A Kiss of Death: The Life of the Sea Lamprey

There are few animals in the world that get less respect than lampreys.  They are ugly, lacking fins and the grace of a recognizable face.  They are slimy.  They are deemed inedible, at least in the United States.  They parasitize fish we like to eat.  They are the animals we love to hate, and yet…

Image of sea lampry mouth parts. Photo courtesy of I, Drow male, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1999560
Image of lamprey mouth parts. Photo courtesy of I, Drow male, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=1999560

My encounters with lampreys have been few, but always interesting.  There was the time my fish class went to a lamprey weir many years ago, and allowed them to suck onto the palms of students’ hands.  Lacking jaws, that is all they could do—give us an intense rubbery kiss.  Perhaps it was the time of year or else the disgusting nature of mammal skin, but they did not try to bore into our flesh to suck our blood as they might do with the Lake Trout.  It was hard to detach, its body not offering traction for the other hand to pull it off (scraping turned out to be the best method).

"Sea lamprey traps often produce by-catch. This native silver lamprey was found in the trap and released back into the St. Mary's River." Photo and caption courtesy of Joanna Gilkeson, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest, https://flic.kr/p/oqQWi3
“Sea lamprey traps often produce by-catch. This native silver lamprey was found in the trap and released back into the St. Mary’s River.” Photo and caption courtesy of Joanna Gilkeson, US Fish and Wildlife Service, Midwest, https://flic.kr/p/oqQWi3

Earlier that day we had gone upstream with a box sieve, a wooden frame with a wire screen affixed to the bottom, to capture immature lampreys.  We would plunge it into a muddy bank and swish it around in the water to wash out the mud and silt.  What was left were—among other invertebrates—many several-inch long young lampreys.  Many, if not most, were native to Michigan, not having invaded by way of the St. Lawrence Seaway as the parasitic sea lamprey did.

Our native lampreys seem content to wallow in the mud, straining out organisms from the water with gill filaments.  They transform into adults, mate, lay eggs, and die, much as salmon do.  The sea lamprey goes one step farther, leaving its stream for the Great Lakes, feeding off fish such as Lake Trout for one year or more, finally returning to a stream to lay eggs and die.

Because lampreys return to streams to spawn and die, they can be controlled by several methods.  The simplest of these is to erect a dam to keep them from migrating upstream where they may find gravel beds for spawning and muddy banks for nurturing the young larvae.  The Union Street dam serves this purpose in Traverse City.  Unlike Brown Bridge dam upstream, it will not be removed, in part, because of this useful function.  Another method of controlling sea lampreys is to poison them periodically with poisons that work only on lampreys.  It is necessary to use these chemicals once every several years because the larvae spend so much time buried on mud, feeding on microscopic organisms.

Oddly, we humans are related to these creatures.  While lacking a jaw and a skeleton made of bone, lampreys have a nerve cord running along its back, a larval rod-like structure in its back that evolved into a backbone, and gill slits towards the mouth.  We all have those features as embryos, but they change into other things as we develop.  Our gill slits morph into a jaw and the structures in our necks, and our dorsal nerve cord lies within a bony column of vertebrae.

Lampreys and their kin are the ancestors of the dominant groups that we know today: the bony fish, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and mammals.  They are evolutionary throwbacks, relics of a time that preceded the appearance of more modern vertebrates.

Sea lampry adhered to lake trout. Image available in Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2760638
Sea lamprey adhered to lake trout. Image available in Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2760638

The kiss of a lamprey is singularly unrewarding, both for that animal and for us.  To an appropriate fish it is the kiss of death, since many fish die as their blood is drained out.  It is a kiss of death: Is that the reason we cannot love these animals—they plague our sleep with night terrors?  Are we remembering our ancestral past when, as fish, we felt the sucking disk attach to our side, the creepy sensation that spelled our doom?  Should we let down our fears as the Europeans have done to feast upon these animals?  I don’t know—you go first.

However, should any readers be inspired to extend their range of culinary skill, I offer this recipe for the preparation of sea lampreys.  It was taken from the Middle Ages, so cooking methods will seem a bit unorthodox.  However, the success of the preparation may explain why King Henry I of England died from eating a surfeit of lampreys.  He could not hold himself back from eating them all.

