A Detroit Tiger Fan Growing Up in HP

Dreaming of Playing for the Detroit Tigers

Dreaming of Playing for the Detroit Tigers

When I was a child the baseball season was a magical time. I would grab my plastic bat and wiffle ball and go out to the back yard. I pretended that I was the Detroit Tigers and the New York Yankees.  I would throw up the ball in the air and hit it.  If it went over the fence, It was a home run.  If not, it was an out.  I had the lineups of the Tigers and the Yankess memorized.  I still remember Jake Wood (2b) Bill Bruton (CF) Al Kaline (RF) Rocky Colavito (LF) Norm Cash (1B) Chico Fernandez (SS) Dick Brown (C) Steve Boros (3b) and of course Frank Lary, the Yankee Killer was always my favorite pitcher.

1961 Detroit Tigers from Baseball Fever. Com

1961 Detroit Tigers from Baseball Fever. Com

The Detroit Tigers were in my blood already at the early age of six years old. In 1961, the only team that mattered other than the Detroit Tigers were the much hated New York Yankees.  Yes, they had Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris, but the Tigers had Kaline, Colavito, and Cash.  Unfortunately, the Tigers faded in September and the Yankees went on to the 1961 World Series.

Dad started to take me to the games when I was six years old.  He always liked the $2.00 lower deck reserved seats in section 17 by third base. He also liked the special days, such as Free Ball Day, Free Bat Day, or Picture Day. One time on Picture Day, a free-lance photographer had me stand by Joe Sparma. A couple of weeks later there was my photo in the Highland Parker with Joe Sparma!

Dad had a special tradition about going to the games at Tiger Stadium. He had the idea that we needed to be the first ones there; so that we could get a good parking spot on one of the streets near Tiger Stadium. Dad never parked in one of the parking lots around Tiger Stadium because of the expense. Being early, had its advantages, we could see the grass grow, and then batting practice take place and get settled into our seats. Dad would buy me the fifteen cent program because I liked to keep score of the game.

Dad didn’t believe in spending money on the ballpark food because it was way too expensive. Occasionally, we could buy the popcorn, which came in what looked like a megaphone with the Detroit Tiger symbol on it.

My most exciting time at Tiger Stadium were the few occasions when my cousin was able to get us free tickets for the box seats at the side of the Tiger dugout!  She was Max Fisher’s secretary, and when he wasn’t using the seats, he would give the seats away. We would occasionally be the beneficiaries!  It was great to see all of my favorite players up close, such as Mickey Stanley, Norm Cash, and Bill Freehan.  For some reason, Dad had a strong dislike for Al Kaline, so I never included him as one of my favorites.

Being a Detroit Tiger fan, also meant that I would listen to the Detroit Tigers on WJR.  Ernie Harwell was the best broadcaster.  When he was announcing, it felt as though you were right next to him in the broadcast booth watching the game.  I never knew until I was an adult how he knew that a fan from Kalamazoo, or Muskegon caught the foul ball.  Even when I would spend a week or two in Pennsylvania, I would take my transistor radio to bed with me and listen to the game.  I was glad that WJR had a powerful signal.

The Ernie Harwell of my childhood.

The Ernie Harwell of my childhood.

The highlight for any Tiger fan was 1968.  It was the magical year of Denny McLain winning thirty-one games. The Tigers were the American League champs. The World Series was my total focus. I was glad that the teachers at Ford Middle School brought their televisions to class. We received an education about what it was like to have a team in the World Series.  Mickey Lolich was my hero because of his amazing feat of winning three games in the World Series. Can you imagine a pitcher today starting a World Series game on two days rest!  Lolich did it and won the game against Bob Gibson!

All Tiger Fans remember this!  From PBS. Org

All Tiger Fans remember this! From PBS. Org

After 1969, my interest started to wane a bit in the Detroit Tigers.  Yes, I was glad when they made the playoffs in 1972, but I was a teenager and the magic of the Detroit Tigers had worn off.  I no longer collected baseball cards. I no longer played baseball. I no longer listened to Ernie Harwell. Our trips to Tiger Stadium became very infrequent.  I wonder if Dad missed my enthusiasm for the Tigers. If so, he never told me.

When I became a parent, Dad kept my children in Detroit Tiger gear.  He wanted my children to be Tiger fans as he was all of his life. I am glad to say that all of my children are Detroit Tiger fans.  Yes, I still keep up with them and I am excited with the possibilities of winning another World Series, but the magic of the Detroit Tigers of my childhood is no longer there. However, I am thankful that my Dad made the Detroit Tigers a very special part of my growing up years in Highland Park!

P.S. Please visit my other blog; http://www.markjemilbooth.com.  I share spiritual thoughts such as “Does Jesus Care” and “Candid Thoughts about Crowds”.

