Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chickens, Bees, and...Pigs!

Ypsilanti has chickens. It also has bees. If anyone is contemplating a campaign to restore its onetime pigs, that would be, if nothing else, historically accurate. Here's a 1919 ad from the Daily Ypsilantian-Press about a guy living in the Water Street area offering for sale a complete set of pigs. You get the sow and 11 darling piglets. He's just east of the railroad bridge, right by Sesi Mazda there, kinda across the street from the time-warp known as Ypsi Mobile Village. You might like to stop by and look over those wee porkers!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Wednesday Mystery Spot

This 1919 Daily Ypsilantian-Press story covers the news from Carpenter's Corners. At this time, this was a recognized locale, and appears on old plat maps (dangit, I may have given it away right there).

It was named for a onetime farmer in the area and was a li'l settlement back in the day. But where was it?

Dusty D is choosing this article for this week's Mystery Spot in a so-far-unsuccessful attempt to stump the uber-history-experts out there. With this one, you don't even have a pic to go on. Heh. OK, y'all, where was Carpenter's Corners? (rubs hands with glee!)

It's the Modern Sanitary Way

It is a satisfaction to know that your clothes are washed in your own home--that they have not come in contact with clothes from other families, nor been handled by people of questionable health.

The Electric Washing Machine is fast becoming a part of the equipment of every modern home.

Not a luxury--but a sanitary necessity.


Dusty D is always fascinated by the manner in which advertising uses psychological techniques, and this 1919 Daily Ypsilantian-Press ad is a good example. First is an appeal to xenophobia (because "other families," of course, are likely not as clean as your own). Then there's a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses note about the "modern home"--is yours as modern? There's an assumption, of course, that "modern" is better than "old fashioned," which (being pedantic here) is not always true. Last, a remark about sanitation--good heavens, one wouldn't want to run an unsanitary house. Never mind that the old wooden tub-style washers probably delivered as sanitary results as the new electric ones--it's the same deal, after all, just unelectrified.

This ad appears to have worked, though, since Dusty D is signing checks to Detroit Edison to this day, a secret crush on Tesla notwithstanding (sigh).

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Dec. 23 Tues. Letter from Freida. Dentist this morning, filled a tooth. $1.00. Delivered the Webb presents. Called on the Hayes's + Edna Simpson. Knit.

Dec. 24 Wed. Went down town. Christmas shopping done. Knit to finish Catherine's sweater. Not finished.

Dec. 25 Thurs. Catherine's sweater done. Lillian + I were at Rob's for dinner. So were Mr. + Mrs. Reed, Paul, wife, + son.

Dec. 26 Fri. L. + I went to the Martha in the Afternoon. Not feeling very brisk this day after Christmas. My insurance company has dropped me.

Dec. 27 Sat. Worked nearly all day. Went over home, Rob gave me a silver pencil for Christmas + Lillian the tatted lunch cloth.

Dec. 28 Sun. Mrs. Breakey does not like the insurance so's action. I don't care. At 10:30 left for Detroit with 2 little suits for Robert. [smaller handwriting, as if added later}: Too small.

Dec. 29 Mon. Washed and ironed. Cleaned the two front room. Exchanged Roberts' suits + sent them parcel post. Citizens vote tonight about building Prospect school [now Adams Elementary].

Dec. 30 Tues. Decided to wait for bids rather than adopt the "cost plus" plan. Went over to Ann Arbor + bo't waist. Carrie + Sara Lewis + L. were here this Eve.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Friday, December 25, 2009

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

Last week, you may remember that Allie finished out the school term with a 9.9 in History and a 10 in Philosophy. She picked up her photo and danced with Ann Arbor boys at dancing school.

Dec. 18 Fri. Have passed examinations after all the fuss. 9.9 in History and 10 in Philosophy. After school we went into the laboratory and took electric shocks. Had a good time in general. Pinned Lane's overcoat pockets and sleeves up. There were many happy New Years and we gave three cheers and parted. A happy set of girls. Went up to the Normal Public. Had an elegant time.

Dec. 19 Sat. Felt miserable all day. Carrie N. came down in the afternoon and stayed to tea. Went to dancing school and had quite a nice time although there were no Ann Arbor boys. It was not as nice as last week. The girls went up to see them dance for a little while. The German was introduced tonight.

Dec. 20 Sun. Did not go to church this morning, but went to Sunday School. Walked down with Carrie N. Read and wrote in the afternoon. There was a fire in the evening, but it did not amount to anything, but was just at church time so I didn't go. The girls went to Uncle John's and stayed to dinner in the afternoon.

Dec. 21 Mon. Went over to Mrs. Worden's in the afternoon. Had a grand time and worked on Ma's present, a beautiful night dress, all embroidering and tucks. I cut the scallops in the hem. Made autumn leaves out of wax in the evening. Gay time in the evening.

Dec. 22 Tues. Colored my autumn leaves this afternoon and made them into a beautiful bouquet for Aunt Lizzie. Went to Carrie's. Had a good time. Mary and I went up and got Marion a present of a plain gold ring. Got a letter from Anna, just splendid.

Dec. 23 Wed. Marion and I went out to M. W.'s this afternoon to call and got there just before Vie was to be married. They insisted upon our staying. Had a very nice time. Marion stayed all night and V. went on her wedding tour and I rode home all alone. Mary spent the day at Aunt Lizzie's.

Dec. 24 Thurs. Went up town this morning with Ma and got every so many Christmas presents. Ma got me a new black Alpaca dress. I went up to the Temperance Hall where they are fixing a tree and left things for the boys.

Dec. 25 Fri. Christmas. Besides my dress I got for Christmas a pair of nice black kids, a beautiful tie and a pair of mittens, a bottle of very nice perfumery and a [jetton] belt and buckle and a half dollar in silver. Ma got her castor, my picture, her night dress and gold rimmed spectacles. Mary got gold cuff buttons and others.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

When the lights went on in Ypsi for the very first time

Twinkly lights, blinking lights, glowing lights all around town...like to read about the very first time the lights went on in Ypsi? Here's my story about it, in today's Courier (thanks Austen!)

Michigan's Lumbering Past

Dusty D occasionally teases her non- Michigan- born sweetie with tales of legendary Michigan toughness. This morning I was all over the Weather Underground while he was attempting to get ready for work.

"That storm they were talking about went over Lake Michigan," I announced, having nerdily scrutinized the regional radar. "But there's another blop coming up from Indianapolis."
"It's just as well it missed us."
"Honey...you should WELCOME adverse weather conditions," I said. "Think about Michigan's lumbering past!"
He made motions like a waddling elephant.
"Not THAT kind of lumbering...logs! Sawmills! This is the time of year when the lumbering season would start. They worked in winter, because it was easier to get the logs out as opposed to mushy spring or summer."
Sweetie made a noise, while looking for socks, that I interpreted as appreciative of being lectured on Michigan's 19th-century lumbering industry.
"A lot of 'em would come down to Ypsilanti after the season," I informed him. "Don't forget, they were working up there without Thinsulate or Polar Tec [clothing]..."
"But they had whiskey."
"They had whiskey...whiskey and large sharpened tools is a great combination..."

Seriously...hours of back-breaking work wearing inadequate clothing, only to come back to bunk in an uninsulated cabin and be fed some sort of iffy grub...that was the life for Michigan lumbermen. They were tough. Tough in a way that's forgotten today. You wonder why they did it--well, that was the only job available for a lot of them, so it was lumber or starvation. Working in snow, hail, and freezing rain...so a blip on the weather radar, though it may throw us into a tizzy, was just SOP for them. Dusty D has respect for those leathery old lumbermen. Here's a virtual shot of whiskey poured for them.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Shopping in 1878

AT E. SAMSON'S: From the Big Doll that occupies the show window to the case of elegant Christmas-tree decorations in the rear of the store, it would be hard to find a more complete or more elegant stock of holiday goods than that with which Mr. Samson delights his buyers. There are handsome velvet frames, the pretty doors of which open to show fine photographs; there are photograph albums of the latest patterns; glove and handkerchief boxes in profusion; Japanese goods, queerly queer; German bon-bon boxes made to represent bread and pigeons, and American boxes to represent gold and silver coins; fish, balloons, colored globes, and transparencies for Christmas-trees, and a new style of safety fasteners for tree candles. All sorts of banks to allure the candy-ward-disposed penny; wither a dog takes the coin and trots into the house with it, or, better still, a rifleman fires it into the place of deposit and a bell gives notice that another "penny saved is two cents gained." Space forbids a longer recount and we can only say, Go to see for yourselves. --Ypsilanti Commercial, December 23, 1878.


