing an aerial flight, had better avail themselves of this opportunity,” reported The Ann Arbor Journal of August 3, 1859.

“Last Thursday,” reported The Ann Arbor Journal of Wednesday, August 10, 1859, “in common with a large number of our citizens, we were in attendance at Ypsilanti to witness the ascension of Mr. Bannister in his balloon, ‘The Pride of America.’ The day was very pleasant, yet excessively warm, with a light breeze from the north-west, and from numerous estimates put the number present at not less than ten thousand people.” The inflation of the balloon had begun the day before and by 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, was completed with some 20,000 cubic feet of gas. This filled the balloon which was 22 feet in diameter and 55 feet high.

“It was generally understood that Mrs. Cummings, the sister-in-law of Mr. Bannister, would accompany the aeronaut in his voyage to the clouds; but when the lady arrived, she informed Mr. B. that the gas was not sufficiently hydrogenated to admit of two making an ascension,” noted the account. Mr. Bannister placed himself in the car of the balloon, and the moorings were cut loose, but the balloon did not rise. At this Mr. Bannister threw out his overcoat, his linen coat and the anchor, and all the ballast and the balloon rose to a height of about twenty feet. Then the balloon floated in the air, and returned to earth near the place where it had been inflated. The problem, it was supposed, was caused by the eddying state of the wind, because of the Union Seminary building, now the site of Cross Street Village at Cross and Washington Streets, and the considerable number of trees.

“Another trial was then held and the ‘Pride of America’ was fairly afloat, ascending slowly and gracefully to the great joy and pleasure of the congregated thousands, to about 1,000 feet, and passed off nearly half a mile, in a southerly direction, over the city, in a most beautiful and imposing manner, when another, and lower current of wind brought it back a quarter of a mile, and the Balloon settled in one of the principal streets of the city, much to the dissatisfaction of many and the great gratification of others; man denouncing it as a grand humbug,” reported the account.

Mr. Bannister announced that he would make another ascension that evening at 6:00 p.m. This was not possible, as the gas company had exhausted all the gas that could be furnished that day. The gas company offered to provide Mr. Bannister all the gas he needed for an ascension to be made the next Monday.
By Monday the balloon was again inflated with about 19,000 cubic gallons of gas, and all was made ready. Mr. Bannister again seated himself in the car of the balloon and gave the order to cut the balloon loose. When the balloon was cut loose it rose to the height of four feet ten inches and settled to the ground. Then it was announced that a second attempt would be made at 5:00 p.m. At 5:00 p.m. the balloon again failed to rise, because, it was explained, of impurities in the gas. The balloon was packed up and placed in safety.

“The disappointed spectators from the country should reflect, before heaping censure on our citizens that we are, to a man, just as much disappointed and more chagrined than they possibly could be. They will acquit us of any attempt to humbug them, we think on the reflection that this failure, has cost necessarily more money, time and trouble than the most perfect success could have done. Let us all turn it off with a laugh and be jolly over it,” noted The Ypsilanti Sentinel.

(James Mann is a local author and historian, a volunteer in the YHS Archives, and a regular contributor to the Gleanings.)

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: The Union Seminary building in the background was the site of the balloon ascension in 1859.

Ypsilanti Players From 1915 - 1957

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings
Original Images:

Author: Eleanor Meston

(This article was originally published in the January 1976 issue of the Gleanings. We recently discovered some glass plate negatives from the early years of the Ypsilanti Players which prompted the new interest in this organization.)

Ypsilanti, April 12, 1915: “I have for a long time had in mind the organization of a Dramatic Club in Ypsilanti. With this view I have asked a few people to come to the Ladies' Literary Club rooms, Thursday evening, April fifteenth at seven-thirty o'clock. My ideas of the Club will be explained and some modern, short plays read by different persons. Hoping to see you, Sincerely, Daniel L. Quirk, Jr."

And so began many successful years for the Ypsilanti Players. That first meeting brought together a group of thirty-two theatre loving people. The group included home-makers, members of the various professions, and business men and women. There were, just to mention a few, C.V. Brown, former Mayor of Ypsilanti, (1916–1920); Arthur Erickson, for whom the Erickson school in Ypsilanti is named; Miss Bertha Goodison, artist and for whom a Womens' Dorm on the Eastern Michigan University Campus is named; and C. P. Steimle, the former registrar of the College. All were enthusiastic about the new venture into the field of Theatre Arts.

“…The Ypsilanti Players group was the third community theater in the United States, following Boston and Chicago.”

The aim of the Ypsilanti Players, as formulated at that first meeting was, "To study, read, and act new plays which must have artistic merit." Simply worded and to the point. For that meeting three plays had been prepared to be read as part of the program. In the scrapbook of that year those three plays are shown to be:

Program #1 April 15, 1915:

The Man on the Kerb by Alfred Sutro read by Mrs. H.B. Britton (daughter of Professor Florus Barbour, English Dept. the Normal College 1885–1926).