Before Munson: Traverse City’s First General Hospital

by Julie Schopieray, local author and history enthusiast

In a small, isolated town as Traverse City was in the late 1800s, a sudden illness or serious injury was treated in one of the several doctors offices in the city. These offices were generally small, dark and ill-equipped compared to what we experience today, but this system of treating the ill was normal for small towns across the country. All medical care was primitive compared to what we are now used to. Many maladies were treated with elixirs and herbal remedies. Poor sanitary conditions resulting in infections was the most common reason for deaths. The lack of regulations monitoring medical education and licensing was still years away. Most local physicians were as qualified as they could be, but  this was the typical medical care available in Traverse City and other small towns in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

The Traverse City asylum had  a staff of physicians and nurses for the patients, but was not open to  treat the public. As the city grew, the need for a general hospital was widely discussed and debated, but it wasn’t until 1902 when an opportunity to open one presented itself.

sturm4At the intersection of what is now M-72 and M-22 in Greilickville, was a summer resort called the Spring Beach Hotel. It was owned by a group of four Indianapolis physicians and  had been a summer-only health resort which opened around 1896.  After two of the original owners passed away, the remaining owners decided to sell it. The property included a hotel building and  barn on thirty acres of land with a view of the bay.  Dr. Victor Hugo Sturm and his partner Harvey P. Hurley of Chicago, purchased the resort with the plan to continue it as a summer health resort. They advertised it  in homeopathic medical journals as the Grand Traverse Health Resort.

At first, their aim was to continue it as a retreat-type summer health sanitarium as it had been, but when they realized that the community needed a real hospital, they decided to permanently open it to all of the physicians in the area. The hotel building first needed some updating to make it into a hospital, so Dr. Sturm and his investors added on to the main building, spending about six thousand dollars in improvements for the new business.

Dr. Victor H. Sturm. Image courtesy of the author.
Dr. Victor H. Sturm. Image courtesy of the author.

Dr. Sturm arrived to make Traverse City his permanent home the first of January 1903, bringing his new bride, Sylvia. They took an apartment in the sanitarium building as their  residence. Sylvia would take an active role in running the hospital as manager, serving on the board as secretary and treasurer and in later years, working to coordinate the nursing staff. A well-educated woman, she had attended Oberlin College and University of Michigan. With her husband out of town regularly on business, he left the hospital under her capable management. His involvement was minimal except for the initial investment.

Dr. Hurley  provided funds for the city to buy an ambulance, which would be available to transport patients from their homes or doctors’ offices to the hospital.  An agreement was made that the ambulance would not be used for anything outside the city, and they arranged for the chief of police to have charge of the vehicle. Mr. Murray of the Gettleman Brewing Co. offered his team of horses which he kept at  his business and stated that his team will be at the disposal of the city for use on the ambulance at all times, night or day. The new hospital, at first, did not have an in-house physician, but  there was always a nurse on staff, and it was open at all times for any doctor in the city to use. 

sturm5The support staff included a cook, laundresses and house keepers. The large grounds had gardens where staff raised vegetables used in the meals for patients. By the end of 1907, seven full time nurses were employed including night staff, and two nurses remained available for private calls throughout the city when needed. A nursing program was established and training began in 1907.  The call went out  to recruit  young ladies of the city to enter the program.

sturm6The hospital served the city well for four years, but by 1907 it became clear that the facility was too small.  A major renovation and expansion was planned with a 20-room annex addition. Local architect Jens C. Petersen was hired to design the new, up to date facility.  The Evening Record described the hospital in glowing terms: The annex will be entirely modern and sanitary in every particular…There will be separate wards for the male and female patients… There will be a large surgery with a recovery room attached…for performing difficult and delicate operations. Arrangements have already been completed for the establishment of a training school for nurses in connection with the hospital and the staff will be composed of leading physicians of northern Michigan. An elevator was installed in the three story addition and a separate cottage was used to house contagious patients. The outdated kerosene lamps throughout the building were replaced with much brighter acetylene gas lamps, especially improving the visibility for surgeons in the operating room.

Dr. Vaughn, head of the Chicago Union Hospital, toured the new, improved facility while on vacation in the summer of 1907 and gave his approval. His praise was gladly received. The city had  desperately needed the services of a general hospital and all was going well. The hospital  investors filed articles of incorporation in the summer of 1909 and it became the Grand Traverse Hospital, Inc. 