AT THE EMPORIUM.--Mr. Frank Smith has no intention of letting anyone outshine him in the way of Christmas goods. Among the novelties at his store are an automatic horizontal bar performer, a swift velocipede rider, a large toy harp, and some new styles in magic lanterns. At the Emporium, Christmas candy buyers actually get two pounds of candy for twenty-five cents. Mt. Smith keeps not only toys for the little ones but also books, the latest and best, for the maturer heads; cigars for the lovers of the week, besides a large stock of albums, bronzes, etc. --Ypsilanti Commercial, December 23, 1878.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bonus Images for Ypsilanti Citizen Story

The Citizen today published my story on Ypsilanti's newest boutique, "Mix." Here are some additional images to accompany the story! Postin' 'em here only because they are enlargeable, so you can embiggen 'em and scrutinize the details. Thanks to the Citizen for publishing my story!

Top section of the poster for the "Continental Vocalists" who performed at Hewitt Hall in 1856.





















The second section of the singers' broadside poster.





















This 19th-century image shows Hewitt Hall and a portion of Michigan Ave.

















This 1916 image shows Ray Fletcher at left, John Burkheiser at right, and Lewis Tyler on ladder, renovating 130 W. Michigan Ave.
















A 1934 image of a parade, with Hewitt Hall in the background.














A late-1920s image of the northeastern corner of Michigan Ave. and Washington, showing the original third-floor Hewitt Hall.

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Dec. 16 Tues. School fair. More report work. Faculty play being rehearsed. Sold 18 tickets. School Board gives bonus of $100.

Dec. 17 Wed. Today there were two performances in P.M. + one in Eve of faculty play. No school this P.M. but I worked there all day.

Dec. 18 Thurs. Draft from Central Business Men's Asso'n for $99.43 for last summer's illness. Rec'd $155 ($25 bonus) for school Mo.

Dec. 19 Fri. Handed in my report for the month before leaving the building. Knitting hard on Catherine's sweater. Bath.

Dec. 20 Sat. Van cleaned for me $1.20. Did a little Christmas shopping. Went over to Mrs. Hutching's for loaf of home made bread $.20 Knit.

Dec. 21 Sun. Knit nearly all day. No church. Van went into Detroit. Mr. Ross caring for furnace. Shall rest some this vacation. H's chick $40.

Dec. 22 Mon. More Christmas plans. Went down town 3 times. Knit. Lillian over in evening. Mr. Ross came in also.

Dec. 23 Tues. Letter from Freida. Dentist this morning, filled a tooth. $1.00. Delivered the Webb presents. Called on the Hayes's + Edna Simpson. Knit.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Monday, December 21, 2009

The History of Popcorn in Ypsilanti

...is a curious one. Dusty D is diggin' down to the unpopped kernels ["known as "old maids" or "spinsters"] of history. As it were. The most curious fact I've uncovered thus far, aside from a two-man popcorn shop on Michigan Avenue in 1860s Ypsilanti [?!], is that popcorn used to be eaten as a breakfast food. This is before the advent of Kellogg's panoply of flakes and chips and things with raisins. Hearken now to this 1918 tidbit from the periodical "Simmon's Spice Mill": a poem about breakfast cereals followed by a tidbit of popcorn history:

The package cereal is one of the greatest of American inventions. It has revolutionized the food habits of the nation and bids fair to sweep round the world. It is cleanly, convenient and wholesome and it permits the housewife to cater to the diverse, diverted and diverting tastes of her family. Many a household can rival the famous Spratts:

Lycurgus votes for Father's Oats;
Proggins appeals to May;
The Junior John subsists upon
Uneeda Bayla Hay.*

Corrected Wheat for little Pete;
Flaked Pine for Dot; while Bub
The infant Spratt is waxing fat
On Battle Creek Near-Grub.**

But the pioneer of American cereals, pop corn, has been overshadowed by its later and more aggressive rivals for it is modest and fails to advertise. It masquerades under no curiosity compelling name and bears no pretty girl on its carton. Yet there is nothing more toothsome, delightsome and wholesome than a dish of freshly popped corn—and nothing half so cheap. Its fluffy and fantastic flakes are crisp yet crunchable and their starch has been made soluble by the pressure of superheated steam. The process has been ingeniously extended to other cereals and we now have puffed rice and wheat shot out of a cannon. But the pop-corn kernel is its own autoclave and any kitchen can prepare it. Fireplace or stove, coals or gas, wire cage or iron spider can be used and ten minutes will suffice to put it fresh and hot upon the breakfast table. It can be sugared or salted; it can be savored with syrup or butter; it can be mingled with berries or served with meat. It can take the place of potatoes and other foods in their various uses. In any shape it is a dish fit for an American citizen.

*probably a parody of Uneeda Biscuits, made by the National Biscuit Company, the forerunner of Nabisco.
**"Battle Creek Near-Grub" suggests that even back in the day, some people found Kellogg's novel new health foods rather weird and only quasi-food, or, "near-grub."

Friday, December 18, 2009

This Day in Ypsi History: A Minister Struggles against Widespread Inebriation

On December 18, 1829, Presbyterian Reverend William Jones organized the city's first Temperance society. He was scandalized at the city's moral laxitude, which included the unrestrained pitching of quoits (similar to pitching horseshoes) in present-day Riverside Park on the Lord's Day. The city's first distillery had been built three years earlier. Jones said, on arrival in town from New York:

"I arrived at Ypsilanti on October 3, 1829, and found the people without a church, and in a deplorable condition. Almost the whole village, with few exceptions, were given over to the unrestrained indulgence in intoxicating drinks. The holy Sabbath was openly desecrated by revelry, drunkenness, and the pitching of quoits on the banks of the river. The first Sabbath after my arrival, as they were without even a schoolhouse or a public room for meeting, I met the people in a private dwelling; but the fetid breath of intoxication sensibly impregnated and polluted the atmosphere of the room. These things were literally true. I entered the field under heart-sickening' circumstances. I felt that nothing could be done until the people were restored to sobriety. So I invited different neighborhoods together and read to them Dr. Beecher's sermons on the use of intoxicating drinks. Attention was arrested, a temperance society was formed in Ypsilanti; and from thence the temperance reformation spread through the county." --Past and Present of Washtenaw County

That last "from thence" was a tad overstated--the cause of Temperance waxed and waned in Ypsilanti for the next century, until Prohibition began.'And Jones didn't even bother to try and ban beer and wine, but allowed the consumption of these milder drinks since it would have been impossible to ban alcohol outright.

Jones did not last for even a year in Ypsi. He was replaced by the summer of 1830. The subjects of Jones' first and last sermons here in town hint that he did not make much headway with his Temperance movement. The first sermon he preached here was based on the text "Fear not, little flock—it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom."

His last one was based on the text "Up, get ye out of this place, for the Lord will destroy it."

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

Last week, you may remember that Allie celebrated Thanksgiving, finished sewing on her hat and sack [sacque], and had her picture taken as a Christmas present for her mom.

Dec. 11 Fri. Talked almost all the afternoon with J. S. Had a gay time. Snowed some. Had a headache so I thought it would be better to stay at home tonight and not go to either Lyceum. Seemed rather strange.

Dec. 12 Sat. Went up to Carrie's and stayed until almost time to go to dancing school. Came home and got ready in a hurry. Enjoyed myself more tonight than I have before. Danced with two Ann Arbor fellows. Got a letter from E. [Emma Stone] and an invitation to the masquerade ball.