The Noble Lord by Percival Wilde read by Miss Luella Seeger.

The Fifth Commandment by Stanley Houghton read by Mrs. R. Clyde Ford (wife of Richard Clyde Ford, Head of Modern Language Dept, Normal, 1903–1938).

The Program #2 of May 15, 1915, found a group of readers taking the various parts instead of just one reader for a play. At each meeting a committee of three volunteered to arrange the program for the next meeting. Ypsilanti of 1915 was a community of 7,000 population and the Players filled a very definite need in the community and became a very important part of it.

The Players owed their success to the inspired directorship of Daniel Lace Quirk, Jr. It was his untiring effort, his high standards of showmanship and meticulous regard for artistry that gave joy and satisfaction to those working with and for him. He had acquired his taste and love of the theatre in his youth when he helped in shifting scenes and in other odd jobs about the Opera House. (Ypsilanti's Opera House was built in the late 1870's on the north side of Congress (Michigan) east of Adams and Dan Quirk's father was one of the original stockholders).

As evening after evening of play reading passed, the readers grew more and more dramatic; interpretation demanded action. As latent talent developed, an improvised stage in some members living room proved most inadequate and frustrating.

The meeting of January 16, 1916, when the club was just ten months old must have been a very exciting one. The meeting of that date recorded in its minutes the decision:

“To rent from the Ladies' Library Association the barn at the rear of their lot for five years at twenty dollars per year with the privilege of buying at any time during the five years the barn and the land on which it stands for two hundred dollars …”At the same meeting, “it was further decided that dues be paid to the club of five dollars per year.”In the last part of that same sentence came the re-cording of an action that had far reaching results dramatically speaking. It reads: “and that the Club proceed with the remodeling of the barn to make it ready for the Shrove Tuesday Masque on March 7, 1916.”

In this casual manner the group with apparently no board of directors or other administrative verbiage brought into being the Ypsilanti Playhouse which came to be known nationally in the field of dramatic art as the smallest theatre in the world.

There followed a hectic seven weeks of preparation for the opening of the Playhouse. One can visualize the activity of those weeks, every player at work wielding hammer and paint brush under the general supervision of D. L Quirk (Jr.). Bertha Goodison and Elinor Strafor, (Associate Professor of Fine Arts at the Normal, 1910–1942), were the artists who worked out color schemes and decorative design.

At last Shrove Tuesday, 1916, arrived. True to their promise the Players were ready with a Masque for the first production in their remodeled barn to an audience of invited guests.

The Masque called, Playing the Favorites, ran the gamut from Shakespeare through Sheridan's She Stoops to Conquer into the world of opera, ‘Carmen’ and ‘Faust’, then to Vanity Fair and Barrie's Little Minister to an up to the minute movie featuring Mary Pickford. Members of the Players, all thirty-two of them, represented noted actors and actresses.

It was a very auspicious opening for a little theatre. Wide publicity greeted the opening. The Press coverage, which was most generous, included The Detroit Free Press, Detroit Morning News, Detroit Evening News, The Christian Science Monitor, and The Detroit Journal. The Ypsilanti Press of March 8, 1916, gave a description with great accuracy of detail: “Last evening the Ypsilanti Players opened ‘The Players Playhouse’, a tiny theatre in which artistic simplicity and exceedingly ingenious arrangement and utilization of existing material have made probably the most complete and charming ‘Little Theatre’ west of New York. The Players have leased from the Ladies' Library Association the barn on the Starkweather place, and have fitted it up with amazing results considering the limited space and necessary simplicity into a charming little play house, with excellent lighting and simple and artistic furnishings.

The decorative scheme was the design of Miss Bertha Goodison and Miss Elinor Strafer, and the construction work was under the supervision of D. L. Quirk, Jr. The original rafters and wooden supports of the barn are utilized most effectively, being painted a soft olive with the highlights in Pompeian red. The sidewalls have a daring and effective decoration of Pompeian red and black half squares against a putty colored background, a heraldic device, featuring the cock, in dark blues and greens adorning the shield in the center panel. Over the front of the stage is a variant of the cock device, this time the cock's head in the form of a crest, and beneath on the shield are the initials Y.P., of the organization, the Ypsilanti Players. The audience room is only 18 by 24 feet, of which the stage takes half, yet so skillfully has the space been apportioned that there is quite an effect of spaciousness, and the room will seat fifty people. Of these however, eighteen are cared for in the little balcony at the back, whose railing is concealed by oriental curtains of bright hues. The quaint iron lanterns suspended from the ceiling are the work of Harry Shaefer, (b. Dundee, Mich 1886, d. Ypsilanti 1968).