As the only hospital in town, the citizens of Traverse City and surrounding areas now had a modern hospital with full services. When a local doctor could not treat a patient in their home or in their office, they were sent to the hospital. Cases treated included everything from illnesses including appendicitis, hernias, pulmonary tuberculosis, cancer and typhoid fever. Others were treated for injuries from occupational hazards such as railroad workers being hit by or falling from  trains, a woman who lost both feet after they were run over by an engine near her job at the starch factory, a farmer who fell from a hay mower, and a firefighter who was overcome by smoke. There were those admitted as a result of accidents, such as carriage collisions, a man who was aboard the steamer Leelanau was scalded when the boiler exploded, and injuries from misfiring rifles. Other injuries were self inflicted. One woman died after a self-inflicted suicidal gunshot wound became infected. Another ingested carbolic acid in a suicide attempt, but survived.

Hospital statistics for 1909 were printed in the paper: 144 cases admitted, 85  total operations- 45 of those were major, 10 deaths, and a daily average of 5 patients.

By the end of the year however, everything came crashing down. On December 28, 1909, while on a business trip for his pharmaceutical supply company, Dr. Sturm was found dead in his sleeping berth on a train, near Mason City, Iowa after suffering an apparent heart attack.  His body was taken to Anderson, Indiana where a daughter from his first marriage lived.

Only a few weeks after the announcement of Dr. Sturm’s death, the remaining stock holders decided to close the hospital. On March 31, 1910, the doors were closed for good, leaving the city once again without a hospital. The abrupt end was not just because of the death of Dr. Strum, but also had to do with a large law suit brought against them by the husband of a patient who died after being treated at the hospital. James Murchie, an alderman of the city charged the hospital with serious mistakes made while his wife was in their care in 1909.

Mrs. Murchie had  been suffering from kidney stones and  was treated with a common method– using turpentine as an enema. She was sent home after a time, but after a few weeks, her husband took her to an Ann Arbor hospital when it was discovered that she had several kidney stones which needed immediate surgery.  After the surgery, an infection set in and she died.

Her husband charged that an alleged mistake at the Traverse City hospital was directly responsible for her death, claiming that the nurse mistakenly administered carbolic acid rather than turpentine when his wife was given the enema treatment normally used for her type of symptoms. The bereaved husband sued the hospital for $10,000, claiming hospital workers contributed to her suffering. 

The Evening Record reported the findings of the jury: “…no verdict could be rendered against the defendant under the theory of plaintiff’s claim for damages under the charge as given relative to the administration of carbolic acid as an enema, as no witness expert or otherwise, testified to this as a fact. Furthermore, the newspaper went on, …there is no evidence which tended to show that the nurse in question was at all… incompetent, or that the appliances and conveniences furnished at the hospital were in any way faulty, unclean or improper. Therefore, the jury concluded, …under the undisputed evidence in this case, if by any possibility any person is liable, it would be the nurse in charge and not the owners or interested parties in the hospital.”[Traverse City Evening Record, 3-16-1910]  Mr. Murchie was ultimately granted $2,385 in damages.

After being closed for two years, the hospital was re-opened in 1913 under the management of Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Smith of Leland.  Mrs. Smith was a trained nurse and  was in charge of the nursing department. Members of the Grand Traverse Medical Society in both Grand Traverse and Leelanau counties used the facility.  Its tenure was short-lived, however, when the building caught fire in March 1915 and burned to the ground. There were only four patients in the building at the time and everyone was able to get out.

Once again, lacking a general hospital for its citizens, the community felt a desperate need for a new facility. James Decker Munson of the N. Mich. Asylum responded by opening a general hospital for the community, at first in an old residence on the asylum grounds.  In 1925 a large, modern hospital became a reality just north of the asylum. From that small beginning (which still exists under the complex), the Munson hospital facility has grown into what it is today.

A Sidelight about Dr. Sturm

Dr. Victor Hugo Sturm’s real story was not known when he came to Traverse City. He began to use the fictitious title of “doctor” when he became the vice president and lead sales agent for Luytie’s Homeopathic Pharmacy in St. Louis.   There is no evidence that he had any medical training at all, or that he actually treated patients, other than selling them the herbal elixirs he was hired to promote.

