The Pittsfield Township Historical Society Oral History
Transcript of the oral interview with Mary Cruse conducted by
Emily Salvette. The interview took place on April 13, 2003 at a
meeting of the Pittsfield Township Historical Society held at the
Pittsfield Recreation Center, 701 W. Ellsworth Rd., Ann Arbor. Mary
Cruse reviewed the transcript in June 2003. The transcript reflects
Mary Maury Cruse was born in Ann Arbor on December 1, 1926. Her
family moved to Pittsfield Township soon after, and she grew up on
Nordman Road. She went to Platt School where she had Mary D.
Mitchell as a teacher. She attended Tappan Jr. High then Ann Arbor
High School. In 1947 she married Ronald A. Cruse. In the early 50s,
she and her husband bought the East Ann Arbor Hardware Store on the
corner of Packard and Platt. They operated that store for 25 years
until 1977. She has been a bookkeeper and tax preparer as well as
an accomplished photographer. Mrs. Cruse has lived almost her
whole life in Pittsfield Township and has seen many changes in the
Township, which she shares with us.
Transcript Contents - Outline
- Parents' history
- Fire at childhood home
- Childhood activities
- Early Pittsfield Schools
- Hardware Store
- Packard Street area
- Class of '44 reunions
- East Ann Arbor Hardware
- East Ann Arbor activities
- Schooling during World War II
- Pittsfield Village
- Fire, etc at East Ann Arbor Hardware
- Al Coudron
- Mallet Creek questions
- Betty LeClair
- Emily Salvette
- HElen Richards
- unidentified femail
- unidentified male
- Mary Cruse
- Marcia Ticknor
- Edward Wall
- ...and before we get started on our
Sunday afternoon program, our oral history interview with Mary
Cruse, I have two announcements to make. One, our last month that
we had a meeting, we had Maxine Henderson come and do Bread Baking
of the 1800s. And she called me just before I left to say that she
now has the copies of her book, her cookbook. Ten dollars, if
anybody wants to give me ten dollars, I'll put your name on here
and I'll get the book from her. And the other thing is, May 18th is
our next meeting. It's going to be a field trip. We're going to go
to the Webster Township Historical Village. And it's on The
Webster-Church Road. And I didn't bring my directions with me, but
I know you go out 94, get off on Zeeb. Take Zeeb to Joy, turn on
Joy to Webster-Church, and turn on Webster-Church, down that
- It's on our website.
- And it is on our website. So, and then
we're going to meet out there at two o'clock. So that's all of the
announcements, and then Betty'll have some announcements
afterwards, and so I'll turn the meeting over to Emily Salvette and
- Thank you, Marcia. Thank you everybody
for being here. Today we're going to interview Mary Cruse. And MC,
we are at the Pittsfield Township Historical Society meeting on
April 13th, 2003, and at the old town hall. And so Mary, welcome.
Thank you for being here today. Can you tell me a little bit about
your background? Who are your parents, for example?
- Okay. My parents, my mother came from
England. My father was French. And they met at the railroad
station. He was sent down to the railroad station in Ann Arbor as
she came through Canada. And she met him and she said she married
the first American man she met.
- That's great.
- (laughs) And they lived on Hill Street.
And I was...
- What was...what was her name?
- Oh. Emily Edith Cooke. Which is quite
- C-O-O-K-E. And very, very English. I've
been over there, I've been to the homestead. It's still in the
family. So...But anyway, I was...I came along and I was born on the
corner of East U and Packard. And which was then called the
Doctors...Doctors Office for the Newborns. And...
- It was a private hospital in Ann
- It was a private hospital. There
was...there was several private hospitals...
- But that was one of them. And, ah, my
dad thought the taxes were a bit too high on Hill Street, so he
moved out into the country and he bought property. And buying
property, he bought property in Pittsfield Township. There wasn't
anything out here. And there was lots of farms and lots of fields.
And I used to run through the fields and over across Packard, which
was a little two-lane gravel road, and on over to my friend's house
way over on the other side.
- How...what year were you born?
- If you don't mind me asking. Sorry.
- (laughs) So, and it's...I've been around
for a long time.
- So anyway, they lived in a sort of a
kind of a little garage house to start with when I lived there. And
my brother Bill was born there. And then my dad had visions of the
big house, which he built. And it's over on Nordman. The other
house was on Springbrook. And, um, he built the big house. And he
didn't quite have it finished when we had a fire, and my dad was
down in Toledo. And at that time there was no fire departments
anywhere around here, and we had to call Saline. You know, it took
a little while for the Saline people to get here. But it happened
at noon, and the fellows were all coming back home for lunch. So
they in turn got all the furniture out of the house and left it
sitting on the front lawn, until the Saline Fire Department got the
fire out inside the house. So my dad came home, took one look at
our yard and saw furniture all over. And he said, `Oh, dear.' My
brother Vic was asleep in the bedroom where the fire started, but
he was asleep. My mother rescued him, ran downstairs, got the clean
clothes. So that's all we had in clothes. And I was just coming
home from school. I probably was...I...kindergarten. And there was
a young fellow that stayed with us during the week, because his
grandfather worked, and he lived with his grandfather. And he
discovered the fire, fire coming out of the front of the house, but
the fire was in the back. And my other brother, he...he was off
down to another neighbor's. No, I only had the two brothers. Okay.
So he was...he was, ah...one was asleep, one was still at school,
and I had just come home and walking down the street trying to find
somebody else. And anyway, my dad come home. He had to redo the
house. And we always called it the big house. And it's so small,
and God, I look at it now, and it's still...I was going to say,
it's still living. But it's still occupied.
- What's the...what's the address of that
- 3225 Nordman. Was built in 1929.
- And, um...
- What was your dad's name?
- Clinton James Maury.
- Clinton James Maury.
- And what is...?
- Which is French.
- Oh, okay. And what did he do for a
living that he was down in Toledo?
