2012.08.15 Editor seeks his manhood

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Morenci was a woman back in 1915. A headline in the Observer states that “Morenci is proud of her municipal progress and many business interests.”

A short sketch of her growth and development was presented, with a rather flowery introduction by editor E.T. Armstrong. He admonishes readers to “cut out suspicion, knocks and digs; they come from an ignorance born in pigs.”

I have before me the Aug. 5, 1915, edition of the Observer, a good paper in a good town, on the line of two great states. This is the special Industrial Edition of the Observer, leading up to the Morenci Day celebration.

By this time the city already had water lines and fire hydrants in place and an extension of water service across Bean Creek had just been completed.

The village had electric lights—not all the time—but improvements were on the way. The Morenci-Fayette Light and Power Company furnished the juice, from a power plant at the Lake Shore Railroad depot, but that was soon to be used only for emergencies because a contract had been made with the Toledo Railways & Light Co. to bring 24-hour continuous service and that would make Morenci a truly modern community.

This edition of the Observer provides brief reviews of local businesses, pointing out, for example, that the Siefried and Mitchell Restaurant is the only eatery in town and feeds the hungry a good, appetizing meal for 25 cents.

In August 1915, Morenci had the only motorized ambulance in the county. The ice that was delivered to homes came from Bawbeese Lake, known for its purity and cleanliness.

H.H. Spencer offered the best ice cream sodas in town at his drug and grocery store. Mr. Spencer came to Morenci in 1886, with a long tailed coat, high water pants, one guitar and $2.40 in cash. He used his $5 a week pay to work his way into ownership of the business.

Photos in the paper show several horse-drawn wagons, but things were changing. “The honk wagons or snort carts or whatever you call them have become so numerous and the consequent troubles so many and complicated that a garage man is as busy as a one armed paper hanger with the itch.” That’s where Lou Hill showed his importance to the town at his garage. If Lou couldn’t fix it, then it couldn’t be did.

G.W. Gust was certainly a community-minded individual. He announced plans to install rest rooms in his hardware store for the convenience of women and children. He was a graduate of the Medina Academy and Fayette Normal. 

The New York Department Store was located where Janie’s hair salon is now located. There were two floors of goods and the owners, the Sebalds, lived on the third floor.

It’s so amazing and also disheartening to look at Morenci’s business district from a century ago. You didn’t drive to Adrian or Toledo to shop. You didn’t have to, everything was right in town.

There was an ice cream parlor in the hotel, at least five groceries, two drug stores, several clothing stores and hardware stores, two stores selling ladies’ hats, two auto repair shops, two stores selling pianos, a pool room, a feed store, two lumber and building supply stores, three bakeries, a steam laundry, granite works, a cement block plant, a tailor, a brick and tile factory, a grain mill, a trucking company, a book store, auto dealers, a jewelry store and more.

There was also a harness shop, buggy store, a livery, five blacksmiths—businesses that were probably not handed down to the next generation.

There was also a newspaper, of course, one that had chronicled the town’s events for the past 41 years. Mr. Armstrong had been editor for only five months, but he boasted that the Observer had become the best country paper anywhere in these parts. He claimed the paper was “the greatest single asset of the village.” Quite a claim to make.

“Truly a marvelous record occasioned by the sterling manhood of its founder, E.D. Allen.”

Sterling manhood? I don’t know if I’ve ever been described in that manner. I thought I was moving into the latter period of my career, but I now see there’s more to strive toward.

  • Front.splash
    Water Fun—Carter Seitz and Colson Walter take a fast trip along a plastic sliding strip while water from a sprinkler provides the lubrication. The boys took a break from tie-dyeing last week at Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program to cool off in the water.
  • Front.starting
    BIKE-A-THON—Children in Morenci’s Summer Recreation Program brought their bikes last Tuesday to participate in a bike-a-thon. Riders await the start of the event at the elementary school before being led on a course through town by organizer Leonie Leahy.
  • Front.drum
    on your mark, get set, drum!—Drew Joughin (black shirt), Maddox Joughin and Kaleea Braun took the front row last week when Angela Rettle and assistants led the Stair District Library Summer Reading Program kids in a session of cardio drumming. The sports and healthy living theme continued yesterday with a Mini Jamboree at Lake Hudson State Park arranged by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Next week’s program features the Flying Aces Frisbee show.
  • Front.art.park
    ART PARK—A design created by Poggemeyer Design Group shows a “pocket art park” in the green space south of the State Line Observer building. The proposal includes a 12-foot sculpture based on a design created by Morenci sixth grade student Klara Wesley through a school and library collaboration. A wooden band shell is located at the back of the lot. The Observer wall would be covered with a synthetic stucco material. City council members are considering ways to fund the estimated $125,000 project and perhaps tackling construction one step at a time.
  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks

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