A German-born son of an eccentric man who claimed to have been the personal physician of Napoleon, he earned his living a traveling agent for a liquor producer in the early part of his career.  First married about 1856, he and his wife Mary had three daughters, only one of them surviving to adulthood.  During the Civil War he ran a sutler’s store and was the postmaster in Cumberland Gap, Tennessee.

In 1874 his name made newspapers across the south when he hired a lawyer to file divorce papers in a different state from his actual residence against his wife Mary without her knowledge.  In the mean time, he ran off with a woman whose husband had just suddenly died (possibly by suicide), married her, and filed to adopt her children.

When Sturm’s real wife found out, she refused to divorce him, and, in an act of revenge, proceeded to expose him by submitting letters in the newspaper claiming he threatened her life in order to influence her to grant him a divorce. The whole affair resulted in V.H. Sturm being arrested in June 1874 for bigamy, since divorce papers drawn up in Indiana were invalid in Tennessee. 

The newspapers had a field day with the whole thing. One clever reporter in the Cincinnati Inquirer wrote, Mrs. Castien[sic] of Macon, Georgia… has just married Major Sturm. There is a Mrs. Sturm at Knoxville, Tennessee, who says that if he has procured a divorce it has been without her knowledge or consent. There is a Sturm brewing evidently. 

Ultimately, a divorce was granted and Sturm took his new wife Eppie Bowdre-Castlen and her three children to California, where he worked as a traveling agent for C. Conrad Co.,  a liquor distributor. They settled in San Francisco, but by 1885 this marriage, too, ended. 

Eventually, he headed back east and and in the mid-1890s landed in St. Louis, becoming  the vice-president for Luytie’s Homeopathic Pharmacy Co.  It was at this time he began to refer to himself as “Dr.” Sturm. His long  experience as a smooth-talking salesman allowed him a lasting career with the Luytie’s company as one of their top agents. He traveled the country peddling these herbal remedies, and by 1900 had established offices in Cleveland, Detroit and Chicago. At this time he became acquainted with Dr. Hurley and invested in the Grand Traverse Health Resort.

Sturm could never accept a sedentary domestic life. His entire adult life was spent traveling regionally for a few years, whereupon his wanderlust once again would take him far afield. In his younger years he had a reputation as a womanizer within the circles of other traveling men who encountered him, one calling him “a real Romeo, and perfectly reckless of female hearts.” It had been rumored that he had as many as three wives at one time, all in different cities.

He could never seem to stay in one place or with one woman for very long.  Even in the later years of his life, the open road called, as he left his wife behind to run the hospital, taking to the road one more time to sell his herbal drugs. In fact, he was doing what he loved best on the day he died– setting out on an excursion as a traveling salesman.

Julie Schopieray is a regular contributor to Grand Traverse Journal.

Sewage Treatment Plant leaves Readers Puzzled

Dear Readers, perhaps June’s Mystery Photo proved too difficult, as we did not get a single answer! So, this time we will provide you with answers. Perhaps it is merely that the Sewage Treatment Plant is built “out of sight, out of mind.” Still, it is a lovely piece of architecture we encourage you to visit!

We have a few questions of increasing difficulty concerning this month’s mystery photo, all about the Traverse City Sewage Treatment Plant!

Where is this facility located?

The sewage treatment plant is located at the north end of Boardman Lake.

In what decade was it built–20’s, 30’s, or 40’s?

It was built in the early thirties.

What was done with city sewage before it was built?

Formerly, sewage was released directly into the Boardman River.

City residents rejected bonds to pay for the plant twice before the state ordered it to be completed.  What were the reasons for those rejections?

Residents opposed the bond to build a sewage plant over concerns of over-all expense and how much individual citizens would have to pay.  In the end, the state required citizens to construct a new plant.

“The wealth of family is the most important”: An Oral History of Clare Moon

Grace Terry, Marge Kinery, Clara Moon, at an event in the Grand Traverse Heritage Center (322 Sixth Street, Traverse City), 2005. Image courtesy of the Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection.
Grace Terry, Marge Kinery, Clara Moon, at an event in the Grand Traverse Heritage Center (322 Sixth Street, Traverse City), 2005. Image courtesy of the Traverse Area District Library Local History Collection.