- He was a cement contractor. And mother
stayed home with us children. With the three of us. And we
had...she made sure that, you know, everything was taking care of
at the house. But to get back to some of the things that happened,
when we were little, we used to...there wasn't a lot of money.
Let's put it that way. And the Klagers had a hill down on the farm.
And we used to sleigh down that. We used to sled down that. We used
to ski down that. And the Mallet Creek went down through that
property, as well as Frank Nordman's father's property, which is
off over across Packard. And I got soaked so many times, my father
kept saying, `Don't go down that hill and come home soaking wet.'
Well, I did. I was just like...like all the rest of the kids, we
always got soaked, because the toboggan...well, we didn't have a
real toboggan. We had big pieces of tin which the fellows rolled up
on the end and we all piled on. And if it wasn't Mallet Creek,
there was a tree down below that we all hunked into. It's a wonder
some of...some of us weren't hurt. But then there was another
little slope. There was a lot of hills in that...on that property.
And there was another slope where we did ski-ing. So I thought,
geez, that looks interesting. So I ought to try it. Well, the skis
got mixed up as I was going off the thing, and I didn't get hurt,
but I was pretty well battered up. And so when anybody asks me now,
`Where do I live?' I live on the old Klager cow pasture (laughs),
- ...going toward Washtenaw from
- Who were some of the kids you use to
- Oh, Don Hagen. Let's see, there's a lot
of them. Don...let's see...got to stop and think of all these kids.
Bill Northrup and the Northrup family. Oh...there was some
Kleins...I can't remember their names. And Barbara Fife and her
sister, Carolyn. There was just...
- I'm trying to get at some of the names
of some of your neighbors in that area.
- Well, Hochreins and Fifes had one of the
- ...that was out there.
- And Nordman Farm was there.
- Yeah. And then of course Darling farm
which was across Packard, and that was a dairy farm.
- And then there was a Klager's farm,
there was Nordman's farm, there was a Swift farm. Of course the
Cobblestone Farm down there. And I used to pick MC up when...that's
- ...and take her to work in the
- Oh, really?
- Because I worked on campus too...
- ...after I got out of high school and
after I got going. So, yes?
- ______ I'm going to pick them up. So
- I...I can't hear.
- Okay. I'll ask the question. On Packard
- ...there's a very large enclosure,
exceptionally large house...also there's the hundred year drainage
- Yeah. That used to be the drain system
that went through there. Are you talking about the Haven
- Yeah. Mr. Haven built that house and it
was stone, and it still exists. Both of them are gone but...yeah.
And the Nordman farm was over across that Mallet Creek. But Mallet
Creek runs through their property. And it's only been...I don't, I
don't think...I don't know when Mallet's Creek maybe actually got
onto that creek. But we used to play down there, outside of skiing
and all that stuff. And one...one of the boys, he was...I think
they were throwing balls across and he fell in to the Creek. They
called the American Red Cross to follow the Creek. They found him
at the entrance of the Huron River, and he had...he had died. He
was knocked into rocks all along the way.
- And he died. And he was one of six
children, five girls and one boy. And he was the youngest.
- And he was killed. That's one thing I
really remember very vividly, when I was...probably we were kids,
some of the things we used to do. Money was not...there wasn't a
lot of money around. Let's put it that way. And, as you know, after
'29 a lot of things were...you had to do with what you had, and it
didn't...And kids of today have too much, and...
- Well, you know, I was going to point...I
was going to ask you about this, because throughout your...What you
wrote on your biographical data sheet, it sounds like a childhood
that's very unstructured in the sense that you didn't have a lot of
assigned activities that you went to.
- But it was very carefree and
- And you made your own fun, and you
weren't supervised every minute of every day.
- Like kids are now. And it was...it
sounded just kind of idyllic how well...you know.
- Our parents always knew where we
- Did they?
- Klager's Hill. You'll find them there
(laughs). And then the Campbell Farm, outside of the Cobblestone,
the Campbell farm lived out on Platt Road. Well, we used to play a
lot down there. And he had barns down there. We used to get into
the barns and he used to tell us, `You can get up in the haylofts.
You can jump down into the haylofts, but don't destroy my bales of
hay.' So we would get up in the bale lofts and down we'd go. And he
also provided lots of recreation for us. He took us on hayrides,
which is...there's a few still being used but not that many. And he
took us on hayrides. He'd take us all over the place. And that was
before the expressway went in. Then after the expressway, of course
a lot of those activities ceased. Andrew Campbell died. He also
owned the gravel pit, well, which we called the Gravel Pit, which
is now part of the city landfill. And I think in there,
that...yeah, if you've never gone on a tour of that place, take it.
We went all through that place, and the hill that's in there is the
highest hill in Ann Arbor, and you can get up there and you see all
over Ann Arbor. It's really beautiful up there. We got these gas
things, sticking around, and now...But the bus driver knew exactly
how to get up there and we went up there and we really looked
around. You know, there's a lots of things to see. You see the
Burton Tower and all of the rest from that hill. But it's supposed
to be the tallest hill in Ann Arbor...
- ...that you can see all over town.
- What about your schooling?
- Oh. The schooling, well, I went to Platt
School for the six...for six years.
- And where was that located?
- That was located on Platt Road, very
close to Platt and Packard.
- But there was in the original school,
which is the oldest school in the county was built I believe in
1825. And it was, um, oh, let's see. I have all the...all the
dimensions of where it is. I finally figured out where it is. I'm
going to go check to stones out over in there. But it is on Packard
Road, and it was under...The first school was under an oak tree.