Dec. 13 Sun. Has been raining, is very icy. Went to Church and to S. S. Cousins N. and B. were here to dinner. Wrote a letter in the afternoon to Anna and one to Joe, who is sick of teaching in a country school. Read some old letters this afternoon from persons almost forgotten.

Dec. 14 Mon. Carrie N. was down here tonight for a little while. It is perfectly lovely, wish it was sleighing so that I could take a ride. Had a jolly time in school today, but missed the last part of the lesson in History, the first time this term.

Dec. 15 Tue. Had a magnificent time all day. The girls went up and got a beautiful castor [a beaver hat, or a sugar shaker? dunno -ed.] for Ma's Christmas present. They are whispering a good deal and it almost sets me crazy. Will have to study very hard all the rest of the term.

Dec. 16 Wed. Will went up to the Fireman's Ball tonight. He wanted me to go, but I could not although I wanted to bad enough, when he commenced to get ready. Studied till after ten o'clock.

Dec. 17 Thurs. Jennie S. and I ran away from school the last hour this forenoon and stayed out the rest of the day. We had a good time. Went to get my picture. Good, but a little crack at the top. Let me have it, but wil print another. Gave it to Carrie. had a grand time there.

Dec. 18 Fri. Have passed examinations after all the fuss. 9.9 in History and 10 in Philosophy. After school we went into the laboratory and took electric shocks. Had a good time in general. Pinned Lane's overcoat pockets and sleeves up. There were many happy New Years and we gave three cheers and parted. A happy set of girls. Went up to the Normal Public. Had an elegant time.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Good Toys for Children

Readers, the hot toy this Christmas as you know is the Zhu Zhu Pet.

The Zhu Zhu Pet ($15-$41 on Amazon) is a motorized wheeled hamster (guinea pig size). It runs on 2 AAA batteries. It makes different noises when you touch it in 3 different areas. It can run around on the floor.

The Zhu Zhu Pet is not much fun, however, without its Habitrail-like home, which comes in various sections, all sold separately and all made of injection-molded plastic. There's the "funhouse" ($43), the ramp and slide ($32), the hamster wheel ($40), the garage ($25), starter set ($34), bed ($13), surfboard and sleep dome ($30), skateboard and U-turn ($25), the carrier, bed & 2 blankets set ($28), hamster wheels & tunnels set ($63), or deluxe playset ($197). If you buy all of the components listed above it will cost you $530. That's not counting buying the actual toy.

The sections without the toy, or the toy without its 2 AAA batteries, cannot be used for other purposes. You cannot paint a picture with them. Nor could you build a tower, working windmill, or working drawbridge. You could not use one to scoot down to the Dairy Queen, or build a castle on a rainy day. Nor could you use one to round up some pals and play a game of football, badminton, or croquet. You could not use one to plot your next chess move, or haul your baby brother. Nor could you sew a usable object to keep or give as a gift.

Nor would you own a durable object made of leather, wood, cloth, or metal, like a baseball glove or a cloth doll, to eventually end up, battered and worn, in the trunk in the attic. Only to be taken back out 50 years later by a now-wrinkled hand, for a moment of bittersweet nostalgia.

Ypsi Restaurant Inspections Started around WWII

Readers, do you, like me, enjoy reading restaurant inspection reports? Do you experience a frisson of horror to read about egregious violations? Moldy peppers? Drain flies? Slimy ice dispensers? Have you, via reading these reports, internalized all the little rules that must be in force in a restaurant? (cooler at 41 degrees, all food must be dated, sanitizing solution 200 ppm, how to quick-cool hot foods in a pan of ice in cooler).

Here's a gigantic list of recent restaurant inspection reports--choose "inspections" from the left-hand menu and then "Washtenaw" from the drop box. There are some doozies in there. Guess which one is the best of all, with almost no errors? Bill's Coney Dog on Michigan Ave (the li'l yellow shack). I checked it thinking it might be one of the worst--nope, it's tiptop. Another excuse to go there more often and nom down on coney dogs next summer! I ain't gonna say who's the worst, but you can read for yourself (shudder).

But when did it all start? Apparently around 1941. A November 25 Ypsilanti Daily Press story details what sounds like a new effort to examine "sanitary provisions and food serving methods." The article says the examination is "designed to determine how well food-handling facilities are standing up under increased patronage" from workers constructing the Ford bomber plant.

"A complaint charging local restaurants with serving too little food for prices set has been registered with the Board of Commerce by a bomber plant construction worker," notes the article. "The complaint has been referred to the county defense council, and is expected to be discussed at a luncheon meeting of the council in Hotel Huron Friday."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Do You Have a Man to Please?

Readers, if so--then please that man this Christmas with one of these dapper Lounging Robes!

Look how elegant yet comfortable they are. The gentleman on the right, after working hard all day to provide for the family, is kickin' back in his formal shoes, nice trousers, and lounging robe, and lighting a cheroot.

The gentleman on the left is sporting a slick bow-tie-lounging-robe combo. Nice!

Wouldn't your sweetie look even more handsome than usual in a nice, hot, slippery Rayon Robe? How about a Cocktail Coat? Those have smart satin stripes and are fully lined. At day's end, mix up a shaker of martinis, have your guy peel off the grey flannel suit and pop on the dashing Cocktail Coat, and watch his stress just drain away.

Make your selection over at Mellencamps (don't forget to pick up some war bonds and stamps while you're at it).

--Ypsilanti Daily Press, November 27, 1942

Baby Stolen from Buggy

When an Illinois mom left her baby in its buggy in front of a store, as was normal in 1942, she emerged only to find it gone--and the kidnapping was so unusual it made national news.

"The kidnapper had left the baby's pink blankets in the perambulator. The distraught parents asked the radio stations to broadcast the baby's food formula in the hope the kidnaper would take good care of him."

A police chief "said the kidnapper must be a demented person. He added, 'It's the most unusual case in my 30 years on the force.'" People were aghast that anyone would make off with any one of the babies commonly left outside stores while moms shopped.

Today, of course, they might arrest the mom instead, if she left her stroller outside Meijer's or Wal-mart.

--Ypsilanti Daily Press, November 25, 1942

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sleighs! Sleighs! Sleighs!

For the fun of contrast to the previous Congdon's "shiny things" Christmas ad, here's an ole-timey 1887 Ypsilantian newspaper ad offering pure-D Norman Rockwellesque nostalgia, to which Dusty D is not immune.

Ah, for the days when a simple, healthy outdoor wooden toy was The Thing. Plus, it's "strong enough got the big boys and fancy enough for the small ones." Join Dusty D in stopping by Alban and Johnson's today over on Congress, maybe during your lunch hour, and making a cash purchase of a boy's overcoat. Bingo--there's your Beautiful Sleigh. See you there.

Christmas Goodies from Congdon's, 1950

In Dusty D's experience reading the old papers, it's only after WWII that the Christmas shopping frenzy with which we are regrettably familiar kicks in.

People had lived through a decade of the Depression, then the rationing and tragic losses of a world war. Once the economy reverted to peacetime, with no more need for bombers or tanks or other wartime needs, it began producing such consumer goods as these at left.

The wonderful downtown hardware store Congdon's has been in town a very long time as you can see; since at least the '30s if I remember correctly. Still a cool place to get practical Xmas items and neato, unusual yet useful li'l stocking stuffers.

"Stomp" in 1878

SOME NORMAL STUDENTS DROP INTO MUSIC

--On Saturday morning last, as the City Marshal was taking his walks abroad, he was startled by loud noises proceeding from that part of the city known as "Normaldom."

Repairing thither he found a band of twenty or more youths engaged, so they said, in serenading. The music not being music when it reached the ears of the Marshal, he requested them to stop, a thing which they promptly did. Before they had gone far, however, the fences were again made to act as drums, and semi-musical notes again rent the air.

Following up this chorus, the Marshal again made a request for quiet, remarking, by way of an aside, that he would be sorry to add to the list of boarders at the City Hall Hotel. Whereupon, one young gentleman remarked that during a long life he had never put up at any but first class hotels, and that he did not mean to begin now. The noise, however, was stopped, and soon that part of the city was locked in sleep.

