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  1. #1

    Default Historical Society offers donors glimpse of Detroit past

    Thursday, May 28, 2009 The Detroit News
    Neal Rubin

    Historical Society offers donors glimpse of Detroit past


    Joel Stone knows an absurd number of things about a ridiculous number of objects. Maybe that's why he's so fond of the helix induction coil.

    "It looks like something your kid made," he says, assuming your kid had reason to build an upside-down wooden stool with too many legs and then wrap it with wire. As for what it does, he couldn't tell you.

    The curator of the Detroit Historical Society can, however, tell you that the cream-colored iron lung dates from the 1950s, judging by the plastic. That the prototype 1963 Ford Cougar II, designed to compete with the Stingray but never produced or even powered, had an engine block installed just to keep the front end down. That Charles Larned -- as in Larned Street -- not only kept that leather fire bucket in his home, but every house in Detroit in the early 1800s was required to have two.
    And he can tell you why it's all important.

    Saturday night, he can also show you. The Historical Society is throwing open the doors of its archives for a fundraiser: Packards, cannons, three Tiger Stadium scoreboards, a sequined black dress Aretha Franklin wore in 1983 and a strolling dinner, all for as little as $50.

    Officially, the party headquarters is known as the Collection Resource Center. Essentially, it's the city's attic -- a former Army parts depot at Historic Fort Wayne, now a sprawling warehouse housing pieces of a region's past and hints about its future.

    The city's strange, arcane


    Over there, Stone is saying, are 60 or 70 corsets. That other wall is all shoes. The area across the aisle is all hats, except for walking canes, parasols and Native American artifacts.

    Officially, the nondescript building near the Think Detroit PAL soccer fields holds 200,000 to 250,000 items. Realistically, there might be more.

    Some are truly remarkable, like Ulysses S. Grant's smallish four-poster bed. From 1849-51, when he lived in Detroit, the general who would win the Civil War slept here.

    Some are simply cool, like the model ships and Al Kaline's flannel Detroit Tigers uniform from 1961 -- nothing you'd want to wear through a double-header in July, but he did.

    Some will almost literally never see the light of day. Racked objects are kept shrouded in white polyethylene cloth, protected from fading, moisture and dust. A small percentage winds up on display at the Detroit Historical Museum, or go out on loan.

    More come in every week. Somebody near Niles had a 15-footer from Michigan Steel Boat, circa 1910. Somebody at Fort Wayne crawled into a cramped alcove above an old barracks, and out came two pairs of high-cut shoes from the 1880s, one of them repaired with wire.

    All contributions will be gratefully considered, Stone says, though not all can be accepted; forever is a long time to keep something you already have 12 of.

    In things, a jogged memory


    In the more musty area known as Car Storage, there are, in fact, cars. There also is a true steamroller, powered by steam, and two logs from the Bob-Lo flume ride.
    Stone, 53, rode that ride. He even worked on the Bob-Lo boat one summer. Now he guards remnants of the park.

    "At the most basic," he says -- and he's talking about everything under the roof -- "Detroiters touched these things, built them, wore them. They went out and bought them because they wanted them. They reflect everything from their tastes to how they worked."

    If you get rid of them, he warns, you can't go back and re-create them. But if you have them, you can learn from them and take heart from them.

    We don't remember, but in the 1950s, Hudson and Packard closed. So did two shipyards and two cruise lines. Detroit lost 300,000 residents.

    "We've been down before," Stone says. "It's reassuring to know that afterward, there's always been an up."


    http://www.detnews.com/article/20090...f-Detroit-past


    Joel is a great guy; it's great to see an article about this little known facet preserving Detroit's rich history.

  2. #2
    2blocksaway Guest

    Default

    "It's reassuring to know that afterward, there's always been an up."

    Really? Has Detroits population increased even one year in the past 60?

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