Thursday, August 20, 2009

Open Letter to the Anti-Pole-Vaulting-At-Heritage-Fest Contingent

The grapevine says that some history-minded folk in town are raising eyebrows, and questions, concerning this year's Pole Vaulting exhibition. "Pole Vaulting?" they whisper. "What in the Sam Hill does that have to do with Ypsilanti Heritage?"

Dusty D chuckles indulgently as she reaches for her copy of Harvey Colburn's book The Story of Ypsilanti. Little do these well-meaning nay-sayers know that this sport was a part of our urban fabric when that fabric was still just a single thread--and that shining blue thread is the Huron River. Open your books, please, to page 51:

"Jonathan G. Morton, Ypsilanti's first store-keeper, had visited Woodruff's Grove in August, 1824, he being at that time twenty-two years of age. Morton was a native of Massachusetts. At the age of seventeen he had procured a horse and wagon and a stock of "Yankee notions" and, before coming to Ypsilanti, had peddled the country from New England to Ohio. Visiting Detroit, he determined to explore the country and set out on foot along the Indian trail. Arriving at the Grove, he was favorably impressed by the new settlement and determined to open a business. Returning East, he bought a stock of dry-goods and shipped it to Detroit. The following spring he had his merchandise poled up the river in a small boat."

Many others did the same, in an era when the forest between Detroit and Ypsi was well-nigh impassable to wagons. Now, ask yourself. Once you've poled your boat all the way up the river, what's the quickest, easiest way to get ashore? In lieu of wading through the leeches and slimy rocks and moray eels. Of course! You'd use all that upper body strength you'd built up on the Huron and with a quick graceful movement, simply pole vault to shore, yessir. The historicity of this activity is now documented thanks to me. So let's not have any more of this quibbling and sniveling--join Dusty D in embracing this historical event as the modern-day analog of an activity from our earliest history.


James said...

There was the year the Heritage Festival had a game of polo. I missed the game, but was told it was a real "hoot."

Dusty D said...

Polo?! How wacky!

How about bike polo? Hear tell that that is a real hoot as well! Bring your "beater" bike, for sure!

I think they should bring back the "build your own raft" contest and use our river for more than just the lucrative rubber duck thingie. Bring back th'old swimmin' hole.

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