Pittsfield Township Historical Society :: Mary E. Maury Cruse
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Mary Cruse, 2003

The Pittsfield Township Historical Society Oral History Project

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 her corrections.

Interview Summary

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

Side 1:

BL:
Betty LeClair
ES:
Emily Salvette
HR:
HElen Richards
F:
unidentified femail
M:
unidentified male
MC:
Mary Cruse
MT:
Marcia Ticknor
EW:
Edward Wall

MT:
...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 way.

EW:
It's on our website.

MT:
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 Mary Cruse.

ES:
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?

MC:
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.

ES:
That's great.

MC:
(laughs) And they lived on Hill Street. And I was...

ES:
What was...what was her name?

MC:
Oh. Emily Edith Cooke. Which is quite English.

ES:
C-O-O-K?

MC:
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...

ES:
It was a private hospital in Ann Arbor?

MC:
It was a private hospital. There was...there was several private hospitals...

ES:
Yes.

MC:
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.

ES:
How...what year were you born?

MC:
1926.

ES:
If you don't mind me asking. Sorry.

MC:
(laughs) So, and it's...I've been around for a long time.

ES:
Oh.

MC:
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.

ES:
What's the...what's the address of that house?

MC:
3225 Nordman. Was built in 1929.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
And, um...

ES:
What was your dad's name?

MC:
Clinton James Maury.

ES:
Clinton James Maury.

MC:
Maury.

ES:
M-A...

MC:
...A-U-R-Y.

ES:
And what is...?

MC:
Which is French.

ES:
Oh, okay. And what did he do for a living that he was down in Toledo?

MC:
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), down...

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
...going toward Washtenaw from Packard.

ES:
Who were some of the kids you use to play with?

MC:
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...

ES:
I'm trying to get at some of the names of some of your neighbors in that area.

MC:
Well, Hochreins and Fifes had one of the farms...

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
...that was out there.

ES:
And Nordman Farm was there.

MC:
Yeah. And then of course Darling farm which was across Packard, and that was a dairy farm.

ES:
Hm.

MC:
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 MC Campbell...

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
...and take her to work in the mornings.

ES:
Oh, really?

MC:
Because I worked on campus too...

ES:
Oh!

MC:
...after I got out of high school and after I got going. So, yes?

M:
______ I'm going to pick them up. So _________.

MC:
I...I can't hear.

M:
Okay. I'll ask the question. On Packard near Nordman...

MC:
Um-hum.

M:
...there's a very large enclosure, exceptionally large house...also there's the hundred year drainage ditch?

MC:
Yeah. That used to be the drain system that went through there. Are you talking about the Haven property?

M:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
Yeah.

MC:
And he died. And he was one of six children, five girls and one boy. And he was the youngest.

ES:
Oh!

MC:
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...

ES:
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.

MC:
Uh-uh.

ES:
But it was very carefree and very...

MC:
Um-hum.

ES:
And you made your own fun, and you weren't supervised every minute of every day.

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
Like kids are now. And it was...it sounded just kind of idyllic how well...you know.

MC:
Our parents always knew where we were.

ES:
Did they?

MC:
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...

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
...that you can see all over town. Um...

ES:
What about your schooling?

MC:
Oh. The schooling, well, I went to Platt School for the six...for six years.

ES:
And where was that located?

MC:
That was located on Platt Road, very close to Platt and Packard.

ES:
Okay.

MC:
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 LaSalle.

ES:
Lorraine it is.

MC:
Anyway, there's a school in her memory over there.

ES:
It's Scarlett, isn't it?

MC:
What...what is it?

ES:
Isn't it by Scarlett Junior High or...

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
...Scarlett Middle School over there.

MC:
And the Mitchell homestead. And I knew them all. It's still on Platt Road.

ES:
Oh.

MC:
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 of them.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
What, did you also have animal projects? Were you...?

MC:
No. Because we weren't...our school was not...most of them were not farmers.

ES:
Oh, okay.

MC:
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.

ES:
Hm.

MC:
But we didn't get into that animal husbandry type of thing, no.

ES:
Did you do...I know you're an accomplished photographer now. Did you do photography when you were young?

MC:
No.

ES:
No?

MC:
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...

ES:
What year was that? What year did you get married?

MC:
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.

ES:
Oh, I'm sure.

MC:
He'd go to people's houses, fix things for them, and they just don't do those things now.

M:
When did he buy the hardware, Mary?

MC:
1953.

M:
'53.

MC:
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.'

ES:
Sure.

MC:
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.

ES:
What did those two stores do?

MC:
What?

ES:
What did those two stores...what was McMillan's? Was it a...?

MC:
It was a food store.

ES:
Food store? And what would they...?

MC:
And they had a little...had a Standard Oil Station.

ES:
Okay.

MC:
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...

ES:
Hm.

MC:
...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 around there.

ES:
When you were young.

MC:
When I was young.