Excerpts from interview with Clare (Clara) Moon (b. 1918) on July the 22, 2003, at her home on Old Mission Peninsula; edited by Nancy Bordine, Vice President of the Women’s History Project of Northwest Michigan.

I was born in my parents’ home; likewise, all my siblings were born in the same place in East Bay Township on Garfield Avenue. At that time, they considered it to be seven miles from Traverse City, they being Traverse City State Bank.

Most farmers had a billboard out in front which stated their name and the amount of miles from the Traverse City State Bank. There was a blank space in case you had something for sale. In our case, my parents usually had raspberries, sweet corn or eggs. That was posted on a post on the roadside. My parents left theirs up for a good many years, even while I was in high school, which was in the thirties. I suppose they took it down because they didn’t have raspberries and sweet corn for sale. I haven’t noticed any of those signs for years now.

My paternal grandpa lived just up the road about one-eighth of a mile. In 1873, he and his wife, Johanna, came to this country. He had been in the army in Germany, and didn’t want his sons to be subject to army life.

They first settled in Pittsburgh. In 1875, they heard about how the railroads were opening up this Northern Michigan area. With the forests removed, they were encouraging people to come up and farm. The land was very, very reasonable and that was their purpose in coming. They came here and bought a hundred acres of land from the railroad, a good share of it was cleared and ready to be farmed.

My maternal grandfather was the second son of the family. The first son got the little bit of land that the family owned. At age sixteen, my grandfather managed to get work on a ship. The ship had neared the Ireland coast off the Straight of Dover when it caught fire. They were rescued by a cattle boat that was going to Quebec.

He made it to Quebec, then the Upper Peninsula, where he married. They came to Greilickville on West Bay to manage a boarding house for the lumbermen who worked at the Greilick Mill. They lived right smack on the corner of Cherry Bend and M-22, where a lovely church stands now. When my mother was seven, the family moved out to the farm in Blair Township where I was born.

One thing that played a good part in our social life while we were growing up in the country was the Grange. The Grange was a farm organization. It held the neighbors together for a common cause. There were always programs to improve the home or your farming. There would be speakers coming from the State Grange occasionally.

When a Grange leader from Lansing came to discuss an issue, Mother and Dad always provided room and board for him. It was unheard of for out-of-towners to stay in town or at motels.

The Grange Hall was a wonderful place for social activity, such as dancing, card parties, box socials and reunions. The dances at the Hall were well attended and lots of fun. Music was local from the neighborhood, piano playing by volunteers, usually my sisters, and violin and banjo from men and women who lived down the river on Keystone Road. Square-dancer callers were usually my dad, my uncle, or Frank Rusch. A bountiful lunch was served at 11 pm.

We are looking for a photo of the Hanie school for our archives; in the meantime, here is an image of the one-room schoolhouse at Monroe Center, south of Blair Township, ca. 1890. Image courtesy of Dave Pennington, 750.112907.444
We are looking for a photo of the Hanie school for our archives; in the meantime, here is an image of the one-room schoolhouse at Monroe Center, south of Blair Township, ca. 1890. Image courtesy of Dave Pennington, 750.112907.444

I went to the one-room school called the Hanie School on land donated by the Hanie Family. It was a typical one-room school with a wood shed. There was a pump outside and a common pail for drinking water and a common dipper.

When you come in the school there was a little entryway where you hung your coat and boots and whatnot, then the classroom itself, and in the front was the teacher’s desk and the recitation benches in front of the teacher’s desk. There were four rows of desks of various sizes. The eighth graders, of course, had the biggest desks.

You went to school with everybody you knew real well. The farmers didn’t change, they’d been around there for two and three generations; you knew everyone.

We had lots of snow in those days. We’d sled down hills during recess because we had a nice hill. Nobody had skis, but we had homemade sleds. Mr. Frank Rusch, a neighbor of ours, was a carpenter who made wonderful sleds. So the Rusch kids had better sleds than anybody else, but they were generous and we all used them.

I went to the country school through the eighth grade, and then I went on to the high school. I’m the only one from my class of three that went on to high school. Even though the district paid for the tuition, transportation was the problem. It was pre-buses in those days. My older brother could drive a car. We’d had a very good raspberry crop that year, so we were able to buy a Ford coup. Not only did the two of us ride in the car, but we picked up a neighbor boy who lived nearer to town.

