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Ionia County Sebewa Recollector Items

Sebewa Recollector
Items of Genealogical Interest

Volume 11 Number 5
Transcribed by LaVonne I. Bennett

     LaVonne has received permission from Grayden Slowins to edit and submit Sebewa Recollector items of genealogical interest, from the beginning year of 1965 through current editions.

April 1976, Volume 11, Number 5; submitted with written permission of Editor Grayden D. Slowins:


UPCOMING BICENTENNIAL EVENTS  -   Inasmuch as it is highly unlikely that any of our current readers will be around for the U. S. Tercentennial one hundred years hence, it behooves us to make the most of our Bicentennial celebration while we have it.

    One of the early events scheduled is the Ionia County rural schools open house set for Friday afternoon of April 23.  We have ten operating country schools as follows:  Coon and Benedict in Berlin township; Lake in Campbell township; Knox in Portland township; Haynor in Easton township; North LaValley and Lee P. Spaulding in Ionia township; Piper and Shiloh in Orleans township; Hayes in North Plains township and Palo Community School in Ronald township.  You are invited to participate in the festivities at any or all of these rural schools April 23.

     A second event sponsored by the Ionia County Historical Society and the Ionia County Bicentennial Commission is the two-day House Tour of May 29 and 30.  It will open with a parade in Ionia at 10:00 AM on Saturday.  There will be a student exposition at the Merchants Building at the Ionia Fairgrounds as well as other activities there.  Homes to be visited are those of Clyde Stout on Kelsey Highway; Dr. Campbell on Ionia’s E. Main St.; John Roberts on W. Lincoln in Ionia; the Blanchard house, Ionia Courthouse, Hall Fowler Library and St. Johns Episcopal Church; all in Ionia; the Muir Bicenntenial house and the Muir Church of Christ in Muir and the Webber-VanRapain house in Lyons.  There will be ample publicity for this in local papers.

A BICENTENNIAL TREE FOR SEBEWA BAPTIST CEMETERY - As soon as we can determine what date is Arbor Day in Michigan we shall plan to put Sebewa’s Bicentennial Tree Planting Date by Governor Badgley one hundred years ago.  Several people in Portland planted a tree for each member of their families and flew flags from their tops for a time according to the Portland Observer of that date.

CENTENNIALS FOR CHURCHES    -    1976 marks the centennials for the Portland Baptist Church, the Coleman Church and the Sebewa Corners M. E. Church.  The Coleman (Methodist) Church is gone except for a trace of the foundation, the Sebewa Methodist was closed and sold; so that leaves the Portland Baptist Church for the celebration.

BICENTENNIAL COMMUNITIES    -     Both Lake Odessa and Sunfield have been recently honored by the American Revolutionary Bicentennial Administration as qualified Bicentennial villages.  To earn that distinction the towns had to submit plans for a well-rounded program for celebrating the event.  The Sunfield School will be burying a time capsule on the G.A.R. Hall lot in Sunfield during the Michigan Week celebration.  Arrangements are being made for indivuduals to contribute small articles, pictures, or papers as part of the capsule content.  Capsules will be buried in Lake Odessa, Woodland and Clarksville as part of Lakewood Schools Bicentennial program.

CENTENNIAL FARMS   -    An intensive effort headed by Grayden Slowins, is being made to recognize all of Sebewa’s farms that are eligible as Centennial Farms in this year of our nation’s Centennial.  If you know of any farm qualifying that has been overlooked, please let Grayden know of it.  Some farms may have a chain of family ownership that is not generally known.

LITTLE FROGS IN THE BIG POND   -    As of late March you have had your importance reduced to one four billionth of the world’s population.  The daily net increase of people on this planet is two hundred thousand.  As the denominator of this tiny fraction accepts that kind of increase and the numerator stays constant, the result of multiplying it by the world’s total energy and resources becomes ( ? ).  Everybody has studied the 3 R’s.  Perhaps it is time we started figuring to see if we can handle the nine zeroes of a billion.