ES:
Uh-huh.

MC:
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.

ES:
It wasn't. Packard was kind of the main thoroughfare instead of Washtenaw?

MC:
Kind of, you know.

ES:
Really.

MC:
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.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
Really.

MC:
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 trolley...

ES:
Okay.

MC:
...going through there. Packard Road came up to probably Carpenter Road at that time.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
Oh.

MC:
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.

ES:
Were you taking classes during the war years?

MC:
No.

ES:
Or were you working at that time?

MC:
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 ended...

ES:
Okay.

MC:
...was it '47? When did it end?

ES:
'47.

MC:
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.

ES:
So you graduated in '44. What was it like being in high school during the war years?

MC:
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.

ES:
Big school. That was a big school.

MC:
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...

ES:
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?

MC:
A lot of them enlisted.

ES:
Did they?

MC:
Because they wanted to get into the branch of service that they were...

ES:
Uh-huh.

MC:
...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 then.

ES:
After they got back and went on the GI Bill.

MC:
Um-hum. We had...our class had a lot of professional people when they got done.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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...?'

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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...

ES:
This is shocking. I couldn't believe it when I read that. Over a hundred people from...

MC:
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.

W:
Older than you.

MC:
I...

W:
A lot older than you.

MC:
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.

ES:
Right.

MC:
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.

ES:
Oh! Sure!

MC:
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 so...

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
And...and she knows I live very close to it. So...

ES:
Well, you talked about annexation a little bit.

MC:
Oh, yes.

ES:
And how bad that was. When did that happen, and...?

MC:
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.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
And the water, that was marvelous (laughs).

ES:
Yeah, I bet.

MC:
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.

ES:
Well, what didn't you like about being annexed by Ann Arbor?

MC:
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.

ES:
Go ahead. Take some.

M:
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 government?

MC:
Okay. It was township until the city. Yeah.

M:
There was never a city of East Ann Arbor, was there?

MC:
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 lingo.

M:
Just that short time then.

MC:
Yeah, it was just a short time. And they always said that Ann Arbor annexed another city, swallowed up a city...

M:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
Are there other questions? Feel free if anybody has a question, something.

HR:
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

MC:
Oh.

MC:
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.

M:
That's right. You had such strange stuff you didn't know what to charge.

MC:
I know.

M:
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].

MC:
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 up.

ES:
Hm.

MC:
But the school was built in 1926.

F:
Where was the second school? You said it was now a house.

MC:
What? That was the second one. Platt Road...Platt...

F:
Was the second one?

MC:
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 together. And...

F:
Like Stone School. When I see...

MC:
Yeah.

F:
...Stone School...

MC:
Similar to Stone...

F:
...all of them were...

MC:
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? [break]

Side 2:

ES:
Well, I was still considered a country hick, and that was in 1974, coming from Pittsfield, so...

MC:
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.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
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?

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
Did any of them become professionals? Was that kind of more common then?

MC:
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.

ES:
Oh!

MC:
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.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
It's quite a bunch of them that did. Our class had a lot...just a variety of kids.

MT:
How about, um, Pittsfield Village. When Pittsfield Village was built? Can you tell me anything about that?

MC:
Okay. I...I can't...

MT:
Pittsfield Village.

MC:
Yeah.

MT:
When that was built.

MC:
Yeah.

MT:
Remember when that was built?

MC:
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 little.

[MC says Mrs. Mitchell lived on Platt Road. She lived in Boulevard Gardens area. All other references above are incorrect ?? EHS-6/4/03]

ES:
Well, the explosion in population must have...

MC:
Oh, it did. It...

ES:
...in that area must have really helped your hardware business didn't it?

MC:
Yes. It probably did. But we had a good business to start with.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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.

ES:
In their houses, you mean?

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
Oh. I thought...

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
...they were trying to fix a lawsuit.

MC:
Oh, no. No, no, no. They didn't...they didn't discuss that.

ES:
Oh, okay.

MC:
But...it was lawyers and doctors at night, you used to find a whole smattering in there.

ES:
Okay. Okay. Huh.

MC:
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...

ES:
East Ann Arbor?

MC:
Yeah.

ES:
Um-hum. What year was that fire? Do you remember?

MC:
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.

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
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...

M:
Mary, was the grocery in the same building as the hardware?

MC:
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.

F:
Did you own the strip?

MC:
What?

F:
Did you guys own the street?

MC:
We didn't own the whole strip. No. We owned just the hardware and the grocery.

F:
You did. Okay.

MC:
But we didn't own the contents of the grocery. We owned just the building. So but it...

ES:
Were you...I see.

MC:
Well...

ES:
Were you the first owners then of the hardware store...

MC:
No.

ES:
...in that building there?

MC:
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 other questions?

ES:
Any questions?

EW:
Mary, can you tell us about US-23 and I-94 going through and how...?

MC:
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 there.

M:
_______.

MC:
I can't hear him, so...