You could live in town with somebody or board. I had several girlfriends who earned their keep by boarding, working, and taking care of the family’s children.

Front Street, Traverse City, when Clara worked at JC Penney's., about 1939. Photographed by Cary Ford. Image courtesy of Traverse Area District Library.
Front Street, Traverse City, when Clara worked at JC Penney’s., about 1939. Photographed by Cary Ford. Image courtesy of Traverse Area District Library.

I was working at the Penney’s Store, which is now the Horizon bookstore, that first summer after I graduated. One day these two guys came in and they kept staring at me. One was my future husband, looking over the field.

My husband’s Grandpa Brosche came to this country because his brother had a meat market in Traverse City. The brother had a lot of land for raising Angus beef. In fact, most of the land that he owned was right across from the high school where Orchard Heights sub-division is now. His frontage on East Bay was considered worthless because you couldn’t raise anything there; it was full of stones and poison ivy.

Unfortunately, my husband and I moved to the Detroit area to provide a livelihood. We lived for thirty-two years in Ferndale. Every summer we came back here. My husband would travel back and forth to Ferndale. We bunked in with anybody that would put up with us; namely, my parents. I would help on the farm, hauling sweet corn to town. My husband got us a truck to run around in so that we’d have wheels.

Our boys worked in the cherrypicking industry. They’d pick cherries down here at McManus orchards until it was beneath their dignity to pick cherries. Then they got summer jobs in the Detroit area that were a little more lucrative.

As a kid, I liked to draw. My parents had two acres of raspberries, wonderful crops the raspberries. I’d look across the fields when I was bored and see the uncut hay with the wind blowing. There would be that nice wavy feeling, like ocean waves. I was just enthralled by that.

Later in life, when my son went off to school, he said to me, “Now Ma, you get your books and go with me.” I found there were courses available here and there in Royal Oak. Later on there were courses offered through Wayne University, and the instructors came out to Royal Oak. So I took advantage of lessons in design and composition.

A friend of mine invited me to join the Palette and Brush Club of Detroit. We had speakers from Ann Arbor, U of M, and Wayne, just wonderful speakers.

The Detroit Society of Arts and Crafts would speak and then you could take your work and have it juried in front of everybody. I really liked that.

When I saw the work of Louis King, I said, “Oh, I’d love to get a hold of him!” Louis said he would teach a class for us, provided I came up with at least nine people to make it worthwhile for him. He came to our little studio on Nine Mile Road.

I usually painted still lifes. When I’d come up in the summers, I’d paint all over the country here. I was sitting in a ditch one day on Bunker Hill, looking up at this farm setting of a barn, a house, and outer buildings when Mr. Larry Hoxsie, the mailman, went by. The next day I was painting the church over on Bates Road, which was also part of Mr. Hoxsie’s route. He stopped and said, “I want to see that painting when you’re done.” At that time his wife was baking pies to sell on the roadside. She said, “I’ll just bake a few more pies.” I saw her not too long ago, and she said they still had that painting.

I taught some lessons and courses down in Traverse at the Art Center. That group of about nine of us stayed together for fifteen years. We had wonderful shows at the State of the Art. Every year for about fifteen years we’d put on something. We used to come out here and sit in the woods, or paint alongside the road. We’d have a little lunch together. It was a very, very easy group to be with. I do not have any degree in art. I just like to do it and try to help others. I stuck with it over the years, and I intend to stick with it!

Our children really have a great amount of interest in our place here. I hope it continues for a long time because now their children’s children feel they have a stake in the place. Provided they can keep up with the tax problem. It isn’t a problem; it’s just something that sometimes is hard for them. You never know who might dangle a couple million under their nose and they’d give up this place for money. When our grandkids were real young, and we’d be out swimming, I’d say, “Now, what aren’t you suppose to do?” The grandkids would chime in with me, “Don’t sell the property!” It’s just wonderful that they all want to come back here.

At our family reunion here I told them, “There is the wealth of knowledge and the wealth of friends, the wealth of health, and the wealth of faith. To me the wealth of family is the most important.”