The curtains are draw curtains, of the putty-colored monks' cloth, with wide vertical stripes of dark olive denim and narrower stripes of Pompeian red brocade and add dignity and effective-ness to the room. The scenery is yet in the making, so far only a set of tall screens, in which a wonderful effect is secured by the use of dark blue cheese cloth over light green cheese-cloth. The curtain bell is a set of silvery chimes. It is expected to add simple ‘sets’ and permanent costumes for certain parts in the future. There are no footlights, but rows of reflecting border lights above the stage are concealed by green draperies, and there are arrangements regulated by a switchboard and dimmers in the wings for lights at the side as well. The outside of the building is to be decorated similarly to the interior and the name will be painted in artistic lettering. A quaint iron lantern will be over the entrance. The little play house has all the fascination of a doll house and would tempt an anchorite to use it as a plaything. But it is to be the scene of really serious study and portrayal of genuine drama.”

The first evidence of conventional organization appears in the minutes of the meeting of the week following the opening of the Playhouse. Then Mr. A. G. Erickson was elected treasurer. A play committee and casting committee for the 1916 season was chosen and dates for five public performances decided upon. The price of the tickets was to be one dollar a performance. Invitations were sent out which reminded the recipient that since “the play house had a seating capacity limited to fifty, an early acceptance was requested.” The first commercially printed program bearing the crest of the Players appeared May 16, 1916.

Through the summer of 1916, much expense was incurred. An addition to the Playhouse provided for a stage entrance and storage space, painting had been done, and new dishes purchased. The Players viewed with delight the result of the summer's activity, but found themselves with a total indebtedness of eight hundred dollars.

Undaunted, the group went ahead with plans for their second season in the Playhouse. At the same time, plans to procure Stuart Walker's Portmanteau Theatre for an afternoon and evening performance had materialized. The Ypsilanti Players proudly advertised their coming by announcing that the Stuart Walker group “…were coming directly from the Art Museum of Detroit on their way to the Fine Arts Theatre of Chicago, that the University of Michigan had tried to get them in Ann Arbor but were unsuccessful.”

Season after season passed with the general public getting only occasional glimpses of the Player's production. Due to public demand, it was finally decided to have a “subscription season” in 1917–1918, tickets three dollars and fifty cents for seven performances, one to be given each month, the night after the regular member's performances. Again announcements were sent out and the Players passed another milestone.

The First World War burst upon the world. The Ypsilanti players played their part. Many who had taken an active part on our small stage went to take part in that great struggle overseas. Our beloved director went to France to serve in the French Red Cross. He had worked tirelessly at home, as had his wife, in all branches of war activity. Red Cross and Liberty Loan Drives knew his directive genius.

And what of the Player's themselves? It took some doing to carry on with their mainstay in France. But the play proved again to be the thing, and they carried out the plans for the season according to schedule. During D.L.'s absence, Dr. R. Clyde Ford, Head of the Modern Language Department at the college, was given the responsibility of leadership. Long a member of the Players and a fine actor in his right, he gave uninterrupted continuity to the program. It must have been with a sense of relief tempered with one of satisfaction for a task well done that he welcomed Mr. Quirk back. And it was with a widened horizon, a renewed vigor, and enthusiasm, that in 1920, Dan again assumed his place as Director.

Ypsilanti Players from 1920-1957

The fall of 1920 found the Ypsilanti Players hard at work preparing for the coming season. An attempt was made to keep the reading committee fluid by choosing members of varying tastes and backgrounds. To facilitate the work of those whose responsibility was to choose the plays to be given, Mr. D. L. Quirk, Jr, the director, maintained a drama library. Because of a standing order, Brentano's of New York City, added to that library whenever a dramatic work was published.

The Players were becoming familiar with the big names among playwrights. Many plays were given whose authors had a play currently on Broadway. Often plays in manuscript were given. The spirit of adventure was further shown in programs listing first performances and many players had the satisfaction of seeing their own creative endeavors presented before an audience.

Casting in those years seems not to have been a problem. The Players boast of having a “…five system indexed by build, voice, and other characteristics for just about everyone in town.” Mr. Quirk is credited with having said, “When we needed a Priest in a play, we didn't have someone act one; we got a Priest. After all, he knew the part and had the costume.” A player would be in-formed there was a part for him in the next play, and he took it. Perhaps the director or a member of the casting committee might see someone at a concert, in a restaurant or even on the street, who would seem to have possibilities.

THE DETROIT NEWS of Sunday, September 4, 1921, carried a story by Sterling Bowen, (son of Wilber P. Bowen, Head of the Department of Physical Education, Normal, 1894–1928), which gave further insight into the casting methods of the Ypsilanti Players. He tells of a young man who hopped from a passing freight train near the Peninsular Paper Mill one day, asked for and got a temporary job there. Director Quirk, at that time President of the Company, upon hearing the young man speak, said, “For some time we have wanted to put on a play, but we have needed a young mountaineer such as yourself. Will you take the part?” Young Kaufman, for such was his name, was either uninterested or else he hesitated to break into a group so completely alien. At any rate, he hopped a freight and was gone as suddenly as he had come. The play was shelved. A year passed, when one day Carl Kaufman re-appeared. A roughly-dressed and stubble-faced young man, he dropped gracefully from the side of a box-car as it rounded the bend of the Michigan Central Railroad beside the paper mill. Again he applied for a job, again he got one, and again Mr. Quirk asked, “Now are you ready to play with us on our stage”, With a grin, he said, “Sure.”