The Marshal, thinking that the disturbance, if let alone, would be but the prelude to others of a graver character, and, after being requested so to do by the inhabitants of the Normal quarter, entered a complaint against two of the leaders of the chorus, and, on Monday morning called for them at the Principal's office. After a few characteristic words in support of the law, the Principal turned his students over to justice.

At first the choristers pleaded not guilty, but finally changed their plan and were, by the advice of the City Attorney, let off with costs amounting to about $8.00. This sum the chorus made up, and the boys declared that the singing was cheap enough for them.

--Ypsilanti Commercial, December 14, 1878

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Dec. 9 Tues. Pretty cold, but I am comfortable. School is going fairly well. Mr. P. asked me to average the Ind., B. G., + Est. by medians.

Dec. 10 Wed. Worked on averages + knit some. Went out to bed _cold_, last night, hence not very comfortable.

Dec. 11. Thurs. Worked in office both the 3rd + 4th hours. Mr. Piper left during the early part of the sixth hour. Teachers' players trouble for Gym.

Dec. 12 Fri. Mr Piper gone all day to Principals' convention. Attended the J. L. Hudson's concert in evening at Pease Auditorium.

Dec. 13 Sat. Worked in morning. Knit and finished Rob's mittens. Went down town with Lillian called on Miss Vandreger + May Webb.

Dec. 14 Sun. At 9 o'clock Lillian + I went down to Rob's in Lillian's new car. We were back at 1:10. Knit + tatted during P.M. + treated L's cold.

Dec. 15 Mon. The last week of the month. Reports received most of my spare time. Am making a sweater for Catherine. Pat Matron's night in O. E. S. [?]

Dec. 16 Tues. School fair. More report work. Faculty play being rehearsed. Sold 18 tickets. School Board gives bonus of $100.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Poetic Effusions Rejected

The editor of the Ypsilanti Commercial, the peppery C. R. Pattison, published an editorial in the December 15, 1877 paper telling readers to stop dropping off their original poetry at the paper's office at Cross and Huron. Though he's a bit snappish about it, the themes of the poems remind one that death was never far away not long ago.

"--Our readers have no idea of the number of poetic effusions sent or left at this office. They but rarely posses merit, though the authors imagine them gems of the first water. Unless of a very pertinent local character we cannot publish them. If we should publish all the love and sentimental poetry, especially relating to the loss and death of friends, cemeteries, heaven, etc., out readers would cry out in anguish of spirit, "Lord, have mercy!"

Ypsilanti City Ordinance: Throw a Snowball, Get 30 Days in Jail

With snow on the horizon, Dusty D would like to caution fellow Ypsilantians that a city ordinance bans citizens from the aerial casting of spheres of snow, informally known as throwing snowballs. Scofflaws get jail time. I hereby quote the ordinance, as printed in the December 8, 1877 Ypsilanti Commercial:

REVISED ORDINANCE NO. 2.

An Ordinance Relative to Throwing Stones, Snowballs, Pieces of Wood, and other solid substances.

The Common Council of the City of Ypsilanti orders:
Section 1. No person shall, in any public street or alley, or in any public ground or place, in said city, throw or hurl at or towards any building, window, public or private street, lamp, or at or towards any person, animal, or thing, any ball of snow, a mass of snow packed together or any piece of ice, or any stone, or any piece or block of wood, or any solid substance whatsoever.

Section 2. Any person violating the provisions of this ordinance shall, upon conviction, be punished by a fine of not less than one dollar, nor more than five dollars [$20-$100 dollars today], together with the costs of prosecution, and in failing to pay such fine and the costs of prosecution, may be imprisoned in the county jail, of the County of Washtenaw, for a term of not less than three not more than 30 days, unless such fine and the costs of prosecution be sooner paid...

Made and passed in Common Council this third day of December, A.D. 1877. Approved, December 4, 1877. L A. BARNES, Mayor.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Bonus diary today. Time to catch up! Whew!

Nov. 25 Tues. Am working in the library vacant hours. After school made a stew with dumplings at the Webb's again.

Nov. 26 Wed. Chapel this morning. 1st hour off. Mr. Olmstead talked. Mr. Piper + Ed Mosher sang solos. Had a seance with Helen Glass.

Nov. 27 Thurs. Ate Thanksgiving dinner with May Webb, her mother + aunt. In P.M. we saw Mary Pickford in "Hoodlum," at the Martha.

Nov. 28 Fri. A great many students absent. Scolded Guy Peppiatt. Faculty entertains first group of students. Miss Steere chairman.

Nov. 29 Sat. A stormy day-late in the P.M. the storm was severe, crippling traffic wires, etc. Milan + Adrian suffered.

Nov. 30 Sun. Went to church. Mr. Arbaugh's last day. Mr. Erickson begins tomorrow. Lillian over in P.M. She is tatting. Went to bed early.

Dec. 1 Mon. Gave test in Geom. Burtt Crippen starred. After supper helped Van with Trig. Washed blankets + went to bed early.

Dec. 2 Tues. Miss Hoffman entertained the teachers (some of them) upstairs at lunch. Fraser lectured at Normal in evening; J. Laird S. Lewis C. Leur [?] + I went.

Dec. 3 Wed. Kept those students after school who failed in class. Five stayed. In Eve, finished making my cap.

Dec. 4 Thurs. Mr. Erickson called the first teachers' meeting + read an address. First Athletic Council meeting to approve Y's + R's. [?] Saw Players.

Dec. 5 Fri. Miss Laird came in after school + we went down town. Lillian brought us home. Worked during 3rd + 4th hours on towel rack.

Dec. 6 Sat. Knitted nearly all day. Lillian came over in the afternoon-had pancakes for supper-then went to the movies.

Dec. 7 Sun. Made graham gems for breakfast. Gave Van [3? F? a grade?]. Did not go to church. Knit. Lillian over during P.M.

Dec. 8 Mon. Am knitting a pair of mittens for Rob and croqueting [crocheting?] a cap for Robert. Came home for dinner.

Dec. 9 Tues. Pretty cold, but I am comfortable. School is going fairly well. Mr. P. asked me to average the Ind., B. G., + Est. by medians.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

Phew, we have a bit of catching up to do. THank you for your patience. You may remember that recently Allie was getting used to dancing school, was irked by teacher Miss Pierce, and on accompanying her mother to the depot, "did not see ant very nobby fellows."

Nov. 20. Fri. It has snowed all day and so hard at night that I did not go to Lyceum. Read almost all the evening. Will went to Lyceum. Said he had a good time. Everyone wanted to know where I was, but I am glad that I did not go.

Nov. 21 Sat. Have got my hat and sack done. They look real nice. I went up to Carrie's. Had a good time. While I was there Minnie Bramble came in and we all went down town together. Met Jennie Shipman. Had a little talk. Got all ready to go to dancing school, but did not go. Reak all the evening.

Nov. 22 Sun. Went to Church in the morning and stayed to S. S. Carrie N. has taken a class. It rained when I came home. Read all the afternoon. It is lonesome without Ma. Did not go to Church in the evening. It just poured about time for it to be out.

Nov. 23 Mon. Will went to Pontiac today. It blows a perfect Hurricane. Had a splendid time in school, especially coming home after school. Wanted to go up to Carrie's but it was too windy tonight.

Nov. 24 Tues. Went up to Aunt Lizzie's this afternoon. Did not go to school. Stayed there a little while, then went to Carrie N.'s Had a perfect tussle with Durbin. He acts a great deal as if he despised me (Ha. Ha.). Pa has gone to Detroit. Will has got back from Pontiac. He says Ida is pretty.

Nov. 25 Wed. Got a letter from Ma and Pa. They have gone to Pontiac. Saw Carrie when she went down home. Gave Mrs. H. a call. Got a splendid letter from Anna Rice and a very urgent invitation to spend Christmas and New Years with her. Wish I could. Spent a pleasant evening.