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Easter Memories of Growing Up in Highland Park

Easter 1959

Easter 1959

My mom enjoyed every holiday on the calendar. She wanted to make each holiday special for her family by decorating for each holiday and help us get excited about the upcoming occasion. Easter was no exception. Mom made this holiday very special to us.

My Easter celebration started sometime before Easter with a trip to Robert Hall clothing store on Woodward and Candler. Normally, my clothes were purchased at Sears and Roebuck, or the Hudson’s Budget Store, but for Easter Mom would go all out. A trip to Robert Hall meant a new suit to wear for Easter. I never liked suits (I still don’t) but to Mom it was important that we looked our best on Easter. Mom would pick out a “perfect suit” for me and then get a clip-on tie to go with it.  I don’t know what Dad thought about the cost, but I was now ready for Easter!

The old Robert Hall building on Woodward and Candler

The old Robert Hall building on Woodward and Candler

Before Easter was Palm Sunday. I never learned until later the meaning of Palm Sunday, but it was a special occasion at the Highland Park Congregational Church where we attended.  Normally, the children didn’t enter the church sanctuary, but on Palm Sunday we had our chance to have a small part in the worship service.  We would be given a palm leaf. Then we would line up and march down the long aisle of the church. This seemed to make the older people happy.  For me, it just seemed neat to see people smile.

The center aisle of the sanctuary of the Highland Park Congregational Church

The center aisle of the sanctuary of the Highland Park Congregational Church

During the week before Easter, Mom would get everything ready to color our Easter Eggs.  She would buy special egg coloring and then boil the eggs that we were going to color.  Mom would prepare several bowls with different colors. Mom would give me an egg dipper for my egg. I would place the egg tenderly in the dipper then place it inside the bowl.  I would marvel as the egg would change colors before my eyes. Though I enjoyed coloring the eggs, I never ate them because I didn’t like eggs in any form or fashion.

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When Easter morning arrived, our job was to find our Easter baskets. Mom would take great pleasure in hiding the baskets from us.  I remember one year she had hidden my basket in the clothes dryer. Once the basket was found, the eating began. The baskets generally had jelly beans, small chocolate eggs (my favorite) marshmallow eggs (not my favorite), a few small chocolate bunnies and one large chocolate bunny.  The treats in the basket would last awhile. It wasn’t often that we would have so much chocolate to enjoy.

After we had a start on the baskets, then I would go with Mom to church. I don’t remember much about Easter in church because the children had their own church time. I am sure we heard something about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, but at that time in my life, the death and resurrection of Christ were very vague to me.

As I look back upon my Easter celebrations, I know that I didn’t really understand the true meaning of Easter, but I am thankful for my mother making it a special occasion in my life.  I know that she went out of her way to make us happy to this special time of year.  When I was young, I just took all of this for granted.  I am thankful for my Mom who cared enough to do the extra little things in the life of her family.

Looking good in our Robert Hall suits.

Looking good in our Robert Hall suits.

Third Grade Memories of Midland Elementary School

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On the afternoon of November 22, 1963, Miss Rebe, our principal, made a PA announcement as we were sitting in Mrs. Cross’s third grade class. With a very sad tone of voice, she informed us that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.  She didn’t give us much details, but even at our young age,we could understand that this was a great tragedy. As an act of remembrance, she also told us that we were immediately dismissed from school.

The walk home with a couple of friends seemed longer and slower than normal. This was a great shock to me. I had never really experienced tragedy in my first eight years of life. I also had a fear that came over me. I felt quite insecure. It was the most personal death that I had experienced up to that time.

When I arrived home, everything on the television was about our President and his death.  For the next several days, my family stayed glued to the television. We saw the shooting of Lee Harvey Oswald. We saw the funeral of our President.  In my eight year old mind, it seemed as though my world had changed.

This memory of the Kennedy’s assassination was my most vivid memory of third grade, but I did have a few others. Third grade would introduce me to Mrs. Cross as my third grade teacher. We would like to make fun of her name behind her back. She kept a very well-disciplined class room.  I don’t ever remember her becoming angry, but we didn’t want to cross her either.

Third grade would be my first opportunity to be in a play. The play that was chosen for us to perform was Alice in Wonderland. I must have failed the tryout for an acting part because they made me the narrator for the play. Perhaps, my loud voice, which I still have today, had a part in my being selected a narrator. The best thing about being the narrator is that I didn’t have to remember any parts. because I could read my parts from a script. I don’t remember how well the play went, but I am sure every parent was proud of their children who participated in the play.

2nd or 3rd Grade School Photo.  Yes, I started wearing glasses at an early age!

