Friday, January 31, 2014

Alpena Circus Image Identified

by Marian Matyn

I recently found an image of a circus parade in what I thought was Alpena, probably on 2nd street, in the late 1800s. The image is one of hundreds in the Fred R. Trelfa Photograph Collection, 1860-1961, which is 13.5 cubic ft. in 18 boxes. The Congregational Church is in the background of the photograph, on 2nd and Lockwood, with a unique spire that existed only from 1868 to 1888.

To learn more about the collection or to view the online finding aid, click here.

A circus friend and fan, Jim Fry, suggested I contact Alpena. What a great suggestion!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

35th Anniversary of Muhammad Ali's Visit to Central

by Bryan Whitledge and Casey Gamble

35 years ago, on Sunday, January 28, 1979, three-time heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali came to Mount Pleasant to speak to a crowd of about 2,000 at Rose Arena on the Central Michigan University campus. Those in attendance who hoped to hear Ali tell of his greatest fights against Liston and Frazier, or Foreman and Spinks were in for something more than the boisterous oration Ali used in and around the ring. The champ certainly spoke about boxing, but he spoke more about motivation, success, his faith, and working to make the world a better place for all of its citizens. The 37-year-old Ali, who had regained the heavyweight championship just four months prior, mentioned projects he would tackle after his boxing career was over. His plans included starting an organization to bring equality to people across the globe. This organization, World Organization of Rights, Liberty, and Dignity, was founded by Ali in 1985.

After speaking, Ali took time to greet students and sign autographs. Those who commented on his speech in the CM Life student newspaper mentioned how influential the presentation was (CM Life, January 31, 2013, p. 13, col. 1-3). Today, many still remember the event - it would be nearly impossible to forget the visit of one of the world’s most famous athletes.

As a side note, Ali wasn’t the only celebrity that came to town that Sunday night in January. In order to get to Mt. Pleasant and other locations, Ali’s booking agency contacted Larry Newman, a Lear-jet-owning adventurer, to pilot the boxing champ during his lecture tour. Newman was famous in his own right. Just five months prior, Newman, along with Ben Abruzzo and Maxie Anderson, completed the first successful trans-Atlantic crossing by air balloon. The three sailed from Presque Isle, Maine to Miserey, France in the Double Eagle II. The gondola of their craft can be found resting in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum Annex today. But despite all of Mr. Newman’s success and his place in history, Ali was definitely the main event for Central students that evening (CM Life, January 31, 1979, p. 10).

Bringing world-renowned guests to campus has always been part of the educational mission at CMU. From Eleanor Roosevelt’s visit in 1955 to Colin Powell’s visit in 2013, CMU has worked to give students a chance to hear the leading voices in our society. Muhammad Ali was not in trunks and he didn’t have gloves on, but Central can always say that Rose Arena hosted a spectacular performance by The Greatest in front of an adoring crowd.

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Piece of Michigan History on Your Street

by Bryan Whitledge

The Clarke Historical Library maintains a rich collection of the archives of one of the leading companies in the kit-house industry – the Aladdin Company of Bay City, Michigan. The kit home industry boomed in the early-to-mid twentieth century and the Aladdin Company was one of the major players with offices and mills in Bay City as well as Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ontario, and Oregon. Over 75,000 homes were purchased from the Aladdin Company during its 75 years in business and Aladdin Company houses can be found across North America and even in the United Kingdom.

Of the 350 cubic feet of records held in the Clarke, two of the most frequently consulted series are the catalogs and the sales records. Many of the catalogs, showing kits and furnishings that could have been purchase by prospective buyers, have been digitized and can be accessed via the Clarke website. The sales receipts are a more detailed record of the individual order for a home that was placed with the Aladdin Company. The Clarke holds receipts for most all of the sales handled through the Bay City office from 1914-81. Unfortunately, copies of the receipts for sales from the other Aladdin mills cannot be found in the Clarke, but it still leaves us with tens of thousands of sales receipts documenting the purchases of every model of home, from the Adams to the Yorktown

Friday, January 10, 2014

We Said They Were Good, Not Good for You!

[editor's note: The Clarke Historical Library has returned from the winter recess. We are open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm. We will be open Saturdays from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm beginning Saturday, January 18.]

by Frank Boles

In the spirit of the winter season, here are a few recipes for historic treats from the Maureen Hathaway cookbook collection. Please note, the use of these recipes is the sole responsibility of the reader – don’t complain to us if after eating too many of these goodies you put on a few pounds. We all know anything with this much sugar and butter in it is not health food!

Gingerbread is among the most enduring of winter treats. The sweet traces it’s origins back to the Crusades, although gingerbread as we think of it is more the creation of Victorian England. This recipe dates to that time, coming from the Alma College Cookbook of 1948, and submitted by Mrs. Charles Zellermayer, class of 1910.

Our Favorite Soft Gingerbread


    • ½ cup sugar
    • 1 cup shortening
    • 1 cup molasses
    • 1 tsp. soda dissolved in 1 cup hot water
Sift together and add

    • 2 cups flour (level after being sifted)
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • ¾ or ½ tsp. cloves
    • 1 tsp. cinnamon
    • 1 tsp. nutmeg
    • 1 tsp. ginger
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
Add last 4 eggs, well beaten

Bake in moderate oven [time and temperature are not specified, most likely because this recipe was first used with a wood-fired stove that lacked a modern temperature control dial – something invented in the early twentieth century for use with contemporary gas-fired or electric ovens.]

Sugar cookies as we enjoy them today trace their origins to Nazareth, Pennsylvania, where in the mid-1700s German Protestant settlers created the round, crumbly, buttery sensations. Diane Buttrell offered the following updated recipe for sugar cookies in the United Methodist Women of Port Huron, First United Methodist Church cookbook, published in 1988.

Sugar Cookies
    • 1 cup margarine [really, she meant butter]
    • 1 cup oil
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 cup powdered sugar
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 tsp. baking soda
    • 4.5 cups flour
    • 1 tsp. vanilla
Cream margarine and sugars together; add eggs, oil and vanilla. Fold in dry ingredients. Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes.

Whether you had your share of goodies during the holidays or not, with a little butter and sugar or a nip of sherry to keep out the chill, we think these recipes will help you keep the winter blues away.