And then I think it was McDougal or McDonald, he built the first
building, and he also built the second building, which is on
Bellwood, and that...that house still stands. And I've been invited
over there, and she said I could take pictures inside or out or
wherever...whatever I wanted to do. And, but he bought...he built
both of those. And as I understand it, the history books I've read
that the Whitmores and the...it's either McDougal or McDonald, were
the first people to come into this area. And if you go down
Packard...we used to go down Packard and take a street to the left
going to Ypsi, and we had the Revolutionary Cemetery. But now it's
off Terhune, and the city has made a park of it. And the Daughters
of the American Revolution came through and put a fence all around
the cemetery. It's not a very big one. I've been in there. I've
taken pictures in there, and you can still see the marks way back
in the 1800's, and there's one girl buried in there, and that's the
Whitmore girl. And then I think she was 17 or 18. Anyway,
she...that cemetery you can't get to it any way now because that
mansion is on Platt Road...Packard Road. So you have to go down
into Pittsfield...Pittsfield Park on Terhune. And Mr. Terhune is
buried in there. And...but anyway, these are things that we used
to, you know, rumble around and find. And like I say, there were so
many fields out in this area, and lots and lots of pheasants.
People used to go out and shoot their pheasants. And as time went
on, houses got built, and...But to get back to Platt School, Platt
School was there I think until somewhere around in the 50's when
they finally closed it. And Mary D. Mitchell was principal of it.
And they've built a school in her honor and memory over on, I think
it was LaSalle. Is that the name of that street? No, it's not the
- Lorraine it is.
- Anyway, there's a school in her memory
- It's Scarlett, isn't it?
- What...what is it?
- Isn't it by Scarlett Junior High
- ...Scarlett Middle School over
- And the Mitchell homestead. And I knew
them all. It's still on Platt Road.
- And, um, I...I get back to some of the
activities that we had. We had 4-H clubs. We had...Let's see
now...4-H and I'm going to stop and think...Girl Scouts. Girl
Scouts and Boy Scouts very prevalent around here and 4-H clubs were
very...almost all the children that were of the age belonged to one
- And I belonged to the one 4-H club, and
I won an award at Michigan State College. I was...I was sent up
there for a year...for a week. And that was for sewing. I don't do
any of it now, but I did a lot of it back then.
- What, did you also have animal projects?
- No. Because we weren't...our school was
not...most of them were not farmers.
- Oh, okay.
- Oh, there was lots of farms, but, you
know, they...they just didn't have chickens and all that. They
didn't have that type of thing. It was more carpentry. For the
girls, it was gardens and...wasn't...the fellows also got into the
garden situation. And the girls were also...they were into sewing
and anything of that nature.
- But we didn't get into that animal
husbandry type of thing, no.
- Did you do...I know you're an
accomplished photographer now. Did you do photography when you were
- I held the Brownie, and I did take
pictures, and I still have some of those pictures. But it was
through my husband that I got into photography, because he was a
photographer before we bought the hardware store. And so that's
where I got that. And he was...had been accepted at Harvard College
of Photography and we were about ready to go when the store idea
came up, and so he bought the hardware store. He thought he could
make a better living at hardware than he could with photography.
But he took pictures for a long time after that. He took
weddings...and he used to take downstairs and I'd get up in the
balcony and take pictures. And I used to do all of the developing.
Everything you wanted, needed in photography I did. And when I
moved from the house on Platt Road where we had loads of room to
the house I have now, I just didn't have room. And so I sold all of
the equipment...just about all of the equipment to a Jackson
photographer. Well, there was something like 23...27 cameras. I
still have some of those old cameras. But I sold him a lot, because
he had put...Ron had press cameras and everything else. He took
pictures all over the place. So that...that was what went on kind
of in my life. But I do a lot of photography now. I'm the church
photographer. You know, when it comes to churches, there was a
Lower Light Mission over on Nordman, and I think that's about the
oldest one out in that area. And then there was a Darlington
Lutheran Church, which isn't where it is now, but it...it was in
one of the side streets. And then there was Calvary Presbyterian,
which I belong to. But we were married there the day before they
got the floor laid. The day after. They got the floor laid and we
got married. So...
- What year was that? What year did you
- What, 1947. And he passed away in 1986.
And so he...he did a lot of...a lot of things, the
hardware...probably a lot of your newer hardwares don't do.
- Oh, I'm sure.
- He'd go to people's houses, fix things
for them, and they just don't do those things now.
- When did he buy the hardware, Mary?
- Yeah. Yeah. It was a long time. And I
still regret selling it, except I...I just didn't want to have the
competition that there is. There's just too much of it, and most of
your clerks don't know anything. When I can go into a hardware and
ask for something and they tell me it's not made, then I say to
them, `Well, I know, because I used to buy them.'
- I used to buy them for the hardware.
Because I did a lot of buying for the hardware. And, um, so I mean
I was used to buying things and ordering stuff for the hardware.
There wasn't a lot of business out there. In fact there was only
two stores when I was little -- McMillan's store on one corner of
Platt and Packard. They were on the north...northeast corner,
and...and Read's store which is on the southwest corner.
- What did those two stores do?
- What did those two stores...what was
McMillan's? Was it a...?
- It was a food store.
- Food store? And what would they...?
- And they had a little...had a Standard
- Okay. And Read's had a food station
also, but it was more a variety store. They had a first floor and
they had a basement, and they had stuff in the basement. And then
he had two pumps out there where he served people if they wanted
gas. Or he had a kerosene...what is it? pump, for people to go get
kerosene for their stoves. And there's a lot of people including my
mother had a kerosene stove...
- ...that they cooked on. And he also had
an icehouse, which nobody...you don't see any icehouses anyplace
anymore. And he had those old big tongs you pick up the ice and
store it, you know, truck. Those two stores were the only things
- When you were young.
- When I was young.
- And then I can remember my father
telling me, `Don't go across Packard when there's a football game
here.' (laughter) Now, Packard Road was two lanes, a little
two-lane gravel road, and here's all these cars running down the
sides and every which way, and he says, `You can't go across until
all the traffic is in Ann Arbor...and then you go across to your
friends, over across...' See, my friends were always on the other
side of the Road. So that's what I did. And...but then we had to be
sure we got back before the...all the rush came from the football
thing. Because Washtenaw wasn't well traveled, at that time at
least. It is now, but it wasn't then.
- It wasn't. Packard was kind of the main
thoroughfare instead of Washtenaw?
- Kind of, you know.
- And they had the Interurban Bus there.