SPORT OF A CENTURY AGO   -   February 15, 1876.  In lieu of sliding down hill this winter, the boys have amused themselves by riding cakes of ice from one of the highway bridges down to the railroad bridge, approaching which, they would guide their somewhat treacherous craft up to one of the abutments and, as it passed, jump off, climb up on the bridge and return in high glee for another piece of ice.  PORTLAND OBSERVER

MAYBE YOU NEED A FATTER ADDRESS BOOK  -  The Portland Post Office has recently assigned house numbers to all unnumbered houses on its rural routes.  Road names and house numbers as well as route numbers are expected to be used on addresses to facilitate mail delivery.  My number, 11543 has a meaning.  The 11 and .543 indicate the miles and fraction of a mile south from Ionia, the starting point of the numbering system.  Being an odd number indicates the left side of the road going away from the number source.  (Ionia) East-west roads are numbered from M 66 and the even and odd numbers are supposed to apply as right and left sides of the road going away from M66.  Some of the earlier assigned numbers do not conform to this odd and even rule.

POSTPONED---TOO MUCH ICE---NO BLACK TOP THIS YEAR – The recent ice storm cut into the Ionia County Road Commission funds enough to bring another delay to completing the blacktopping of the Clarksville Road in Sebewa.  The paving was slated for this year but the county funds are now insufficient.  Sebewa Township’s share of the cost has been funded and remains deposited in local banks.

MORE BICENTENNIAL EVENTS – The Grand River Watershed Council has the big canoe trip down the Grand planned for the week of May 16.

The Wagon Train, as part of a national affair, will leave Lansing May 5 for Washington with stops scheduled for Charlotte and Bellevue.

Easton County Day With The Arts will be a busy day at the Eaton County Fitzgerald Park, 9 AM until dusk May 22.

The Vermontville Maple Sirup Festival is April 23, 24 and 25.

Nearly every community has activities planned for the July 4th weekend.  This is not the year to sit out community events.

ROSINA—THE POST OFFICE AND STORE IN SOUTHWEST SEBEWA TOWNSHIP – David “Chub” Van Houten once told me that when a name was being chosen for the post office at the corner of Tupper Lane Road and M 66 it was suggested that it be named after Rosina Torpy.  That post office succeeded an earlier one called LAKE CITY, which is found on the 1875 atlas.  Somewhat later when David and Edward Leak had the store at the corner of Musgrove Highway and Goddard Road the Leaks also had the post office and it continued the name of ROSINA.  The store building was located just south of the Baptist Church.  Recently Zeno Leak has made the store account book available and from it we glean this picture of the purchasers and the items being sold around 1900.  The contrast in the variety of items sold with those offered in the P. G. Cook store of 1860 is striking.

EZRA McCOLISTER:   Tobacco  $ .30; Smoking  .05; Coffee 1#  .23; Tobacco ½# .15; Tobacco 1#  .25; Tobacco  .10; Shoes  1.25; Shoes  1.75;  Socks  .20; Lineament .25; Tobacco  .10; Tobacco 1/2 # .15; Tobacco  .15; Coffee 1# .25; Tobacco 1/2# .15; Pork  14 ½#  1.43; Tobacco  .15; Tobacco  .15; Sugar  .20; Tobacco ½# .15; 1 plug  .10; Pork  .25; Tobacco  .15; Pork 6 ½# .65; Shirts  $1.20; Pork  .85; Sugar  .28; Tea  .20; Pepper  .08; Pain killer, tobacco  .35; Spices  .20;

BION ESTEP:   Tobacco  .10, Butter, coffee & matches  .55; Sugar & Tea  .75; Pork  .13; Sugar  .27; Pork  .13; Sugar   .27; Sugar  .30; Tobacco  .10; Oil, spices & Molasses  .41; Spices, sugar & tobacoo  1.44; Axe handle & Can Covers    .34; Coffee, Tea & Tobacco  .80; Cans, can rubbers & tabacco    .20; Tobacco matches  .15; Sugar  20# 1.10; Postum cereal  .25;  Soap & tobacco  .35; Axe handle  .25; Can covers  .09; Sugar, cinnam  .36; Jars  .80; Pork  .86; Tea  .50; Wagon grease  .08; Tobacco  .30; Coffee, tabacc.  .46; Thread, pepper  1.21; Calico, sulfur  .59; Nails, tobacco & candy  .45; Tobacco, sugar & oil  .46.

