Leni Sinclair, 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist

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Congratulations to Leni Sinclair, recently named the 2016 Kresge Eminent Artist!

AADL was privileged to work with Leni on the events and website surrounding the 40th anniversary of the John Sinclair Freedom Rally in 2011. You'll find several of Leni's photographs relating to the Rally and her years in Ann Arbor on AADL's Freeing John Sinclair site. Here you can also listen to an interview with Leni in which she recalls the origins of the Detroit Artists Workshop and their strategic retreat to Ann Arbor following the Detroit Riots, or a joint video interview with John Sinclair on their memories of the 1971 Rally. Read Leni's essay about her life in Ann Arbor's Hill House commune, or check out her work in Detroit Rocks (2012), co-authored with Gary Grimshaw.

Old News Way Back Day: January 29, 1951

This month Old News travels back 65 years to January 29, 1951 and the grand opening of Eberwhite School. We found a wealth of material on Eberwhite so we've posted over 200 articles and photos all the way back to the original land swap with the University of Michigan, the laying of the cornerstone in 1950, construction, and the hundreds of events and milestones throughout the years. Many of the photos we've posted were never published in the Ann Arbor News so we don't have names to go with the faces. We'd love to hear from the alumni, faculty and families of Eberwhite to make the history more complete.

There was plenty of other local news reported on the 29th. Fire destroyed the Riverside Bar and Bowling Alley in Ypsilanti. The Ann Arbor Public Schools announced the first annual Bands In Review program featuring bands from Ann Arbor High School and Slauson and Tappan Junior Highs. On the sports front, Dave Dingman dominated the All-City Skating Meet at Burns Park. The University of Michigan opened its track season with a meet that featured a mysterious missing lap in a medley relay. While the Kiwanis thanked city residents for their generous support of the fundraising Rummage Sale, an Ann Arbor News editorial wondered why the citizens of Washtenaw county were failing to support the Polio Drive. Weddings and births were announced, plays produced and movies promoted. Television replaced radio as the mainstay of home entertainment with shows like Kukla, Fran and Ollie, Milton Berle and Studio One. Our favorite advertisement of the day was the Modern Appliance Co. display ad for the amazing Spindrier that featured several ladies dancing, celebrating and hugging the appliance.

 

AADL Talks to: Barbara Barefield

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November 18, 2015 at 4th Floor Meeting Room

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Barbara worked on the alternative newspaper The Ann Arbor Sun in the 1970s. The newspaper was the mouthpiece for the White Panther Party and the succeeding Rainbow People’s Party before being an independent publication devoted to local issues, left-wing politics, music, and arts. In this interview, Barbara talks about her days working on The Sun, how a newspaper actually came together in the days before computers, and the relationship between art and social justice.

Old News Way Back Day: December 17, 1935

This month Old News travels back 80 years to December 17, 1935. Local news dominated the front page that day with the major announcement of the merger of three banks, Ann Arbor Savings Bank, the Farmers and Mechanics Bank, and First National Bank and Trust Co. The merger, in the middle of the Great Depression, was seen as reassuring move in an otherwise shaky banking industry. Economic conditions dominated other local news as the Ann Arbor Public School announced federal funding for nursery schools and adult education. The WPA plan for a "practice house" where girls from relief families would be trained as housemaids was also unveiled. Even the Letters to the Editor were concerned with the Depression as a citizen called on neighbors to drop their opposition to a home for orphan children in the 7th ward. Perhaps related to the dire economic conditions (or not), the Courts took up the case of the stolen hog.

Many of the holiday traditions familiar to Ann Arborites took center stage in 1935. A front page article predicted that thousands would listen to the University Choral Union's Messiah at Hill Auditorium. The Community Sing, begun in 1931, was promoted with a full-page display complete with lyrics to all the favorite Christmas songs for the expected 10,000 carolers. The University of Michigan's Subscription Dance was becoming so popular organizers had to limit ticket sales. The local schools were not to be outdone with the Tappan School students putting on a production of Dicken's Christmas Carol. Check out the list of players and you may recognize a Townie. The annual Yule Lighting Contest deadline was extended to give citizens plenty of time to decorate their yards.

Amateur sports were big, really big, in 1935. Amateur boxing nights at the Armory drew big crowds and prominent coverage in the News. Mill Marsh, the News sports columnist, mused on the growing popularity of Wolverine hockey and basketball. Intrepid wrestling coach Cliff Keen regaled the Ann Arbor Kiwanis with a description of the drama of Big Ten conference matches.