And I've been doing some research on that, but I haven't really
finished all the things I wanted to do on that. The Interurban, it
was built in 1891, and...or in 1890, and then in '91 it was
completed so people could ride it. And there was a station right on
the corner of Platt and Packard on city property...well, it would
be city property now. It was probably county property way back
then. And it sat there. And finally, it was disposed of, but that
place was the Interurban Bus Stop. Got your tickets and everything.
It'd been the police department. It was city hall. It had umpteen
names, depending on what you wanted. And I...what I tried to do,
and Jim was helping me, but it's quite a job -- I ran into somebody
over to Dixboro, who is the police...He's not police. He's the fire
chief at Fraines Lake and somehow we got to talking to him, and he
said...I knew his father had been a councilman in our area, and I
asked him if he knew where that building went. And he says, `Yes,'
he says, `I...I helped them take the tile off the top because it
was too heavy to move.' And he said it was sold to contractor over
on Tyler Road. So Jim and I went up and down Tyler Road with a
picture of...of the waiting room in our hands. I...I didn't bring
it, but I've got pictures of it. And what we wanted to do was bring
the thing back and restore it, because it would be a real...I mean,
it was old, really old. And the bottom was shingles. And he said in
order to move it they'd had to get the tile off the top. But it was
sold to a contractor and we went up and down that road looking for
it, but the expressway divides it, and we got to go the other
route, and go from Ypsi to Belleville, and maybe on that end of it.
And another couple was going to go with us, and we were going to
see if we couldn't trail that thing down so we could bring it back,
see if we could buy it back from them. But that didn't occur. The
fellow died and that's it. So it's kind of at a stand-still. But
Jim and I will go looking again sometime and see if we can find
that. It's probably on somebody's farm. There's probably being used
for everything under the sun, just like it was when it was in our
place, only ours is more constructive. So I don't know what
happened to it.
- But the Interurban, you know, it used to
go through there. And then there was another section that went from
our area to Milan, and there's so...the...oh, I don't know what
you'd call them, the standards where the train went over...No,
there's still some standing on Platt, down on Platt Road toward
Milan. I want to go down in there sometime and see if I can get
some pictures of it. And it...it probably has the name of the
trolley. And it was known as the Ypsi-Ann Trolley at one time. And
what they named it after, they extended it over to Jackson and into
Detroit, I don't know if they renamed it. And Packard Road was
another one that had two names besides Packard. One was the...I
can't think of it right now, out South Street. That was one of the
names for Packard.
- The other one was...it had to do with
the trolley. And someday I'll get it out again and get the other
name, because there is another name, but it has to do with a
- ...going through there. Packard Road
came up to probably Carpenter Road at that time.
- And, um, I wasn't fortunate to have
children but I had three cats. And I had cats that lived long
lives. One was 11, one was 17 and one was 22 when they all died,
and they're out in the pet cemetery out on Jewell Road. And that
cemetery, as I understand, is completely filled.
- And they won't take anymore pets. So my
education, oh, I don't know. I've taken so many classes so many
places -- Cleary, EMU, U of M.
- Were you taking classes during the war
- Or were you working at that time?
- Um-um. No, I took some at Cleary, but I
didn't take anything during those War years, because as I was
getting out of high school, see, the war was ending. Well, '44...it
- ...was it '47? When did it end?
- Okay. Um, I think it was '47,
'45...somewhere in there. But anyway, it...I didn't take any
classes then, because I graduated in '44.
- So you graduated in '44. What was it
like being in high school during the war years?
- It was different, let's...let's put it
that way. I went to the old Ann Arbor High School on the corner of
Huron and State.
- Big school. That was a big school.
- Oh, yeah. A big school. Oil-soaked
floors. And nobody thought anything of these floors, but I guess
the city of Ann Arbor didn't like them, so the University took
them. Took the buildings and fixed all those floors, which the city
of Ann Arbor could have done, I...I think. I don't know. I don't
know what the cost would have been. But and then I also...oh, let's
see. I took classes from H & R Block, which I'm sure you did too.
And...and then I also taught Basic Income Tax and some intermediate
classes in Income Tax in...
- Well, when you were in school during
the...World War II in Ann Arbor, were you...was this something that
a lot of the boys were being drafted out of?
- A lot of them enlisted.
- Did they?
- Because they wanted to get into the
branch of service that they were...
- ...interested in. And I think if they
enlisted, go in the Army (coughs). I'm not positive about that, but
I know a lot of our class went into...And then they took GED tests
and what not afterwards, and I think there were some other ways
they could get their diploma, and a lot of them went onto college
- After they got back and went on the GI
- Um-hum. We had...our class had a lot of
professional people when they got done.
- When, you know, when...We had a lot of
doctors, a lot of lawyers. Just all kinds of professional people in
our class. And our class was one of these that is quite active.
Once a month we have a luncheon. And then we have a kind of a
semi-reunion about every six months -- Christmas, July. And then
we...I also belong to what they call the Breakfast Club. And this
is some of the kids I went to school with way back in the 30's and
40's and have played together. And we still meet once a month at
the Big Boy. They have a whole section set up so that we can use
it. And it's always, `Do you remember when...?'
- And then once a year we have our reunion
and we have it out here under the gazebo, or whatever you want to
call this shelter out here. And last year we had, oh, a little over
a hundred people here, and...
- This is shocking. I couldn't believe it
when I read that. Over a hundred people from...
- Oh, yeah. We had a lot of them. And
there was very, very few children came. I mean, it was all our
class, you know. Probably five, six grades of kids together. And we
get out here. I know last year, I was taking notes on people
because I was trying to get their correct address, and these people
come. And she said to me, `Are we having a special picnic here?'
And I said, `Well, yes, from the southeast area.' Oh! And then she
yelled at her friends, `Come bring the stuff. We're in the right
place!' (laughter) And I did not know these people. I had to ask
everyone of those...six of them came. I had to ask them all who
they were. And, you know, times have changed. And they're a lot
older than they were when I knew them.
- Older than you.
