Bygone Days: A look at the past in NE Allegan County

(Taken from the archives at the Then & Now Historical Library in downtown Dorr)

25 Years Ago — Feb. 21, 1996

Schuh’s Harness Emporium at the corner of South Main and Pine Street, which was destroyed by the 1902 fire.

Dorr and Leighton Township officials agree that sewer extensions are necessary on 142nd Avenue and they are making plans to craft a $12 million bond project.

The City of Wayland is planning reconstruction of North Main Street, including storm sewers and water lines.

Wayland High School senior Gina Garza has been receiving much national recognition for her community service projects.

Martin Township and Village voters will be asked in this year’s August primary to approve a four-mill levy for improving and paving roads.

Steeby Elementary students Cameron MacIntosh, Jessica Stone and Robin Coffman were shown with a copy of “Wildcat Fever,” the student newspaper created recently.

A record seven Wayland High School wrestlers qualified for the regional tournament, including Jesse Simmons, Paul Christensen, Brandon Patrick, Jon Athearn, Derrick Button, Tom Jenkins and Jeremy Deemter.

The Hopkins boys’ varsity basketball team has set a state record for most overtime ballgames with eight, involving 12 extra periods, and it still has five more games to play.

Wyoming Lee High School parent Cindy Lavengood wrote a controversial letter to the editor criticizing the behavior of Hopkins star Tim Kisner. Coach Jack Klunder responded by saying Lee’s coach was trashing Kisner throughout the game and said his star player hasn’t even been warned, much less received a technical foul in his career.

Reporter Pat Staley wrote in the weekly Soapbox that motorists these days seem to routinely exceed the speed limits and run red lights, but nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care.

In the Hopkins Village Caucus, Gary Kerber, Treasurer Gloria Meendering, Secretary Sandra Morris and Assessor Judy Weick were renominated.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of Michael Martin’s feeding tube being removed, putting an end the right to die case put forward by his wife, Mary Martin.

Karryn Bilski, Summer Brown and Gretchen Beuschel combined efforts to take second in the state debate contest at Novi.

The Wayland boys’ high school varsity basketball team has won three times as often as the year before with a 9-7 record. The ‘Cats beat Belding, as Jason Burgess dropped in 15 points and Walter Smith had 11.

Martin won its Division 4 district team wrestling tournament and two Clippers, Matt Noble and Don Bailey, advanced to regionals.

Virginia Paige Smathers, whose claim to fame was as a radio broadcaster and an extra in the Marx Brothers’ movie “A Day at the Races” and the Bette Davis film “Dark Victory,” died at her Wayland home. Her service was at New Life Christian Church with the Rev. Gary Finkbeiner officiating.

50 Years Ago — Feb. 17, 1971

The Rev. Leo Bennett and students Marcia Chrisman, Donna Fisher, Marylynn Mellon and Teresa Dunsmore attended the United Nations-Washington seminar in Washington D.C., sponsored by the United Methodist Church.

The Martin Community Area is the first recipient in Allegan County of a Department of Natural Resources recreation grant to be used for purchase of six acres and construction of baseball fields, tennis courts and children’s playground.

Mrs. William Wynne of Hopkins suffered a fractured pelvis and cuts and bruises in a traffic crash on South Main Street.

The Wayland City Council had the first reading of a proposed snowmobile ordinance, prompting Mayor Pro Tem Marshall Towne to quip, “The grass will be green before we get this ordinance.”

Mrs. David Holley and Mrs. Jim Boss, co-chairs of the Martin Variety Show April 16 and 17, are seeking talented participants.

Earning perfect 4.0 grade point averages for the fourth marking period at Hopkins High School were Brenda Bala, Laura Harnish, Phil Lenhart, Joanne Merbs, Katherine and Lois Rewa, George Cabot, Claudia Harnish, Pat Pawloski, Darlene Rankens, Sarah Reinert and Rita Stankey.

Cleo Todd accepted the nomination for Hopkins Village President under protest. Clerk Duane Erving and Assessor Ed Church also were renominated at the caucus.

Now showing at the Wayland Theatre: “The McKenzie Break.”

Sgt. Gregory Wrobleski of Martin has earned a meritorious certificate of achievement for his work as a computer programmer in Germany.

Mrs. Lorna Clyma, in a letter to the editor, agreed that it would be a shame if the Wayland Theatre had to be shuttered. She said it’s been her experience that when Disney and children’s movies are shown the attendance is strong, but not so much for more adult fare.

