We Are Still Here

January 26, 2017

Julie Traynor Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Julie Traynor
Postcards from the Pine Columnist

Marion, Michigan’s official birthday is fast approaching. On January 16, 1889 the folks of Clark’s Mill met and decided to officially incorporate as a village. The state legislature approved and so decreed and on February 20, 1889, our little village was officially born. She will soon be 128 years old, still here, and contrary to the belief of some, not about to dry up and blow away.

Our Marion is a tough old girl. She’s survived a lot in her time. Fires, sickness, boom times and staggeringly hard times; and a couple of shifts in her economic base which finished off lesser towns. Marion is not a ghost, although she certainly has them. This week’s story about Mr. Blesch and his almost phantom building is but the latest piece in the big puzzle which is old Marion. I do love a good puzzle.

In reading the old newspapers I find a lot of advertising and a good quantity of gossip. Week after week, year upon year, mention is made of businesses and likewise their owners. Advertising often carried a likeness of the building in which it operated. It helped folks locate. Specialties and specials were often listed at length. Corwin’s Cash Store ran full page ads, listing what must have been everything they offered. The Home Bakery and the Morningstar Bakery each had faithful customers as did the Economy Meat Market and the Game Brothers Meat Market. At one time folks could shop for groceries at locations up and down both sides of Main Street. We even had the very successful Marion Creamery, a paint factory, and an early steel culvert company began here. We were a hopping place.

Even though it is a small thing, I’d like to know where this paint factory was located. And the place where the culverts were bent. A Dr. Mrs. Grant (as she advertised herself) was an optician in this town and sold jewelry as well. Anyone know where? And don’t get me started on who lived where. The social and business map of Marion is far from complete.

In the Marion of yore, where everyone knew everyone else and where to shop for what, there was no need to include an address or directions in any advertising. Shoppers knew where to shop for what they wanted. The case of Mr. Blesch, I am certain that the news of his business, his crime, and ultimately how he left Marion was a well known story. But folks did not read it in the Dispatch. Like his location, they just knew it.

Over on Facebook at the Marion, Michigan page we see the reactions of so many folks when a particular iconic image of a Marion many hold near and dear is posted. No matter what year the photo may be from, folks only see their Marion; the one seen by their memory’s eye. Often it is the Marion of their youth or that 1950’s Mayberry kind of Marion which no longer exists…in looks or disposition. It is that iconic Main Street USA photo of Marion which leaps to mind for many with thoughts of home.

There are other popular mid century Marion images beyond the classic Main Street shots. Everyone loves the evolution of the pond and in particular the swimming hole. For all who knew them, the old library, water tower, the original bank, the Sun Theater and the music bowl all speak Marion loud and clear. Although long gone they conger up good memories. And just like it was a hundred years ago, we don’t often have to tell people where these places were. They just know. I’m wondering if in another 50 years someone will be trying hard to track down where the original water tower stood or where Cock-eyed Cow Pen may have been. Now there’s a memory for you. Do you know where it was and when? It made quite a splash in it’s time.

There are those who only see that these things are gone and wonder how we exist. I don’t know, but we do. We always have. It’s a crap shoot. I like to think that we all think pretty highly of Marion. This was and IS still a good place to live. Marion has her warts. What or who does not. We know who and where we are.

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