Nov. 26 Thur. Thanksgiving. Went to church. The services were very nice. Had a nice time all day. Read a great deal. Never had such a jolly time [in] my life as I did tonight. Lou Gratton and Hattie Bergers were here and spent the evening. I like them real well, much better than I expected.

Nov. 27 Fri. Went up in the morning to have my picture taken, but it was too cloudy. Sewed and read in the afternoon. Pa and Ma came home just before supper time. I went to Lyceum. There were as many as thirty Normal students down. Had a lovely time. They tried to impeach M (hot time) and intend to carry it on next Friday night.

Nov. 28 Sat. Has snowed all day long and all last night. Sewed almost all of the afternoon. Dressed and went up to dancing school. Had a magnificent time. Was introduced to several very nice fellows, a Mr. Rathburn in particular is elegant. Mr. Peck is very nice to me, but do not return the compliment.

Nov. 29 Sun. Went to Church and stayed to S. S. Mr. Comstock was there and spoke. Went riding in the afternoon. Nice time but too cold to go very far. Dread to think of going to school tomorrow. Wrote a letter to Emma Stone. Did not go to church in the evening.

Nov. 30 Mon. Pa and Ma went down to Milan today. Excellent sleighing, but very cold. The boys at the Sem. had a great time snowballing the Normals. Hated to go to school this morning. It seemed as if I had been out two or three weeks. Jolly time this afternoon.

Dec. 1 Tues. How I do wish it was the last day of school. Had callers after I got home from school. Then Carrie N. came down. Had a good talk. Went up town and got some calico for the collar and cuffs. Meet L. E. and L. D. Went to the Post O. with them and they came home with me (Stare) (Why?)

Dec. 2 Wed. It is much warmer today. Alex took me up to school and quite a long ride. Came for me this noon. L. E. and L. D. and I took a short ride. Marion was coming up at night for me, but by that time the snow was almost all gone. Lou and Hattie were here in the eve. Have an invitation to spend the evening at Carrie Haywood's tomorrow.

Dec. 3 Thurs. Came around the depot way with the girls this afternoon. Had a good time. Got ready and went up to Carrie's about half past seven. Never spent a pleasanter evening. There were only four couples of us. We played cards and I got quite well acquainted with Philo Hall and Olie Harris (Name you a heart). Did not get home until 12. (A dance in the tower) (Refreshments)

Dec. 4 Fri. Had several compliments today concerning last night. Went to the store today where Olie Harris clerks. He is just O.K. Went to Lyceum. Carrie H. called and went with me. Had a very pleasant time. Sat with Carrie M. Mac was very nice but gave him the slip. Had quite a talk with Gay.

Dec. 5 Sat. Hattie called today and nettie G. stayed to tea. Mrs. Shipman came and found out where the lessons were. Jennie has been sick, was not at school Friday. Went up town with Ma and got some new shoes. They are just handsome [b]oxed with kid. Went to dancing school. Got scquainted with several. Am getting so I can dance the round dances.

Dec. 6 Sun. Went to Church and stayed to S. S. Did not have time to talk hardly any with Carrie. Saw Will Ackley. Was introduced to him last night and had quite a conflab [confab? -ed.] through several mistakes. Carrie came for me to go home and stay all night with her. Went to Church. Had as good a time with Durbin as it was possible to have on Sunday.

Dec. 7 Mon. Had ever so much fun this morning. Came home before school time. Had all my lessons today. Got a letter today from Ida. Went to the dressmakers with Lora Eaton. We have had an excellent talk. Saw Philo Hall twice today and think he is real nice.

Dec. 8 Tues. Had all my lessons today. Latin is getting tiresome. Laughed this afternoon until I ache. Jennie and the rest have been telling anecdotes. one was a man wanted to put on the tombstone of his wife, "Let her rest in peace." Not having room he thought he would have the first letters of the last three words, "R. I. P." It would be, "Let her RIP."

Dec. 9 Wed. Got a letter from J. H. Got our invitations to the Fireman's Ball today. Went to the gallery this noon to have my picture taken large but had to wait so long I could not go to school. Stayed with Mary all afternoon so that Ma would not know it is for her Christmas present.

Dec. 10. Thurs. Cousin N. came today. I was invited out to spend the evening, but did not go. Went and took tea with Aunt Lizzie and then gave Carrie a call and let her read Joe's letter. We had a splendid talk. Then Durbin came with two letters for Carrie. I read one.

Dec. 11 Fri. Talked almost all the afternoon with J. S. Had a gay time. Snowed some. Had a headache so I thought it would be better to stay at home tonight and not go to either Lyceum. Seemed rather strange.

Phew! Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ypsilanti in Winters Past

Care to read a nostalgic roundup of Ypsilanti memories of past winters? If so, please check my story in this week's Courier!

Metafitered!!!

Your humble scribe has been Metafiltered! Land sakes!!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Biking into the past...

The group 'Bike Ypsi" is just the latest manifestation of a more than centennial tradition of bikin' in Ypsilanti--a tradition not without its odd chapters...like to read my story about it? It's in the Citizen (thanks Dan!)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Contest: Name That (Ypsi) Train


From the ivy of Ann Arbor
to the near Canadian shore
She'll roll through Ypsilanti
like some old and tired whore
Although she's fat and pretty,
it's really quite a shame
She'll be a line of rolling stock
the Commuter with No Name.


--Tom Dodd

The commuter train is coming, fingers crossed, to Ypsilanti in 2010. The latest Depot Town Rag, the local paper written by Tom Dodd, asks you what we should name her. Recall the storied train names throughout the years: the Empire Builder (Dusty D has been on this one), the Orange Blossom Special, the City of New Orleans, the Coast Starlight. What name would do justice to local history? Send your train name ideas to thomas dodd [at] comcast [dot] net!

Friday, December 4, 2009

AnnArbor.com

Dusty D will no longer be writing for AnnArbor.com. I've got weekly columns with the Ypsilanti Courier, the Ypsilanti Citizen, YpsiNews.com, and I've just picked up a 4th paper, with a bimonthly column, that will start up next Saturday. With those 4, I'm really at my limit as for time, so I had to make some tough choices.

I am grateful to AnnArbor.com for publishing 51 of my stories since August and for the fun of interacting with the many commentors who visited, left comments, and appeared to enjoy the columns. A few became regulars, and it was fun to see them returning every week. I thank AnnArbor.com's Ed Vielmetti in my book as one of the folks who gave me a space where I could share my stuff. But it's just a question of time scheduling--3.5 columns a week keeps me hoppin'. Thanks to AnnArbor.com and best wishes to them.

New Weekly Column at YpsiNews.com!

Well, I have one more thing to be thankful for--as of today I'm writing a weekly history column for YpsiNews.com!

The first one, "Ypsilanti: Home of the Automatic Toast-Butterer," has just been published and it is a thrill to see it over there.

From my "Inventors of Ypsilanti" series; hope you enjoy it!

Many thanks to Mr. P.!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Early Ypsi Mayor known for baking, poultry skills

Hey, if you get the Ypsilanti Courier at home, check out the nice design work editor/reporter/page-layer-outer Austen Smith did on my story this week on page 7 in the 1st section. He gave it a funny title ("Early Ypsi Mayor known for baking, poultry skills"), made a call-out, and gave a nice sepia tint to the (B&W) photo. He did a great job; thanks to him!

Not online this week or I'd link to it (sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't). Nicer in the paper version anyways. Love seeing my things in the Courier! Dusty D is grateful.