2nd or 3rd Grade School Photo. Yes, I started wearing glasses at an early age!

Mrs. Cross did teach us a lot of things, but there is only one thing that I remember with any clarity. I had the habit of answering questions from my book in sentence fragments, such as: “because of the wind.” Mrs. Cross brought it to my attention that I should write a full sentence in answering my questions. To this day, I am quite sensitive to this matter.

By the third grade, I was also able to walk to school with a couple of friends. I enjoyed the walk to and from school because we would pass the Uptown Radio Company on Woodward Avenue. It was interesting to look at all the televisions, stereos, and other stuff in the window. We would also pass the Ferris Car Wash. The worst part of the journey was the dreaded tunnel on Second Avenue and Pilgrim. Not only was it a bit dark, but it also a had very unpleasant smell.

During the Christmas season, we enjoyed checking out the Christmas decorations on our walk home. There were a couple of houses on Ferris Avenue that seemed to always compete for the best decorated house in the city. One of the houses had an upstairs porch which they also decorated with a neat nativity scene. There were several houses that took a lot of pride in their decorations

After school ended in June, one of my best friends, Jonathan, would move away.  Yes, I still had many of my neighborhood friends and we enjoyed playing out in the alley all summer long. I never wanted to see the summer end, but soon September came, and I would find myself in the Fourth Grade.

Facing My Greatest Childhood Fear: Swim Class

The Liberty School Pool as seen recently.  The school and pool are closed.  A special thanks to Kennedy Baughman for the photo.

The Liberty School Pool as seen recently. The school and pool are closed. A special thanks to Kennedy Baughman for the photo.

My elementary school years went fairly smoothly until fourth grade.  This is when we were introduced to swim class.  My greatest fear would be met head on, and I would lose the battle for several years.

Midland school didn’t have a swimming school.  Every Tuesday afternoon, we would take a school bus to Liberty school for swim class. The bus ride was the highlight of this most difficult time in my life. The bus driver always seemed quite cheerful and talkative; however, his cheerfulness couldn’t help ease the pain of my worst hour of the week.

Hank is the first one on the left. He is remembered by most of the students during my era.

Here are some of the bus drivers.  Seth is the one I remembered the most.

After arriving at Liberty school, we were introduced to our routine for the year. Mr. Munro, our teacher, told us that we were to totally undress. This was difficult for me because I had never done this before in public. What even made it more difficult is that we were not to wear swim trunks. We would be spending the whole time in swim class in our birthday suits. To this day, nobody has given a satisfactory explanation to this rule. The girls wore swimsuits during their swim time. Why didn’t my parents complain? Why didn’t any parent complain?! Why didn’t some newspaper expose the practice? I can’t imagine this happening today.

After we took off our clothes, Mr. Munro told us that we had to shower before we entered the pool area. After the shower, he would inspect each one of us by rubbing our collarbone area and our wrist. If no dry skin came off, we were good to go. Eventually, we learned that we only needed to clean our collarbone area and our wrist.

Now, the worst part would soon come.  We were to get into the pool.  The pool at Liberty, looking back, was not very large, but it looked like an ocean to me.  The largest pool I had ever entered was my bathtub.  I would have been quite content if it had remained that way.

When I entered the pool, I lived in the shallow end. I may have ventured out a bit with a board to keep me afloat, but I still didn’t go any further than where my head could stay above water. Mr. Munro probably taught many a boy to swim, but I wasn’t one of them.

There were many Tuesdays when I would come to school feeling quite well, but by afternoon, I would develop a stomach ache. I wasn’t making this up, I was so afraid of swim class that I would literally get sick. I would be sent to the nurse’s office and she would give me some kind peppermint to settle my stomach. The bus would leave and I was spared one week of agony in swim class.

When I arrived at Ford Middle School, I think Mr DeSantis, our swim teacher, took me on as a personal challenge. It seemed like I was the only student in sixth grade who couldn’t swim. Mr. DeSantis tried and tried to get me to leave the float board and start swimming.  Soon, he threatened me with an “F” if I didn’t start to swim. Finally, the day came when I actually swam the width of the Ford School pool. I had learned to swim! I avoided my “F”!

However, Mr. DeSantis was not done with me. In eighth grade, I had a new challenge.  Mr. DeSantis said that I must JUMP into the deep end feet first and hit the bottom of the pool and bounce up and swim the LENGTH of the pool. If I didn’t accomplish this feat, I would receive an “F”.  I don’t know how many weeks passed, but every time I would get to the edge of the pool, I would think that I would never survive the JUMP.

