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December, 2017


Celebrity Horsecar Added to Lost Railway

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An 1800’s horsecar that appeared  in the movies Hello Dolley and the Disney movie Newsies has made its final stop in Grass Lake.

According to Wikipedia, a horsecar is an animal-powered (usually a horse) tram or streetcar. The horsecar was an early form of public rail transport that developed out of industrial haulage routes that had long been in existence, and from the omnibus routes that first ran on public streets in the 1820s, using the newly improved iron or steel rail or ‘tramway’. These were local versions of the stagecoach lines and picked up and dropped off passengers on a regular route, without the need to be pre-hired. Horsecars on tramlines were an improvement over the omnibus, as the low rolling resistance of metal wheels on iron or steel rails (usually grooved from 1852 on) allowed the animals to haul a greater load for a given effort than the omnibus and gave a smoother ride. The horse-drawn streetcar combined the low cost, flexibility, and safety of animal power with the efficiency, smoothness, and all-weather capability of a rail right-of-way.

This horsecar was built in 1886 by the St. Louis Car Company and operated by the San Diego Coronado Beach Railroad in 1888 as noted on the car until 1896 when electrification took place. Around 1959  the Railway Historical Society of San Diego acquired a St. Louis car body minus platforms and under carriage from a backyard in Chollas Valley loop of the Sd&AE’s El Cajan branch that was converted into a small shed and was taken to  El Cajan for safekeeping.

In the mid 1960s Charles Verdi of the Railway Historical Society of San Diego restored the  San Diego horsecar  number 43. By the year 1984 when it was later purchased by the Bothwell Automotive Museum in Los Angeles. On November 11,  the Bothwell collection of vintage racecars along with five (5) horsecars were auctioned off by the Bonhams Auction Co.   Alex Pollock was the winning bidder of the San Diego horsecar that now resides on loan to the Lost Railway Museum.

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Turn On Your Lovelight

1948_Tucker_Torpedo_8511815871 (1)
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After World War II Americans were hungry for a new kind of automobile.  Everything on the road in the 1940s looked like a jalopy or a military staff car and people wanted something different.

A certain automaker from Michigan saw the light and manufactured a car generations ahead of its time.  His name was Preston Tucker (no relation) and in 1948 the car he designed, the Tucker Torpedo, rolled off the assembly line into showrooms across America.

Perhaps the most novel feature of this “Car of Tomorrow” was the directional third headlight in the center of the grill that turned with the steering wheel to light the car’s path around corners.  Tucker had a bright idea and he longed to let it shine before the world.  And it did … but soon that light was snuffed.

Following the war years of sugar and meat rationing Americans were starving for new cars as the suburb culture emerged.  Tucker was a type of architect like Frank Lloyd Wright, unafraid to start from scratch.

In an article in Smithsonian Magazine, written by Abigail Tucker (again, no relation), the Torpedo was named the car of the future.  The visionary inventor risked everything when he rolled out his new car as a vehicle for change, a sign of the times when servicemen who survived the war rebuilt the country, constructing skyscrapers, suburbs, factories, and the Federal Interstate System, the asphalt seas uniting every state in the union from Portland, Maine to Portland, Oregon. If any driver passed a Torpedo they should have snapped a picture of it because the car was as inexplicable as Area 51.   

Today auto historians compare Tucker’s car to the Star Wars Saga; the machine was that much of an enigma with its a rear engine like a Volkswagen, a padded dashboard, and pop-out windows to eject during a crash to protect the passengers, truly a fish that walks and a dog that talks.

Director Francis Ford Coppola waxed nostalgic over the car before he earned his driver’s license.  Forty years after the car came out Coppola directed “Tucker: The Man and His Dream” (1988) starring Jeff Bridges.  Everybody asks me whether I have seen the movie.  I almost did, had the VHS cassette in hand one summer night to watch with a girlfriend but that was the night my mother died. My mother taught me how to drive.

Alas, Preston Tucker’s invention went the way of the Yugo.  In less than a year, on the cusp of the 50s, Tucker’s company folded.  Men who refused to believe in his vision forced him out of the auto industry.  But the man and his dream live on: disc brakes, four-wheel independent suspension, and fuel injection — his ideas became standard features in cars today, including headlights that scan back and forth across the road like robotic eyes.  Tucker was as unflappable as he was determined, saying, “Even Henry Ford failed the first time.”