M:
do you mind repeating the location of the hardware.

ES:
Location of your hardware store. Where was it?

MC:
Oh. It was on the corner of Platt and Packard. On the south...southeast corner.

M:
It was the same hardware that's there now?

MC:
I'm sorry. I'm kind of deaf.

M2:
Ah, it's a costume outfit, something like that.

ES:
Yeah, it's Fantasy Attic Costumes now.

MC:
Oh, yeah. That's...that's real new. Yeah.

M2:
That hardware went out of business, I believe, two years ago.

ES:
Right.

MC:
Yeah. And sold not the business, the building, but sold the...bought the costume shop then. And they were downtown.

ES:
Yeah.

MC:
I think they were on the second floor downtown. I don't know what street.

ES:
They were on Main Street.

MC:
Main Street?

ES:
Um-hum.

MC:
But I...

ES:
What time...what year did they pave Packard?

MC:
That's what I'm trying to think. It had to be after '53. Seems like it was early sixty someplace.

M:
It would have to be before fifty.

MC:
Oh, I'm trying to think. We...we had the store in '53. It wasn't paved then.

M:
Are you sure you didn't get the store earlier than that?

MC:
What was that?

M:
You didn't own the store before 1950?

MC:
'53' No. Um-um. The store was built in...well, at least 40's.

M:
Because the road was paved in?

MC:
Early 50's.

M:
'52, I think.

MC:
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.

ES:
Well, somewhere in there, and then the expressways were built in the early 60's.

MC:
60's, that's when I think that's built.

M:
And which one went in first or did they both go in at the same time.

MC:
I can't...

ES:
Which one...did 94 go in first or did 23 go in first?

M:
94

MC:
I would say that 23 probably went in first.

M:
23

MC:
Hm. I think so.

ES:
Did it?

MC:
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...

ES:
Right.

MC:
...you just never know what...when people are going to sell their...their property.

ES:
Helen, did you have one last question?

HR:
Yes. Did Al Coudron have Community Drugs right from the start, or did someone else?

MC:
Al had...as far as I can remember, no. He didn't. He...it was somebody else in there.

M:
Probably would have one more.

MC:
There was another fellow in there before Al got in there. And then Al...Al took on Dan Hunter. Yeah.

ES:
That's Al Coudron, C-O-U-D-R-O-N.

MC:
D-R-O-N. And they lived on Munger Road.

ES:
Yeah. I knew, I knew those boys.

MC:
Yeah. And his son is also a pharmacist now.

ES:
Huh!

MC:
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 their pharmacy...

ES:
Oh, that's great.

MC:
...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.

ES:
Oh, yeah.

MC:
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 it.

ES:
Uh-huh.

MC:
(laughs) Yeah, that I remember quite well.

ES:
Oh, that's great. Well, was there anything...any wrapping up comments that you wanted to make?

EW:
A question please.

ES:
Oh, sure.

EW:
Mary, you said that you thought you'd identify where with Mallet Creek School was located, you know, where the stones were?

MC:
Oh...

EW:
Can you describe to me approximately where Mallet Creek was located?

MC:
Where...

EW:
The Mallet Creek School?

ES:
Is that a school?

EW:
If you wanted to go down and look at the school?

MC:
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 tree involved.

F:
What was the...Packard and...?

MC:
Packard and Bellwood.

ES:
And Bellwood.

MC:
Um-hum.

EW:
According to a history of it...

MC:
And also the original house, first house in Washtenaw County, is on Bellwood. Yeah.

EW:
According to a history of Mallet's Creek Settlement, I thought the first school was actually taught under a tree north of Packard Road.

MC:
Well, I've...I've had...

EW:
And then in time Mallet Creek School, built in 1925, south of Packard Road.

MC:
Yeah.

EW:
So maybe the oak tree or the tree is on the other side of the street.

MC:
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.

ES:
Creek?

MC:
And they all go to Huron River.

EW:
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.

MC:
Yeah, but that's where that...

EW:
I can't believe that, looking at these little creeks at the present time.

MC:
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.

ES:
Well.

MC:
But anyway...

F:
Mary, was the family that lost the boy the Elsifors?

MC:
I'm sorry, I can't?

F:
Your friend that lost the boy on the creek, was that the Elsifor family?

MC:
Yeah. Yeah.

ES:
E-L...

MC:
She used to live...

ES:
How do you spell that?

MC:
E-L-S-I-F-O-R.

F:
I don't know how they spelled it.

MC:
It's L...E-L-S-I-F-O-R. And I think his name was Lewis. L-E-W-I-S.

F:
They were all redheads.

MC:
What?

F:
They were all redheads.

MC:
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.

ES:
Okay. Some things don't change.

MC:
Yeah.

BL:
Thank you Mary and Emily, have to share a little story with all of you. I received a call for....

The End

See also: Inside the Eastside: East Ann Arbor, by Mary Cruse

 

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