You also had to know that Mr. DeSantis was a bit overweight. Could he save me if I were to drown?  I had even asked him once: “Why gym teachers tended to be heavy?”  I do not know what possessed me to do this, but he chuckled and said: “When we were younger we ate a lot and we exercised a lot.  When got older we kept eating, but we didn’t exercise as much.”  I have not forgotten this lesson in my life.

Finally, judgment day came. If I didn’t jump, I would get a big “F” on my report card.  With great fear, I looked over the side of the pool. I looked at Mr. DeSantis, who said: “Don’t worry, you can do it.” I don’t know how I did it, but I jumped in and my feet hit the bottom of the pool and I bounced back up and swam the length of the pool. That was the last time I have ever jumped into a pool.

Even today, I am not much for the water, but I can swim a few laps in the pool, and maybe swim enough to save myself.  I am thankful for Mr. DeSantis and his great patience with me.  He helped me to finally meet my great fear and win the battle.

P.S. Please visit my other blog where I talk about spiritual topics such as: “Candid Thoughts about Crowds”, and “Five Great Promises as I Travel this Life”. The address is: http://www.markjemilbooth.com.

Second Grade Memories of Midland Elementary School (1962-63)

My friends and I ready to go to Midland School in the Spring of 1963. Notice that we had no backpacks, because we had no homework!

My friends and I are ready to go to Midland School in the Spring of 1963. Notice that we had no backpacks, because we had no homework!

The buzz, buzz of the alarm bell went off. We quickly lined up to leave our classroom. This drill was not the typical fire drill. In a fire drill, we would leave the building as quickly as possible. This alarm bell’s urgent buzzing was different from the fire alarm. Also, instead of going outside, we went downstairs to the gym. Then, we were herded to the back of the stage, where we sat down on the floor with our legs crossed. The final step was to place our hands over our ears and bend down towards our legs.

There was one of these posted on the Midland School Building.

There was one of these posted on the Midland School Building.

The school repeated this drill several times in the fall of 1962.  As a second grader, I had no idea why we were doing these drills. Our teacher, Mrs. Schlabach didn’t explain; neither did my parents. Only a few years later would I learn about the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The first day of our new school year, Mrs. Schlabach, stood in front of the class. It seemed like every year my teachers were getting older. Miss Robbins, my Kindergarten teacher was quite young.  Mrs. Thomas appeared middle-aged.  Mrs. Schlabach had gray hair and was short and a little plump. She looked like a grandmother instead of a teacher. However, looks were deceiving, because Mrs. Schlabach did a great job of teaching. She did care for each one of us like a grandmother, but she wouldn’t let us get away with anything unlike a grandmother.

On the first day, Mrs. Schlabach gave us a list of things that we would need for the class. She also asked us to bring money for some classroom expenses. I can’t remember all that was on the list except five cents for Kleenex. I remember this because Dad seemed quite unhappy that we had to pay for such a thing. I think it might have had something to do with taxes.

Second Grade was memorable because  I was able to leave my first grade friends: Dick, Jane and Sally. Mrs. Schlabach introduced me to some new friends called Thomas, Abraham and George. These new friends introduced me to history.

Mrs. Schlabach shared the story of Thomas Edison with us. He was raised in Michigan, which made him a very important historical figure for our class. The story of how he became hard of hearing is still in my memory bank.  Also, his persistence in his work as an inventor still inspires me to this day.  Mrs. Schlabach marked Thomas Edison’s birthday (February 11th) on our calendar. I still celebrate February 11th as Edison’s birthday.

Of course, the other two friends that taught me history were George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. I don’t know how we did it, but we made silhouettes in black pasted on white paper of these two presidents. I enjoyed the stories that Mrs. Schlabach shared of these two presidents. She was giving me a love for history that I still have today.

In early November, Mrs. Schlabach wrote on the blackboard, which was green. She wrote that George Romney had won the election as governor of Michigan. This was my introduction to government  I soon had a small understanding that we have a President of the United States, as well as a Governor of our State of Michigan.

I was beginning to see that the world was bigger than my family, my neighborhood and the Detroit Tigers. I had a desire to learn more about the world around me. My Weekly Reader helped me with this, but I also enjoyed watching George Pierrot after school. He would take me to far away places every afternoon when I wasn’t playing outside.

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One other memorable event in second grade was the big freeze. One day, the temperature went down to minus twelve degrees. This was cold! For some reason, Mom didn’t see that it was a problem for me to go to school; however most of the other mothers did. That day only five students were in attendance in our class.  It was a strange feeling to have so few students at school.

As I look back on Second Grade, there were a few special milestones. I had finally learned to tie my shoes. I also developed an interest in history.  I also realized that I was better in math than I was in reading. I am amazed that I spent nine months in second grade and yet I have only a few memories of those days. However, I am thankful for Mrs. Schlabach, who introduced me to so many new things, especially history.