Mockup of Book Cover

I must apologize to kind readers for not blogging much lately; I've been proofing the book manuscript, but I should be posting more again after next Monday, when it's due. In the meantime, the publisher just sent me a mockup of the cover. I absolutely love it. Wow, they have some good designers there! Dusty D feels incredibly fortunate and grateful. Here 'tis (click for larger image).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

December Ann Arbor Observer Story

The December Ann Arbor Observer contains an article I wrote for them about itinerant 19th-century crotchety Methodist minister Elijah Pilcher. It isn't online yet at the Observer's website (they post things throughout the month) but you can pick up a paper copy if you'd like to read it. I liked this story well enough to put it in my book! Hope you enjoy it!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tour an 1865 Ypsi Paper Mill


Like to take an 1865 insider tour of Ypsilanti's first paper mill? (Hint: it's not the Peninsular Paper Mill, and the mill in question was not making wood pulp paper). Then check out my story today in the Ypsilanti Citizen! Thanks to them for publishing it!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Ypsilanti's Best Old Historic Former Newspaper


We have several wonderful paper and digital newspapers in Ypsi these days. Ever wonder about the newspapers of the past? My Citizen story today is about what I argue is the best of Ypsilanti's 25 old historic papers; hope you enjoy it! Many thanks to the Citizen, and Dan DuChene's good editing!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Writing about the invisible

Dusty D's favorite topic to write about are things that are not there.

I wrote a story about passenger pigeons for the Observer that I absolutely loved. It'll be in the upcoming book, and I'm proud to set that story before the public. It's good. It dealt with my favorite thing to write about: the invisible, the vanished, the things that are no longer there.

I'm having the fun of writing such a story now. It's about the vanished places in Washtenaw County: Unadilla, Bullock's Corners, Panama Township. Those places exist only on old plat maps and in old accounts. But they were real to folks at one time, and it is a pleasure to dig them up again. The places, I mean.

So that should pop up soon in either the Courier or Citizen. Hope you like it. Back to research now...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

When I was a Boy with a Head Like Tow

In the Archives yesterday, Dusty D discovered a poem, hidden in the Michigan Pioneer Historical Society annals. The poem is kind of a RUMPETY RUMPETY RUMPETY RUMP bit of doggerel...BUT...it is chock full of old forgotten vocabulary for old Michigan ways of life and packed with customs and objects and habits that have long faded from contemporary Michigan experience. Plus, it's an affectionate reminiscence, and it touched the squishy sentimental sector of Dusty D's heart, which is normally well-hidden under a protective cynical crust. I'm gonna serialize it here over the next bit of time and invite you to chat about the stuff in it. Here we go.

WHEN I WAS A BOY WITH A HEAD LIKE TOW

by U. B. Webster, 1893; written for the Farmer's Institute in Berrien Springs, Michigan.

Things are not now as they used to be
For progress is making us wise you see,
For a day of progress is over the land
And we see its results on every hand.


Yes, the things of our youth have passed away,
For "Every dog must have his day,"
So the tallow dip has yielded to gas,
And that old fire-place has gone, alas!

The "old oaken bucket" and well sweep, too,
At the old red farmhouse no more we view,
That threshing machine that piled the chaff
Today would make all the people laugh,


For a traction engine has come this way
That knocks out two thousand bushels a day.
And a sulky plow on which to ride,
On all modern farms is the farmer's pride...[tbc]

tallow dip: "The wick -- a few
threads of flax, hemp, or cotton, lightly twisted or plaited -- was dipped
in melted tallow and allowed to cool, again and again, until the candle
had a desired thickness. During colonial times in this country, every housewife made a supply of candles in autumn. Candle rods, each with a row of wicks, were
repeatedly dipped in big iron kettles of boiling water and melted tallow,
That was an all-day back-breaking job. Neater results were obtained by
pouring the tallow into pewter molds made for from 6 to 24 candles."

old oaken bucket: Reference to a wooden well bucket, and also to a well-known 1818 song: "...e'en the rude bucket that hung in the well./The old oaken bucket, the iron bound bucket,/The moss covered bucket that hung in the well [and gave us all cholera --ed.]."

well sweep: "A well sweep is a device used to bring water up from a well. The term, "sweep" refers to the long pole which is lowered until the bucket on the end goes down into the well and fills with water." Dates back to Egyptian times if not further.

traction engine: Steam engine tractor. Yes, running on steam power!

sulky plow: Plow that you sit on, basically.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

He's Not in the Family Photographs

Dusty D had a fun time today in the Archives. The whole gang was there; James Mann, Gerry, Al, and intern Derek. I enjoyed the convivial atmosphere.

Dusty D was researching former oddball Ypsilantian Charles Jarvis. James has written about him in "Footnotes in History." It's well-written (waves to James).

Charles was odd. He lived alone in a house he built himself (and it looks it) where the DPW yard is now at Huron and Forest. He held a handful of somewhat menial jobs, and rarely left his home except to go in his yard. He is said to have had a "bowel disease" that doctors thought would kill him soon, but he lived for almost 3 more decades. James Mann remarked that he thought that this might have just been, um, a gaseous condition. I wonder if it is a euphemism for something else. Don't know.

I am always drawn to, and sympathize with, and often come to care for if that can be said, the fringey people. The misunderstood, the somewhat different, the people, like Charles, whose photos are absent from the collection of family photos. There is a wealth of beautiful Jarvis photos in the Jarvis family file and in one photo album. The family members have an unusual amount of character in their faces.

No photo of Charles. I found this saddening---if he were excluded because he was an eccentric. He is buried with other Jarvises, however, in Highland, though I haven't seen his grave yet. Charles is a puzzle. He never married. "Unmarried" is one of those red-flag words that to me signals that there is something interesting about a given person to find out. At any rate, I will continue to research him and see what I can find.

Thanksgiving through the years

Thanks to the Citizen for publishing my T-giving tale! I am so happy to be published in the Citizen! Here's the story.

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie sold her car, whom she'd nicknamed "Lady Maxwell," for one called a Liberty Six. She got $1,090 for a trade-in and paid $1,500. She also brought her brother Will a gallon of sweet cider.

Nov. 18 Tues. Goodbye Lady Maxwell. Dickered my sedan with Quay [?] Beyer for a Liberty Six coupe $2,590. Was allowed $1,090 for car + $1,500.

Nov. 19 Wed. Mr. A. G. Erickson is to succeed Mr. Arbaugh as Sup't of Schools. Mr. Piper disappointed.

Nov. 20 Thurs. Mr. Piper tells me of his disappointment. Am working in the library, etc.

Nov. 21 Fri. Football fellows & rooters go to Port Huron. Mrs. Ross sick. I teach Chem., Physics. Went to see "Checkers" at Martha in evening. Lewis.

Nov. 22 Sat. Worked at home until 11:30. Then went to Detroit with Lillian. Came home very late. Tired? My!

Nov. 23 Sun. Lillian was over and we sewed some. Miss Laird was in + we talked of clothes for the winter.

Nov. 24 Mon. After school I went over to May Webb's after going down town for groceries. Had supper with the Webbs. In evening attended Teachers' party.

Nov. 25 Tues. Am working in the library vacant hours. After school made a stew with dumplings at the Webb's again.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Upcoming Stories

In this Thursday's Courier there will be a story about Thanksgiving during WWII, and in the Citizen there'll be a story about Thanksgiving as reflected in the diaries of four Ypsi women. HOpe you enjoy 'em! I'll post links when they're posted. I know it's hard to believe but I spent all day today writing these 2 little stories. So it goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Save Wires for War!

Kind readers, if you were thinking of calling your gramma in Florida over Thanksgiving, or your cousin in California, please--don't.

Those phone lines are required for urgent war-related business. Don't imperil that business by making a social call over the holiday.

Please make only the most urgent Long Distance calls on Thanksgiving Day, and keep those calls as brief as possible.

Dusty D found this ad while researching a Thanksgiving story to turn in to the Courier tomorrow.

Note that it is Michigan Bell that is telling its own customers to NOT use its service--in contrast to today's phone service providers, who, to some, seem intent on determinedly extracting an inordinate amount of money from one's pocket.

Perhaps Michigan Bell's ad was made in a spirit of patriotism. Or, more cynically, perhaps they knew their lines were at the maximum load already with wartime work and they didn't want to deal with thousands of irate civilian customers unable to put calls through MB's over-stressed system.

Around this time, another rationed item was coffee. Coffee was going to be officially rationed a few days after this November '42 ad. If you were caught hoarding it, which translated to buying more than 1 pound before the ration went into effect, you could be fined $10,000 or sentenced to ten years in prison.