If video killed the radio star then Detroit sunk the Torpedo because Chevrolet, Ford, and Chrysler manufactured 95% of American automobiles. Ultimately Tucker lacked the capital to roll out more of his cars on the assembly line.  What the carmaker did have was Hollywood good looks, an athletic build, and an aw-shucks Midwestern charm.  A former Revenue agent during Prohibition, Tucker chased down bootleggers in Lincoln Park prior to the realization of his magnum opus. His father died from appendicitis when Preston was two, motivating him to develop his own ironclad work ethic.  Sizing himself up with his contemporaries Tucker said: “The dreamer comes up with some crazy idea that everybody laughs at, but later it turns out to revolutionize the world … bureaucrats would rather kill a new idea than rock the boat.”

How much is a Tucker Torpedo worth today?  Well, I couldn’t afford one but for a model of the car on the shelf above my desk.  Reports indicate that the 47 remaining cars cost between $1.27 million and $2.9 million.

The car inventor died age 53 in 1956 of lung cancer; his wife Vera, ten years his junior, died that same year.  After they married they owned a gas station while Tucker laid his plans to revolutionize the automobile industry and he did.   

The Recipe Exchange: Its Holiday Fruit Cake Season

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Dear Lynn,

Does anyone have some tried-and-true recipes for using up leftover turkey and ham from the holidays?

Debbie from Monroe

Marilyn from Brooklyn adapted her recipe for Fruit Jumbles to make mini fruitcakes years ago.  Teri from Ionia says her recipe for Farmer’s Christmas Cake is her favorite fruitcake.  Myra from Tecumseh sent in her family’s recipe for Fruit Cake that is over 100 years old.


1 1/2 c raisins1/4 c apple juice, or other juice

2/3 c flour3/4 t baking soda

3/4 t cinnamon1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t ground cloves1/4 c brown sugar, 


2 T soft butter1 egg

1 1/2 c chopped/2 of a 4 oz pkg candied    walnuts1     cherries

DIRECTIONS:  Soak raisins in juice for 1 hour.  Drain.  Measure flour into a bowl.  Add baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Stir well and set aside.  Mix brown sugar, butter and egg until fluffy with an electric mixer.  Add dry ingredients, mixing well.  Stir in drained raisins, walnuts and cherries with a wooden spoon. Drop dough by teaspoonsful into small mini paper cups.  Bake at 325 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Cool and store in an airtight container.


1/2 c raisins Water to cover raisins

1/2 c butter1 c sugar

3 eggs, beatenZest of 1 lemon

Zest of 1/2 of an orange1 T lemon juice

1 t vanilla1 c milk

4 t baking powder 2 1/2 c flour

1/2 c slivered almonds1 c powdered sugar

1 to 2 T orange juice

DIRECTIONS:  Cover raisins with water and soak for 5 minutes.   Drain and set aside.  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Beat in eggs, lemon and orange zest, lemon juice, vanilla and milk.  Combine baking powder with flour.  Stir into creamed mixture and beat well.  Stir in almonds and raisins.  Place batter in a greased and floured Bundt pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Mix together powdered sugar and enough orange juice to make a glaze.  Drizzle over cake.


1 lb pork fat (not suet)1 pint of hot strong coffee

4 c dark brown sugar7 c flour

  (2 pounds) 1 T baking soda

1 T cinnamon1 T nutmeg

1 T baking powder1/2 t salt

1 lb English walnuts1 lb candied fruit mix

1 lb golden raisins

DIRECTIONS:  Melt pork fat in hot coffee.  Mix brown sugar, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.   Pour coffee mixture over all.  Mix well.  Batter will be stiff.  Add walnuts, candied fruit mix and golden raisins.  Grease 3 large bread pans.  Spoon batter into pans.  Bake at 300 degrees for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, depending on the size of the pan.

Please stop by my blog, Food, Fun and More for a visit at  Send recipes and requests to The Recipe Exchange at

100 Years Ago- November 30, 2017 Edition

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At a recent meeting of the Board of Education, they decided to add to the teaching force of the High School. This will allow some of the larger classes to be divided and it will also permit the addition of a Commercial Department. The Commercial courses offered will be equal to those given by the leading High Schools and business colleges of the State and pupils completing the regular course will be prepared to take the Civil Service examinations. The classes in this department will begin Monday, September 17, 1917, providing enough enroll for this work to warrant the expense, but as there are many calls for people with business training the enrollment will undoubtedly be large.