DAVID FIGG:   Factory 2 ½ yds   .18; Overalls   .75; Seeds  .15; 1 can tomato  .10; Rice 3#  .15; Pepper  .08; Baking Powder  .10; Coconut  .10; Oatmeal  .10, Crackers  .10; Sugar  .60; Sugar  .50; Spices  .16; Cans  .23; Rubbers   .03; Sugar  .50; Sugar .75; Oil  .10; Thread  .05; Wick  .01; Calico  .65; Tea  ½# .25; Coffee  1#  .25; Yeast Cakes  .05; Pork  10#  .80; Sugar  .28; Starch  .08, Spice  .10; Oil  .03; Shoes  2.30; Tea  .25; Yeast Foam  .05; Yeast Foam  .05; Rubbers .75; Soap  .25; Thread, wick  .06; Camphor  .10; Wool twine  .21; Shoes  1.45; Whip  .10.

GEORGE LAPO:   Coffee   .25; Cheese  10; Fish  .12, Tea  .25; Axle grease  .08; Tomatoes  .10; Shirting   .25; Allspice  .08; Cloves  .08; Bananas  .35; Cheese 2# 10 oz.  .26; Coffee  .25; Tea  .25; 1 pair hose  .10; Tea  .20; 1 pair hose  .10; Tea  .20; Coffee  .25; Molasses  .09; Tea  .20,  Soap  .05; Castor Oil  .15; Coffee  .25; Molasses  .09; Tea  .20; Coffee .25; Beef  .08; Cloth  .25; Tea  .20; Beef  .09; Baking powder  .10; Tea  .25, Sugar  .10; Oil  .10, Yarn  .45; Coffee, tea  .45; Ginger, soap  .13; Ladies mitts, card  .26; Pocketbook   .10; Broom, Drammys  .41; Shoes  1.30; Sugar, matches  .30; Sugar  .28.

JOHN VAN HOUTEN:  Chimney  .05; Rope  .10; Licorice  .02; Oil  .05; 2 pair mitts  .70; Coffee  .25; Sox, Rubbers   3.75; Thread  .05; Brown denims  .24; Oil  .05; Allspice  .08; Candy  .05; Yeast, ink  .10; Crackers  .14; Tablet  .05; Oil, matches  .10; Rubbers  .65; Pouch  .10; Overalls  .60; Socks  .10; Sugar  .30; Mouth Organ  .25.

FRANK HARPER:  Acenite  .25; Salts  .25; Castor Oil  .10, Tobacco  .10; Sugar 5# .28; Tomatoes  .10; Pork  .15; Soap  .05; Sugar  .25; Coffee  .25; Overalls  .75; Suspenders  .25; Shirting  .25, Overalls  .25; Tobacco  .10; Cheese  .24; Crackers  .25; Sugar  .25; Cheese  .12; Snaps  .20; Hat  .15; Tobacco  .10; Tar  .10.

WILL CASWELL:  Oil  .10; Sugar  .70; Powder  .15; Tobacco  .10; Boots, Quinine  3.00; Pants, tobacco  .60; Cap  .25;  Oil, Tea & Tobacco .37; Stockings  .15; Shoes, carpet warp  2.20; Arnica, Tobacc  .35; Oil  .10, Overalls and suspenders  .75; Oysters, crackers, calico skirt, gloves  1.64; Nuts, salt, oil  .45; Tea, chimney  .25; Alum powder  .25.