The war was real and loomed large in the lives of Ypsilantians, when today, to many of those without a service member in the family, the war is at best just a glimpsed headline to an unread story.

--Ypsilanti Daily Press, November 24, 1942

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Bonus Mystery Spot

Dusty D is trying like heck to peer at the background details of this drawing, which appeared in a 1996 edition of the papers. It shows Easter morning as folks leaves church. I was convinced it was the St. Luke's Episcopal on Huron, but I actually checked and either didn't see or missed this perspective. I could have sworn I've seen those little buttressy things on a church wall somewhere. There's also a building in the background. Dusty D is stumped!

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

You may remember that last week Allie went to dancing school, wrote a letter and received one, and heard of the tragic accident of a little boy she knew, who had his limbs cut off by a train.

Nov. 13 Fri. Miss something in Philosophy this morning but recited all the rest of the lesson and had it better than the others. Did the same thing in History and in Latin. Prof. C. asked me a question I could not answer and he said, "I would not forget all I ever knew on this particular day." Was provoked enough to kill him, but did not show it the least bit. Did not go to Lyceum. Went up town and got trimmings for my sack.

Nov. 14 Sat. Went up to Carrie's this afternoon. Had a good time. Stayed until after dark. Went to dancing school, had a splendid time. Am getting so I like it better and can do it ever so much better but the worst part of it is having so many come and ask you to dance that you don't like or can't refuse. Got home and in bed twelve o'clock.

Nov. 15 Sun. Did not have anything to wear around me, so I did not go to Church. Read all the whole day.

Nov. 16 Mon. Can't remember anything in particular that happened. There were four funerals today and a man was all smashed to pieces on the cars. It is terrible. Carrie was down tonight. Had a real good talk.

Nov. 17 Tues. Rained very hard today. Got a letter from Will C. It is about the same as usual, nothing very interesting. Had all of my lessons in school and some fun coming home. Came home by way of the depot.

Nov. 18 Wed. Had a grand old time in school today, something we used to have last winter and Miss Pierce is terrible provoked at me and is always blowing about the example that I must set for the younger scholars. She don't like me any better than I like her.

Nov. 19 Thurs. Ma went to Detroit today. I went over to the depot with her. Did not see ant very nobby fellows. Walked over with Nell Beach. Had ever so much fun. Met L. F. L. D. in the Post Office. Had a jolly time. Went to bed quite early.

Nov. 20. Fri. It has snowed all day and so hard at night that I did not go to Lyceum. Read almost all the evening. Will went to Lyceum. Said he had a good time. Everyone wanted to know where I was, but I am glad that I did not go.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Hive Mind Poll

Dear Hivey,

Well, it is finished. I just submitted the book to my publisher. Here's my question for y'all. I could use your expertise. The publisher's sales team is a tad wary of the title "Stud Bunnies and the Underwear Club: Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives." They feel that a portion of their typical readership will be turned off by the "stud bunnies" part.

So far as I can tell, the typical readership of the book will be by valued readers up here in Michigan, where with near-Depression levels of unemployment, foreclosures, job losses, and similar grimness--we're ready for anything, and a note of sightly risque levity would be appreciated.

I think it would make the book stand out in a market dominated with somewhat boring, stodgy titles. But I'm way too close to view this objectively. What do you think? Keep the title? Change it a tad? I'd value your criticism and suggestions. Thank you!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Death of William Mager: Courier story!

Dusty D has been editing her book all. daaaaaay. Since 7 this morning and I'm not done yet. Well, not editing, really, but doing stuff like putting captions in (wrote 50 captions today for pix) and format stuff and so on. Making sure everything is absolutely perfect and correct; deadline is tomorrow. Anyways, maybe you'd like to read my latest Courier story! It's a pretty dark one, be warned. Dusty D was pretty much in a funk for some time after I wrote it. Here it is.

Wednesday Mystery Spot

Fool that I am, I thought that the Thompson Building's being cut to a mere sliver on the right would be sufficient to baffle eagle-eyed readers in this westward view from Cross Street hill.You'd think I would have learned by now.

No fewer than 4 people instantly guessed this view, with Dan Duchene past the finish line first, closely followed by Building Place, BF, and cmadler. So I have to level up my game this week!

Instead of sliver-clues from existing buildings, let's see if kind readers can suss out this mysterious building. At least three different firms occupied it over the years, and later there was a gas station on the spot, in the 30s. The site is near that of a famous unsolved, and tragic, murder. ALl righty, that's as far as I'm going with clues! Take your best guess!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Out of living memory

World War I is on the cusp of passing out of living memory forever.

December Ann Arbor Observer: Elijah Pilcher, Itinerant Methodist Preacher

God willin' and the creek don't rise, my story about itinerant Methodist "circuit rider" preacher Elijah Pilcher will be in the December Ann Arbor Observer. That's worth a subscription right there. :D

He was a driven man who did not have too high of an opinion of the pioneers he preached to, nor of the rude log-cabin, bed-buggy accomodations they kindly offered him, not having anything better, on his route.

I seem to gravitate over and over to these stories of vinegary, difficult, grouchy, obstreperous people. Brain echo: 'Some say that every artwork is a self-portrait.'

Hmmmmm.....bah, "some" don't know what they're talkin' about. Grrr.

The mystery of the down-pointing hand

A walk in Highland Cemetery uncovers a mystery and later solves it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Put the Hammer Down: It's Nailed!

I don't have many skills worth mentioning, but I do pride myself on nailing wordcounts. When I was writing 450-word art reviews for the Observer, I challenged myself to turn in reviews that were precisely 450 words long. Working on book manuscript now. I have to provide between 35,000 and 40,000 words. I pushed as close to 40,000 as I could to give readers the most bang for the buck. Just finished editing. Final wordcount?

(drumroll)

40,000.

(sighs with ultra-nerdy satisfaction)...

Deadline Looming

Just to let kind readers know, I'm gonna be posting fewer things than usual this week 'cause my book manuscript is due Friday. I'm working on formatting it now. Please excuse the quiet. I'll be able to post a lot more starting again next week. I'll continue to post links to stories on the Citizen, Courier, and AnnArbor.com. Thank you for your patience!

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie finished her afghan and was "glad the thing is done," celebrated Armistice Day (now Veteran's Day), and reported school running along as usual.

Nov. 11 Tues. Tried to celebrate Armistice Day this morning by calling on Geo. Beranck, and others for speeches. School as usual.

Nov. 12 Wed. After school went over to Lillian's for supper. She brought me home in evening. I get so tired -------------

Nov. 13 Thurs. Hutchins check for $60 received to day. They are now paid up to date i.e. till Nov. 1.

Nov. 14 Fri. School--H. Glass + Fred Bergin using same locker. At 3:30 the Parent Teacher club met in the Music Room.

Nov. 15 Sat. Washed clothes and my hair. Lillian drove me about town in their new Liberty Six purchased today. Bo't one gallon sweet cider.

Nov. 16 Sun. Left here at 9:30 with Lillian for Rob's; reached home at 1:10. Took him a gallon of sweet cider.

Nov. 17 Mon. After school went down to Temple for supper. Then went up to the Normal to hear a lecture on establishment of schools in Tennessee by York--a war hero.

Nov. 18 Tues. Goodbye Lady Maxwell. Dickered my sedan with Quay [?] Beyer for a Liberty Six coupe $2,590. Was allowed $1,090 for car + $1,500.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!

Amid a Confetti of Fluffy White Chicken-Feathers

...the lives of three Ypsi chicken-men, in the Ypsi Citizen.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Upcoming Observer Story

A story of mine about itinerant Methodist preacher Elijah Pilcher is coming out in the December Ann Arbor Observer. It's pretty interesting. He had a jaundiced view of the homely log-cabin shelter offered him along his punishing route. Make sure to pick up the December Ann Arbor Observer to read it!

