Ghosts on Main Street: January-Marion Michigan

January 14, 2020

Lake in December 1979. Marion’s gigantic, long time trademark water town was demolished.
Riverside Electric employees on he picket line in March of 1971.
Marion’s giant fiberglass Santa was purchased by Bronner’s and left town in 1979.

This week we look at a sampling of January news from the pages of our Marion Dispatch/Marion Press files. In many ways, life in Marion, Michigan is very different, and very much the same.

January 1939 – The State Highway Department announced the Middle Branch River bridges on M-66, north and south of Main Street, would be replaced this year. A local celebration was held when the bridges were completed. They remain in use to this day. There were three house fires in the Village. Walt Dingman’s cedar shake roof twice caught fire due to sparks from the chimney and Pauline Corwin Denman’s gas camp stove caught fire, igniting the kitchen. In all cases, the Marion Fire Department’s bucket brigade extinguished the flames and little damage was done. Agricultural news was of great interest in this farming community and was lengthy. The Marion Protective Association was a growing group, meeting monthly. Boy Scouts were busy in Marion.

January1944 – During the years of WWII, the Marion Press reported on it and local soldiers each and every week. Letters from local soldiers appeared weekly on the front page and local support for the war effort was high. A list of draftees, along with a group photo, appeared each month. Updates on rationing and ways to make things go further were common. The Boy Scouts remained active.

January 1949 – New employment and growth in Marion dominated the New Year news as the half-century mark approached. Marion was abuzz with potential over the opening of Riverside Electric Manufacturing. Riverside would remain a big player in Marion for more than 25 years.

January 1956 – The 1950’s were good times in Marion, Michigan, and reflected in the pages of the Press. The popular Mystery Farm series returned, featuring the Maynard Downing farm, just west of town. Wilson’s Department Store since 1953 sold to Harold and Virginia Hoekwater. They brought the highly popular Ben Franklin to town. The Mother’s March of Dimes worked to do their share locally in the fight against the scourge of that time, Polio.

Significant to this year was the approval by the Village Council of a new subdivision, the platted Youngman’s Addition to the Village of Marion; eventually 18 new homes were built.

January 1971 – 1964 Marion grad, Captain George Boyd, USAF, received the Distinguished Flying Cross for heroism in action while engaged in an aerial fight. Boyd served with the 101st Airborne in Vietnam.

Marionite Maxine Follett was the winner of a new snowmobile given away by the Marion Area Winter Sports Club. The Winter Sports Queen, Louise Laughlin, drew the winning ticket. Hinterman Mobile Home Sales opened for business on M-66 north and Marion, along with much of the Great Lakes, found itself buried by a ‘good old fashioned Blizzard’ in late January. Much of the area was paralyzed and powerless for several days. This blizzard remains local legend.

January 1980 – The Marion Press began this New Year and new decade with a recap of 1979 and photo and brief story of the demolition of the old, 35,000 gallon, water tower. This was a Marion landmark since the early 1920’s. Noted in the recap was the sale, in January 1979, of Marion’s mighty fiberglass Santa to Bronner’s of Frankenmuth, for $1,750. The money went for tennis courts at the Park. Also on the front page were six obituaries and a Boy Scout meeting notice. Indeed, some things do not change.

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