GIDEON RALSTON:  Tobacco  .10, Seeds  .25; Basket  .20, Tobacco  .10; Oil  .10; Molasses  .08; Coffee  .25;  Lard can  .20; Coffee .25 & Lard can  .20, Sugar .25; Mitts  .45; Tobacco  .10, Cream of Tartar  .10, Carbolic acid  .10; Soap  .05, Coffee  .25; Sugar, oil  .57; Yeast Foam  .05; Pail  .10; Coffee  .22; Mustard  05, Camric  .10.

These items in the eight accounts listed here covered most of the things sold in the store although there were other oddities in other accounts.  Listed below are the names of people who used store accounts. Listed below are the names of people who used store accounts.

Charles Baldwin, Fred Yager, Frank Harper, Walter Warner, Abe Bush, C. J. Yager, Frank Aves, Betts & Torpy, Mrs. Betts, Chester Yager, David Figg, John McAllister, Will Barker, Ezra McColister, Geo. Lapo, Will Martin, James Braden, John Van Houten, Bill Martine, George Gunn, Geo. Brownfield, Bion Estep, Simon Sears, George Housman, Chas. Boynton, Chris Leak, Lincoln Austin, Buell Austin, Ed Baldwin, Thos. Martine, Burt Sexton, Thos. Martin, B. B. Braden, Will Caswell, Sidney Thomas, David Leak Jr., Ira Webester, Chas. Estep, Mrs. Geo. Baldwin, Burnie Van Houten, Mel Blossom, Fed Humphrey, Chas. Cook, Will Kimble, Jim Brownfield, D. Leak, Mrs. Van Houten, Frank Harper, Dennis Beckhorn, Daniel Van Houten, Rob Renshaw, Warren Fender, Joseph Braden, Edwin Leak, Samuel Gunn, Chas. Evisiel, Eli Deatsman, Mrs. Kimble, B. B. Braden, J. C. Clark, Lee Day, Mary A. Leak, Rupert Warner, Ed Johnson, Till Daniels, Herman Nabor, Harry Shelter, Glen Van Houten, Gid Ralston, David Figg, Al Figg, Ernest Reed, Rev. Runshaw, Jim Holcomb.

The old store building is now facing west on Musgrove Highway and is used as a welding shop by Jim Leak.


     I was born in Charlevoix County in 1889 near Boyne City in Evangeline Township.  My father’s name was Frank Clute and my mother’s name was Louella Culver.  She was a sister to Bert and Lee Culver of Sebewa Township.  Hetty Allen was also a sister.

     There was logging in Charlevoix County in the winter time and my parents went up there from Sebewa to have work in the winter.  My father and mother were married in Sebewa and lived on the place where Gerald Stoel lives now.  Lee Culver married Laura Troub and that was the connection between the Clutes and the Troubs.  When my folks first went up north they went to live with my father’s brother, John, who had come there from Belding earlier.  One day my father and Uncle John were out peeling bark when they heard the women folks holler.  When they got where they could see back to the farmhouse they saw it was all on fire.  The women were baking a woodchuck in the oven.  The oven got too hot, the chuck burst into flames and the house burned up.  They had a bread rising in a dishpan and that was about the only  (thing) saved from the house.

     When I was a small boy, logging was the big situation up there.  Not much of the land was cleared for farming and the soil turned out to be light so that we could not raise much grain anyhow.  We raised some corn and potatoes.  It was good potato ground.

     I went to rural school and finished the eighth grade there.  It was Evangeline District number 4.  Some of the children had to walk as far as 2 ½ miles.  Walloon Lake was partly in our district.  Because of the shape of the lake they later took some of the district and made it into #5.  My teachers’ names were Louella Schaub of Boyne City, Elsie Perkins of Boyne City, Alice Tainter of Evangeline Township, Madge Tainter of Evangeline Township and Cora Belding of Clarion.  The school enrollment was around twenty or twenty-five.

     My chores as a boy were to take care of the chickens and pigs and when I got big enough to milk I had to take care of the cows.  Generally we had three cows.  With the surplus milk my mother made butter and sold it.  She would set the milk in jars, let the cream rise and churn that into butter in her dasher churn.  She made butter into patties and sold it along with a few eggs.  Our chicken coop was poor and we kept but a few chickens.