I am sharing this post by Marsha Lynn Battle Philpot, aka Marsha Music. She does a great job of writing about my Latin teacher at Highland Park High School. How can I forget a teacher who invited me and a couple other students to her home for dinner! She was an excellent teacher who cared about her students. I am sure you will enjoy this essay by Marsha!

Marsha Music

Latin was one of my favorite studies in high school. It seems odd, in this day of sorely challenged school curriculae, but believe it or not, in those days – the 1960’s – Highland Park, Michigan had one of the best school systems in the whole country. This was before the disintegration of the city’s tax base with the decline of the automotive industry that was headquatered there -the city’s core of support.

In those days many of us took Latin, and many of us who took Latin truly loved the subject –  due, in no small part,  to our teacher – the dear, genteel Mrs. Banton. She looked a little like Rosa Parks, and though she was surely younger then than I am now, she seemed really old to us, even back then – for she joined none of the other teachers in their late-60’s’ efforts to be hip, slick, cool or even “relevant”.

She wore her hair in a…

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First Grade Memories of Midland Elementary School (1961-62)

Midland School, a few years ago.  It is now torn down.

Midland School, a few years ago. It is now torn down. Try to imagine what it looked like new!

It was early September 1961, the summer was past. I would now begin a new stage of my life called elementary school. This five-year adventure would take place at the newly built Midland Elementary School.  The school looked very modern compared to Ford School where I had gone to kindergarten.  There would be no meandering hallways. There would be no buying milk in what seemed like a dungeon.

The school building had two floors. The upper floor contained all the classrooms except for the kindergarten classes which were on the ground level. The ground level contained the combination gymnasium, lunchroom and auditorium.  Also the ground level had the school offices and the teachers’ lounge. Everything in the building was fresh, clean and new. This is where I would get all the basics of a good education!

My first grade teacher was Mrs. Thomas.  I can see her appearance in my mind’s eye, but there was no outstanding thing about her that I can bring to mind.  First grade introduced me to some new friends called Dick, Jane, Sally and a dog named Spot.  They would visit our class every day via a filmstrip presentation and in our reading books. I soon learned Dick and Jane liked to look a lot as well as run.  Slowly, but surely Dick, Jane, Sally and Spot were helping me to learn to read.

Dick and Jane

One of the new things about first grade was our gym class that we would have once or twice a week. This was a time of embarrassment for me because I still hadn’t learned how to tie my shoes.  I would have to ask a friend or Mrs. Thomas to tie my gym shoes. You may think I was a bit slow, but the excuse my family gave me is that they couldn’t show me how because I was left-handed.

Being left-handed would be a problem all throughout my elementary school years.  Not only was I slow to learn how to tie my shoes (I did learn by 2nd grade). The other problem was learning how to write.  We first learned how to print with rather thick pencils. As I would write, I found that my hand followed the pencil instead of vice versa for a right-handed person.  This caused a large pencil mark on the bottom side of my hand.  I never figured out a solution to this problem.  As a result, my printing and penmanship are terrible even even now.

Another new learning experience of first grade was lunch.  Kindergarten was only a half day so lunch was unnecessary.  Children who lived close to Midland school would go home for lunch, but my house was a long walk from school.  For some reason, I refused to take a lunch pail. Mom would kindly fix my lunch and place it in a brown sack.  My lunch usually consisted of celery sticks, a peanut butter sandwich (with just butter, no jam), an apple or on bad days a banana, and then a dessert such as a cookie or a Twinkie.

We would all go down to the lunch room, which was in the gym. Tables were set up and we would begin eating our food, or trading our food with others.  There were also adults  to supervise us because I am sure that we needed all the supervising that we could get. I can still remember that one of our supervisors was Mrs. Street, who tried to keep us fairly quiet and make us eat our lunch.

After lunch, we would be able to go outside and play.  The playground had all the usual equipment, such as a slide, a teeter-totter, and swings.  There was an open area in the far corner where I enjoyed playing Pump Pump Pull Away with others. We also played King of the Hill on a cement slab, as well as Tag.

First Grade also was my first introduction to the space program.  One morning, we went to the library where there was a black and white television set up on a very high stand. The lights were turned off and we saw John Glenn blast off in his Mercury capsule.  Later that day, we were treated to seeing him splashdown. Many of us wanted to be astronauts as a result of the early Mercury flights.

Around Christmas, we would also be herded to the library to watch a couple of short movies for Christmas, one including the birth of Jesus Christ. I was also exposed to my first sighting of a silver aluminum Christmas tree outside of the teachers’ lounge. This was a curiosity to me because there was a wheel that would turn around in front of light which would show the aluminum tree in different colors. This just didn’t seem right to me.  Why couldn’t they just have a real Christmas tree?