Between this, the book manuscript (due Nov. 15), stories for the Ypsi Citizen, AnnArbor.com, the Historical Society's "Gleanings," and the Ypsilanti Courier, your humble scribe is, indeed, a tad bit frazzled. But it'll all be good once the manuscript is submitted this Friday. In the meantime, my various deadlines make me disciplined and productive, a good thing. At any rate, be sure to peek in the Dec. Observer!

Historical Docents...

...are the single biggest spreader of the virus of historical misinformation. So it's said. Is it true? It was when I recently visited Highland Cemetery for a tour. Story to come, in the winter "Gleanings."

Monday Mystery Artifact

...over on AnnArbor.com. Take your best guess! See if you can figure out the term best sooted to this item.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Local History Fact of the Day

How Washtenaw County's many onetime sheep farmers used to amuse themselves, way out there in the lonely fields.

The 1874 Diary of Ypsilanti Teen Allie McCullough

Part of a year-long weekly series of excerpts from Ypsilanti teenager Allie McCullough's 1874 diary, from the last year of her life.

You may remember that last week Allie gave the mitten to Mr. Blair, "had a good time flirting last night," almost nodded off in church, and got a new beaver coat for winter.

Nov. 6 Fri. Marion came up to school for me this afternoon with the horses. We took a long ride. Then I got home; I had to fly around, get ready to go to a party in the country. Laura Eaton went with us. Had a magnificent time. Danced almost every set and gave someone the mitten, every time I didn't dance. A delightful ride down.

Nov. 7 Sat. Did not get home till four this morning. I never had much better time, tried to please, believe that I succeeded as much as I cared to. Carrie and Minnie B. came and called on me. I was uptown, went to dancing school in the evening. Had a splendid time. Better than I expected.

Nov. 8 Sun. Went to Church and stayed to S. S. It is raining. Am glad of it. Had a compliment today. Read a great deal and wrote a good long letter to Annie Rice. Have just heard that a little boy of my acquaintance has had his leg and arm cut off by the [railroad] cars. Have finished "Grace Lee" (book).

Nov. 9 Mon. Marion went up to Aunty's to stay all night. Carrie was down today and she is almost sick. i don't know what to make of her. I came around depot way tonight from school. Had ever so much fun as usual. Lora E. says that I made myself very agreeable last Friday night and an old Batch [bachelor] said he thought I was a pretty nice girl.

Nov. 10 Tues. There has [sic] been four funerals today. Miss Brower, a Normal student and Belle Chase, a teacher from the North, but living here, a Mr. Lee and the little boy whose arm and leg were cut off. Mr. Stoddard died this morning. Went up to Carrie's after school. Durbin acts just the same as ever and I believe feels the same.

Nov. 11 Wed. Had a jolly time in school today and had all of my lessons. Read a long time in the evening. Carrie W. and Minnie Bramble called for a few minutes. I got a letter from Emma Stone. It was excellent. Got an invitation from Cora Guy to another surprise party Friday night. It is a very urgent one.

Nov. 12 Thurs. Haven't done anything in particular today. Saw John Stoddart [spelling in diary is different than the aforementioned Mr. Stoddard who died on Tues.] and spoke to him. He smiles and acted just the same as usual, but it seems as if he would be different. The girls have gone up to Aunt Lizzie's to tea. Tried to study, but got so sleepy that I had to go to bed early.

Nov. 13 Fri. Miss something in Philosophy yhis morning but recited all the rest of the lesson and had it better than the others. Did the same thing in History and in Latin. Prof. C. asked me a question I could not answer and he said, "I would not forget all I ever knew on this particular day." Was provoked enough to kill him, but did not show it the least bit. Did not go to Lyceum. Went up town and got trimmings for my sack.

Thanks for reading; tune in this coming Friday for another chapter!.

Postal Memory Map of Washtenaw County


Have you ever heard of a "postal memory map"? Well, educate yourself! :D And look at some neato pictures, in my latest story for annarbor.com.

Thanks to blog reader jml for introducing me to this map!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Ypsilanti had its own time zone in 1883

Kind readers, did you know Ypsilanti once had its own time zone? Yep! You can read about it in my story for today's Courier!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Wednesday Mystery Spot

Though I thought I'd picked a "goodie" for last week's Mystery Spot, once again it was, of course, guessed! Lisele commented, "Ahhh, is it the place called BirdBrain in Depot Town?" Yep! But it was a tie: BF guessed as well at the same time by emailing me a photo, here 'tis:

The original:

Now, don't let those victories go to your head, Lisele and BF and other readers, 'cause we have a vexing one this week, yessir. Take a peek if you will and see if you can guess! Good luck!

Millage Failure=Bloated School Administration? A Look at the Past

With the failure of the WISD millage last night, criticism in part has focused, in comments on AnnArbor.com, on the number of school administrators and support staff. Many opined that there are far too many administrative and non-classroom positions (e.g., counselors) in local schools. Ann Arbor's Pioneer and Huron high schools each have one principal and four assistant principals. Ypsilanti Public Schools has two persons in charge of...lunch--which is contracted out, complete with menus. Dusty D became curious to see what YHS school administration was like in the past, by way of comparison.

In the 1905 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
William B. Arbaugh, superintendent
Charles S. Jacobs, principal (and instructor in Greek, Latin, and History)
That's it.
The YHS also had classes today considered "extra," such as music, geology, and art.

In the 1917 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
William B. Arbaugh, superintendent
Stanley Morris, principal
Again, that is the extent of school administration as listed in the yearbook.
Aside from the basics, YHS also offered instruction in Algebra, Physics, Chemistry, public speaking, manual training, domestic science, German, French, and Latin.

In the 1927 "Ypsi-Dixit" high school yearbook, the administration consists of:
Arthur G. Erickson, superintendent
W. M. Land, principal
John O. Grimes, former principal (assuming he left sometimes in school year?)
Aside from the basics this year, YHS also offered instruction in Latin, Chemistry, Physics, shorthand, typewriting, music, sewing, Algebra, Geometry, cooking, and French.

It is interesting to see that for decades a school that graduated students educated in Greek, Latin, and Art did so with an apparent administrative staff of 2.

Glimpses of Ann Arbor life in 1889

A spooky picture, a speedy fire horse, and etiquette tips from 120 years ago may be found in my latest Ann Arbor.com story. Hope you like it!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Ypsi Janitor and the Empress Josephine

...is a story I am pleased to present to you, newest one in the Citizen! Thanks to them for running it--I am grateful! Hope you enjoy it!

Sweetie read it and said it made him a bit misty...that really took me aback. I had tried my best to make a touching story, since I was touched by it, but seeing my own humble words have the power to make someone misty made me think..."whoa!" It was a pretty awesome moment.

(then I came to my senses and realized that nice comments from sweetie as always say more about his own generosity than anything else)

The 1919 Diary of Ypsilanti High School Teacher Carrie Hardy

Part of a year-long weekly serialization of Ypsilanti high school math teacher Carrie Hardy's diary.

Kind readers may recall that last week Carrie visited Rob in Detroit, bought a new skirt, and "broke down and cried" one night. She returned to YPsilanti and said it was good to be home.

Nov. 4 Tues. Hamilton Holt, editor of the Independent lectures at Pease Audit on the League of Nations tonight.

Nov. 5 Wed. Finished the "afghan" for the couch in the rest room today. Am glad the thing is done.

Nov. 6 Thurs. Lunched up stairs. Teachers' meeting after school. Reports were given of the state Teachers' Ass'n. Ate supper at the Mission.

Nov. 7 Fri. School about as usual. Nothing out of the ordinary routine of work.

Nov. 8 Sat. Van cleaned for me. Paid all my bils. Went alone to the Martha in the evening. Van locked himself out at night. Mrs. King called [un?] $1.00.

Nov. 9 Sun. Went to church both morning and evening. In afternoon, drove a little. Made bread, cake, and fried cakes.

Nov. 10 Mon. Went to school-usual. Rained, so I went to the lunch room at noon. Came home later. Had a big dinner at night.

Nov. 11 Tues. Tried to celebrate Armistice Day this morning by calling on Geo. Beranck, and others for speeches. School as usual.

Thanks for reading; tune in next Tuesday for the next series!