Looking Back

Published May 4, 2016

This photograph from 2002 was taken at the Utica Farm Bureau and shows one of the old seed cabinets. Jars of seeds line the shelves, and a scale sits ready to measure them out for the spring planting.

Established in 1919, the bureau supplied local farmers with all they needed for their farms, such as coal, kerosene, fertilizer and crop seeds.

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Published May 4, 2016

WARREN — This fall, the city of Warren will celebrate its ties to the United Service Organizations and a building once used by the group to host events for members of the armed forces and their families.

The Warren Historical Commission will host a historical plaque dedication on Oct. 1 at the Fitzgerald Recreation Center on Nine Mile, east of Ryan, which members believe is one of the few remaining World War II-era structures once utilized by the USO.

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Published April 27, 2016

ROCHESTER HILLS — During the last century, the smallpox vaccine was produced on the skin of calves.

“We painted the heifers’ bellies with smallpox,” said Tom Janicki, of Almont, who worked at Parke-Davis laboratory facilities for 36 years, beginning in 1960. “Then we scraped it off and made the vaccine.”

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Published April 26, 2016

ROCHESTER HILLS — The original dedication plaque for the old Brooklands School has gone missing, and police are on the case.

Rochester Community Schools Community Relations Director Lori Grein said the district filed a police report after noticing that the plaque was missing from the 1927 building, which has been vacant for nearly two years.

RCS Superintendent Robert Shaner said it is “extremely disappointing” that someone would take the dedication plaque, which he said serves as “a treasured piece of history” within the community.

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Published April 6, 2016

In March 1970, Ronee Gritzinger, a teacher at Frank E. Doherty Elementary School, described natural ice formations to a group of sixth-grade students. This photo appeared in the Inter-Lake News in 1970.

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Published April 6, 2016

Shetland ponies were once big business in Birmingham. From the 1890s to the mid-20th century, Watkins Shetland Pony Farm supplied Shetland ponies to pony lovers, farmers and businesses in the Birmingham area and all over the country from its 120-acre property east of what is now called Quarton Lake.

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Published April 5, 2016

This month’s Looking Back photograph is of Hund’s General Store, formerly located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Eight Mile Road and Gratiot Avenue. This photo was taken around 1850 and showcases some of the horse-and-buggy traffic prevalent during that farming era of Erin Township, which would later become the city of Eastpointe. The general store faced Eight Mile Road.

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Published March 16, 2016

ROCHESTER HILLS — During World War I, 90 percent of the eligible men who lived in Stony Creek Village traveled to Europe to fight for their country. A service flag honoring those brave men was dedicated during an April 1918 service in the Stony Creek schoolhouse yard.

The original service flag has been re-created by Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm officials. The flag currently flies in the front yard of the Van Hoosen farmhouse — paying tribute to the soldiers who represented their small farming settlement in World War I.

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Published March 16, 2016

The first schoolhouse in Birmingham was constructed in 1822, but it wasn’t until the Hill School opened in 1869 that the city had a public secondary school as well as a primary school.

Until that point, students who wished to further their studies past the eighth grade had to pay tuition at an academy run by local minister Samuel N. Hill.

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Published March 9, 2016

Toward the end of winter, when temperatures rise above freezing in the daytime but drop below 32 degrees at night, it is time to tap sugar maple trees and boil down the sap into delicious maple syrup. This photo, taken in about 1920, shows Jessie Niles, the grandson of pioneer Johnson Niles, standing behind his evaporator in Elliott Woods, on the west side of Livernois, between Wattles and Long Lake roads. Tapping trees and making syrup continues in Troy every March at the Lloyd A. Stage Nature Center.

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Published March 8, 2016

This month’s Looking Back photo features the Roseville Florist shop as it appeared around 1947-48. The storefront was located at 27603 Gratiot Ave., between 11 Mile and 12 Mile roads; that location is now home to Jasen’s Fine Furniture, which advertises itself as opening in 1951.
Gratiot itself was not paved until around 1947-48, dating this photo to some point after that work was completed.

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Published February 28, 2016

CLINTON TOWNSHIP — In 1947, before she was born, Lois Jackman’s parents were one of the first families in East Detroit, now Eastpointe, to own a television set.

Her father worked for Detroit Edison, and for $1 per week he was able to purchase the company’s new appliances for home. Although the new TV only offered a few hours of programming per day, it was a hit with the neighbors.

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Published February 25, 2016

WEST BLOOMFIELD — March 19, 1976, was an unusually warm day for Michigan, especially since the month prior, West Bloomfield experienced below-freezing temperatures.

But as historian and West Bloomfield resident Charles Martinez said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a moment. It’ll change.” 

Martinez is the author of “Song of the Heron: Reflections on the History of West Bloomfield.”

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Published February 17, 2016

Do you remember Litwak’s Diner in Mount Clemens? This is the man who opened that restaurant. Morris Litwak was a man who came from a harsh beginning and found success here in Macomb County.  

He was born in Odessa, Russia, and was not sure of the exact date of his birth due to the fact that many Jewish children were not documented in the Ukraine for fear of the authorities. He was believed to have been born in either 1885 or 1886. 

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Published February 17, 2016

The Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society is fortunate to have the wooden home address sign from the summer home of Albert and Ernestine Kahn, whose summer home was on the north shore of Walnut Lake in the 1920s. 

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Published February 10, 2016

Shelby Township residents may remember the Big Snow of February 24-25, 1965, when a blizzard dumped nearly a foot of snow on the area and caused snowdrifts of up to 12 feet in some places. Schools and businesses were closed for several days as people dug themselves out of their homes. In this photo, the Ford Utica Trim Plant administration building on Mound Road appears to be nearly buried in snow.

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Published February 3, 2016

This month’s Looking Back photo, taken sometime in the late 1930s, is of Raymond Hardware. The photo was taken looking northward on Gratiot at the intersection with Elizabeth; Raymond Hardware is located at what is now the Chester Boot Shop. In the background on the far right side of the photo is the bank building, which now houses Gonzo Art Studios.

This photo was taken sometime after 1936, when the widening of Gratiot had taken place.

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Published January 31, 2016

WARREN  — The J.L. Hudson Co. and its iconic Detroit department store will be the focus of a special presentation hosted by the Warren Historical & Genealogical Society on March 2.

The program, to be held in the cafeteria at the Warren Community Center on Arden, will feature memorabilia from the legendary retailer and a presentation by author Michael Hauser, marketing manager for the Michigan Opera Theatre and the Detroit Opera House.

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Published January 27, 2016

ROCHESTER HILLS — Workers harvest ice from a pond on the former Gehrke farm in the 1920s. The farm was located off Sheldon Road, near Tienken Road. Parke Davis Laboratories reportedly used the harvested ice to cool the blood of laboratory animals. Children were told not to skate on the pond, in order to save the ice for the harvest.

Today, Stoney Creek High School sits on the Gehrke farm property, and a dam that created the pond is visible in front of the school and along Tienken Road.

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Published January 27, 2016

WARREN — This program from Nov. 7, 1981, was available to spectators who attended a football game between Warren Woods High School and Tower High School in the Warren Woods Public Schools district at Warren Woods High.

The program brochure, titled “Go For It Warriors Parents Day,” included photos of the Warren Woods High School football team in action, including games against Madison High School and previous Woods-Tower matchups. Team shots of Warren Woods High School’s varsity, junior varsity and freshman football teams also highlight the pages.

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