This is what the tree looked like at Midland School.  By the way, if you are interested you can buy this tree on etsy.com for $450.00!

This is what the tree looked like at Midland School. By the way, if you are interested you can buy this tree on etsy.com for $450.00!

In first grade, I also learned a couple of new words; “room mother”.  A room mother would be called on to organize a special party or bring cookies on special occasions. One thing I could never understand is that the cookie of choice always seemed to be the Windmill cookie. My mom would become a room mother a couple of times during my stay at Midland.  I always thought that she was the prettiest room mother at Midland school.

Soon, June arrived.  First grade was over. My report card said that I had passed on to second grade.  There would be a whole summer of playing baseball, collecting baseball cards, and playing outside with my friends.  It would also mean attending some Detroit Tigers games. Summer would also mean going with my mom to Patton, Pennsylvania for a couple of weeks. This small town had all sorts of adventures for me.  However, September would soon return. Second grade, here I come.

My First Grade Photo

My First Grade Photo

P.S. Please visit my other blog at: http://www.markjemilbooth.com.  I have several articles such as “God’s Waiting Room”, and “Moving Beyond Fear to Courage”.

Dr. Winston Wreggit, My Highland Park Doctor (1908-1992)

Dr Winston Wreggit and his wife Elizabeth.  Her parents served as medical missionaries for several years in India.

Dr Winston Wreggit and his wife Elizabeth. Her parents served as medical missionaries for several years in India.

There are many treasures that we receive from our parents after they leave us. One of the treasures that I received from my Dad is a 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook. Looking at the pictures of life during my Dad’s time as an older teenager is quite interesting.

While looking at the Senior Class of 1925, I saw a familiar name, Winston Wreggit.  I looked at the photo. and I recognized that this is a photo of our family doctor for all the years that I lived in Highland Park (1955-1977)! My mind couldn’t help but go back to my many visits to Dr. Wreggit’s office at 79 Highland Avenue, which was located across from the Bell Telephone Company building.

Winston Wreggit's senior photo in the 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook

Winston Wreggit’s senior photo in the 1925 Polar Bear Yearbook

My Dad knew Dr. Wreggit from his high school years. For this reason, Dad felt a special connection to Dr. Wreggit. Dad knew that Dr. Wreggit would take good care of his family, and he had the utmost confidence in him.  Because of this confidence, I would never know another physician for the first twenty-seven years of my life.

A visit to Dr. Wreggit began with opening the door of what had been a first floor flat. Entering the door, we (Mom and I) would be greeted by Dr. Wreggit’s nurse, receptionist and office manager (all in one person!). The nurse would then direct us to the waiting room.  This room was rather spartan in its looks, but I liked sitting in one of the straw chairs.

A former patient (Kennedy Baughman) in front of what use to be Dr. Wreggit's office.

A former patient (Kennedy Baughman) in front of what was Dr. Wreggit’s office.

The highlight of the waiting room was the Highlights magazine. I would enjoy looking through the magazine, especially finding the hidden objects in the picture. Later on, when I was older, I probably picked up the Time magazine or some other magazine.  I don’t ever remember that we ever had a long wait.

After some time, our kind nurse would call us into one of the rooms that Dr. Wreggit used to see his patients.  One of the things that amazed me were all the file folders. There were file folders on the desk, as well on top of his cabinet. Everything was a bit cluttered, but I am sure there was some organization in it all.

While I looked around, Dr. Wreggit would enter the room and greet me with his deep bass voice. Then he would open up his file and perhaps say: “It is time for your tetanus booster” I don’t know why but it seemed like every time, I would see Dr. Wreggit, he would give me a shot.

Being merciful, Dr. Wreggit wouldn’t begin with the “shot”. He would first take my blood pressure. Then he would say: “Please take off your shirt.” With his stethoscope, he would begin to probe my chest.  Then he would probe my back. As he was probing, he would say the words that I can still hear in my head: “Take a deep breath, let it out.” Then he would say: “again” several times.  After this he would check down my throat and pronounce me healthy.

The next part was the hard part. I saw the needle in his hand. He would swab the target spot on my arm with something clear. It didn’t seem to help with what was coming. He would inject me as I tried to show courage and not cry. After the shot was given. he would reach up to the top of his cabinet and grab a box. As he opened the box, I could see that it was full of suckers. I grabbed one and off I would go, another satisfied patient.

There were a couple of occasions when I was sick that I didn’t go visit Dr. Wreggit. He would come and visit me. This just seemed natural in those days. Dr. Wreggit would come into our house with his black bag filled with all the instruments that he needed to sort out what needed to be done. He would go through the same basic routine that I experienced at his office. Those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out” were repeated. He would tell my parents what to do for me and then he would leave.

