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Clarkstonites take a stroll down memory lane

Alice Jane Vliet-Anderson and Toni Smith, Clarkston Community Historical Society, examine an historic broadsheet donated by Alice’s family. Photos by Trevor Keiser (click for larger version)
September 15, 2010 - While attending the Methodist Church in Big Rapids, Alice Jane Vliet-Anderson met Bob and Nancy Parsons. Through general conversation, Vliet-Anderson and Parsons found they had a special connection. They were both from Clarkston.

Vliet-Anderson, her husband Gus, and the Parsons made the three-hour drive on Thursday Sept. 9, so Alice could have a look at an 1873 broadside banner donated to the Clarkston Historical Society a few months ago after her cousin Ray Smith died ("Patriotic piece of local history restored," July 7).

Alice was born in her grandparent's home at 71 Main Street in 1922.

"They've changed the address, it's now 104 N. Main Street," she said. "Looking straight on it was to the left of (old) Independence Township Hall."

Alice said she, Gus, and the Parsons came down a couple years ago to tour the old house and visit the graves of her parents.

Though Alice was only 10-years-old when she moved from Clarkston to Big Rapids, she still considers it "home.

"I have lots of ties here all the relatives live here," she said. "I remember many good times."

Alice recalled playing with King McIntyre, who lived two houses north of Clarkston Road.

"We played together all the time not much at his house but mostly at my house. I had a tent out in the backyard, there was a little hole in it I would stand inside and he would stand on the outside and we would throw stones through the hole," she said. "He picked up a piece of glass and threw it landed on my foot. I said 'I'm bleeding' and he ran for home and I yelled until grandma came out. I still have a scar."

Alice said her domain was North Main Street from Clarkston Road to Washington, the only time she was allowed to cross the street was if she was going to King's house or to visit her Grandma Smith who lived on Washington.

"My grandmother, Leda Smith Vliet's mother, lived on the north side of the street on Washington about three houses from Main Street," she said.

She also attended United Methodist Church located on Buffalo and Church Street, which is now the house of former Clarkston Mayor Sharron Catallo.

Alice said they moved from Clarkston because her dad wasn't able to find any work.

"It was depression time," she said. "Grandma still had a farm up in Big Rapids and she said to my dad "well there are no jobs and no work here. We can go up there mind free and clear, we can eat and have a home."

As far as her memories, Main Street is about the same, she said. However, Nancy, a 1960 graduate of "old, old" Clarkston High School, which is now Renaissance High school, said "Clarkston's grown up."

"When we moved here in 1954 on Waldon Road there was a hill they've kind of taken out but when you go down the hill there were all the fruit farms, and orchards which is now Snow Apple Drive, Peach drive, and all those orchard names.

Nancy said the people who lived across the street from her owned a lot of the orchard. She also said behind her were no houses and they would go camping back there.

"White Lake Road, and Deer Lake you'd go swimming down there and it was just a hole, a gravel pit Lake," she said. "Now, it's all different."

Her husband Bob lived on Whipple Lake Road, and graduated in 1961, he was the first class to graduate from the "old" High School on Waldon, now the Jr. High.

Nancy and Bob married in 1963 and moved, but came back to bury her dad in 1975, and would visit often to take care of her mom.

"I would have like to stayed in Clarkston, Bob's job didn't allow for it," she said. "It's always good to come back for a visit."

Alice smiled and agreed.

"Clarkston will always be special to me."

Trevor graduated with degrees in English and communications from Rochester College. He wrote for his college and LA View newspapers before joining The Clarkston News in May 2007.
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