So the play, On Vengeance Height, a story of a mountain feud, was off to a good start with young Kaufman, who had spent his boyhood in the mountains of Tennessee, in the stellar role. He is credited with having been of great help to the cast with its interpretation, dialect, and diction. That was his only role in the Ypsilanti Players, for he left as quickly as he had come.

In the Ypsilanti Players, once a star didn't mean always star. Perhaps this play's lead might have a very menial role in the next play, or even assume the task of stoking the furnace or of cleaning up the grease paint on the make-up shelf. Perhaps he would be needed for make-up artist, to hold the book, or to shift scenes.

At times an un-announced player assumed a role gratuitously. An incident of that nature is recalled by one old-time player. It had to do with Dr. Britton's German Police dog. Always at the heels of his master or mistress, he was a familiar frequenter of the Playhouse, parked in the foyer or at the stage door. In this particularly realistic play, his master was to experience rough treatment by a thug. When the dog heard his master's cry of terror, he made a very effective entrance - the curtain closed to denote calming of dog and reviving of thug.

The Players were very fortunate to have as a member Mrs. Anne Thompson Hubbell, her husband was a member of Eastern Michigan’s History Department, who had done Shakespearean roles for several years with the English Company of the Ben Greet Players, to plan and direct the series of Shakespeare's plays presented. Scenes from five plays were given, interspersed with traditional music provided by Anthony J. Whitmire and his violin, Miss Matilda Holmes at the piano, and the voices of Carl Lindegren, Miss Lillian Ashby and Mrs. George Wortley.

A member of that cast relates, “I shall never forget that Shakespearean program; I was one of the mob in the Julius Caesar episode. We were stationed in the balcony waiting for our cues. We were to rush down the stairs, through the narrow aisle, and up onto the stage. In due time the cue came, we started down the steep little stairway. The first man, with an over-abundance of histrionic zeal, tripped and we all followed suit like so many dominoes. Almost wrecked the show, but our audience took it in its stride”.

There were times, when, had it not been for the watchful eye of their director with his business acumen, the players would have been in legal difficulties. Such an incident occurred in the giving of John Drinkwater's Bird in Hand. When Director Quirk returned from abroad, the play had been cast and was in rehearsal. D.L.'s first question had to do with business arrangements. “No, no one had made inquiry as to royalty.” Much correspondence brought no response from the agent. Opening night arrived and still no clearance or royalty quotation. A telegram was dispatched and just before curtain time, the following wire was received, “Sorry, Bird in Hand not available to amateurs.” What to do posed no question - the play must go on - and on it went. Needless to say royalty was determined and paid at a later date. Much credit for the excellent performance went to Wleamen, a member of the players, under whose direction the play was staged. A few months later, a short item appeared in the Chicago Tribune and caused the Players great elation. “A resident company in Ypsilanti (Mich.) recently gave the American premiere of John Drinkwater's play called A Bird in Hand, said to be a success in London.”

While the Players enjoyed lighter moments, program notes indicate that they took seriously their opportunity and responsibility to educate their audiences as well as themselves. Contributions made by this civic minded group to the community included a program given for the Stoic Society of Michigan State Normal College “…proceeds to go toward establishing a permanent scholarship fund.”

The Players gave the first radio play in this area, the publicity, dated 1927, reads: “Prize Radio Play on Air-W.S.S.K., (which was located in Ypsilanti at that time), called Danger. It is the first listening play known and was first broadcast by the London Broadcasting station.” The players of that production included G. C. Handy, publisher of the Ypsilanti Daily Press, and Marion Stowe, professor of speech at Eastern Michigan College.

Coping with the increasing pressures on time and energy became at last beyond the ability of the individual players. This was especially true with regard to D. L. Quirk, Jr., upon whom, as director, an increasing number of details of staging and directing had fallen. All of this led to an announcement made on a printed program which caused, to put it mildly, great consternation. There would be no subscription season the coming year. Only one program was planned. Then came the statement, “Just what will be done after that time is undecided”

Plainly the services of an assistant director were indicated, one who could give his entire time to what had become a public demand. The players' exchequer would not permit such expenditure.

There was immediate reaction on the part of the members of the Community to the Player's announcement. Letters to the editor appeared, telephone calls increased, and the grape-vine flourished. One particular letter is typical of audience thinking.

Editor of the Ypsilanti Press: “…There must be some way to keep the Ypsilanti Players active. Does anyone know how? We've been sitting back watching our neighbors entertain us. If there is anything we can do at last, I almost think we'll be found on the spot. But just how?

Another letter writer offered $100 and contributions came spontaneously from Players and Patrons alike toward the salary of an assistant director. After careful canvassing of the field, Mr. Paul Stevenson was engaged.

