Ypsilanti Citizen Opinions Sidetrack

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

Squirrels of legend and yore

Through the years, Ypsilanti squirrels have had their staunch defenders. Photo by courtesy of the Ypsilanti Archives.

Through the years, Ypsilanti squirrels have had their staunch defenders.
Ypsilanti Farmers Market

To the Archives

By Laura Bien
Mar. 30, 2010    ·    10:53 a.m.

Ypsilanti poet-farmer William Lambie wrote a poem about his McCormick wheat harvesting machine. “The Twine Binder” begins,

Good farmers find out when they reap,
McCormick's patent's hard to beat,
You just sit on your iron seat,
And round the field you swing.
It reaps and forms the sheaves so neat,
And binds them with a string.

Lambie’s 1883 prose and poetry collection “Life on the Farm” also includes “I’m Your Huckleberry!,” “The Poetry of Farming,” a teetotaling version of “Auld Lang Syne,” and “President Hayes at Detroit State Fair.”

Lambie wrote about robins, bluebirds, bluejays, catbirds, brown thrushes, song-sparrows, orioles, bobolinks, whippoorwills, horses, sheep, cows and oxen.

But for reasons unknown, he never wrote a word about the wild animal arguably closest to Ypsilantians’ hearts—the humble squirrel.

“I think something should be said and done to encourage the protection of these beautiful little animals,” said Arthur I. Sullivan, as quoted in the June 24, 1907 Ypsilanti Daily Press, under the headline “He’s A Friend Of Squirrels.”

A Michigan Avenue clothing merchant with the Sullivan-Cook Company (in a space now occupied by Illuminart), Sullivan continued, “Flobert rifles are becoming so common that I fear small boys will destroy these squirrels unless they are taught to protect them. The squirrels should be petted and encouraged to make their homes in the city. Ann Arbor and Jackson are quite noted for these squirrel pets.

“The fox squirrel is easily tamed without being caught. There is one that recently came to a big tree at my home. I have fed it and I think it is going to make its home there,” Sullivan informed the several thousand subscribers to the Daily Press.

Sullivan was not Ypsilanti’s first squirrel defender. As early as 1898, City Council passed a squirrel protection ordinance. It read in part,

“It shall be unlawful for any person to shoot, kill, cripple, hunt, chase or in any way injure any squirrel or squirrels within the limits of the city of Ypsilanti...”

The punishment was harsh. “Any person violating any of the provisions of this ordinance shall, on conviction thereof, be punished by a fine not exceeding twenty-five dollars.”

That’s $640 today.

The offender also had to pay all court costs and in addition to the fine could be sentenced to 30 days in jail.

One offender was nabbed by the city game warden in 1913.
“Otto Rohn arrested a man by the name of Baylis Sunday afternoon who was found with a squirrel in his possession,” said the Nov. 17, 1913 Daily Ypsilantian-Press. “Although the young man protested he had not shot the squirrel, and that he had only taken it from a dog, he was promptly escorted to the city jail,” in the building still standing at 6 Cross Street.

The next day, the paper gave its readers an update on the story. “Theodore Baylis plead guilty to the charge of having a squirrel in his possession Sunday in Judge Doty’s court in Ann Arbor and paid a fine of $10 [$214 today] and the costs.”

Baylis was an exception. Some Ypsilantians peacefully shared their homes with squirrels, as did the Welte family at 611 Ellis.

Photographer George, his wife Clara, and Adeline, Carl and Augusta’s home had a chimney with two flue pipes, one venting the furnace. The other pipe “goes only part way down from the top and never has been used,” said the Dec. 20, 1910 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “In the unused flue, pleasantly warmed by the other, live a pair of squirrels and here, one season after another, they have raised little squirrels and, after training them in all kinds of nice, little squirrel ways, have turned them adrift to make their own way...”

When that way wandered into danger, citizens and squirrels banded together. In the depths of the Depression, a group of motorists, joined by a mother squirrel, mounted an inter-species effort to save a baby squirrel under a car.

Traffic came to a standstill at Huron and Cross streets during the rescue.

“Seven or eight cars were delayed several minutes while the rescue was being effected,” said the May 17, 1932 Ypsilanti Daily Press. “The little animal cuddled next to a tire and when efforts were made to dislodge it, so the vehicle could be moved, it frisked off to another tire where it resumed its position of watchful waiting.”

The rescue was ultimately successful.

If never properly celebrated in poetry, at least Ypsi newspapers over the years have paid tribute to the squirrel in prose. The closest William Lambie ever approached the subject was his poem “The Farm House,” which included acorns. Or, the trees they come from, anyways—and that will have to do as a salute:

The farm house stands by a winding stream
In a shady grove where the banks are green,
Where young voices sung in childhood’s glee
Under the oak and the blooming tree...

And the squirrels.

Editor's Note: Laura Bien is the author of “Tales from the Ypsilanti Archives.” Bien will be giving a talk-signing at Nicola’s in Ann Arbor’s Westgate Shopping Center on April 20 at 7 p.m., and at the Ypsilanti Archives, 220 N. Huron St., on April 24 from 1-3 p.m.

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