Looking Back

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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Published January 25, 2016

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The village of St. Clair Shores purchased its first dump truck around 1926. According to the Nellis News, a villagewide cleanup campaign was held from May 1 to May 17, 1927. The Village Council and the Business Men’s Association endeavored to make the village a cleaner place to live. Five days were devoted to gathering rubbish in each of the three districts. The village paid for the cleanup with disposal trucks, possibly like this dump truck. 

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Published January 19, 2016

WEST BLOOMFIELD — The Orchard Lake Museum, 3951 Orchard Lake Road, along with the Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society, held its monthly open house Jan. 10 and focused the day on the connection between two Sylvan Lake institutions.

“Our monthly open house is an opportunity for people to come in and see what we have,” Greater West Bloomfield Historical Society President Gina Gregory said. “We’re looking to highlight all the decades of history, because it’s fun to connect with the past.”

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Published December 24, 2015

You can see the excitement on the children’s faces as they wait in line to give Santa their wish list. This photograph was taken in December 1954 in the ballroom of the St. Clair Shores Recreation Center. The Blossom Heath roadhouse, located at 24800 Jefferson Ave., was originally built in 1911 as the Kramerhof. The property was purchased in February 1946 by the Village of St. Clair Shores and renamed the St. Clair Shores Civic Center. Over 150 gallons of paint were used to restore the main floor rooms. The Blossom Heath sign across the driveway was also taken down at this time.

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Published December 21, 2015

The Birmingham Historical Museum & Park recently acquired a painting of Dr. Ebenezer Raynale. It was donated by the Oakland County Medical Society. The description on back of the painting reads as follows:

“There were three generations of physicians in the Raynale family. This portrait is of Dr. Ebenezer M. Raynale, born in Vermont, 1804. He was a doctor of the old tradition — his medical education consisted of reading medicine in New York State and Pennsylvania.

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Published December 16, 2015

“Children at St. Kieran took part in a Christmas program Sunday that included bringing gifts to the Christ Child. The wrapped gifts will be distributed by the Community Action Center to needy children in the area. The children also acted out the story of Christmas in song. Taking part in the program are, left to right, Robert Casoli, Lou Scafuri, Andy Ruzzin, Mary Beth Aragona, Mark Gilbert and Jack Miller.”

Photo and caption from the Daily Sentinel, dated Dec. 13, 1967

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Published November 25, 2015

TROY — Good grief.

It had been 40 years since the 1975 production of Lincoln High School’s “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” and it was time to reunite the cast.

On the evening of Nov 17, the cast members — some who haven’t seen each other since the mid-1970s — gathered for a 40-year reunion at Shield’s Restaurant and Pizzeria.

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Published November 24, 2015

ST. CLAIR SHORES — The corner of Nine Mile and Mack in St. Clair Shores was bustling with business activity in the 1940s, but in different places than today. The Shores Theatre marquee can be seen through the covered driveway of Tremper’s Service Station. The theater today is currently closed. Johnson Milk Depot was next door to the theater on the left. Sunoco gasoline was sold at Tremper’s three-pump station. In the photograph, automobiles are parked behind the building, possibly awaiting service, which included tire and battery repair.Read More

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