He arrived in the fall of 1924. Paul Stevenson had an unusual background for this new position. He had worked and studied with many of the greats of the theatre. He had been a member of Dr. Baker's famous 47 workshop at Harvard; he had played under the direction of Max Reinhardt in Europe. Only the reputation of the Ypsilanti Players for a high standard of experimentation and creativity interested him in coming to Ypsilanti. The tenth season began and the community relaxed - they had saved the day.

The children of the Players gave a pantomime based on Stuart Walker's THE SEVEN GIFTS. “The audience,” so says a member of that juvenile cast now an active business man, “was prepared to be amused, but instead it was inspired and amazed by the charming artlessness of the children.”

Events followed in comparatively rapid succession. A three-act play was attempted and its success led to more of the same type. A study class was formed, “its object will be to make the acquaintance of the modern successful plays.”

Paul Stevenson stayed only until greener fields and wider horizons claimed him and eventually the directing of the plays reverted to the members who had grown most adept at that task.

Again an assistant director was hired. He lent his talent to the staging of one of the Players' most outstanding ventures. Many members of those long ago audiences feel the Players had reached the acme of perfection in their dramatic arrangement of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem of the Ancient Mariner. “A fantastic illusion for those who abandon themselves to its spell, to feel its movements, to see its sights.” A repeat performance was given in the Wuerth Theatre of Ypsilanti under the auspices of the Committee for Student Welfare of the Michigan State Normal College. An invitational program for the Players of Detroit was given at their Playhouse.

In the same season, we find those versatile players giving a performance of Ten Nights in a Bar Room,…staged in strict adherence to the period and the mood pervading the original piece in the theatre of another generation.”

Again the Players found themselves without an assistant director and again the players assumed that task themselves. But the little playhouse was weary of well doing. It had reached a stage of decrepitude which was beyond repair. No longer could the much patched and leaky roof, nor the crumbling foundation be ignored. It was decided to give all future plays in the auditorium of the St. Luke's Church House and to use the old playhouse for storage.

Play after play was given with apparent success under the direction of what might be termed amateurs whom experience had made them professional. Such plays as Is Zat So by James Gleason and Richard Tabor, directed by Leo Whitmire; Hay Fever by Noel Coward, also directed by Leo; Saturday’s Children by Maxwell Anderson, directed by Eleanor Meston and Edith Shaefer.

All of these activities bring us to the sixteenth season, 1930–31, when The Romantic Young Lady, a comedy in three acts by G. Martinez Sierra, directed by Leo Whitmire, was given as the “only bill” of that season. Few of the players and none of the audience sensed that they were indeed attending the last performance of the Ypsilanti Players. And so without benefit of requiem the Ypsilanti Players drew the last curtains. The belongings of the organization were disbursed; the building demolished and the ground on which it stood became a part of Riverside Park in Ypsilanti.

However, a group of Ypsilantians met in the living-room of one of those long ago child players and the Ypsilanti Players experienced a rebirth. D. L. Quirk, Jr., was there to share his wisdom which he had garnered through a lifetime of living with the theatre and to give his blessing. In the last pages of his scrap book are to be found programs of the reactivated group. The first program was I Remember Mama and was dedicated to the man with vision, Mr. D. L. Quirk, Jr. The insignia of the original group is to be found on the programs of the current group and the unique bill board of old announces the plays of 1957.

(The above articles were written by Eleanor Meston, an early and active member of the Ypsilanti Players. Miss Meston was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and received both her B.A. and M.A. from Teachers' College of Columbia University, New York City, N.Y. She taught kindergarten at Roosevelt School from 1914 to 1956. In 1976 when this article was written she resided at the Gilbert Residence. She died at age 90 in 1978. Her obituary indicated that “…for many years, Miss Meston gathered Gilbert residents in a lounge and read them the daily newspaper.”)

(Editors Note: In 1982 the Ypsilanti Players honored eleven Ypsilanti women who played “leading roles” in the Ypsilanti community at a dinner party with musical tributes featuring songs appropriate to each woman and her contributions to the community. The women recognized were Ann Cleary Kettles, Mary Louise Foley, Nathalie Edmunds, Patsy Chandler, Thada Liskow, Jane Bird, Ethel Howard, Camilla Damoose, Libby Fuller, Joan Helkaa, and Beverly Shankwiler. The Ypsilanti Players theater group continued into the late 1990’s when their last productions were staged. Some members joined other groups that had already started to produce local plays at the Riverside Arts Center, including PTD Productions, Orpheus, Redbud, and Phoenix; but the Ypsilanti Players name has not re-appeared.

Photo Captions:

Photo 1: Daniel L. Quirk Jr. started the “Ypsilanti Players” in 1915 and played many roles during the early years of the theatre.

Photo 2: In 1916 a barn behind the Ladies Library became the home of the “Ypsilanti Players.”

Photo 3: The stage in the original “Players Playhouse” took up about half the space but there was still room for a audience of 50 people.