So what kind of routine news would you find in the Ann Arbor Daily News in 1935? Plenty. Birthdays were celebrated, marriage license announced, deaths noted, weather data recorded, and the ever-present promotional contests, with readers competing for prizes with funny verses. Readers looked to the radio listings for their favorite programs and the theater ads for the latest films from Hollywood.

Much has changed in Ann Arbor in 80 years but it's amazing to note how many business are still around. Moe Sport Shop, celebrating 100 years in 2015, had a gorgeous display ad to tempt holiday shoppers. Kroger Co. gave cooks a list of the most-needed holiday items. Arbor Springs reminded readers to stock up on water for the holiday dinners. Stay tuned to Old News for more Way Back Days.

Livin' On The Line ~ The Community High School Line-Up Debacle of 1996

It seemed like a good idea in January,1996: To deal with overwhelming demand for placements at Community High School, AAPS would hold a lottery for the first 50 slots and then the rest could wait in line "for a few days" before the April 1st sign-up date. Except the line started at 8:45 a.m. on Sunday, March 17th when Tappan Middle School student Maisie Wilhelm lined up outside the Balas Building. And they came, and they came and they came, with tents, and cook stations and couches and campfires. Parents set up temporary homes in vans, temporary offices in tents, and a Line-Up headquarters. Hopeful middle-schoolers played Hacky Sack (remember Hacky Sack?), strummed guitars (of course), and exhibited almost-Community High cool.

This being Michigan and March, a late-winter storm hit Ann Arbor on March 20. By March 27, the Ann Arbor News had seen enough of frozen kids and sacrificing parents and called for an end to the Line-Up in favor of an all-lottery system. Apparently the situation got so tense a Community High School student had to remind News readers it was the AAPS and not the students who lined up who caused the Line-Up debacle at Balas. April 1, 1996 finally arrived and a cold and wrapped-up Maisie was officially welcomed by Community High School dean Judy Hamilton Conger. And by April 2, Superintendent John O. Simpson had read enough Letters to the Editor, seen enough images of tents and announced that AAPS would move to a lottery system for filling slots at all three alternative schools. And thus ended another chapter in the colorful history of Community High.

December 1, 1974 ~ Ann Arbor's Biggest Snowfall

It was 41 years ago on Sunday, December 1, 1974, that the snow started falling, and falling, and falling. By the time the storm stopped on December 2nd, Ann Arbor had recorded it's biggest snowfall since records began in 1880 -- a total of 19.8 inches. Thousands of travelers were stranded throughout Washtenaw County. US 23 was a mess and cars were stuck on all county roads. City, County, Schools and organizations sprang in to action, housing folks, providing bed, blankets and meals for the weary voyagers.

In Ann Arbor, buses were waylaid, the University of Michigan closed and townies handled the storm with typical aplomb , true grit and seasonal humor. The Lopez kids got down to work, the University of Michigan students got arty and cars stayed buried for days.

We went to THE source for weather records, Dennis Kahlbaum, and he provided the up-to-the-minute list of Ann Arbor record snowfalls since 1880:
1) Dec. 1- 2, 1974: 19.8 inches
2) Jan. 26-27, 1967: 17.0 inches
3) Jan. 3- 4, 1999: 15.9 inches
4) Mar. 18-19, 1973: 14.6 inches
5) Jan. 30-31, 2002: 14.5 inches
6) Feb. 1- 2, 2015: 14.1 inches
7) Jan. 25-26, 1978: 13.6 inches
8) Dec. 11-12, 2000: 13.1 inches
9) Jan. 14-15, 1992: 12.5 inches
10) Jan. 1- 2, 2008, 12.3 inches

Check out all the photos and articles on Weather at Old News -- we're always adding more weather-related content.

Watch Bo Schembechler's first season unfold in real time!

Bo SchembechlerBo Schembechler

How can this Wolverine football season get any more exciting? We found a way! Now you can revisit one of the University of Michigan's most exciting seasons ever - Bo Schembechler's first campaign as head coach in 1969 - in real time as reported in the Ann Arbor News.

From pre-season coverage and that thrilling first game against Vanderbilt University, through the shocking Ohio State upset and the trip to the Rose Bowl in January, who knows what treats await? We've already uncovered Millie Schembechler's famous crab dip for your tailgate party!

Follow our coverage of Bo's entire 1969 football season via twitter or tumblr and ... GO BLUE!

The Michigan - Michigan State Game That Almost Wasn't

The October, 1970 Michigan - Michigan State football match provided one of the weirder twists in the long interstate rivalry that is known simply as "The Game." A former Michigan Daily sports editor, Joel Block, filed a lawsuit to block the game, citing it as a "public nuisance." Block was protesting the pre-emptive canceling of the Goose Lake Music Festival due to perceived widespread drug abuse at a previous concert.