     My first experience at work in the woods was skidding logs with a team.  We would skid logs out of the woods until the snow got deep and the lake froze over.  We would put then on the skidway from which they were loaded onto sleighs to be hauled to the sawmill at Boyne City.  Part of the trip was going across Walloon Lake.

     To skid logs we hitched a pair of tongs to the ovener behind the horses, grabbed the tongs into a log and started pulling the log around onto a skidway to the skid pile where the sleighs would later be loaded.  There we decked up the logs by attaching a chain and pulling it so that it would roll the log up onto the pile.  That way we did not have to clear much ground to store the accumulation of logs.  The pine of this locality had been pretty well cut off before I began working so it was hardwood logs I worked with.  Once I did help out a stand of pine for a neighbor where they had been left in a swamp.

     It took a good team of horses to do the skidding.  Once in a while we would get hold of an elm or a big maple we had to put a block and tackle on in order to haul it to the skidway.  One winter my father’s partner had a pair of calves he trained as oxen.  He used them to deck up the log pile.  The oxen got a notion of going for home in the middle of the afternoon.  One day they started and my father grabbed the decking tongs and stuck them into the end of a log.  When the chain suddenly went tight the oxen had a quick change of mind.  It nearly broke their necks.  To drive oxen my neighbor used a whip but depended mostly on talking to them.  The oxen soon learned the commands given them.  I never drove oxen nor even mules, but I did drive quite a lot of horses.

     There was quite a lot of hemlock up there but most of that was taken off before my time.  The hemlock was cut in May and June.  The bark was peeled off the hemlock logs and taken to the tannery in Boyne City.  The logs were left until fall when they could be skidded out as the others were.  By the time you walked in six or seven inches of mealy snow all day you knew you had been somewhere when it came night.

     The tannery was on the south shore of Lake Charlevoix at Boyne City.  At one time that tannery was the largest tannery in the world.  The hides were shipped there from South America.  The only product was sole leather.  The hemlock bark was hauled there from the woods and as the tannery needed it they would grind the bark all up, soak it and then they would soak the hides in that.  My brother worked there in the tannery for twenty-five years.  The tannery worked the year around.  In summer it was awfully hot in there.  The men wore only shirt and overalls and were sure to change clothes when they left.  It was an awful smelling outfit.  When you would go along there with a car or team it would nearly drive you off.  The leather was shipped out to shoe factories by rail.  The tannery operated until the hemlock bark was used up and that was only a few years ago.

     The lumber that was sawed up was sent out to the lake ports.  Before Lake Charlevoix was opened by dredge to Lake Michigan shipping they hauled the lumber out to the big lake on barges.  I remember seeing as many as seven Lake Michigan vessels loading lumber at one time.  Sometimes lumber, logs and lumber products were so many in number you could scarcely see the lake shore for a long ways in the twenty rod strip.  The tops of the hardwood trees were used for chemical wood in the chemical plant.  The wood was heated to just the right point and they would turn the water onto it so that it would make charcoal.  The charcoal was used to fire the smelter where iron ore was brought from the Upper Peninsula to make pig iron.  The smelter has been gone for a long time.

     In the summer we would raise five or ten acres of corn, an acre or two of potatoes and sometimes we had a patch of wheat.  Part of the time we used our teams to haul the hemlock bark to the tannery in the summer time.  Once when I was hauling chemical wood across Walloon Lake a team following me broke through the ice and horses and sleigh went into the lake.  When we went on the ice we were supposed to hook a chain on the end of the tongue of the sleigh so that the horses hooked on the end of the chain would not be pulled into a hole in the ice should the load break through.  The first load across that morning I had my horses spaced away from the load with the chain.  When I was about half way across the lake I heard somebody holler.  I stepped out from my load so that I could look back and then I saw that the team following me was in the lake.  I stopped my team and went back to help.  We cut the breast straps and got the team loose and held their heads up out of the water.  The fellow with the load following came with his team.  We put a chain around the foundering horses’ necks and pulled them right out onto the ice.  The teamster had good horse blankets with which he covered his horses right away.  He drove them right to town where he could get them into a barn.  Later they retrieved the sleigh and its load.  The wood on the load was dry enough to float.  I worked in a sawmill one summer.  My job was to saw up the slabs.  I worked in the sawmill one summer.  My job was to saw up the slabs.  They were used as fuel for the sawmill engine and some were sold to local residents for firewood.