Photo 4: Daniel Quirk convinced Carl Kaufman, a young man who had arrived in Ypsilanti via a boxcar, to take a part in the play “On Vengeance Height.”

Photo 5: This was the invitation sent out in 1916 for the first play open to the public in the Players Playhouse.

Photo 6: During the 1916-17 season, the Ypsilanti Players put on “Helena’s Husband.”

Photo 7: During the 1922-23 season, the Ypsilanti Players put on “Buying Culture.”

Photo 8: During the 1923-24 season, the Ypsilanti Players put on “The Little Man.”

Photo 9: During the 1924-25 season, the Ypsilanti Players put on “Calib Stone’s Death Watch.”

"We're ready for our close-up, Mr. DeMille": Movie history still being made in Ypsilanti

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Winter 2011,
Winter 2011
Original Images:

Author: Tom Dodd

One year after filming Anatomy of a Murder in Michigan’s upper peninsula in 1959, Hollywood came back here for more. They followed with Where the Boys Are in 1960, The Betsy in 1978, and Chris- topher Reeve and Jane Seymour’s romantic Somewhere in Time at the Serpentine Pool in front of Mackinac Island’s Grand Hotel in 1980.

There’s a lot more movie action here to- day and, with recent offers of tax credits, there’s a renewal of interest in shooting films in Michigan. In 2010, Michelle Beg- noche, of the Michigan Film Office, said, “Conviction, Stone, Trust, Vanishing on 7th Street, and What’s Wrong With Virgin- ia represent 1,005 jobs and $39.8 million in investment in Michigan.”

Some of that largess has come to Ypsilanti in recent filming. Evil Genius Entertainment discovered our camera-ready profiles for their low-budget flics as early as 1997 with Deadeye. In 2002 EGE featured Witchunter with downtown developer Eric Maurer in a starring role. In 2004, EGE brought out Living Dead World, “a drunken redneck zombie” type of flic, said Christine Laughren in the Ypsilanti Citizen. In 2009, EGE featured shots made in Park Street and, in some scenes, Depot Town’s clock can be seen in their production of The 6th Extinction.

Following these early efforts, more film companies began to take over Ypsilanti’s streets. 2008 saw Drew Barrymore and her Texas roller derby buds bellying up to the bar at the Elbow Room as they filmed Whip It, pretending to be indie-rock-loving misfits in Bodeen, Texas.

Movie-goers love to watch location shots at the Sidetrack, Freeman & Bunting, and Roy’s Drive-In in the 2009 Hillary Swank/ Sam Rockwell/Minnie Driver production of Conviction. The working title of Betty Ann Waters was dropped after work was completed here. Thomas Basinger’s old green pick-up truck, usually seen parked in front of his home on River Street, got almost as much camera-time as Swank and Driver.

Filming of Stone was interrupted in 2010 when an intoxicated woman accosted Robert DeNiro saying she was a fan of his. Who would have thought they would see DeNiro coming down the steps from his office above Congdon’s ACE Hardware?

Parallel Media knocked out High School in 2010, where Adrien Brody, Michael Chiklis, and Colin Hanks tell of a vale- dictorian who gets baked with the local stoner and finds himself the subject of a drug test. How did they ever come up with a far-fetched plot like that?

Locals marveled at Emily Blunt jumping over snow banks on Washington Street in June of 2011 for the filming of Five-Year Engagement that follows the tribulations of a couple’s long engagement.

Also in 2011, we saw Teresa Palmer and Liam Hemsworth enjoying the great food tradition of the Wolverine Restaurant in the 1970s-themed film AWOL. Ypsilanti’s City Hall was a stand-in for the Ann Ar- bor Police Department in this story of the U-M campus during the anti-Vietnam War movement.

Local movie-goers agree that it is difficult to follow the plot while keeping an eye out for well-known local attractions. “Oh, look! There’s the lamp in Auntie Jane’s window. Now she’s a movie star!”

[Tom Dodd does design and layouts for GLEANINGS where his job is to make all the stories come down to the bottom of the page]

Controversy at Ypsilanti's Nickelodeon

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Fall 2012,
Fall 2012
Original Images:

Author: Laura Bien

This story previously appeared in the Ypsilanti Courier.

Ypsilanti’s first movie theater wasn’t the Martha Washington at Washington and Pearl (now the Déjà Vu) or the Wuerth on Michigan Avenue (now a salon adjacent to the Wolverine Grill). In 1907, a tiny nickelodeon opened in a former grocer’s shop on the west side of North Huron, just north of the present-day Dalat.

In its earliest days, The Vaudette didn’t show movies, but still images from a turn-of-the-century slide projector called a stereopticon. Resembling a lantern-camera hybrid, the stereopticon had a slot in which a glass plate with an image could be inserted. A variety of illuminants were used including kerosene, acetylene gas, and an apparatus that burned a piece of the white alkaline material lime in an oxyhydrogen gas flame, giving rise to the technical and later metaphorical term “lime-light.”

