Source: Sherman Publications

You know you're from LO if...

by Meg Peters

August 28, 2013

The “likes” on this Facebook page are out of control.

The comments alone would take days to sift through.

It doesn’t appear to have an end, and it doesn’t seem to have a beginning.

But memories are kind of like that.

“You know you’re from Lake Orion if you remember” is the title of the ongoing account of Lake Orion fondness.

Just type it into the Facebook group search box and you will see for yourself the memories that come back so quickly.

High school reunions, comments of nostalgia and pictures of horses and buggies, recent tributes to Dragon on the Lake and anti-Oxford sentiment are recent threads to view.

But, it is a closed group, so send Bill VanArsdel a ‘join’ request.

A Lake Orion High School graduate of 1977, VanArsdel created the FB group in the fall of 2011, only inviting a few of his closest friends.

Through Lake Orionite networking tactics, the Facebook page now contains more than 1,000 group members.

“Who could forget North Orion?” is one of the recent comments under a picture of an old dragon float labeled: “Drag-on the Wildcats.”

Another comment asks what North Orion is?

Administrator VanArsdel comments, “There is an unwritten rule here that you don’t use the ‘O’ word. It is to be referred to as North Orion.”

“It’s just a neat site for all things Lake Orion,” he said on the phone, from his home in Ohio. “I want it to be a pure, innocent thing. I want people to be able to remember Lake Orion they way they knew it.”

So, he laid down a list of rules when first creating the page, including the exclusion of anything political or religious.

“We would yell, beat North Orion, and they would yell, beat south Oxford, and everybody remembers that too,” VanArsdel recalls.

He does encourage posts requesting prayers for those sick or deceased, but as far as giving opinions on theology, “No, No, No. Start your own page if you’re going to do that.”

The group members of “You know you’re from Lake Orion if you remember” aren’t posting their opinions too often. However, they are posting their memories, high-school yearbook photos of teachers with pencils in their mouths, and questions of their favorite locations from ‘back in the day.’

“OK. Who remembers the name of the little party store/market on Central Dr. ?,” was posted August 17.

The comments ensued all pointed to Galloways where you could purchase a ‘drumstick and a coke’ for 25 cents.

“A lot of times when you post something like that, people talk about it and comment and then they go off on little bunny-trails and segue into something completely different,” VanArsdel said.

Another memory is “Going to A&W or Howies for ice cream after a little league game, whether your team won or lost.

People begin reminiscing about burnouts in the parking lot. Or that A&W was someone’s first job. Maybe the “little kids’ mugs.” Or someone’s brother dating someone’s sister.

Another benefit of the page is connecting with people you haven’t seen for twenty years.

“I think that’s what people love about it the most. I’ve reconnected with so many people I knew in high school,” VanArsdel said.

“The weirdest thing is when you go to somebody’s page after they friend you. You look at their pictures, and you recognize them but I remember most of them from when I was much younger. So you think of them in your mind, and you see their pictures, and think ‘wow, we are getting old,’” he said.

“And I’m sure they think the same thing about me.”

At first everyone was remembering the common stuff about Lake Orion—how great it was to grow up here and the lake—but there are so many unique little things from Lake Orion that VanArsdel thinks the page will live on for years to come.

A post dated from July 12 states: “Mr. Cherry was the happiest when we would arrive at McDonalds on Perry St.”

Another post from July 21, garnering 24 likes and 25 comments, states: “And while on the subject of Carpenter Elementary School, I dedicate this photo to all the safety patrol boys who served and protected at this intersection back in the day when students actually WALKED to school (unlike today’s pampered puppies whose mothers drive them to school).”

Friendly sarcasm, old and new jokes, and new-found gratefulness are typically generated from the page.

VanArsdel said he remembers pretty much everything that everyone posts—people wonder how—but he has recently become aware of something that took him twenty years to see.

VanArsdel said he lived out in the boonies on Stanton Rd., off of Newman, when so many of his friends lived downtown or in the subdivisions—Keatington, Judah Lake, Hi Hill, Perry Acres, Red Barn to name a few.

He posted a picture of the Indianwood Junction where he and his three friends from the area would ride their bikes three miles to buy candy and pop.

“I always used to gripe, there’s nobody to hang out with, there’s only three kids within a mile,” he said about his remote homestead on 100 acres with a lake.

“But so many people mentioned coming out to my house to go swimming and they thought ‘wow, he’s got it made.’ The page made me realize all those years I just took it for granted, just seeing people post stuff kind of put it in perspective,” he said.

If you ever lived in Lake Orion during the “good old days,” for a year or for 20, you are invited to become part of the living past, the jokes, the smiles and the tricks that memories play, the little and the big moments, and all things Dragons, even the phone booth.

“Remember the red phone booth in the parking lot behind Van Wagoner's back cement steps and the smell of "Marco's Pizza"?

“Parking was a little tight to pick up the pizza, but that yummy pizza and subs hit ya as soon as you got out of the car, summer or winter. And some nights on a hot evening, listening to the Tiger's game and a drive in the Buick Electra in our PJ's, down to the A & W Root Beer stand by Milosch. That was living the good life. So it seemed.”