MICHAGONE: LETTERS TO MY (EX)STATEis a collaborative writing project exploring how Michiganders feel towards our mitten-shaped state. Michagone is not about hashing out politics or statistics. It is about people. Our lives. Our story. Our place.
This is an opportunity to explore the individual experiences of Michiganders, and our relationship to “home,” one letter at a time.
The project is called Mich"agone”, hinting at the past, but perhaps also questioning it. Some us remember better times, while others may find excitement and opportunity in the current void. The world is changing and Michigan is feeling this change acutely. Change can be painful but it can also be powerful and renewing.
Have we been affected on a personal level? Has our feeling towards Michigan changed? How? What does it mean? What is our hope for the future?
If you are one of the tens of thousands who have left, tell your ex-state, why did you leave? What part of Michigan do you carry with you? Will you ever return? Is it is still “home”?
Living in Michigan? What’s the view like from inside? What do you want to say to the state where you live and pay your taxes? What would you say to those who've left?
Contributors are asked to personify Michigan and write her a letter. Please include pictures and/or drawings! Letters can be serious, funny, dramatic, provocative… whatever.
Submit letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Something nostalgic for yourself or someone you know.
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WHERE YOU'LL FIND
DETROIT MEMORIES T-SHIRTS * DETROITER AT HEART APPAREL
BOOKS * DVDs * POSTERS * MUSIC * FAYGO * BETTER MADE
In the matter of Boston Cooler versus the Vernor's Float, there was one tool available to the "soda jerk" that was not available at home, nor is it available anywhere that I know of today. It was the soda dispenser in back of the counter that had two speeds: one was a gentle tumble of the fluid into the glass; the other was a high speed thin stream that excited the concoction in the glass to a wonderful foam. The soda jerk would combine these to make a delectable substance. Boston Coolers customarily arose from the judicious use the fast and slow streams from the soda dispenser. Floats came because the multi-speed soda dispenser was not available.
I was saddened to read that Mr. Ken Muse (July 2010) had died this past June. Such a well-rounded, creative force he was! As a kid I wanted to become a cartoonist, and Ken's book "The Secrets of Professional Cartooning" was my bible. I deeply regret never having contacted him to thank him for inspiring with this lifelong avocation. Although I grew up to become an oncologist, I still find catharsis in drawing silly pictures!
St. Clair Shores, MI
Eastern High School, formerly at 7200 Mack Ave., Detroit
I was hoping that your Newsletter would have covered the dedication of a memorial on the grounds of Eastern High School, formerly on the corner of Mack Avenue and East Grand Blvd. I understand there were about 150 alumuni who attended the ceremony.
Currently there is a church on that corner and they were very hospitable to the guests. The ceremony was just in July of this year. There are a lot of people in Detroit whose parents, grandparents and great grandparents attended Eastern.
It had a high scholastic standing in the state at the time I was attending comparable to a first year of college.
EILEEN: Thanks for sending the link. Can't cover what I don't know about! Here's a PDF of the article that appeared in the Detroit Free Press on July 30, 2010.
Photo provided by Dale Young. Click here to enlarge.
I am an NYU professor writing a book on televised teen dance programs of the '50s and early '60s and am delighted to have found this website.
I would love to hear from anyone who was involved with the following shows in any way -- as a dance participant, producer, cameraman, or any other capacity.
I am interested both in what occurred on the dance floor and studio as well as what happened behind the scenes. The dances, music, planning of the show, logistics of scheduling, and community response to the show, are all of interest to me. Please email me at email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Chair, Interdisciplinary Arts Program
The Gallatin School, New York University
Something about metro Detroit from the 50s, 60s or 70s
you've been wondering about but didn't know who to ask? Send it to us.
We'll do our best to get you an answer from our team of experts.
The Grande Ballroom, 8952 Grand River Avenue, Detroit
QUESTION: I was wondering if you have any pictures or info on the Grande Ballroom? I remember going there in the mid/late '60s to watch Bob Seger,
Amboy Dukes, MC5, plus many soon-to-be superstar groups like Three Dog Night, Cream, Procol Harem, Savoy Brown, Credence Clearwater Revival…the list goes on. The light show then was overhead projectors and oil in water. All for (I think)
$5.00 to get in.
