Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions Lincoln Schools

Thank you Ypsilanti
By Dan DuChene & Christine Laughren
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   5:07 p.m.

Christine Laughren and Dan DuChene, co-owners of the Ypsilanti Citizen, pose in front of their company's banner at Frenchie's during the Citizen's one-year anniversary party.

The Ypsilanti Citizen was launched in November 2008 to inform the Ypsilanti community about the news and events that were happening in their area.

Since our launch,...read more

Crossroads Summer Festival; rockin’ ladies night
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 23, 2010   ·   4:37 p.m.

Barbara Payton and the Big Boss Trio rock Washington Street.

A special Ladies Night was held Friday at the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival in conjunction with the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life.

Just...read more

Crossroads to hold Ladies Night for Relay for Life
By Dave Heikkinen and Frank Wright
Jun. 16, 2010   ·   9:13 a.m.

On June 11, the 2010 Ypsilanti Crossroads Summer Festival featured a rousing opening set from roots and blue grass band Dragon Wagon.

Dragon Wagon was joined on...read more

Electric rail pollution leads to dirty laundry
By Laura Bien
Jun. 15, 2010   ·   11:42 a.m.

From the approximate vantage point of the present-day Materials Unlimited, the interurban car barn and powerhouse on Michigan Avenue loomed large.

Maggie Smith was not looking forward to a forenoon of sewing pleats.

She put down her newest customer’s summer dress. Downstairs, she offered to get potatoes...read more

EMU students in wartime
By Laura Bien
Jun. 1, 2010   ·   10:32 a.m.

The 1942 Aurora yearbook, the 50th
anniversary edition, included images that contrasted modern and
old-time students.

Leroy Grindle was an Ypsilantian soldier who lost his life in WWII. He was a member of the Michigan Normal (EMU) class of ’41, and is memorialized with a black...read more

If wishes were horses: Ypsilanti’s 1932 Harvest Festival

Photo by Laura Bien

Dr. Kimberly A. Rice DDS

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Oct. 29, 2009    ·    9:45 p.m.

Some children in Depression-era Ypsilanti could not attend school, because they didn’t have enough pieces of clothing.

Others attended barefoot, and one newspaper story of the era advised teachers to make sure the barefoot students weren’t teased by those lucky enough to have shoes.

Another story described an Ypsilanti teacher asking why one of her students hadn’t brought a lunch. The little girl replied, “It’s my sister’s day to eat.”

In the grey year of 1932, the city was receiving shipments of federal flour as food aid to the poor. City Council was trying to enforce a 5-day work week, instead of 6, for city employees so more men could have work. Local churches and community groups were canning the summer’s produce for distribution to the poor. The song “Brother, Can You Spare a Dime” had just been published the year before.

But in September of 1932, Ypsilanti displayed gumption and energy by organizing a Harvest Festival.

“Mardi Gras! Gay crowds forgetting care and the realities of this world!” said the Sept. 27 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “Carnival! Lights, music, color, dancing girls, and the mystery that hides behind canvas tents. Harvest Festival! Abundance of field and orchard in rich autumn coloring as men and nature dress in new attire for a new season.”

Organized by the American Legion and held on a closed section of Michigan Avenue between Adams and Huron streets, the festival also featured merchant booths, a car show, Shetland ponies, a Ferris wheel set up in front of the post office (now the downtown library), a carousel and a “chair plane” carnival ride nearby.

The festival offered fun to local children.

“There will be tiny tots there who never went to school and whose heart beats have never quickened to the rollicking tunes of the merry go round,” noted the Press. “What fun Dad will have holding them on the iron horses!”

The carousel stood at Michigan Avenue and Washington Street.

“Older ones can venture onto the Ferris wheel, which they watched from the ground when they were ‘too little’ to get on it,” the paper continued. “And all the dreams they have dreamed about that first ride will come true. . . [t]here will be the gradual rise to the top and the slow sinking to the ground the first turn round when one hardly dares to open his eyes. Then the second trip, when one’s courage increases and one can by holding tightly to the guard rope, take a glance at the world below. Mother’s face looks smilingly up from oh such a long way down, and one lets go the rope to grasp Daddy’s comforting hand. But the third trip is exquisite! Then you can hear the music below, see the lights and gay costumes, and feel the shiver of surprise wriggle through your whole being! That first ride is worth the summer’s anticipation.”

The paper continued, “The next step is the chair plane, where you have to sit alone and spin through the air at what seems to be an appalling rate. The world comes and goes to your surprised vision in kaleidoscopic array. You can hardly swallow and the wind on your face makes you breathless. You have a detached feeling and then you begin to float in circles and finally your feet can again skip along the ground as the contrivance slows down for the end of the ride.”

The chair plane stood at Michigan Avenue and Adams Street.

The festival was a success. Ten thousand people attended its opening night, and an even larger crowd attended the next day. Bands from the city, Milan, and Adrian performed, and local business owners mingled among the attendees in colorful costumes and masks, Mardi Gras-style.

No crimes were reported during the two-day festival, and late on Saturday night, the clean-up crew swung into action with brooms and wagons so that, the Press noted, “Sunday morning found the business section as free of unpleasant reminders as if there had been no festival.”

For two days, Ypsilanti kids had a chance to forget their troubles and escape into a magical world filled with lights and music, where the Ferris wheel lofted them high into the air and where Shetland ponies became, said the Press, “race horses, plow horses, cavalry horses, and broncos to the boys and girls who ride them.”

Roots Jamboree

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