Three Hopkins FFA teams won gold ratings at the district tournament at Fennville, including Farm Forum, Public Speaking and Demonstration.

The Wayland High School varsity basketball team absorbed a frustrating 49-45 defeat at the hands of Pete (“The Snake”) Lambert and Comstock Park. It was the third straight loss for the Wildcats, now 8-7 overall.

Wayland was runner-up in the first O-K Blue Conference wrestling tournament, won by Comstock Park Individual league champs were Brent Irwin, Paul Fair, Tim Permoda and Ken Merren.

The Osmonds took over the No. 1 slot among the nation’s tunes with “One Bad Apple.”

75 Years Ago — Feb. 22, 1946

Editor-Publisher Rollo G. Mosher defended the Allegan County Board of Supervisors’ controversial decision to deny an increase of support to the Health Department, explaining that the request was for four to five years and would add $30,000 to $40,000 each year in expenses.

The WHS Ensemble, featuring Esther Tanner, Mildred Konecny, Joan Baugh and Dorothy Wisniewski, entertain the Ladies’ Library Club at its annual banquet. A sextet with Wisniewski, Baugh, Margaret Edwards, Ruth DeYoung, Betty Clack and Berdine Chapple sand three Mexican songs in keeping with the banquet’s theme.

The Wayland varsity basketball team’s last game of the regular season will be against Caledonia and the winner will be league champion. Wayland enters the fray with a 7-2 record.

The annual Dorr Firemen’s Ball will be held Monday, March 4.

Mrs. Etta J. Buskirk Hines, who was born in Hopkins Township in 1858 died at her home in Bradley. She was 86.Mrs. Mattie Leggett

Fr. Adalbert Radowski was surprised by the congregations at St. Therese and Sts Cyril & Methodius churches by honoring the 15th anniversary of his ordination as a priest.

Mrs. Mattie Leggett and students at Dorr District No. 1 decided to forego buying valentines this year and instead send the money to the Children’s Bible Hour of Grand Rapids.

Wayland High School graduate Donna Jean Blue is a violinist with the West Michigan College Orchestra conducted by Julius Stulberg.

Emil Dietiker received word via air mail that his father, Ludwig, of Switzerland, had died.

Rilla Calkins has been elected president of the Wayland Garden Club.

Nominated for village offices at the Wayland Caucus were President Charles Towne, Clerk Harry Elenbaas and Treasurer Elizabeth Clark.

Now showing at the Wayland Theatre:

  • Jack Benny and Alxeis Smith in “The Horn Blows at Midnight.”
  • Lynne Roberts and Virginia Christine in “Girls of the Big House.”
  • Hedy LaMarr, Robert Walker and June Allyson in “Her Highness and the Bellboy.”
  • Ginger Rogers, Lana Turner, Van Johnson and Walter Pigeon in “Weekend at the Waldorf.”


100 Years Ago — Feb. 18, 1921

The At Home Social for the Dorr Methodist Episcopal Church Aid Society will be held Feb. 21 at the home of Mrs. Fred Barber.

Dorr Rural Grange planned to initiate 10 new members Saturday.

The Leighton Farmers Club will have an all-day joint meeting with the Dorr Grange Saturday at the Corning Church.

While passing on the rural road one day last week, Carlton Harrington was badly bitten by a dog owned by Ed Loskoski of East Dorr.

John B. Stockdale recently sent the State Health Department a sample of local water for analysis. “It was found to be pure and fit for human consumption.”

Word was received of the death in Charlotte of A. T. Selkirk, whose grandfather was the man who built the Indian Mission on the shores of what now is known as Selkirk Lake.

Mrs. Joseph Thaler, a pioneer woman in Leighton Township, died of pneumonia. She had lived in the township for at least 60 years.

Wayland Village Caucuses will be held Monday night and the election will be March 14.

Frank Blakely, secretary of the Grand Rapids Credit Men’s Association, talked about cooperation in a presentation to members of the Commercial Club at the Dixie Inn. He said the three Cs for business success were “character, capital and capacity.” About 30 were in attendance.

Wayland High School seniors are rehearsing for the annual play March 4.

This week’s Musical Memories focus is on Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman, Schuman’s “Tramerai” and John Phillips Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever.”

COVER PHOTO: The 1902 fire on South Main Street in downtown Wayland.

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