The Traverse City Friendship Center: a “From the Archives” Special

Recently acquired by the Local History Collection at the Traverse Area District Library was a very small collection of materials created by Ilse Adler, who was the Director of The Traverse City Friendship Center. The Center’s goal was to provide a social hub for released Traverse City State Hospital patients, and “other socio-emotionally handicapped persons.”

According to the Traverse City city directories, the Center was housed at 106 1/2 E. Front Street, from 1975-1978. The Center’s story, as you will read, tells us the opening of this ambitious undertaking was September 17, 1973. As far as could be determined, the Center likely operated from 1973 to 1978, but none of the materials in the collection indicate why the Center folded. Perhaps its services were duplicated elsewhere in the community and public health sector? If there is anyone in our readership with insight into the final days of the Center, we would love to hear from you.

The Center’s story is told briefly in a special issue of “The Observer,” the periodical of the Traverse City State Hospital in the 1970s. Enjoy this brief history of a well-meaning group of community members, who acted on the belief that Traverse City would be stronger for including all its residents.

“The Traverse City Friendship Center Story

This is the story of a dream, built on a community need, which became a reality with the opening of the doors to the Traverse City Friendship Center on September 17, 1973.

Image from the cover of the special issue of "The Observer," 1973.
Image from the cover of the special issue of “The Observer,” 1973.

Community concern for a drop-in center for social activities for released state hospital patients now living in the community, or for other socio-emotionally handicapped persons, had been discussed openly for some years but awaited someone to provide the knowledge and means of tapping resources and rallying community support. Mrs. Ilse Adler, Director of the Traverse City Friendship Center, with the support of Traverse City State Hospital administration was able to sell the idea to the community leaders and make necessary community contacts and work with state agencies to create and finance a drop-in center.

Because of the enthusiasm of everyone asked to participate in this endeavor, not one person said “no” to request for their help resulting in the formation of a steering Committee. This committee is composed of a group of concerned citizens and representatives of various social organizations, including the Traverse City State Hospital. This committee started to meet monthly to promote the center. These persons formed a sponsoring organization which was incorporated as the Traverse City Friendship Center under the laws of Michigan as a non-profit organization on July 17, 1973. The diverse professional backgrounds of steering committee members has made some sources of monies, professional services and counsel readily accessible to the center.

A local retired businessman donated the use of the second floor of a building located on Front Street, for the center. This has been a dance studio with a large ballroom, two smaller rooms with office space in the front, and was made available, rent free, with heat and water included.

Many community members, individuals and groups, contributed: a ping pong table, shuffleboard table, books, paint, office supplies, carpeting and the labor to lay it, etc. The moving of equipment and furniture was donated by volunteers and a local moving firm.

Furniture was moved in by volunteers, husbands and children of steering committee members and friends. A cleaning bee by members of the committee and their families readied the place and we opened on September 17, 1973. Since then many items and services have been donated by the attending members ranging from a small bookcase, games and music to “goodies” to be shared, as well as skills shared and rides by some who drive.

From "The Observer," 1973. Director Adler is sitting at the head of the table on the right.
From “The Observer,” 1973. Director Adler is sitting at the head of the table on the right.

Currently the center is open Sunday through Wednesday from 1-4 p.m. and Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 7-9 p.m. Activities range from informal chatting over coffee, discussing problems with staff, participation in games and group activities, dancing, music, arts and crafts and educational programs geared toward their individual needs and interest. Members have the opportunity to explore new interests, develop their creativity through the use of arts and crafts taught by trained staff or volunteers. If members have specific skills they are encouraged to share them with others. The use of leisure time is stressed and members are shown means of applying new skills that will enable them to participate in meaningful experiences in their daily lives. Some activities pursued were planning Christmas, Valentine Day parties and a picnic, learning to mend clothes, making a wall mural, ceramics, stone polishing, woodworking and decoupage plaques. Educational programs consisting of films on mental health attitudes and a training program in office management, attended by 5 members, were offered during the year. Future programs, geared to interests of members, may include a daily living course, hair care, basic sewing and budgeting money, utilizing professional people in community as instructors.

From "The Observer," 1973. Interior of the Traverse City Friendship Center.
From “The Observer,” 1973. Interior of the Traverse City Friendship Center.

