MIchigan Week Memories

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Once again, Michigan Week is upon us.  One website writes: “Michigan Week, an annual tribute to the best of the Great Lakes State, began in 1954 as a way to promote state pride among citizens and to celebrate the rich heritage and unique features that make Michigan special.”

Growing up, I didn’t need Michigan Week to create pride in our state. My dad was the forerunner of Tim Allen and his “Pure Michigan” ads. Dad would speak about Detroit and Michigan as though no other place could reach up to its standards. Michigan had the best roads, the best fruit, the best recreational options, and the best people. We even had Soapy Williams. The strange thing is that Dad never said that we had the best weather.

As for me, Michigan Week meant that school would soon be over for the summer. Yes, we would have a bulletin board about Michigan Week. We would also have a lesson or two about the greatness of our state, but none of those lessons have stuck in my mind.

The highlight of Michigan Week was the parade! Dad never took us to the Hudson’s Thanksgiving Day parade. I always wondered why this never happened. We only lived a few miles from the parade route. Was my Dad shunning the crowds? I can’t give an answer, but every Thanksgiving we would sit in front of our black and white television set and watch the parade. Dad always enjoyed Sonny Eliot’s jokes during the parade, however, all the commercials annoyed him.

The Michigan Week parade would be the only live parade that I would see until I became an adult. We would visit my aunt on Beresford and then proceed to park ourselves on the curb in front of the Russell Kelly building (On Woodward between Beresford and Davison). You would think that I would remember the Highland Park band, the clowns, and the old cars, but I don’t. The only thing I remember about the parade was the candy! When the candy would fly out unto the street, I quickly moved into action to get as much as I could. Candy was a rare treat for me.

The Highland Park Marching Band in the early seventies.  Sorry for the photo quality.

The Highland Park Marching Band in the early seventies. Sorry for the photo quality.

Michigan Week also consisted of a fair with rides, food and those games where you would win a prize if you accomplished some difficult task. When I was little, my parents limited me to the kiddie rides, such as going in a circle in a small boat, or in a car. There was also the merry-go-round. When I was eleven or twelve, I attended the fair with friends. I never liked the more “daring rides”. The most adventuresome ride that I would tackle was the Tilt-a-whirl. To this day, I don’t go on any rides that appear risky.

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The food at the fair was not much of a highlight. The only thing I would ever buy were the sno-cones. I could eat this wonder of ice and syrup all day long.

The magic of the parade and the fair have disappeared, but I am still very grateful that I was raised a Michigander (Michiganians was never used in my house). Yes, I have lived in other places in America and overseas. I have learned that Michigan is not the only great place to live, but I will always be proud to be called a Michigander.

P.S. Please visit my other blog where I have articles of spiritual nature such as: “God’s Waiting Room” and “Does Jesus Care?” http://www.markjemilbooth.com

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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.