- A lot older than you.
- Yeah. Not older than me, but we were all
a lot older than when I remember these kids. And so that made it
good because I had all their names. And then we'll send them
another invitation and see what comes through next time. And I had
a call just before I came here from Dearborn from someone that I
thought was going to come today. And she...she was looking into
something that had interested her, and that was the Cuthbert
family. I don't know if any of you know that Cuthbert family, but
they were architects and teachers. Cuthbert, on Platt Road. And he
had...I always called it the Cuthbert Farm, but it really wasn't a
farm. He had chickens. And he was an architect, and he had a big
office downtown, and he has these South American chickens that laid
colored eggs. And I'd go over there at Easter time buy all my eggs,
and they were ready for the kids. [laughter] I didn't have to cook
them. I cooked them, but they were all colored. I didn't have to
decorate them. And he...and when I talked to her at the reunion, we
mentioned the eggs and she said, 'so many of the people came to our
house to get eggs for Easter, because they were all colored. These
South American chickens had pink eggs, blue eggs, green eggs, you
name it they had it. And they've got a name for them, but I don't
know what it is.
- She knew the name but she was right with
those chickens all the time, and for a long time he wouldn't put
his property into the city of Ann Arbor because he couldn't raise
chickens in Ann Arbor.
- Oh! Sure!
- And so he...he kept in Pittsfield
Township for a long time, and then he finally...I think he passed
away and once that happened, it went into the city of Ann Arbor. In
fact, she called me about the house. A dentist has just bought it
- And...and she knows I live very close to
- Well, you talked about annexation a
- Oh, yes.
- And how bad that was. When did that
- That was back in the 50's. And what
happened was there's a section...well, there's three sections out
there. There's Springwater Subdivision, which is southwest of Platt
and Packard. Then there's Darlington over at this corner. And down
here where I had lived was Boulevard Gardens. They were all big
farms before these houses went in. And my old house was one of
those that was built back in the 20's. There's a lot of houses out
there were built before the 20's. Another girl and I went around
taking pictures, so we'd have an album of all the old houses. But
get back to this annexation, the one thing that was good about it
was we got water and sewer. You know, we had the water, we had well
water. My house had three kinds. It depends on which tap you used.
I had well water. I had rain water that came off the eaves trough,
and I had a well water. And the well, it was deep. It was a deep
well, 200 some odd feet deep. And a lot of those houses out there
had shallow wells. Some of them had deep wells. And I just
had...was misfortunate enough to have a deep well, and when you
wanted to get it fixed, why it cost you a fortune because they
always had to go way down. But the contractors that came in on the
sewer, now they ran into a real problem. Springwater Subdivision is
noted for its springs. There's many, many springs there. In fact
the area I lived in was that Klager's farm on...it's got springs on
it too. But the sewer people, yeah, I think it was S. J....no, it
wasn't S. J. Groves. It was one of the others that came in. They
kept hitting these springs, and they went bankrupt, trying to get
the...trying to get the sewer system in there, because of
the...they'd go down the street a little ways and hit another
spring. And it just cost them a bundle in overtime for those
people. But that was the thing that we liked best about going into
the city, was the sewer and the water.
- And the water, that was marvelous
- Yeah, I bet.
- Because our water was very hard, and you
had to have Culligan or somebody in your house to get that water so
it was soft, because there wasn't any soft water around except
stuff came off the eaves troughs.
- Well, what didn't you like about being
annexed by Ann Arbor?
- Um, what I didn't like was the fact that
there was so much traffic and...being out in the country, you know,
you'd look out your backyard and you'd see all these wild animals
running around, and then after the city took over, it wasn't the
city threw the animals out, but eventually with all the building
the animals left. We had all kinds of animals. My dad used to like
to come to our house and put corn on...on pieces of string and
entice the pheasants in. And they'd come (laughs). He'd get that
string up there with that corn and keep shoving it around. The
pheasant would follow the corn. He wanted...he wanted something to
eat. But that's...And there was so much with the farms. You know,
you had your corn and...and gardens and all these wild animals were
at the gar'they were at all this stuff that we were trying
to...let's see, that...once...I'm so dry I can't really talk.
- Go ahead. Take some.
- Mary, while you're drinking, and been
talking about annexation. Prior to the annexation of the city, did
East Ann Arbor govern itself? Or was it part of the township
- Okay. It was township until the city.
- There was never a city of East Ann Arbor,
- Yes, there was a city of East Ann Arbor.
And it was...I think it was about seven years...seven to nine
years. And we had our own mayor, and we had the whole...whole
- Just that short time then.
- Yeah, it was just a short time. And they
always said that Ann Arbor annexed another city, swallowed up a
- Which they did. But it had to be put to
a vote by our people as well as the city. And it passed both of
them. So we were anxious to get the water and the sewer finished,
because the sewer was right in the middle of everything. And they
had to get that finished. And...but the water, I know it's down the
middle of our driveway. And I called the water inspector out
and...to get it approved...you had to have everything approved at
the time you got in the city. And he wanted to know who was doing
it. I told him. He said, `slap the top on it, it's okay.' (laughs)
Nobody ever looked at that water line that came into our house. But
they had to put the lines in, person to street And there's still
problems with springs, because we have a lot of...well, we have
breakage of pipes caused by...I don't know if they weren't down
deep enough. There was something wrong with some of the pipes that
were put in for the water and whatnot. But who knows? One of these
days they'll have to take it all up. They've already done...the
court that I live on, they had to redo that because the water just
went all over the place. And on Platt Road the same thing happened
right in front of our house. And we had a knock on the door, and
the lady came in and she says, `Mary, I hate to tell you this,' but
she says, `You've got water everywhere out here.' And she says, `We
just slid through it. Tried to get home.' So, anyway...Oh, it was
a lot of...wasn't much friction in getting water and sewer.
