Friday, May 10, 2019

Fiftieth Anniversary of President Boyd's Inauguration

by Bryan Whitledge

The handover from one university president to the next is a momentous occasion. The investiture of current CMU president, Bob Davies, on March 19 was no exception. As the CMU News press release noted, there was much “presidential pomp and circumstance.” But pomp and circumstance are not always part of the inauguration program. Sometimes, the word, “interim” is removed from an interim president’s title and the change is completed with little ceremony. On other occasions, the spirit of the times might set an agenda, one to which the new chief executive might be aligned. 50 years ago, on May 12, 1969, such was the case at Central Michigan University.

President Boyd (center) during his inauguration, May, 12, 1969

President William Boyd, who was the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at UC-Berkeley, became CMU’s 7th President in July of 1968 and changes were many – CMU ended the policy of in loco parentis in September 1968, the Faculty Association was organizing, and CMU started its first effort to reach out to students of color. In the weeks surrounding the inauguration, things were hopping: Stevie Wonder played a concert; Greek Week occurred; the third annual Gentle Friday was happening; and President Boyd would announce that Dr. Robert Thornton of San Francisco State College – the school that started the first Black Studies program in the country in March 1969 – was going to be on campus to help CMU incorporate Black Studies into the curriculum. There is no doubt that everyone’s plate was full.

In the midst of this change and activity, the plan for the inauguration was envisioned a little differently. As Board of Trustees Chair, Albert J. Fortino, wrote in the invitation sent in March of 1969:
    Contemporary problems highlight the urgency for an institution such as ours to concentrate its efforts and resources toward meeting the needs of all social and economic segments of our society. Central Michigan University will, therefore, allocate the funds which would have been designated for the traditional formal inauguration of Dr. Boyd to a fund to assist disadvantaged students. We hope that you will share the spirit of this inauguration with us. You may in fact, wish to direct the expense funds which may have been incurred ... to your own university’s projects for disadvantaged students.

With the spirit of the occasion laid out, the Monday inauguration ceremony, which started at 2:00 pm, began modestly and rather traditionally. Classes ended at noon so students and other attendees could pile into Finch Fieldhouse for the event. There were remarks from the Governor of the State, William Milliken, as well as performances by the Women’ Glee Club and the Symphony Orchestra. There were also comments from Trustee Fortino, the outgoing student body president, and the chair of the University Senate. The President of Alma College, Rev. Robert D. Swanson, gave the invocation. During his speech, President Boyd spoke about the social unrest of the times – disharmony, revolution, and discontentment – but he also offered the audience some inspirational thoughts about what the future held for CMU: “We now have the resources needed to build [the finest educational institution in the state] here. As a threshold university, we can delight in the happy circumstance that our moment of greatest success should still he ahead.”

Inaugural reception in the University Center, May 12, 1969

After the “informal ceremony,” as the CM Life referred to it, students and the campus community were invited to a reception in the University Center. But the real party was to begin a bit later, when folk singer Buffy Saint-Marie played a concert a 8:00 pm that evening in Finch Fieldhouse. The concert was hosted by the new president as part of his inauguration and was free for everyone.

Students surround Buffy Sainte-Marie, May 12, 1969

In addition to being a popular folk singer and songwriter, Sainte-Marie is also a social activist, and her performance that evening did not hold back. During her performance, Sainte-Marie, who is a member of the Piapot Cree Nation, sang many songs about the plight of indigenous peoples of North America. She also sang about the Vietnam War and other social issues of the time, all of which roused the crowd to their feet on several occasions. As Mary Irvine, who was a freshman at the time, later recalled:

    Buffy Sainte-Marie performing,
    May 12, 1969
    [Sainte-Marie] did a free concert and that place [Finch Fieldhouse] was just full. And after her set, she went off and people were just clapping and yelling. And she came back out and some of the folks up in the balcony in Finch yelled “Universal Soldier” and she did that and she went off [the stage again] and people were going nuts and she came back out. I blurted out very loudly, “My Country ‘Tis of Thy People You’re Dying,” which is a history of Native American problems with the government. And she gave her all and that was the end of that concert.”


Not often does a university president offer students an afternoon off from classes to attend an “informal ceremony,” a reception, and a concert performed by a legend of activism and folk music. Fifty years later, the Boyd inauguration is remembered as a notable moment in the history of Central Michigan University, when the students, the trustees, and the President opted to forego pomp and circumstance in favor of "a 'swinging' ceremony." 