     When I first went deer hunting across the straits in a party of seven, three of them were from Belding.  We took the train to Mackinaw City and went across to St. Ignace on the ferry with the train.  We went about 40 miles north of St. Ignace to Ozark and then we got a team to take us seven miles out in the woods.  We stayed out there three weeks.  The seven of us got thirteen deer.  We had the one for the camp and brought the other twelve home.  While we were in camp a big snowstorm laid the snow above our knees but soon there was a warm spell and the snow all melted.  When we came out of the woods with the wagon we had to cross the Carp River by fording.  One of the horses was balky and refused to pull the wagon through the river.  Luckily we had some plank to bridge from the wagon to shore.  We hauled the deer to bank.  By using a chain to the wagon tongue the horses could pull the wagon from the bank.  Soon we were reloaded and on our way home.

     We used to go out by the Black River huckleberrying in the summertime on the plains where nothing but huckleberries grew.  There were lots of trout in the Black River in the huckleberry area.  The family used to take a team and wagon to the plains, catch all the fish we could eat and enjoy picking huckleberries.  Sometimes we took a tent for shelter and again we might sleep on the open ground.  The campfire helped make it seem home.  There were rattlesnakes out there but they never bothered us.  The berries were on state land.

     One time my brother and I went out there on a Friday night.  We picked berries Saturday and when we went home Sunday morning we figured we had 94 quarts of berries.  That year the berries had frozen in the blossom except for an area that was protected by a little lake.  The berries were so thick that when you looked across them it looked like blue water.

     There was a bend in the road just northwest of the schoolhouse.  It was here that we built a small United Brethren Church of frame construction.  It was furnished with manufactured seats.  Since then many of the oldtimers have passed away and the church fell into disuse.  One of the neighbors bought the building from the church association.  He tore it down and built himself a barn of it.

     My parents both died in Evangeline Township.  In 1912 I came to Sebewa to work.  I planned to go to Lansing to work in the auto plant.  But there was work here on the farms and I worked for Fred Wilcox that summer.  One summer I worked for Uncle Lee.  In that fall Pa fell off a wagon and hurt his hip and was unable to work anymore.  My brother was only sixteen.  So I felt it was my duty to return and help with the family of my mother, brother and three sisters.  I always wanted to come back down here to live because I could see the difference in the yield you could get out of the ground from the work you put into it.  When I came here in 1945 I bought the farm from Sylvester Wohlscheid on Tupper Lake Road.  Vet moved over near Charlotte.  Uncle John and Father used to go bass fishing on Lake Charlevoix a lot.  Once they went there in blackberry season in 1915.  They sat with their backs to one another.  Both were somewhat crippled and used canes.  One of them got up and made some kind of a move, the boat tipped over and dumped them into the lake.  They had talked previously of such an occurrence and decided that because Pa could not swim, he would hang onto the boat and Uncle John might swim away from it.  Uncle John never even tried to swim and sank right from under his hat.  Some of my second and third cousins of Uncle John’s family still live in the Charlevoix area.

………..cross Lake Michigan, the location and use of the life jacket was shown and its use demonstrated—just in case of a dunking.  All of this is according to federal regulations and is repeated on every flight.

     A drink of fruit juice was served and by that time Chicago had come into view.  Most of Michigan was cloud covered and we were above the clouds.  The map of Chicago as it neared seemed a little familiar.  Seat belts again in place, we soon had made our first landing—the first of many I was to make and not one was bouncy in the least, only a shudder in the plane as the wheels met the runway and suffered the shock of sudden acceleration.  Twenty minutes flying and a change to Central from Eastern Standard time set the clock back by forty minutes from our departure.