After leaving Highland Park, I never visited a doctor for many years. However, in 1983 Sharon (my wife) and I needed a physical to get a visa to move to South Africa as missionaries. I told Sharon about Dr. Wreggit. Dad still went to Dr. Wreggit; so it was only natural that we would go to him though he now had his practice in Southfield.

This would be the last time, I would ever see Dr. Wreggit. He was in his mid-seventies and though he looked older than I had remembered him, his voice was still strong. I heard for one last time those words: “Take a deep breath and let it out.” He also gave us his favorite shot, the tetanus booster. This time, there were no box of suckers. As we left to pay, he told us that we owed him nothing.  For some strange reason this didn’t surprise me. My Dad had told me how generous Dr. Wreggit was with his services.  He charged my Dad seven dollars per visit until he quit his practice in the mid-eighties.

Like so many people in my life, I never really knew the real Dr. Wreggit. I saw him as a kind, and committed doctor, but I didn’t know the whole story until I was preparing to write this post.

What motivated him to practice medicine in order to help others?  Why would he treat many of his patients for only what they could afford or for free?  In Dr. Wreggit’s childhood, he made two very important decisions that would rule his life. One decision he made was to accept Jesus Christ as his Savior as a result of the ministry of the well-known evangelist, Billy Sunday. He would continue to follow the Lord and serve Him for all his life. He was also faithful member of Highland Park Baptist Church.

At the age of ten, Dr. Wreggit made another decision that would change his life. He was near death as a result of spinal meningitis. As he was lying on his hospital bed in old Grace Hospital, he made a promise to God that he would help other people as a doctor if he would get better. God answered his prayer. Dr. Wreggit would practice medicine almost until the day he died.

Over the years, I have had a few other doctors, but none of them were like Dr. Wreggit.  Here was a man who cared about others. Not only that, but he cared about a little boy growing up in Highland Park. For this reason, I wanted to write this post about him.

P.S. Here are a few more photos of Dr. Wreggit.

Dr. Wreggit served in the US Army during World War 2. He was an army surgeon in New Guinea. He reached the rank of Lt. Colonel

Dr. Wreggit served in the US Army during World War 2. He was an army surgeon in New Guinea. He reached the rank of Lt. Colonel.

Dr. Wreggit and Elizabeth at their son's (George) wedding.  George followed in his Dad's footsteps as a doctor.

Dr. Wreggit and Elizabeth at their son’s (George) wedding. George followed in his Dad’s footsteps as a doctor.

Dr Wreggit at a reception in honor of forty years of service at Grace Hospital.

Dr Wreggit at a reception in honor of forty years of service at Grace Hospital.

P.P.S. Please visit my other blog: http://www.markjemilbooth.com.  I have several articles concerning our spiritual lives including, “A Heart to Walk with God” and “The Joy of Morning Prayer.”

My House, Growing up in Highland Park

The front of our house in 1959?

The front of our house in 1959?

A home is more than rooms, walls, furniture and a roof.  A home is a place of love, learning, and fun.  I am grateful that I spent the first twenty-one years of my life being raised by my parents in a home where I was loved, taught, and encouraged to grow up and live my dreams.

My home was on Candler Avenue between Brush and Oakland. My parents bought our home in 1955, just before I was born. They needed more space because there would be three children in the home. Like most of the houses on my block, it was a very simple wooden frame house. The house had two stories with a small basement. There were three bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs. Downstairs, we had a living room, dining room, kitchen, a hallway, a half bathroom and most importantly a small room that we called the sunroom. This was so named because we had a large window facing south looking into our backyard.

However, a house is more than rooms, it becomes a home because of the people who live there. My family consisted of my parents, my older sister and my older brother. We also had a few pets join our family from time to time. We had a couple of parakeets. Baby Face was the name of our first one. Herman (for Herman’s Hermits) was the second one. For awhile we had a cat that we called Flash; until we realized that Flash was a girl. We changed her name to  Flashina.  Unfortunately, Flashina met an unfortunate end. Mom was tired of Flashina’s fleas. After having the home fumigated twice, Flashina disappeared. I didn’t understand what it meant to “be put down” at the time.

Though my house is gone, I can still see every room of the house. If I close my eyes, I can still see my Dad lying down on the couch in the living room. He is trying to stay awake watching Big Time Wrestling with the Sheik, Bobo Brazil, and a whole cast of unique looking characters. Our television had a round screen. It was a black and white Zenith.

The Zenith Television-1956

The Zenith Television-1956

If I look more closely, it is Christmas. Dad has placed our real tree in the front of the living room. Mom as usual has decorated the living room. We are ready to open our gifts. Mom not only enjoys decorating the living room for Christmas, but for all the special holidays. I am glad that she enjoys the holidays.