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Shepherd's Train Calamity

Isabella County, and Mount Pleasant in particular, has been fortunate to have had some excellent local historians. One of our favorite, Hud Keenan, over the years has often provided the librarians at the Clarke Historical Library with answers to local history questions. He wrote the following story a number of years ago. It was never published, and he decided to donate it to the library recently. We thought it deserved to be shared. So we are putting it up on the Clarke blog, as an expression of gratitude for all the help he has provided.
-- John Fierst

Shepherd's Bizarre Log Train Calamity

May 9, 1891


BY HUDSON KEENAN

Coe Township in the southeastern corner of Isabella County was the first township to be organized in the county, in 1855. For governmental purposes it was attached to Midland County for over a decade awaiting settlement of adjacent areas and the organization of Isabella Co. From the beginning the township was recognized for its good farming land and stands of hardwoods. Now in the mid 1880's the economic opportunities of the area broadened in a profound manner. The Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Railroad was pushing its way northwestward on a route that would eventually end in Frankfort on Lake Michigan. Salt River had given way to the village of Shepherd located on the new railroad with a station and now a developing village.

Thirty year old Charles Walling had seen these changes and being young and energetic saw a way to make some money in this changing environment. In the early 1890s in central and western Coe Township many stands of high quality hardwood woodlots remained. The papers were full of advertisements for timber for mills manufacturing everything from clothes pins to furniture during those years. An Owosso furniture firm was desirous of obtaining some good saw logs for delivery to its factory. Walling, raised in the Shepherd area, was familiar with Coe Township people, lands and farms. Consequentially he had taken a contract to procure the wanted timber during the winter of 1890-91. The lumbering was completed and the logs were decked ready to be shipped by rail in the spring as soon as arrangements could be made.

The decked trackside timber was at a site known at the time as "Taylor's Hill" which is 2 ½ miles south of the Shepherd village. Not much of a hill, being a part of the gently undulating Gladwin Moraine, it is now farmland. One can view the location just north of the Coe Road crossing of the railroad. Coe road is also an overpass on the 127 expressway. In addition, it is the high point on the railroad grade between Alma and Shepherd.

Since no siding existed at this location a time had to be found when cars could be loaded on the main line. This being the case, special clearance had to be obtained to set a train on the site. Sunday May 9, 1891 was determined as the best time to load the logs.

Train schedules were arranged to clear the main line of traffic. Accordingly, the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern dispatched engine #36 a "ten wheeler" with nineteen flat cars and a caboose.

From all accounts, it is fair to say that the conductor of the train, one Sanford Anway, was not in the best humor. His day had started at 2AM when he and his train crew were dispatched from Owosso.

Exactly what time they arrived and started work is not recorded, but it must have been near sunrise. It is known that by 6 PM all but two cars were loaded when it was decided to return to Shepherd for supper. Time was running short for the allotted clearance to be blocking the main line to through traffic.

Walling wanted to finish the job and so on arriving at the station telegraphed the road superintendent, Connors, for permission to return and load the last two cars. His request was honored with the requirement that the job be completed by 9:30 PM. Walling knew that if he didn't get the last two cars he would have to wait at least a week to get clearance to spot two flat cars on the site not to mention the additional expense.

Conductor Anway was tired and let Walling know he was not in favor of going back to load two more cars. Nevertheless he proceeded to the Shepherd depot with the entire train. Next he confirmed the order and requested protection for his train. He was told he needed no protection and further he could leave his loaded cars on the main line within switch limits of the village and thus retain possession of the track.

So engine 36 proceeded to move the loaded cars to the north of Wright Avenue and past the depot in Shepherd. Rear brakeman Charles Carr separated the caboose and 15 loaded cars from the four empty flats. The station agent, watching the proceedings, pointed out to conductor Anway that his train extended beyond the north switch limits of the village by about five cars. He then suggested they be moved within switch limits. Amway took a stem look at the agent. The Mt. Pleasant Enterprise reported his reply; "With an oath he declined to do so and remarked they could run into them if they wanted to."

Charlie Walling's day wasn't getting any better either as he was busy rounding up some additional men to finish loading logs on the flats. Most of the original crew who had worked through the long day refused to go back, instead going their separate ways. In securing more help he approached a number of young men about the depot and offered them 50 cents if they would go and help load the final cars. In this he succeeded. The assembled crew boarded the waiting flats and with a short blast of the whistle, steamed back south to Taylor's Hill.



Our story now turns to the north fifteen miles. Engineer Jim Leathers was on the downgrade coming into Mt. Pleasant from Rosebush. His relatively new engine was the common American type (4-4-0). Trailing behind it as it approached the depot in Mt. Pleasant were 15 flats of logs. The station operator passed up orders to proceed to Shepherd, the time was just after 9 PM.