     O’Hare field in Chicago is worth a visit even if you are not flying anywhere.  We deplaned at the United Airlines section.  I had plenty of time before I was to meet with the group so I thought I would explore enough to find my way to the TWA area with the help of a little map.  Everywhere I went and every alley I explored was United, United, United.  Flights were announced, tickets were sold and boarding was in progress at every turn.  I seemed to be in a Sargasso Sea of United Airlines.  Finally I did ask a kindly face, and there were many such, which way to TWA.  Taking the right route soon led me to the main rotunda and signs pointing to TWA and bought a ticket to Grand Rapids on the assumption I would need it two weeks hence when I would again arrive in Chicago.

     Stark Tours had issued all trip members some bright blue flight bags with shoulder straps.  When the twenty people in the group began to assemble from the various towns in Illinois and Indiana the bags were quick identification and introductions were soon made.  I was curious as to why all these people should want to go to India.  It turned out that most of them had been bitten by the “travel bug” and India was one place he had not taken them before.  I was almost alone as a greenhorn traveler.

     At the appointed time we were herded to the TWA boarding desk and the first tickets from our books were pulled and traded for boarding passes for the flight to New York.  This time the boarding pass assigned each to his respective seat on the New York bound 737.  Again the same required demonstrations were made, we found runway and were soon eastbound over southern Michigan or Indiana (who knows?)  The fading daylight showed the pattern of the early Michigan surveyors below as a freshly cut dripping pan cake at a potluck.

     The location for Detroit was announced but there was nothing more to see, for evening had set in.  As on all flights where there is time enough, the stewardesses served a round of fruit drinks in paper cups.  Then came the evening meal on trays set on the folding shelf on the back of the seat next forward.  Anyone wanting to be served a spirituous drink had to pay cash as he was served.

     At Kennedy airport we were “stacked” for half an hour to kill time for the proper turn for landing.  Heavy snow had restricted use of some of the runways while the plows were opening them again.  All of this we should never have known except as the captain announced it on the speaker system.  An easy landing was made, a quick taxi to the TWA quarters completed and we were again in the maze of a big airport.  This time we had a guide who directed us to crowded buses with all our bags for a long rough ride to the Air India station.  If you want more of this another time, somebody must ask for it, else I shall surely revert to more seasoned history.                                   RWG

A       F L I N G      A T      F L Y I N G

     Way back in 1928 soon after the Lindberg flight to Paris I distinctly recall thinking that someday almost anybody might fly the Atlantic Ocean.  On my flight to India in February of this year I joined the growing number of people who have use of commercial air travel.  I suspect there are many more people who have not made use of commercial flying than there are those who “have been somewhere” by air.  At the risk of boring the air travelers, I shall relate some of the details of flying to those who have not yet been supported by wings.

     The tour I took was sponsored by the Prairie Farmer magazine, which turned the whole thing over to Stark Tours of New York.  After I paid the stipulated price for the tour, Stark sent me a “book” of tickets that included the following:  TWA ticket from Chicago to New York, Air India ticket from New York to New Delhi, railroad ticket from New Delhi to Amritsar near the Pakistan border, Air India ticket Bombay to Poona, Air India Poona to Bombay, Air India ticket Bombay to New York and United Airlines ticket New Your to Chicago.  That left me finding my way from Grand Rapids to Chicago and later back to Grand Rapids from Chicago.

     When it came February 6, Wilbur Gierman drove me to the Grand Rapids airport with my ticket to Chicago, my forty-pound suitcase, a small flight bag and time to spare.  At the ticket desk at United Airlines my heavy bag was accepted for the conveyor and was tagged for transfer at Chicago to the TWA flight for New York so that I did not need to bother with it at Chicago.  Next was the security check.  The flight bag was opened for a cursory examination.  Then I passed through the metallic detector area and made the alarm squeak and ping.  Then I took my light meter from my pocket and tried again.  Once more came the guilty signal.  This time I removed a pocketful of coins and made a quiet passage.