Everybody was for it. And I know I ran up and down Platt Road with
a petition to get Platt...Platt Road paved, because it wasn't
paved. And one man told me, he...He was the only man I had any
problems with, and really I didn't have a problem. He was getting
on so far in years, he says, `I'll never see it, but I want it to
go through, but I haven't got the money to pay for it.' And I mean
that's what happened. He never did see it go through because he
died before that happened.
- Are there other questions? Feel free if
anybody has a question, something.
- In East Ann Arbor Hardware Store we
bought our home in 1950, but my husband had no tools, we didn't
know a thing about how to keep up a house. And I don't know how
many paths we wore to East Ann Arbor Hardware where Ron helped us
so many times. But I went in one day because I had bought an old
iron bed. I mean, well, metal bed, whatever. And it didn't have any
glides, just those metal posts, and I went in there and...said, you
know, I need something for the bottom of the metal bed. I won't
ever forget, Ron got down on his hands and knees in one of those
cupboards (laughter) up to his shoulders, said, `I think I've got
it back here.' And the next thing I knew he came out with four
glides that were perfect for this bed
- That's true. A lot of the...the
merchandise from the original hardware came from an Amish place in
Indiana. And so we had buggy whips. We had all kinds of stuff. And
we had...used to have a lot of Amish people come up from down
there, because they knew that's where the merchandise went, and
they'd come up to get their buggy whips and a few other things that
belong to the horse. And we used to have them. They might be under
something like you just said. But we had it somewhere.
- That's right. You had such strange stuff
you didn't know what to charge.
- I know.
- I went in there one time, and I said,
`Yeah, I want to measure the alcohol content in this wine.' So, he
says `Yeah, I got those gauges over here,' and so he dug it out,
and I said, `Well, how much?' He said, `Geez, I don't know.' I
said, `How about fifty cents?' He said `OK.' [laughter].
- Well, I'll never forget some woman down
on Morgan Road, Ron had sold them a sump pump, and obviously it
wasn't working right because she had water. So he goes down there,
puts his hip boots on, went down to that house. I can't tell you
which house it is now, because I don't...I...I went with him, but
I...I can't remember that much. And he went downstairs, boots and
all, and he took, that sump pump out and he fixed his sump pump and
put it back down and then he said to her, `Now, if this doesn't
work right and you have any water of any kind in this basement, you
call me.' So then she wanted to pay him, and he wouldn't take any
money. And she says, `You know,' she says, `You don't find people
like that anymore.' I said, `No.' I said, `that's...that's our
service.' We used to go out and do all that kind of stuff. I can
remember all kinds of stuff that we did. But anyway, I was co-owner
of course at the East Ann Arbor Hardware. I was a bookkeeper at
Fischer Hardware before he went out of business. And then of course
I was an income tax preparer, and I was...I did IRS audits. So
beware! I don't do it anymore. I don't do the audits anymore, but
I still have a small business that I do. And, oh, let's
see...after...I got to get back to Platt School. Because Platt
School was really a unique place. First there was one building, and
when we went to kindergarten, and first. And they had to build
another building and patch that to it. Because we didn't have any
place for the second, third and fourth. Well, then they didn't have
any room for fifth and sixth, so they built another little building
and hooked them all together. And then...and then there was an
alcove between the two buildings. And then the first two buildings
they built, there was a hallway, and they had a library in there.
And then they decided they had to have another building for other
things, and then it kind of divided the grades up a little bit
better. And then they put a basement underneath the fourth one that
went in. And they used to have all kinds of things go on down
there. We used to have Bingo parties, we used to have plays given.
The East Ann Arbor Women's Club used to...oh, we used to do all
kinds of things down there. And activities for the children. There
was dancing going on. And there was all kind...you can't imagine
some of the things we did. They didn't cost us anything, except for
sandwiches that we used to bring in, or the parents used to bring
them in. And as far as drinking, if we had pop we were lucky and
that was it. So but we used to have a lot of dancing. So I would
call them junior dances and senior dances. And...but there was all
kinds of things, activities went on down there. And I don't know
then after it was sold, there was a number of different businesses.
And finally a church bought it, which was fine. But last year, they
had a big fire and of course it destroyed the school, and
eventually it's coming down, but right now it's just all boarded
- But the school was built in 1926.
- Where was the second school? You said it
was now a house.
- What? That was the second one. Platt
- Was the second one?
- Yeah. But the other one was under the
oak tree. The original was under the oak tree just down the road a
little way on Packard. And then there was a building that was
built. It was...it had, from what I understand of it, I found some
more stuff on it, but it had...was a log building, a small log
building. Because there was'there wasn't many children around
there. I mean, when there's only a few children that we were able
to fill the first building that was built, you know, because that
Platt school or section of four buildings pulled all of those
- Like Stone School. When I see...
- ...Stone School...
- Similar to Stone...
- ...all of them were...
- Yeah. And then we had to...when you got
to seventh grade, then we had a problem. So we had buses and we
were sent to Roosevelt High in Ypsi, which is an EMU teaching
school. And then about that time is when Ann Arbor was going to
annex us and so we had the decision, do we go to Ann Arbor schools
or do we continue with Ypsi. Well, some of my friends went to Ypsi,
the rest of us went to Tappan and then on out to Ann Arbor High.
But we were known as the country hicks because we lived out?
- Well, I was still considered a country
hick, and that was in 1974, coming from Pittsfield, so...
- Yeah. We were...and now, it seems so
funny to me, because now when I go to the class of '44 anything,
I'm just considered an Old Ann Arbor High School student.
- And we didn't have our graduation at Ann
Arbor High. We marched down State Street and went to the Hill
Auditorium, and that's where we graduated from. Because our class
had about 400 I think. But that was...that was during the war and
a lot of our classmates were gone.
- I was going to ask you to follow up on
your high school career. What about the women in your class? Did
any of them serve in the...go and serve in the military?
- Did any of them become professionals?
Was that kind of more common then?
- Um-hum. Yeah. They did. And I remember
going down a street in Ann Arbor and I looked over at the car next
to me, and here was an old friend that had been our class
president, and she was in Navy uniform.
- And her husband was a Navy man.
