Community

Community Foundation Meeting

Sue Upton of the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation called to correct an error in the Ann Arbor Observer’s April Events listings: the AAACF’s annual meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 28, not on Friday, April...

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Thank You, Sam

Surely Sam Breck has helped many thousands of people over his long and varied lifetime. My ex-husband, Don Hunt, and I were among the multitudes. In 1976 we started the Ann Arbor Observer.During the preceding year I had been the...

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The Ambulance Chase

Fifty years ago, the ambulance business in Washtenaw County was up for grabs. Almost anyone with a vehicle big enough for a person to lie down in provided emergency patient transport. That included hospitals, gas stations, taxi...

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Sewing Up History

Molly” is only half dressed. The headless dress form in Helen Welford’s studio wears a silver-green 1840s-style bodice with lacy short sleeves, but the full skirt has yet to be added. Welford fingers a plum-colored...

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Family Secret

Ann Arbor has its share of amateur historians, but few can match Patrick McCauley.In 2006, when he was twenty-eight, McCauley and his girlfriend, Andrea Kinney, purchased an old Greek Revival home on Pontiac Trail. They set to...

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Jam at the Mill

Someone suggests a tune, and a fiddler kicks it off. The music sets your toes tapping right away. Outside this room it’s 2008, but in here it sounds more like 1910.Two more fiddles join in, along with a banjo, guitar, and...

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Scream Therapy

Sadly, Edvard Munch didn’t own an SUV. So when he decided to portray a person overwhelmed by existential dread, he had to settle for painting a figure with a rubbery haunted face walking near a fjord in Oslo.Fortunately,...

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Be. Here?

In the dead of winter, about a dozen people gather at Saline City Hall to discuss how to bring new life to the downtown, where nearly half the storefronts are empty.Mayor Gretchen Driskell, fifty, walks into the room and smiles...

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Gossip & Gunpowder

“He’s always liked guns.”Seventeen-year-old Benjamin Lucas is sweat­ing bullets. He’s on the witness stand at the 14A District Courthouse in Pittsfield Township, testifying for the prosecution at the...

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Bridge to the Nineteenth Century

The Bell Road Bridge in Dexter Township is on the National Register of Historic Places. The plaque so designating it, however, is sitting in neighbor Bill Klinke’s garage—because for twelve years the ­nineteenth-century...

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Disabled Bowlers Knock ‘Em Down

At first glance, it’s like any other league at Bel-Mark Lanes in Scio Township. But look more closely, and you’ll notice a few people need their shoelaces tied. Some speak haltingly or in three-word sentences. A few...

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Testing the Wind

Richard and Carole Murphy were driving through North Dakota several years ago when they noticed three enormous metal blades spinning slowly in the prairie wind.”We were curious, so I turned around and drove back until we...

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Ague in Ann Arbor

Don’t go to Michigan, land of ills;The name means ague, fever, and chills.-Popular nineteenth-century sayingIn September 1824 a twenty-year-old Irish immigrant, Walter Oakman, bought 123 acres of land near Ypsilanti....

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Special Delivery

Every neighborhood in America has a mail carrier, and Ann Arbor’s are no exception. Six days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, carriers fan out from the city’s three post offices to walk or drive its 137 delivery...

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International Neighbors at 50

“What has surprised you most about life in Ann Arbor?” I ask the women gathered in a small, drab classroom on North Campus.”The man next door mowed his lawn without his shirt!” exclaims a young Japanese...

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Herman Bock, Decorator

Last summer, Deb Adamic was cleaning the ceiling of the U-M Law Library’s reading room when she spotted a cubby­hole where the ceiling beams meet the wall. Reaching in, Adamic felt something loose and pulled out a grimy...

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Birthday of the Month

“Our goal is to provide birthdays to children in need of a birthday surprise when they would otherwise go without this year,” explains the website annarborbirthdaysurprise.com. “We are not an organization. We...

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The Attack Cats

We had just come around the first turn when I saw someone walking toward us, then a dog, then another.”Hi,” I said. “I see you have dogs.”No answer.”I have two cats with me,” I said....

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Hollywood on Washington

“We get three types of traffic,” says the man guarding the door at 425 East Washington—”the workers, the patients, and the movie people.” The workers park outside while they’re building the 411...

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Echoes of 1933

Seventy-six years ago this month, the country was at the low point of the Great Depression. In Ann Arbor, American Broach, King-Seeley, and Hoover Ball and Bearing all had cut production and laid off workers. Local retail sales...

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