Visitors to the Vaudette who had paid their nickel could choose one of the forty or so plain wooden chairs arranged on the old grocery store’s wooden floor, facing the small makeshift screen in back. To the side of the screen sat an upright piano at which a woman played popular pieces of the day to accompany the images being changed by her son Russell at the stereopticon. Pianist Elizabeth was accompanied by her husband, singer Bert Reader, a former local barber who’d founded the Vaudette.

Bert’s English-born parents Thomas and Eliza had had their six children in three different countries. Their first, Comfort, was born in England. The family immigrated to Canada around 1860, where Lizzie, Josie, William, and Edward were born. Around 1875 the family moved to Michigan, settling in Ypsilanti. Bert, Thomas and Eliza’s last child, was born just a few days before July 4, 1876 - his parents gave him the middle name of Centennial.

In July of 1896, Bert married Elizabeth Myers, the Michigan-born daughter of German immigrant parents, in Essex, Ontario. The couple settled in Ypsilanti on River Street, moving in a few years to a house at 728 Lowell on the north side of town near the present-day EMU campus. Bert worked as a barber at his brother William’s shop, the Opera House Shaving Parlors, at 222 Michigan Avenue. Elizabeth kept house and tended their toddler Russell.

When the grocer’s shop at 19 North Huron closed, Bert purchased it and became a theater manager. If Bert had the genial gregarious nature of a good barber, it carried over well into his new career of entertaining the public, as he was well-known and well-liked in town.

Bert rode his bicycle to work. An accident resulted in a front-page story in the May 17, 1909 Ypsilanti Daily Press. One sub-headline read, “Residents Living in Vicinity of Forest Avenue and Hamilton Street Highly Edified by Spectacular Exhibition. The proprietor of the local moving [picture] theater, it is said, was gaily bowling along Forest Avenue mounted on his steel steed, [and whistling ‘In the Good Old Summertime,’]” said the article. In cutting across a vacant lot, Bert ran into a wire that someone had erected to keep passersby off the grass. “The wheel stopped-the whistle stopped-everything stopped but Mr. Reader,” said the paper. “He kept right on going and those who saw the evolutions he made declare that he is perfectly competent to draw $1,000 a week at any summer resort. Mr. Reader is not saying much, but he walks with a perceptible limp.”

The Vaudette customarily did not advertise in the Daily Press, but it made one exception around Thanksgiving of 1910, when it ran an ad for a screening of the blockbuster film “The Life of Moses.” Unlike the usual one-reel silent movies shown at nickelodeons, this film’s five reels took 90 minutes to play. Bert charged 25 and 35 cents [$5.80 to $8 today], with a Thanksgiving discount price of 10 cents. Other popular 1910 films included the sentimental “Abraham Lincoln’s Clemency,” an early, 13-minute version of “The Wizard of Oz,” a 16-minute version of “Frankenstein,” the nine-minute documentary “A Day in the Life of a Coal Miner,” the four-minute “Aeroplane Flight and Wreck,” and one of the earliest stop-motion films, the four-minute “The Automatic Moving Company,” about furniture moving itself into a house.

One 1910 movie sparked controversy in Ypsilanti over the issue of whether it should be shown at all. The film was of a famous boxing match between the world heavyweight champion, Jack Johnson, and former champion James Jeffries. Born in 1878 to two former slaves, Johnson ascended through the boxing ranks to win in 1903 what was then called the “World Colored Heavyweight Championship.” Johnson offered to fight the then-world heavyweight champion Jeffries, who refused. In 1908 Johnson caused a sensation by defeating Canadian Tom Burns in Australia for the world heavyweight championship. This triumph brought Jeffries out of retirement to challenge Johnson. On July 4, 1910, Reno hosted the “Fight of the Century.” When Johnson defeated Jeffries, winning $65,000 [$1.5 million in today’s dollars], black Americans celebrated and were attacked in race riots that broke out around the country. Multiple deaths were reported, especially in the South.

The film of the fight was widely banned, lest it reignite similar violence. When Bert Reader wrote to the film company to ask if he could show it, many Ypsilantians were apprehensive. The Daily Press asked the mayor if he would forbid the film’s screening at the Vaudette.

“Whether or not the Johnson-Jeffries fight picture will be shown in Ypsilanti is as yet an uncertain problem,” said the July 25, 1910 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “ . . . When asked if the pictures would be allowed, [the mayor] said, ‘I shall not interfere.’ The matter would be decided, concluded the paper, by the police commissioner. Ypsilanti police may have vetoed the screening, as no mention of it appears in subsequent issues of the paper.

By 1910, the era of opulent movie palaces was beginning, and that of dingy storefront nickelodeons was fading. The Daily Press condemned the Vaudette as a firetrap. The Press singled out the theater’s lack of safe fire exits and made reference to a recent nickelodeon fire in Dowagiac. There, the flammable celluloid film caught fire and the blaze destroyed the theater.