Punta Gorda, FL
ANSWER: Actually, Gerry, there's quite a bit available about the Grande. First, you might start with the website, www.thegrandeballroom.com
QUESTION: Do you know what years Jerry Booth’s Fun House was on TV?
Where is he now and when did he start his television career?
Battle Creek MI
ED: Too lazy to dig into the Detroit television archives,
so I thought I'd just ask Jerry himself about Fun House.
Here is his email reply:
Hi Ed --
Good question...but I really don't remember how
long Fun House lasted.
I do remember we taped all five shows for the
week in one day. I'd take a bathroom break and
change to a different cardigan sweater between
shows. And it was running at the same time I did
two Bozo shows a day -- one live and one taped.
So, Fun House must have been on CKLW in 1967."
Looks like a trip into the archives was inevitable. Here are my findings:
Fun House aired from the fall of 1965 to the fall of 1968.
Jerry Booth started his television career in the mid 1950s at WTVP in Decatur, Il., where he created the character of Jingles the Jester. After a short stint at WPTA-TV in Fort Wayne, Jingles and his pals Herkimer the Dragon and Cecil B. Rabbit found a permanent home at CKLW-TV in Windsor on Jingles in Boofland.
And yes, trivia lovers, Jerry was Bozo the Clown for a short time at CKLW before Art Cervi took over the role. He also had a show called The Larry and Jerry Show with Boofland partner Larry Sands.
Jerry now lives in California where he is an independent businessman.
HOW VLASIC PICKLES INSPIRED A CHOIR
Reading about the 50 Signature Foods of Detroit in the Detroit Memories Newsletter (July 2010) took me on a trip down memory lane, bringing to mind a Detroit food company that was rather special to me and other kids in my area.
In the early 50s, my family attended the Faith Community Church on Moross,
a few blocks west of Harper. With my mother's encouragement, I tried out and became a member of their Youth Choir.
Before long, the group became larger than the church's Chancel Choir. Turned out that some of the kids who joined were from nearby churches that did not have a Youth Choir of their own. As interest grew, Director Terry LeMaster and her husband, Richard, a director of the Northeast YMCA, came up with the idea of separating the Youth Choir from Faith Church and having us become Associate Members of the YMCA. The new group would be called The Northeast YMCA Youth Choir. It worked out quite well; the YMCA gained some publicity and the Choir got a sponsor, so to speak.
Originally, the membership, whose ages ranged from 11 through 19, was drawn from the immediate community, with many of the members coming from Denby High. However, as word spread, we were joined by a number of kids from Southeastern High.
Needing help with the male voices, Mrs. LeMaster contacted someone at Wayne State who recommended George Shirley, a voice student. He soon became 'one of us,' and his talents and knowledge of how to breathe and project really gave the NE YMCA Youth Choir its sound. Back then, one of the requirements for a degree at Wayne State was 100 hours of community service. I am certain that George's involvement with the choir well exceeded the requirement.
It wasn't long before Vlasic Pickle Company donated a large amount of money to the Choir for the purpose of acquiring choir robes. Until then, there had been no strict dress code. Performing in our new robes not only made us look like a choir, they also seemed to provide us with the impetus to really pour our hearts into the music.
No longer affiliated with Faith Church, the range of our music broadened. Although the "Top 10" never made it into our repertoire, we worked with a wide range of choral sources. At times, we even took a few liberties with the arrangements, including those of Fred Waring. Our programs had wide appeal.
In 1955, the Choir went on the road. Mrs. LeMaster, a native of Wisconsin, arranged several performances for us in Milwaukee, one of them on WTMJ-TV. We traveled on a Greyhound bus and stayed at a YMCA. It was a real adventure for some of the kids who had traveled very little outside of Michigan.
I'd like to pull together some kind of a reunion of any former members of this Choir, and am hoping that this exposure in the Detroit Memories Newsletter might attract their attention. If you were a member of The Northeast YMCA Youth Choir or know someone who was, please email me!