Preparations for The Game continued as the team and the AAPD finalized plans for defense, offense and crowd control. And then the day before the game, Washtenaw County Judge Ross W. Campbell issued one of his more popular decisions, dismissing the lawsuit as "patently frivolous."

And The Game? Hail To The Victors ruled the day at Michigan Stadium as the Wolverines battered MSU, 34 - 20. The Spartans suffered injuries and Billy Taylor did everything right for Bo. The final twist on the lawsuit came as the Ann Arbor Police reported October 17, 1970, one of the quietest Michigan - Michigan State games ever.

Friend of AADL's Old News, Wystan Stevens, Dies at 72

Wystan Stevens December 1981

Old News lost a vital member of the team this week with the passing of Wystan Stevens, the dean of local historians. Wystan generously shared his deep knowledge and love of Ann Arbor with Old News since its inception in 2010. He named unknown people, identified unknown buildings, streets and venues, gave context to hundreds of photos, corrected mistakes made by Ann Arbor News reporters and photographers as well as Old News staff.

Just last week Wystan helped us in trying to identify where a group of 1930s photos of bowling teams were taken. We had no names, places, or specific dates on the negative envelopes but Wystan was able to identify people, teams, venues. Here’s an example:

"The man with necktie number 3, second from right, is a very youthful Jerry Hoag, longtime manager of the Michigan Theater and other Butterfield theaters in Ann Arbor. His presence here strongly suggests that the venue is the Michigan Recreation Lanes, which was located in the Michigan Theater Building's basement." ~ Wystan Stevens

Wystan loved to include nuggets of history and the more controversial the better, like this one about the Wolverine Barber Shop:

"Like the old Dunbar Community Center, this building figured largely in the history of Ann Arbor's African-American community. And when it was a hotel, in 1902, it played host for a few days to anti-drink crusader Carrie Nation, on one of her lecturing and saloon-smashing excursions." ~ Wystan Stevens

All we had on this photo envelope was “House Being Demolished, September 1969.” We sent it to Wystan knowing there was simply too little to go but, once again, he knew exactly the where, what and why of the photo:

"Demolition of the former home of piano teacher Geraldine Seeback, who sold it to Comerica Bank for installation of their drive-up banking window branch office and driveway on the site, which was across the street from the 1925 Michigan Bell Telephone headquarters. The brick house next door now belongs to Peter Heydon." ~ Wystan Stevens

He was at his best detailing the history of buildings. The Haven Hall fire photos illustrates just how deep his knowledge of a building could go:

"The Law Building, completed in 1863 north of Mason Hall, was expanded and remodeled several times -- extensively in 1893, and again in 1898 following protests over the 1893 makeover, which had added a useless tower. After the beautiful new Cook Law Quadrangle was completed in 1933, the old Law Building was renamed "Haven Hall" -- it provided offices, classrooms, and library space, until it was destroyed in an arson fire on August 6, 1950. (After the fire, nothing ever again was built on the site.) ~ Wystan Stevens

When it came to making sense of an old aerial photos, which is always hard, Wystan could sort out the direction we're facing, as well as what was to come. Check out his unbelievable commentary for the photos of Tappan Junior High School and Stadium Blvd.

Wystan's contributions to local history go far beyond Old News. He contributed photographs to and research for the Downtown Historical Streets Exhibit Program as well as narrating the video introduction to the Streets Exhibit. And he donated his time and materials to the Ford Gallery of Ann Arbor Founders Exhibit. He even made makes it into our Old News UMS archive of historical programs as narrator in a program from 1979.

Wystan authored, introduced, or had been a consultant for numerous books on Ann Arbor history in the AADL collection. He did workshops on books set in Ann Arbor, led tours of the city's landmarks, including his most famous and popular tour, the Forest Hills Cemetery. He was a favorite subject of Ann Arbor News photographers and his sense of humor came through in every photo. The official historian of Ann Arbor and the unofficial Old News historian will be greatly missed by all of us at Old News.

Thanks for the memories, Wystan.

Were You There?

bikes and aapd

On Saturday, April 19, 1958 the Ann Arbor Police Department held a bicycle auction that drew a big crowd of bidders of all ages. The Ann Arbor News took a lot of photos of the event but only three made it into the April 21st edition. The human interest story concerned then eight-year-old Douglas Hehr and his almost-didn't-happen winning bid.

We've published many of the photos that didn't make it into print and hope you recognize someone, maybe even yourself, in one of them. If you do, share your memories with Old News through the Add New Comment feature at the bottom of this blog. Don't forget that you can earn all kinds of cool prizes in the Summer Game when you share your local history knowledge with Old News.

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