May 28, 2014 - Two totally unrelated events happened to me this week that got me a-pondering.
One of the coolest parts of being "the" local newspaper guy (look at my business card if you don't believe me) is local history. I love hearing, discovering all the neat little things that have had happened to make each of our communities what they currently are. And this love affair is nothing new.
In the seventh and eighth grade, I had an Oakland Press paper route. I delivered to homes from Clarkston Road, Greenview, Dubique and more. The first house on my route was Mr. and Mrs. Arnold. I'd peddle my 1957 Schwinn Hornet cruiser up their drive and more times than not, Mrs. Arnold would bring out a piece of pie and Mr. Arnold would start telling stories. When Clarkston Road was dirt, where he used to dig up roots by Walters Lake to make root beer. The rest of the 40 or so homes would always get their papers late as I enjoyed the pie and history lessons.
Whilst still a young, impressionable and pure as the driven snow college man, I wrote a research paper on the history of Oxford, because Clarke Historical Library at Central Michigan University had all of The Oxford Leaders on microfilm. I loved reading the towns unofficial history, as it happened and was reported in The Leader – when men used to break their arms cranking the front of their tractors to get ém started. The crank would "kick" and I guess busted limbs were front news back then. Go figure!
When I first started working at The Leader, I went to local historian, barber and story teller Stub Robinson to learn what I could of that town. I even learned how he and his friends used to sneak into the Methodist church on hot summer days to skinny dip in the baptismal pool.
George! We found your 1953-54 Clarkston Elem. library card in 18 Holcomb Steet. call us. (click for larger version)
I remember when then Oxford photographer Mel Pawl moved his studio from the west side of M-24 to the east side (where photographer Johnston now has her studio). When he was remodeling he took down some paneling and on the brick wall by the staircase was an wall-sized ad for Bull Durham tobacco. Cool.
Even going through old Clarkston News from the 1960s, '70s and '80s to see and read about familiar faces. It always makes me smile to see the hair styles and fashions of the day. Most of the time, I will make a photo copy of old articles/pictures and send them to whomever I want to embarrass. (Ask local Realtor Pam Ford about her Jane Fonda workout photo from the 1980s!)
Recently, handyman Rob Schroeder contacted me – actually we were both in Brown's Do-it Center in Goodrich and he pulled me out to his older-than-dirt pickup truck and gave the card you see.
He worked on a home at 18 Holcomb Street in Clarkston, and found this library card, shoved behind something.
Who's is this George, who lived at 18 Holcolm and in 1953-54 looked to be a first grader at Clarkston Elementary School?
Local historians want to know!
Also, on Facebook, somebody posted this photo of Bob Seger from the 1970s, standing on Main Street in Clarkston, a-front the Clarkston News building. You can see the arches, to the right. I re-posted and started getting information about the Seger Clarkston connection.
When I was growing up, there were two rumors I knew of saying rock and roller Bob Seger lived in Clarkston -- one on Clintonville Road, north of Sashabaw Creek; the other on Sashabaw Road across of what is now Independence Oaks Park. Guess what I learned this week?
Both rumors were untrue and true at the same time. Seger did indeed have a Clarkston mailing address, but not on either of those roads. I found a neighbor of his, that I know, but didn't know she was a neighbor. Here's the exchange.
"Hi Don, I lived on Shamrock Lane from 1972-1986, there are four jouses with drives off Rattalee Lake Road, just past the jog at Ellis. Bob Seger lived in the house that faced Rattalee. I remember in 1977 we had a family open house and he was mowing his lawn on his riding mower. My sister and her college roommate were freaking out and crouching under my front window, so they could look at him through binoculars. It was hysterical!
"It was great fun, but we didn't tell people, as he was trying to be low key. He rode his motorcycle to those concerts at Pine Knob! Incognito!
"It was so nice, he gave us all Pine Knob tickets, three moms and we each have three kids! We were so excited! He's a nice guy!"
So, it's not much of history, but again, one of those neat little stories that making living here so rich! (And, now it's in print for almost forever!)
Rockin' Robert Seger in some groovy pants, outside the Clarkston News office in the 1970s. You can barely see the News building's arches there on the right. (click for larger version)
For larger version go to our website. Got some scoopage, answers to fun questions? Give me a shout. Email me, Don@ShermanPublications.org with the scoop. And, thanks Rob.
Don is Assistant Publisher for Sherman Publications, Inc. He has worked for the company since 1985. He has won numerous awards for column, editorial and feature writing as well as for photography. He has two, sons Shamus and Sean and resides in the area. To read archived copies of his columns, click on his name, just under his picture up top . . . He can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org