As I move to the dining room, I see not only my family around the table, but also my Aunt Francie and cousin Audley.  Aunt Francie has come over to make her specialty, raw kibbee (kibbeh).  I can’t wait to dig into this Middle Eastern delicacy.  I pour the olive oil over the meat and put it in Pita Bread and enjoy this very special treat.

My Aunt Francie in 1987 with our children, David and Anna.

My Aunt Francie in 1987 with our children, David and Anna.

On another day, I see all of us around the table (except Dad because he is working) with a Scrabble board in front of us.  I am the youngest person playing; so I try my best to make words out of the letters. Sometimes I frustrate the rest of the family because I take too long and keep putting letters down that don’t make words. The words: “just put something down” are echoing in my ears.

The dining room is also the special place where we celebrate our birthdays. Yes, there is cake, ice cream, friends and gifts, but the highlight is to hear my Uncle Hussy sing Happy Birthday.  He doesn’t sing it very well, but he does sing it with all of his energy. He is heard above everybody else.

My birthday party in our dining room (1960)

My birthday party in our dining room (1960)

Continuing the tour of my house, I can smell the popcorn popping on the stove. Dad is home and making his favorite dish, popcorn. After the popcorn pops, Dad pours out the popcorn, like it is gold, on our small white kitchen table. Popcorn is always a big treat. Dad also makes some great pancakes once in a while on Sunday mornings.

While in the kitchen, I notice on one of the walls, there are pencil markings.  This is where I stand straight with my back to the wall.  Mom than takes a pencil and marks where the top of my head is.  Look, Jemil, (my middle name) you have grown again. I turn and look at the new line and smile.

My favorite room is the sunroom. This room has a glass door that separates it from the dining room.  My friends and I often play table games here.  I also like the quiet of this room when I am reading. The sunroom also features a phone jack so that we can have some privacy on the phone. This is helpful when the teenage years come.

Some friends in the sunroom with my favorite hockey game.

Some friends in the sunroom with my favorite hockey game.

The sunroom also features a sixteen inch television that Dad bought because he wanted to get channel 50 (UHF). This is where I once watched Neil Armstrong land on the moon. For some reason, I taped the event on a reel to reel tape recorder. It is also the room where I watch the Lions continue their losing ways.

Before going upstairs, my thoughts drift downstairs to the basement. The basement isn’t finished, but it has a small area where there are shelves of table games and some comic books that are stored for safe keeping. In the center of this section of the basement is a small table with a Carrom Board.  Some of my friends are down here with me and we are  playing different games using the Carrom Board.

In the basement playing with the Carrom Board.

In the basement playing with the Carrom Board.

I don’t want to forget that down in the basement is also my grandmother’s Victrola. Dad has played a record on it once. It is a great piece of history.

Did I mention that the basement occasionally floods from the sewers backing up? We are presently experiencing one of those floods. In other words, the comic books aren’t so safe.  My brother has taken his comic books outside in a futile effort to save them by having them dry out in the sun. I don’t think this is going to work out for him.

Now, it is getting dark. Soon, I will be going to bed. Mom sends me upstairs to take a bath. The best part of this time is several of the toy boats that I have floating around in the water with me. The worst part is when Mom comes and washes my hair.  It always seems as though the shampoo gets into my eyes.

Bedtime has arrived.  Mom places me in the bed and then she begins to read a book about Albert Schweitzer. I can’t wait to hear the next chapter. After reading, I say my prayers and Mom kisses me good night. She leaves the room with the door cracked a bit, because I am afraid of the dark. I should not be fearful because I have a six-foot poster of Spiderman behind my bed.

The years have passed by quickly. Dad and Mom are no longer with us, but I thank the Lord for the fact that my parents gave me more than a house. They gave me a warm, loving home. Yes, my children may never see my house as I remember it, but I hope they will appreciate the home that is still there in my heart and mind.

P.S. Here is a link to an article about kibbeh.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kibbeh

Here are a couple more photos:

Here I am with our cat, Flashina

Here I am with our cat, Flashina

Our house in 1972

Our house in 1972

P.S. Please visit my other blog : http://www.markjemilbooth.com.  Here are a couple of subjects covered: “Imagine…Being with Jesus” and “The Goodness of the Lord in Troubled Times.”

A History of Highland Park Textbook (Part Two)

In third grade, we were introduced to a small book called: “A History of Highland Park” by Ellen Hathaway.  I only found this book again a few months ago thanks to Doug Kalish.  It is on a child’s level, but it is still a great way to relearn the history of Highland Park.  Here is the second half of the book. Enjoy it as I have.

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