And...but they...a lot of them did. They went into service and
became professionals when they came back. Yeah.
- It's quite a bunch of them that did. Our
class had a lot...just a variety of kids.
- How about, um, Pittsfield Village. When
Pittsfield Village was built? Can you tell me anything about
- Okay. I...I can't...
- Pittsfield Village.
- When that was built.
- Remember when that was built?
- Um-hum. Yeah. I know when that was
built. That was built when, oh, shortly after all these other
little houses were built, over in...down in the subdivision
was...And somebody asked me what I thought of the new houses, and
I said, `Oh, gosh, they were so dull,' and she said, `What do you
mean so dull?' I said, `they're all the same.' I mean, unless...but
now a lot of people have changed those houses. Made two stories of
them, yeah. Yes, Pittsfield...They...about this same time as Platt
School stopped. Well, then Pittsfield School got involved. But that
was being built while...before Platt School ended. And Mrs.
Mitchell who did so much for all...anybody around there, she lived
on Packard, and she lived in the Darlington area. I read one
article that said that that was the Darling home they lived in, but
I think there's something wrong with that. I think in another
reference, I've got a different house and Dr. Worth was very close
to Jim. And she was the only doctor around there. For as long as I
can remember, there was just no doctor in that area, and she was
the school doctor. And if anybody got sick in that area, you know,
Dr. Worth, that's where they all went. And that's all the...But I
don't know of any other doctor that was around there when we were
[MC says Mrs. Mitchell lived on Platt Road. She lived in
Boulevard Gardens area. All other references above are incorrect ??
- Well, the explosion in population must
- Oh, it did. It...
- ...in that area must have really helped
your hardware business didn't it?
- Yes. It probably did. But we had a good
business to start with.
- And it was nothing unusual at night to
find a whole smattering of lawyers in there. And we got to know
them all, as well...They'd come in there and discuss most anything.
And come it to see what Ron...they were always telling me, they
were picking Ron's brains to see if he can fix something.
- In their houses, you mean?
- Oh. I thought...
- ...they were trying to fix a
- Oh, no. No, no, no. They didn't...they
didn't discuss that.
- Oh, okay.
- But...it was lawyers and doctors at
night, you used to find a whole smattering in there.
- Okay. Okay. Huh.
- You know, we used to find all kind of
eople in there and we...Of course, we had a big fire. We owned
the...well, see, I'm trying to figure out what name it was.
Probably East Ann Arbor Food Market. But that's not when the fire
occurred. It occurred later than that, and it was an arson. And of
course, the food store burned, and it was completely gutted. And
the hardware was...we had a lot of damage too, but I can remember
that as plain as can be, because they tried to get us out of bed,
you know, when it happens at night and we were tired. And they were
knocking on our front door, this big old door, and, you know, I
don't think we had a doorbell on that front door. It was on the
side door. But everybody came to the front. And they were trying to
get the keys to get in the hardware store. Well, I've never seen
Ron get in clothes so fast and run out the front door and down
without ever getting a car out of the garage or anything. Because,
you know, we only...we didn't even live a block from there. And he
wanted to tell them how to get into the store because we had those
big steel doors on the back of it. Well, he was out front while
they were tearing down the back of the building. And I just...I
just won't forget it because they were trying to get in every which
way and they had every fire truck in the city of Ann Arbor out
there, including our own, because we also had a fire truck. We had
a volunteer fire department. And...
- East Ann Arbor?
- Um-hum. What year was that fire? Do you
- Yeah. It was in seventy...let's see, we
sold the store in '77. Okay. It probably was either '76 or '77. One
of those two. And we already had an option to sell the grocery when
the fire took place.
- And that was one of the reasons the fire
took place is because we wouldn't sell to people who were in there,
because we already had an option for somebody else. So...
- Mary, was the grocery in the same
building as the hardware?
- Yeah. That...that whole complex, the
hardware and the grocery were built in one unit. Then there was the
clothing store and the drug store. That was built in another unit,
but it was connected. And at one time, you could walk all the way
through, in the strip mall with an entrance. You'd go in one door
and you'd go all the way through. But then the drugstore wanted a
liquor license, and in order to get the liquor license, they had
to...we had to close every entrance. So that ended that. And then
later, those other smaller stores were built. And my brother, of
course was a builder. He helped build some of them. And then we
added on to the hardware and the grocery.
- Did you own the strip?
- Did you guys own the street?
- We didn't own the whole strip. No. We
owned just the hardware and the grocery.
- You did. Okay.
- But we didn't own the contents of the
grocery. We owned just the building. So but it...
- Were you...I see.
- Were you the first owners then of the
- ...in that building there?
- No. Mr. Beal built them with...oh, he
had the intention of building that whole thing into a strip mall.
But he quit after the first two sections, so that ended with the
drugstore, which is Community Drug. And then he sold to Lundy's out
of Detroit, and they had it for probably less than two years and
sold it to Ron, his partner. And then we had it from thereon. Any
- Any questions?
- Mary, can you tell us about US-23 and
I-94 going through and how...?
- Yes. That's another thing that built our
business up was they started...they have...in one sense the work.
But, yeah, it did. There was a lot of traffic jams down in there.
But before all that was done, Packard had to be paved too. And
Packard was paved quite a few years before they...I-94 went in
there. And...but those contractors, all of them traded at our
place. They'd come down and get all the stuff and haul it back
- I can't hear him, so...
- do you mind repeating the location of the
- Location of your hardware store. Where
- Oh. It was on the corner of Platt and
Packard. On the south...southeast corner.
- It was the same hardware that's there
- I'm sorry. I'm kind of deaf.
- Ah, it's a costume outfit, something
- Yeah, it's Fantasy Attic Costumes
- Oh, yeah. That's...that's real new.
- That hardware went out of business, I
believe, two years ago.
- Yeah. And sold not the business, the
building, but sold the...bought the costume shop then. And they
- I think they were on the second floor
downtown. I don't know what street.
- They were on Main Street.
- Main Street?
- But I...