One of the community responses in support of the center is the time contributed by the volunteers. Originally our volunteers were from Traverse City State Hospital volunteer program, but gradually through media of TC and newspapers, and word of mouth, they came directly from the community. Training sessions led by members of hospital staff are provided every new volunteer. Follow-up sessions are held every first and third Monday morning, a time for sharing learning experiences with state hospital staff. Volunteers are encouraged to participate in activities and share their skills, and most important to give of themselves. During the time they are working at the center they may listen to clients discuss problems, participate in games or group activities, teach a specific skill or help with housekeeping chores.

Periodic meeting with the total membership, clients, volunteers and staff, promote participation in planning and decision making about the functioning and needs of the center.

In the year the Center has been open 202 individuals have participated in the program, with an average of 7-25 in attendance at a session. A continuous turnover in membership is noticeable, even though a small number, indicative that the needs of some have been met buy the center and they are able to cope with-out our support.

To date ten volunteers have logged a total of well over 1500 hours of service. More volunteers are joining the program and expressing the satisfaction gained by sharing time and self with others.”

Law and Order: When did it appear on TC Police’s insignia?

This month’s mystery photo is not about picture identification.  Instead, it is about the history of an everyday thing: the insignia on police cruisers owned by the Traverse City Police Department.  The symbol includes the Latin phrase, “Lex et Ordo,” translated as “Law and Order.”

The question asked here is, “When was this phrase most likely incorporated into the insignia?”  As a hint, we will remind you that “Law and Order” was an election talking point for one of our former presidents (who won election, in part because of that slogan).

insigniaAnother way of approaching the problem is to go to “N-gram,” a website that tracks the evolution of word usage.  Beginning in 1800 and ending close to the present day, the frequency of words and phrases is recorded and subsequently analyzed by a computer algorithm.  Ten thousand documents are included within the time frame, so it is possible to catch a glimpse of when certain locutions became widely used.  By entering “Law and Order” you can see when the phrase was most popular in our recent history.  Try it!

July Events For History Lovers

Oakwood Cemetery Tours

Love meeting new people? What about dead ones? Traverse Area Historical Society invites all those interested to meet some of our favorite deceased Traverse City residents! Colorful characters once roamed our streets, including William “Wild Bill” Germaine, known better for brawling in the street than his political doings, and  our first female doctor, Augusta Rosenthal Thompson, who pursued her education with such passion that her husband divorced her. This tour is a packed one-and-a-half hours, and never dull!

Oakwood cemetery tours begin on Sundays at 7:00pm, beginning on July 3rd. Participants should meet at the northwest corner of the cemetery at the intersection of Steele and 8th Street. It is best to park on Steele street. Cost is ten dollars per person, payment to be made by cash or check. All proceeds go to benefit the Traverse Area Historical Society. You may preregister by sending an email to contact@traversehistory.org (preferred) or phoning (231) 995-0313. Drop-ins accepted if numbers permit. Rain or shine.

“The Lumber History of Frankfort Harbor”

Join the Benzie Area Historical Society for a lecture on “The Lumber Industry of Frankfort Harbor,” by Andy Bolander, at 7:00 pm on Thursday, July 14 at the Mills Community House. The lecture will focus on the development of Frankfort Harbor and the industries along its shores. Particular attention will be paid to the manner in which the building of the Soo Locks inspired a chain of investment by eastern capitalists in Benzie County that culminated with the creation of the Frankfort & South Eastern Railroad. Andy Bolander, a railroad and car ferry enthusiast and a volunteer at BAHS, has spent a year gathering photographs, maps, news clippings and county records information for this lecture.

Leelanau Historical Society, Exhibits and a New Gallery

IMG_20160624_173609188Leelanau Historical Society and Museum packed in the crowd at their recent dedication for the Norbert Gits Family Gallery and Bluestone Conference Room! LHS&M invites all interested in seeing their beautiful new space to come visit. Please check out their website for Museum hours.

Of particular interest to many is the new exhibit displayed in the Gits Family Gallery, titled “In Focus: Photography, History, Art,” featuring the art of Keith Burnham and other area photographers from past to present. One of Your Editors has had the pleasure of viewing the exhibit, which features some of this publication’s favorite photographers of old, Orson Peck and Edward Beebe. It is not to be missed!

If you would like your event featured in Grand Traverse Journal, please email details to gtjeditor@tadl.org