Bert closed the Vaudette around 1912 and returned to working as a barber. In 1915 the Martha Washington opened, offering plush blue seats and elegant decorations in place of wooden chairs in a bare room. The Wuerth opened. Eventually, the Vaudette’s building was demolished. Its onetime owner nearly lived to see a second centennial; he died in 1965 and with his wife and son is buried in St. John’s Cemetery.

Today the Vaudette’s onetime site is a parking lot, but a century ago, small audiences in front of a rattling film projector watched the magic of silent movies.

(Laura Bien is the author of “Hidden History of Ypsilanti” and “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives.” She can be contacted at

Photo Caption:

Photo 1: A 1919 ad for a screening of the film “The Life of Moses”

Chautauqua's Coming

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2012,
Summer 2012
Original Images:

Author: Tom Dodd

CHAUTAUQUA an attempt to put the “heritage” back into our festival

Supporters from all over the Ypsilanti community have come together to bring more history and historical events back into our annual Ypsilanti Heritage Festival. The popular, and mostly free event, has “grown like Topsy” over the past 35 years with decreasing emphasis on our heritage.

(“Topsy” was a character in Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe. When asked whether she knew who made her [whether she had heard of God], she replied “I expect I grow’d” [grew]. When we say something “just grew, like Topsy” we indicate something that has gradually become very large.)

Ypsi's local festival grew from a 1970s gas-saving vacation concept to a regional event that outdrew the Michigan State Fair. In its phenomenal growth, carnival-like attractions overshadowed the event’s historical themes.

In an effort to return to the Festival’s origin, a committee has planned a two-day Chautauqua-like event at the Riverside Arts Center. In nineteenth century tradition, Chautauqua at the Riverside will feature lectures, performances, panel discussions, exhibits, and educational entertainments on many facets of Ypsilanti’s history.

• War of 1812 Bicentennial - “Ypsilanti’s Role in the Surrender of Detroit to the British” by author Anthony J. Yanik
• Civil War Sesquicentennial - Jeff O’Den on how the Underground Railroad continued here during the Civil War
Michigan History magazine editor, Patricia Majher moderates a panel of history writers
• “The Story of Willow Run: How Detroit Saved the World” - a 1944 Ford Motor Company film
• “We Hear America Singing” - The Ypsilanti Community Choir encourages us to sing along with them
• “Songs That Made a Nation” - The American Civil War: 1861-1865”, the Dodworth Saxhorn Band re-creates the band that dominated the New York music scene from 1836 to 1891 in concerts, at balls, social events, political rallies, and many U.S. presidential inaugurations
• Mayor Schreiber moderates a panel of Ypsilanti’s Historical Society, Heritage Foundation, Historic District Commission, and EMU’s historic preservation program

[Tom Dodd is a member of the Festival’s history committee and promoter of the Chautauqua program.]

Ypsilanti Parades

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Summer 2012,
Summer 2012
Original Images:

We remember Hometown parades

Ypsilantians love a parade and we have lots of them in our town. Most of Ypsilanti’s parades have hundreds of folks marching and thousands more on the sidelines watching and waving. Some newer and shorter parades encourage the folks on the sidewalk to get up and walk in the street with them. Like Garrison Keillor’s fictitious “Lake Wobegon,” sometimes we have to participatae in the parade and then get a place on the sidewalk and watch the rest of the parade go by. It’s a continuous process and one that is enjoyed by all.

Ypsilanti’s notable parades include homecomings for all the schools and colleges in the area, the solemn Memorial Day example––which is not a parade at all, but a procession, the oldest Independence Day Parade in the state, and the 35-year-old Heritage Parade that celebrate’s our community’s proud history.

Other parades that pop up intermittently have included a Santa Claus Parade, St. Patrick’s Day Parade, and countless line-ups of vintage vehicles. This July will see the famed Great Race vintage vehicles finish their route around the Great Lakes as they stop here for lunch on the way to the finish line at Dearborn’s Henry Ford.

[Photo caption from original print edition]: In 1937, the American Legion sponsored the Fourth of July Parade on Michigan Ave. [Fletcher-White Archives]

It's a Test! Timeless Apothegems

Published In:
Ypsilanti Gleanings, Spring 2012,
Spring 2012
Original Images:

Author: Peter Fletcher

Seniors should remember these old fashioned sayings and be able to complete them. Youngsters can gain great wisdom from studying them.
1. You can lead a horse to water...
2. Busier than a lamb's tail...
3. Colder than a well digger's lunch...
4. So busy I don't know if I am...
5. I have had a wonderful evening...
6. There is no inherently criminal class in America...
7. It was a woman who drove me to drink...
8. Politics is...
9. Behind every successful man is...
10. The biggest mouths are invariably attached to...
11. An honest politician is one who...
12. The longer the obituary...
13. Successful office holders support...
14. The sun never sets on the British empire...
15. He looks like the breaking up...
16. Old age is...
17. A woman is only a woman...
18. We are looking for custom-made relationships...
19. To err is human...
20. I have a head cold.

See page 30 for answers.

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