Program delves into history of Michigan’s thumb

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published July 10, 2018

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TROY — Michael J. Thorp believes that every town has a story. 

“Sometimes people forget the story,” he said. 

In his younger years, Thorp worked in radio in Caro, Michigan, near Michigan’s thumb.

He drove from Frankenmuth to Port Huron along M-25, along the shoreline of Lake Huron and the Saginaw Bay a dozen times, jotting down notes. 

Thorp will share stories of the people who made their history in towns and villages that dot the shoreline when he presents “Michigan Rocks! Michigan’s Thumb Drive: M-25, Michigan’s Blue Water Highway” from 7 to 8:30 p.m. July 31 at the Troy Public Library.

“We’re really excited to have Michael J. Thorp come and talk about Michigan’s thumb as part of our ‘Libraries Rock’ adult summer library program,” said Connie Doherty, head of adult information services. 

 “People are always looking for new ways to explore our beautiful state, and this seemed like a great program for road-trippers and armchair travelers alike. As Michael says, ‘Every town has a story,’ and the towns of Michigan’s thumb are no exception. Michael’s background as a broadcaster, reporter and television host should make for an entertaining evening at the library.”

“There are a lot of stories,” Thorp said. 

After the Civil War, “they were telling crazy young men to get to the thumb to buy land for the lumber,” Thorp said.

He said William Selzer was caught in a storm on a ship on Lake Huron and was so impatient to get to the thumb, he and a friend got in a dinghy and made for shore. 

“He soon realized his mistake, and began to pray. He said, ‘If you get me to shore, I’ll name it Port Hope.’” 

Thorp has written two trivia books about Michigan history, places and people. 

He will share trivia questions during the program. 

For example, of these three people — Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini or Saddam Hussein — who was given the key to the city of Detroit? The answer is Hussein, in 1980. 

Thorp explained that the pastor of a Chaldean church in Detroit was facing foreclosure and wrote to Hussein, asking for help. Thorp said Hussein gave the pastor $250,000 for the church, and another $200,000 when the pastor visited Iraq and thanked Hussein. 

“Michigan trivia is not necessarily trivial. It leads to a part of another story. History is a living thing.” 

Registration is required. Call (248) 524-3534 or visit troypl.org/calendar. 

The Troy Public Library is located at 510 W. Big Beaver Road. 

For information about Thorp and his books, visit michaeljthorp.com.