How fast engine #20 was going as it approached Shepherd is controversial. Some residents of the village said he was going faster than most freights. As many a reader may know the tracks curve from southeast to south as one approaches the north edge of Shepherd. Rounding the curve Leathers received a terrible fright that made his heart jump. At about two train lengths ahead stood the parked log train, previously mentioned. There it was, dead ahead on the main track, its caboose lights glowing in the gathering darkness. What Leathers did next is not all together clear. The Alma Record and the Mt. Pleasant Enterprise give conflicting reports of the events which followed, but the results were the same.

He whistled for the brakes and reversed his engine, but time, distance, grade and momentum were against him. On down the tracks slid #20 until contact was made with the standing caboose. The engine pulverized the wooden caboose to splinters as it worked its way to the last log car which it derailed, sending logs in every direction. The engine then rolled into the ditch, badly damaged. The Alma paper reported that although timbers crashed through the cab, Leathers held to his lever and emerged from the debris without a scratch. The Mt. Pleasant paper reported that, when he could see he could not check his speed, Leathers and his fireman jumped before impact. What they did agree on is that no one sustained a major injury.

But now the story goes on—


Unfortunately, Charles Carr, rear brakeman on the crew of engine 36, for whatever reason, had not set brakes on the loaded log flat cars left at the depot. The impact of train 20 into the caboose had the immediate effect of transferring energy to those standing log flat cars. The thirteen remaining loaded flats of logs started rolling south out of the village on a down grade toward the Little Salt River with ever increasing speed. No mention is made of anyone recognizing at the time the potential disaster these free rolling cars might present. In any event it was too late—they moved quickly away in the darkness.

While all this was happening in Shepherd several miles south at Taylor's Hill conductor Sanford Anway pulled out his pocket watch. It was just a bit after 9:15 PM and at last the loading portion of the job was complete. The train had four cars, two completely loaded behind the tender, followed by one partially loaded and one empty. Most of the men quickly took positions sitting on logs of the partially loaded flat car. Conductor Anway and brakeman Bert Squires also took positions on one of the flats. The signal was given and the engineer threw the lever in reverse and #36 started, backing into Shepherd.

They had gone but a short distance and the train rapidly picked up speed backing through the darkness to join the existing loaded cars of earlier in the day. Walling told Anway that it was not safe to run so fast. That was the wrong thing to say to Conductor Sanford Anway at this point in the day. It was later reported that he turned to Walling and said "Go to Hell, I'm running this train!"

Rolling towards them through the darkness and approaching the river were the impacted log cars from the Shepherd depot. Probably no more than three to four minutes elapsed between the first accident and the second which was about to occur.

It is doubtful if anyone on those flat cars had more than an instant of warning before the impact. Just as the backing train was approaching the Little Salt River the rolling flat cars reached the bridge. The collision was just south of the bridge, the location was in sight of "Kennedy's Corners," today the junction of Pleasant Valley and Shepherd roads. The impact resulted in logs and men flying in all directions. The leading empty flat car was broken in the middle, derailed and slammed into the following partially loaded car with persons aboard. The two fully loaded cars ended up in a pool of water just south of the bridge on the flood plain.

How long it was before outside help arrived in not clear. The engineer and fireman on engine 36 were not injured in the least, being furthest from the impact and protected by the tender as they were backing up on the return trip. Local citizen Ed Kelly drove by shortly after the collision and seeing the carnage ran his horses as fast as possible to Shepherd a mile away for help.

The Shepherd News related that it was but a few moments before the word of the catastrophe had spread over he the entire village. Fire and church bells were rung for the purpose of arousing the populace. The paper reported 200 people were at the scene of the wreck to render assistance as was necessary.

Groups of men arrived on the river flood plain with lanterns. Mostly by brute force they attempted to unscramble the mess. The logs had exacted a toll of death and injury. Three men, all in their twenties, were instantly killed by the crush of logs. They were Zeb Bigelow, Sherwood Clark and Clark Struble. Struble, married and the father of two children, required two hours of continuous work to remove his body from the debris.

Conductor Anway and contractor Wailing were both in the words of one paper "knocked insensible," and for a time it was thought that both would die; however, both were to recover from the experience. The other 12 received an assortment of bruises, lacerations and broken bones. Most of the injured were initially cared for at nearby farm houses. Several days after the Sunday evening wreck, a coroner's jury was convened in Shepherd. They gave their verdict in a long statement blaming Charles Carr, the rear brakeman for negligence and Sanford Anway, the conductor on train 36 with indirect negligence in the death of the three men.

