The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Snow.2
    FIRST SNOW—Heavy, wet flakes piled deep on tree branches—and windshields—as the area received its first significant snowfall of the season. “Usually it begins with a dusting or two,” said George Isobar, Morenci’s observer for the National Weather Service, “but this time it came with a vengeance.” By the end of the day Saturday, a little over four inches of snow was on the ground. Now comes the thaw with temperatures in the 40s and 50s for three days.
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    SKEWERS, gumdrops, and marshmallows are all that’s needed to create interesting shapes and designs for Layla McDowell Saturday at Stair District Library’s “Sculptamania!” Open House. The program featuring design games and materials is one part of a larger project funded by a $7,500 Curiosity Creates grant from Disney and the American Library Association. Additional photos are on page 7.
    Morenci marching band members took to the field Friday night dressed for Halloween during the Bulldog’s first playoff game. Morenci fans had a bit of a scare until the fourth quarter when the Bulldogs scored 30 points to leave Lenawee Christian School behind. Whiteford visits Morenci this Friday for the district championship game. From the left is Clayton Borton, Morgan Merillat and James O’Brien.
    DNA PUZZLE—Mitchell Storrs and Wyatt Mohr tackle a puzzle representing the structure of DNA. There’s only one correct way for all the pieces to fit. It’s one of the new materials that can be used in both biology and chemistry classes, said teacher Loretta Cox.
  • Front.tar.wide
    A TRAFFIC control worker stands in the middle of Morenci’s Main Street Tuesday morning, waiting for the next flow of vehicles to be let through from the west. The dusty gravel surface was sealed with a layer of tar, leaving only the application of paint for new striping. The project was completed in conjunction with county road commission work west of Morenci.
  • Front.pull
    JUNIORS Jazmin Smith and Trevor Corkle struggle against a team from the sophomore class Friday during the annual tug of war at the Homecoming Games pep rally. Even the seniors struggled against the sophomores who won the competition. At the main course of the day, the Bulldog football team struggled against Whiteford in a homecoming loss.
    YOUNG soccer players surived a chilly morning Saturday in Morenci’s PTO league. From the left is Emma Cordts, Wayne Corser, Carter and Levi Seitz, Briella York and Drew Joughin. Two more weeks of soccer remain for this season.
  • Front.ropes
    BOWEN BAUMGARTNER of Morenci makes his way across a rope bridge constructed by the Tecumseh Boy Scout troop Sunday at Lake Hudson Recreation Area. The bridge was one of many challenges, displays and games set up for the annual Youth Jamboree by the Michigan DNR. Additional photos on are the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.homecoming Court
    One of four senior candidates will be crowned the fall homecoming queen during half-time of this week’s Morenci-Whiteford football game. In the back row (left to right) is exchange student Kinga Vidor (her escort will be Caylob Alcock), seniors Alli VanBrandt (escorted by Sam Cool), Larissa Elliott (escorted by Clayton Borton), Samantha Wright (escorted by JJ Elarton) and Justis McCowan (escorted by Austin Gilson), and exchange student Rebecca Rosenberger (escorted by Garrett Smith). Front row freshman court member Allie Kaiser (escorted by Anthony Thomas), sophomore Marlee Blaker (escorted by Nate Elarton) and junior Cheyenne Stone (escorted by Dominick Sell).
  • Front.park.lights
    GETTING READY—Jerad Gleckler pounds nails to secure a string of holiday lights on the side of the Wakefield Park concession stand while other members of the Volunteer Club and others hold them in place. The volunteers showed up Sunday afternoon to string lights at the park. The decorating project will continue this Sunday. Denise Walsh is in charge of the effort this year.
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Merle Glaser: at 90 years, he's tackled most anything

Written by David Green.


You might say that Merle Glaser has done it all.

Of course he hasn’t really, but he’s covered a lot more territory than most people during his 90 years.

“If I can see it, I can do it,” he said last week, thinking back on his life.

Farmer, blacksmith, welder, wood carver, jewelry maker, gunsmith, radiator repairman, collector of arrowheads and other Native American artifacts, knife maker.old_man

It might appear as a mishmash of hobbies, skills and careers, but Merle sees some order to his myriad experiences.

“I’ve lived three lives and this is my fourth,” said the long-time Morenci resident.

“I worked for a long time as a farmer, then as a blacksmith and welder, and finally as a factory owner.”

Now he’s in his fourth era, retired and living out his final years in Morenci’s Citizen’s For Quality Care home.

His favorite time period covered the years from about age 20 to 40.

“A lot of dancing, a lot of loving. I was alive then,” he says.

Merle was born in Miner, Ill., in 1912. His grandfather bought land in Ohio and the remainder of the family moved east to join him. The farm—southeast of Powers Station—is no longer there, but the memories remain.

“I remember getting up at three in the morning to start work,” he said. “Such long hours, sometimes my father would come out to the tractor to stop me. He was afraid I’d fall asleep and get run over.”

That was during the busy summers. In the winter, he started blacksmith work in Zone, south of Fayette.

“That’s where the wheels started turning.”

He was born too late to be part of the era of shoeing horses, but he plied his trade in the creation and repair of shovels, chisels, wagon wheels, plowshares and much more.

“I don’t believe they even use plowshares anymore,” Merle said. “Maybe a few old-timers do.”

After a couple years of blacksmithing, Merle started traveling in the winters to Detroit to work, and that is where he learned the finer points of welding. The job was at a factory that made soap powder.

“I hired in as a welder, but I wasn’t a very good welder when I started. There was a guy who took a shining to me and I really learned how to weld there.”

There was even a little welding acrobatics on that job, such as the time he had to hang upside down, suspended by his feet into a giant mixer.

He took those skills back with him to Ohio and soon on to Morenci. He got the message that a blacksmith was needed in town, so he moved here and bought a house on Page Street.

That led to his many years of service in his shop on Baker Street as a welder and fabricator, and as a radiator repair man.

“I watched a guy in Toledo fix a radiator,” Merle said, “and then I soon had a radiator shop. I fixed radiators for 20 years.”

He also made trailer hitches and once he came up with a trash compactor long before they became a commercially-available item. He helped fabricate a tanker truck for the Lyons fire department.

Eventually he moved some tube bending equipment from Fayette Tubular Products to the former Blanchard horse barn on the east side of Morenci. That was the birth of what was eventually to become Roth Fabricating.

This also marked the beginning of his factory owner era, but that didn’t mean his puttering was finished.

He spent about five years worth of evenings and weekends building a little roadster. The pieces came from 15 different cars.

He also made a pair of dueling pistols and a rifle, he started to do wood carvings…and the list goes on and on.

“If I saw it done and it was in my line, I could do it,” he said. “If, in my prime, I watched a doctor take out an appendix, I think I could have done it in an emergency.”

Such confidence had its limits, however, with the arrival of the computer age. Finally, Merle felt he had met his match.

“I tried a computer for about 15 minutes once,” Merle said. “I knew I’d never learn to use that thing.”

Merle turns away from that thought and instead recalls the well-known poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

“Under a spreading chestnut-tree

The village smithy stands;

The smith, a mighty man is he,

With large and sinewy hands;

And the muscles of his brawny arms

Are strong as iron bands.”

Merle looks down at his 90-year-old hands and turns them in the fading afternoon light. Mighty. Sinewy. Brawny. Those words were once part of his life, but that’s from another era, a time when blacksmiths still existed.

    – Oct. 23, 2002 

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