- What time...what year did they pave
- That's what I'm trying to think. It had
to be after '53. Seems like it was early sixty someplace.
- It would have to be before fifty.
- Oh, I'm trying to think. We...we had the
store in '53. It wasn't paved then.
- Are you sure you didn't get the store
earlier than that?
- What was that?
- You didn't own the store before
- '53' No. Um-um. The store was built
in...well, at least 40's.
- Because the road was paved in?
- Early 50's.
- '52, I think.
- And Platt Road was paved later too.
Because that's when I ran up and down with a petition for. But
Packard...and then they extended it, and they had to dig very deep
in order to do what they wanted to Packard Road.
- Well, somewhere in there, and then the
expressways were built in the early 60's.
- 60's, that's when I think that's
- And which one went in first or did they
both go in at the same time.
- I can't...
- Which one...did 94 go in first or did 23
go in first?
- I would say that 23 probably went in
- Hm. I think so.
- Did it?
- I think...I'm sure it did. Because 23
was already there, but they had that little side street that you
used to ride on over to Whitmore Lake, and the 23 is very close to
it, and I think, you know, they had the...probably had the right of
way to get in there. The trouble...they have to buy up these right
of ways and...
- ...you just never know what...when
people are going to sell their...their property.
- Helen, did you have one last
- Yes. Did Al Coudron have Community Drugs
right from the start, or did someone else?
- Al had...as far as I can remember, no.
He didn't. He...it was somebody else in there.
- Probably would have one more.
- There was another fellow in there before
Al got in there. And then Al...Al took on Dan Hunter. Yeah.
- That's Al Coudron, C-O-U-D-R-O-N.
- D-R-O-N. And they lived on Munger
- Yeah. I knew, I knew those boys.
- Yeah. And his son is also a pharmacist
- In fact, Al was very instrumental in
sending quite a number of boys to Ferris Institute to become
pharmacists. I don't know how many he sent altogether. But he did
send quite a few kids through, over to Ferris Institute to get
- Oh, that's great.
- ...degrees. He was...he was very
instrumental in doing a lot of things with kids. And Ron, another
thing he did -- Soapbox Derby. You know, those little cars.
- Oh, yeah.
- Well, those two fellows were kept busy
when that Derby race was to take place. They'd come in with all
their little...their little box cars that they had been carving, or
they were supposed to be carving, but the parents were doing
- (laughs) Yeah, that I remember quite
- Oh, that's great. Well, was there
anything...any wrapping up comments that you wanted to make?
- A question please.
- Oh, sure.
- Mary, you said that you thought you'd
identify where with Mallet Creek School was located, you know,
where the stones were?
- Can you describe to me approximately
where Mallet Creek was located?
- The Mallet Creek School?
- Is that a school?
- If you wanted to go down and look at the
- Yeah. I...it's down on that corner, in
the vicinity of the corner of Packard and Bellwood. It's right in
that vicinity. And I've been looking for the oak tree, and I think
that's on Dr. Worth's property (laughs), because there was an oak
- What was the...Packard and...?
- Packard and Bellwood.
- And Bellwood.
- According to a history of it...
- And also the original house, first house
in Washtenaw County, is on Bellwood. Yeah.
- According to a history of Mallet's Creek
Settlement, I thought the first school was actually taught under a
tree north of Packard Road.
- Well, I've...I've had...
- And then in time Mallet Creek School,
built in 1925, south of Packard Road.
- So maybe the oak tree or the tree is on
the other side of the street.
- No. I've had conflicting reports on that
because at several places I've looked, and I've got a book I want
to go get. I want to go to the Bentley Library and see if they've
got the book or checked with one of these other libraries. Because
they date back into the 1800's and that was...that was called the
Mallet Creek Settlement. So that's what that whole area was. And
the reason it was Mallet Creek was because that was one of the
creeks that went through that area. And there's...there's two
others -- Pittsfield -- excuse me -- Pittsfield Drain and I don't
know, there was one over by Jim's house. That...and I don't know
the name of it.
- And they all go to Huron River.
- And MC had suggested, indicated, that
the young boy had died in the stream on Mallet's Creek. MC had told
me separately of course the water was running so fast down Mallet
Street that he was swept away.
- Yeah, but that's where that...
- I can't believe that, looking at these
little creeks at the present time.
- Oh, that's where my friend's son
was...drowned, is in Mallet Creek. I can't think of too much more
that I had here. Um, like Andy Campbell is...you know, when the
expressway -- I-94 went in, it cut up Andy Campbell's property
pretty badly. And there was also another gravel pit down in there
called Zahn's. Z-A-H-N-apostrophe-S. His gravel pit was down there,
and I think it's right smack dab in the middle of I-94 down in
there. And then there was the other gravel pit, which is Robert A.
Lillie Park. And they didn't do too much there (coughs). And Andy,
of course, owned the property where the landfill is. And...but if
you've never taken a trip all through that area, go through there,
because it is interesting. There's lakes in there. There
is...there's one whole garden which they contribute to Mott
Children's Hospital. Um, I don't...I don't know. There's just so
many things in there. I asked one of the fellows, who designed this
rectangular lake that's in there. And he says, `Oh, you might know
it was an engineer.' (laughter). Over there.
- But anyway...
- Mary, was the family that lost the boy
- I'm sorry, I can't?
- Your friend that lost the boy on the
creek, was that the Elsifor family?
- Yeah. Yeah.
- She used to live...
- How do you spell that?
- I don't know how they spelled it.
- It's L...E-L-S-I-F-O-R. And I think his
name was Lewis. L-E-W-I-S.
- They were all redheads.
- They were all redheads.
- Oh, redheads, all, the whole bunch. And
that's the reason that they're...the last reunion, when I saw this
redhead come in, but I didn't know who it was, and I found out it
was an Elsifor.
- Okay. Some things don't change.
- Thank you Mary and Emily, have to share
a little story with all of you. I received a call for....
See also: Inside
the Eastside: East Ann Arbor, by Mary Cruse