The upshot of the coroner's jury statement was that H.O. Bigelow, father of Zeb Bigelow, one of the three men killed, filed charges of manslaughter against brakeman Carr. Charles Carr was tried in the June 1891 session of the Isabella County Circuit Court. He was acquitted after a two day jury trial. Free Estee, well known local attorney, was appointed in the defense of the accused Charles Carr. He was able to show that the Toledo, Ann Arbor and Northern Railroad work rules for brakeman were such that Carr could not be held liable.

The case faded from the papers with a final note in The Shepherd News They reported the "boys" injured in the accident had settled with T.A.A & N. RR Settlements ranged from George Starr getting $25 to Lewis Cole receiving $75 and two 500 mile tickets on the railroad.

I would suspect people in the Shepherd area talked about the log train calamity for a long time. And—if you are looking at who to blame—well, where would you like to start?

Friday, May 3, 2019

Children's Book Week

This week, April 29-May 5, is the 100th anniversary of Children's Book Week. To mark the occasion, the New York Times profiled the Library of Congress's digitized children's books collection. This site provides anyone with an internet connection access to dozens of the most classic children's books printed in England and the United States before 1924. One can scroll through W.W. Denslow's illustrations of the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Kate Greenaway's Pied Piper of Hamelin, Howard Pyle's The Wonder Clock, and Walter Crane's The Baby's Own Aesop.

Illustration from The Rocket Book,
from Library of Congress
digitized collections
Among the titles Perri Klass and the experts she interviewed for the Times article mentioned was the Rocket Book by Peter Newell (1912). It was lauded for the engaging design of the book, with illustrations of a rocket that flies from the basement through the floors of a building. And Klass expounded at length on the importance of Isaiah Thomas's A Little Pretty Pocket-book (1787) as a landmark in American publications for youth.

The Library of Congress site is an excellent source of digital scans for anyone with an interest in classic children's literature. For those who wish to see and read the real books, you don't have to go to Washington, D.C. to access these rare volumes; you only have to go to the Clarke Historical Library. The Clarke holds the first editions of all of the titles mentioned in this blog and more. Can anyone think of a better way of celebrating Children's Book Week - or children's books at any time of the year - than enjoying rare and historic children's books that are still favorites of young and old to this day.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Farewell Barnes Hall

by Bryan Whitledge

President Charles Anspach and Mrs. C.C. Barnes, 1952
Barnes Hall started life as the addition to the dormitory wing of the student union building, known then as Keeler Union (today, Central students, staff, and faculty call this building Powers Hall). The initial dormitory wing - a men-only dormitory - had beds for 90 students when it opened in 1939. But male students at Central weren’t accustomed to living on campus, so many of the beds stayed empty that first year. After the US entered World War II, a US Navy V-12 training school was established at CMU and the Keeler dorms became home to 125 cadets. After the War ended, the student population at Central started to boom. In 1949, the Keeler dorms housed 180 students – double the original 90 beds! There was definitely a need for more beds for students.

Central constructed an addition to the Keeler dorms in 1951 and on October 25, 1952, this new structure - one that could accommodate an additional 144 students - was officially dedicated Charles C. Barnes Hall (pictured above). The building was named in honor of the long-serving faculty member, registrar, and the Central’s first Dean of Men. With three beds to a room, the old Keeler dorms and Barnes Hall had room for 266 men. But the post-WWII student boom meant that beds were filling up faster than Central could build them - Robinson, Larzelere, Calkins, and Robinson Halls were all constructed between 1954 and 1959. In 1957, another addition to Barnes Hall was erected. This “third wing” had room for 120 men and incorporated a new innovation first used in Robinson Hall in 1954 - bathrooms in the suites as opposed to common bathrooms, which were found in the first two wings of Barnes Hall. Most students loved the individual bath facilities, but “about 10% of students [at the time] opposed private bathrooms, saying it would make it more difficult to meet people,” as Don Kilbourn, long-time CMU housing staff member noted.

Barnes Hall, ca. 1960s
One of the biggest changes in CMU Housing policies occurred at Barnes in 1971. It was the first hall to allow men and women to reside on the same floor of buildings. Of course, there were rules: students had to be over 21 or they had to have at least 55 credit hours and parental permission. But it was the start of a new era of co-ed living for Central students.