Ruth Foster leaves today for Notre Dame University where she will attend school.

Norman Smith, son of Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, fell at the school grounds Monday and broke his arm. Dr. McColgan reduced the fracture.

Lieut. A.A. Corwin, known to many in this vicinity, has been promoted to command a torpedo boat destroyer in the fleet which patrols European waters in their hunt for German submarines.

Francisco Village-Mrs. Musetta Kalmbach, who was visiting relatives in Detroit, was called home Monday by the accidental death of her brother, Mr. Foster of Chelsea, who was thrown from his motorcycle sustaining injuries from which he died.

Trist-Genevieve Lutz, Iva Bockman, Evylyn Hoffman and Joe Weinhold spent Friday afternoon with Nora Lantis. Mr. and Mrs. George Artz and son, Mrs. Fred Moeckel and Mr. Albert Moeckel and son Muriel called on Mr. and Mrs. Penrose Weinhold and family Sunday. Royal Lantis called on Louis Wahl Sunday.

Ed Meyers has enlisted in the ambulance corps of the U.S. service and is ordered to report to Columbus, Ohio.

Bert Dowling has gone to work at the M.C. Junction and Mr. H. Butterfield has taken his place as flagman at the crossing in Grass Lake.

Lloyd Reimenschneter and Elmer Maute were thrown out of a buggy and considerably bruised Sunday afternoon. The accident resulted from their horse running away.

Gathered by

Linda Lockwood Hutchinson

The Ubiquitous Poinsettias and Cats

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Curiosity kills the cat, but not poinsettias, depending who you ask.  Yet the popular Christmas plant is flora non grata with many pet lovers.  Old wives tails caution against keeping the flower in your house during the holidays for fear that it will kill your cat.  Keeping plants out of reach of your pet, canine and feline, is still a good idea, but the ASPA website says it’s not necessary to banish the favored Christmas flower over fear of fatal exposure.

Poinsettias are a staple of the Christmas Season, but it is possible that your pet could get sick if they think it’s catnip or kibble?  What would Christmas be without the famed flora?  It’d be like Easter without lilies, Halloween without costumes and candy.  But is the ubiquitous plant actually toxic?  To answer that question it would be a good idea to seek professional assistance..

“Poinsettias don’t kill cats,” local florist Judy Wollet said flatly.  She is the owner of Designs by Judy on Wolf Lake Road engaged in the busy holiday season.  “It mutes them temporarily,” Wollet said.  “Still, it’s not healthy for them to eat them.”

Wollet sells a lot of holiday floral arrangements, including the ubiquitous plant loved by many yet feared by cat ladies who wear sun dresses and straw hats and drink chamomile tea.  This Saturday the greenhouse will begin its annual open house, coinciding with Christmas and the annual Festival of Lights in the Village  set for this Saturday.

The open house at Judy’s hothouse continues until December 8. Designs by Judy also is participating in the downtown event’s cookie tour.  With the changing of the seasons the greenhouse displays inventory themed to Christmas.  Grave blankets are popular in the winter as are floral arrangement, including Christmas trees, holiday home decorations, gifts and centerpieces, and yes,  poinsettias.

Anybody anxious about their animals and the favorite Christmas flowers might do well to consult veterinarians.  I did.  I have two young cats but I’m more anxious that I’ll kill the flowers.  Grass Lake Animal Hospital on Norvell Road says that the flower isn’t dangerous to house pets.  However, there is the potential for the animal, cat or dog, to suffer from an upset stomach if they eat the leaves.

Brooklyn Road Vet Clinic says they are toxic, as are lilies; both plants have chemicals in them that could be noxious to house pets, the vet tech in Napoleon told me.   So there’s a deadlock.  Multiple phone calls to Cascade Humanity Society in Jackson yielded no information and attempts to contact the professionals proved to be futile.

It appears that the poinsettia has gotten a bad rap in the plant world, has a bad reputation as a deadly beauty.  Keeping this plant out of reach of your pets to avoid stomach problems is a good idea but the same could be said about overindulging in eggnog, Christmas cookies, and razzleberry dressing.