     Now I was ready to put myself back together and head for the boarding area waiting room.  Here another clerk at a desk traded a boarding pass for my ticket.  With plenty of time to size up the group of thirty or forty people there was also time to hear snatches of conversation that indicated faraway places, past and future.  Air travelers, it seems, are addicted to travel.  The plane arrived, the flight was announced and everybody started the trek down the stairs, across an open stretch of brisk air, up the boarding steps to the door at the front of the plane.  It was a 737 with three seats on either side of the center aisle.  It had come to Grand Rapids from Cleveland and would continue on to California from Chicago.  A zig and a zag matters little in flying time.  The thing that spoils swift flight is the time spent on the ground at airports.  On the ground a plane maneuvers easily on the taxi strips by using brakes to steer and floods of power to nudge it in the right direction.  Once on the take-off runway the strong feel of power as the seat back pushed against my inertia made me realize that we were quickly in the air and in a rather steep climb.

     Shortly after take-off I had the illusion that the pilot had done something to cut down the noise of the jet power.  When I clicked my ears to adjust inner ear pressure to the lower air pressure we had moved into, the jet sound was again normal.  This was done two or three times before the cabin pressure stabilized at what is normal for eight thousand feet even if the plane flies much higher.  The stewardess had checked all passengers to see that seat belts were fastened and cigarettes extinguished for take-off, as the little electric signs indicated.  When safely in the air, a musical tone was sounded on the speakers to call attention to turning off the warning light for seat belt and smoking.  Before we reached a high altitude the stewardess demonstrated the oxygen mask that automatically drops down for passenger use in case of sudden decompression in flight.  Also, because we were to (Continued on facing page----As if I needed an April Fool.)


     In the late 1930’s when we were just starting to learn to be dependent on electric service, when radio was king of the airways, one regular and repeated morning radio commercial was Clark Gardener’s remarkable offer of twenty different plants and shrubs, postpaid, for only a dollar.  How could one resist such a mystery in a package even though a single dollar was hard to come by at that time?  My father finally sent his dollar to Clark Gardener in care of radio station WJR, Detroit.

     In due time the package arrived—no larger than two green thumbs.  It had twenty tiny plants carefully marked with tiny dots of paint, color coded to correspond to an enclosed identification chart.  There we had it, twenty plants and twenty names.

     As might be expected, the most of these miniatures did not survive the first two weeks in the ground.  But one little fellow was hardy enough to thrive and almost shout “Chinese Elm.”  At three years it had become a real tree.  A short time later it was sending out an abundance of seeds every year.  Its seedlings never produced a Chinese Elm but rather some kind of fast growing hybrid that was quickly susceptible to the Dutch Elm disease.  The tree eventually grew toward the electric high line and had to be cut but not before a sprout on its root gave me another tree to plant.

     This, too, soon grew to mature size and yielded several crops of broken twigs and dead branches.  Then came the ice storm of March 3 and 4.  Like some worms and other low order animals I have heard of, the Chinese Elm had no reluctance to shed a branch to save its trunk.  It exceeded the soft maple in the debris that came crashing down under the weight of its load of ice.  In the cleanup I was impressed by the great number of small branches and some fair number of small branches and some fair sized ones that were speared into the ground twelve inches or more in depth.  What a place to pitch a tent that night!

     It was March 12, 1972 when the ice storm last caused a general power outage.  That four-year cycle seems just long enough to let us forget the likelihood of another ice storm and the necessity of making preparation for another period of no heat, no light and no refrigerator.    RMG

     Died in February at age 83, Mrs. Ruby Wekenman.  Her father was Walter Ralston and her mother was Florence Tran, both of Sebewa centennial families.  Also died in Charlotte in March was Melvin Shultz, age 63.  Mel had been disabled with multiple sclerosis for nearly thirty years.  Walter Hunt had visited with him when both were suffering from the same scourge.



Robert W. Gierman, Editor
R 1
Portland, Michigan  48875




Last update September 23, 2014