With Barnes Hall regularly filled to the gills with students - over 300 in the late 1950s - many notable alumni called the place home during their time at Central. Central’s first All-American in football, Jim Podoley was in Barnes (1953-54). So was Walter Beach, a professional football player and civil rights activist (1956-57). Broadcasting legend and student body president Dick Enberg called Barnes home from 1953-54. And Janice Fialka, an advocate for disability awareness and CMU commencement speaker in December 2018, hung her hat in Barnes from 1972-74.

And many memories were made by the students who lived in Barnes. Sometimes, it was because of a light-hearted story that brought attention to the students – like in 1964, when the men of Barnes adopted a family of ducks who lived in the courtyard near the building (pictured at right). Or in 1979, when Barnes students paid $20 to bring a 1968 Ford Galaxie to campus…to smash it up! The Barnes Dorm Board charged $0.25 per swing of a sledgehammer or three shots for $0.50 as a way of blowing off some steam at the end of the fall semester.

Other times, the memories were made because of the programs students participated in, such as the Leader Advancement Scholars or the Public Service Residential Community. And of course, thousands of Barnes Hall students have represented the hall in intramural sports.

But most importantly, the memories made were because of the major life changes students experienced while living in Barnes. A poem, found in the Old Ronan Hall when it was demolished in 1970, might best sum up the sentiment for all who passed through the doors of Barnes:

“I would like to know:
How many students laughed in this building? How many cried?
How many rebelled and then grew up?
How many didn’t?
How many found home within these walls?
How many found themselves?
How many housemothers lay awake in the night wondering if it was really worth it…
and found out that it was?
How do you measure love, so I can find out if anyone loved you more than I did?”


In only a few short weeks, we will say farewell to a building that has been a home to many and an anchor in the middle of CMU campus for over 60 years. We look forward to reading and hearing the memories of generations of students who fondly remember their times in this historic building.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The Terrible Fragility of History

Frank Boles

On April 15 Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris experienced a catastrophic fire. The images of flames shooting through the roof and the collapse of the cathedral central spire were horrifying to see.

People reacted to the fire in many ways. Those who worshipped at the cathedral or shared the faith of those worshippers could only pray as they watched their beloved church consumed in fire and smoke. Historians grieved over the massive damage occurring at a world heritage site. Those of us in special collections libraries saw the fire through our own lens.
Medieval cathedrals such as Notre Dame were both grand architectural statements and carefully crafted instructional books. The beautiful stained glass windows were not only a form of worship, prayer expressed in color and glass, but also illustrated important religious scenes for a largely illiterate worshiping community. A sixteenth century worshipper inside Notre Dame might not be able to read the Bible, might not understand the Latin spoken by the priest celebrating the mass, but by glancing up to the light, much of the faith’s most important teachings were there to be seen.
As Notre Dame burned, a century’s old tutorial work in the Catholic faith made of glass and stone was suddenly at risk. The fire was a tragic reminder for keepers of history, archivists and rare book librarians in particular, that the collections whose safety they are responsible for are a fragile heritage subject not only to subtle decay but sudden calamity.
Unlike a medieval cathedral, a modern storage facility for rare books and archives such as the Clarke Historical Library has fire walls, smoke alarms, fire suppression systems installed and ready to operate, and many other tools to protect the material. If the worst still happens a disaster plan outlines salvage procedures and priorities. The library has installed precautionary technology and written solid emergency plans, but like any human effort, they are not foolproof. As the fire at Notre Dame starkly illustrated, tragedy can suddenly overcome the physical media that carries our history, whether it exists on paper or is enshrined in glass and stone.  The physical “stuff” of history is fragile. Paper and vellum, light sensitive material used to create visual images, the bits and bytes through which computers store data, are all prone to long-term failure and sudden catastrophe. Preserving these media from destruction is one of the core objectives of the archival profession.
That archival imperative to preserve and protect the material on which history is recorded makes the fire at Notre Dame not only tragic to archivists, but deeply moving. It is what we spend years trying to avoid, and why watching the dramatic failure of those efforts was so profoundly chilling. I am sure I was not the only archivist who watched the video of the cathedral’s central spire falling in flame who, despite all their thought and planning to preserve the collection entrusted to their care, recalled the saying often attributed to the sixteenth century English evangelical preacher John Bradford, “there, but for the grace of God, go I.”
We offer our deepest sympathy to the community of worshippers who called Notre Dame their spiritual home, to the people of Paris for whom the building was a central feature, and to the global community who have seen a world heritage site suffer grievously. We hope that all these people and others will unite to preserve those parts of the building that remain and rebuild those parts which have been lost. It is how I like to believe people like archivists, and historians, and those who cherish the past respond, whenever a cultural disaster strikes.