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Scott Bray


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.

A Thanksgiving Column Wanted: Turkey, Dead Or Alive

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The boy named the turkey “Jack.”  He grew fond of the bird, led it around by a leash through the Rose Garden behind the Whitehouse and fed it corn kernels, not realizing that he was, in effect, fattening Jack for the slaughter.   

Today we celebrate Thanksgiving Day.  President Abraham Lincoln established this perpetual memorial in 1863.  The War Between the States was raging but Lincoln declared that the final Thursday in November would be set aside for giving thanks to God, to be thankful for what we have and what we don’t have.

As the story goes, the thanksgiving turkey arrived at the Whitehouse and the President’s son, Tad, 10 years old, befriended it.  But when the butchers came for the bird Tad burst through the doors of the room where his father was meeting with his cabinet and cried, “Father! they’re going to butcher Jack!”

Honest Abe rose to his six-feet-four-inches of height, tugged the lapels of his waistcoat, and said, “I’d like to help you, son, but you’re too young to vote.”  Later at dinner he said to his wife, Mary, “Pass the gravy, Ma, and what’s the score of the Bears-Lions game?”

Tad went to bed without supper that night while Jack self-medicated with more corn kernels.

The Book of Sirach offers praise to the Lord saying: “And now, bless the God of all, who everywhere has worked great wonders, who fosters the people’s growth and deals with us according to his mercy.”

Thanksgiving Day became a federal holiday when, during the height of the U.S. Civil War, President Lincoln proclaimed it a national day of “Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

Today the traditional holiday turkey is thankful for having received its pardon. While nearly 50 million turkeys are served up every Thanksgiving (I prefer it deep fried), two lucky gobblers are given stays of execution.  In 1989 President George H.W. Bush remarked that the turkey appeared “understandably nervous,” but added, “Let me assure you, that these fine turkeys will not end up on anyone’s dinner table.  They are granted a presidential pardon right now.”  The birds, so dumb they didn’t know they were turkeys were very grateful, but what about the 50 million minus two that didn’t get off?

President Lincoln wasn’t heartless.  Listening to the boy’s pleas to spare Jack from his culinary fate, the Great Emancipator granted a reprieve and freed it, establishing the tradition.

“The year that is drawing to its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. They are gracious gifts from the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy,” Lincoln aforesaid.

That was a stretch.  The American Civil War suffered more causalities, 625,000—than all other conflicts engaged in by the United States to this day.  Even in the midst of the war our homeland had the presence of mind to be grateful for the blessings she received as one nation under God.

Freedom is exercised in relationships between human beings and the Creator.  Every person, created in the image of God, has the natural right to be recognized as a free and responsible being.  The right to exercise freedom, especially in moral and religious matters, is an inalienable requirement of the dignity of the human person.  Those rights must be recognized and protected by civil authorities within the limits of the common good and the public order.   

Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.

Gratitude works both ways.  Grateful for what we have, and grateful for what we don’t have.  The biopsy turned out to be benign.  They have passed away but are no longer suffering.  We made the mortgage payment this month.  Sure, my commute is a half-an hour longer but thank God I found another job.

We live as one nation under God; the forebears knew this and they abandoned our country to Providence.  Revisionist historians pervert that truth but the true story, His-Story, cannot be denied because God can’t lie and God can’t die.  Enjoy the football and the pumpkin pie but go easy on the bird.    

Village Tax Concerns Looking Sunnier

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There is “more sunshine this week than there was last week” Village Manager David Trent said about the Village’s current tax situation.

In March of this year, the Village Council adopted a resolution increasing the current operating millage 2.444 mils. At the time, council members indicated that 2 mils would go directly into the equipment fund with the remainder going into the general fund. The millage increase would generate an additional $66,947.30 of tax revenue annually.

The new tax was part of the adopted budget and added to taxpayer’s summer taxes. As promised, the council used the additional revenues to replace an aging snow plow that used an old stop sign as a floorboard. The Village took delivery of a new snowplow on October 13th of this year. The truck was paid for with a downpayment of $60,000 and financed the remainder over the next 6 years. Additional revenues will be included in the capital improvment plan to replace additional aging equipment as funds become available.

On November 1st, Jackson County dropped a bombshell on the Council and new Village Manager. Under the Headlee Amendment, any increase to an established millage cannot be raised above the Headlee rollback, thus making the tax increase improper. The Village was facing a loss of already collected revenues in an already fragile budget.

Under Headlee, the property tax revenue limitation requires that if the assessed value of a local tax unit’s total taxable property increases by more than the inflation rate, the maximum property tax millage must be reduced so that the local unit’s total taxable property yields the same gross revenue, adjusted for inflation. Basically, as home values increased, the taxation rate decreases. This is done looking at the total state equalized value (SEV) change from one year to the next.

The Council authorized Trent to hire attorney Gerald Fisher to research options for the council. Fisher determined that the correct course of action for the Village should have been to implement a new millage for General Highway Fund, which is allowed under the General Law Village Act of 1895.  He was able to cite case law that showed that Headlee Amendment, adopted in 1978, did not prohibit new millages allowed by statue, only existing taxes.

Working with the county and the state, the Village Council is hopeful that they will be able to file an amended L-4029 with the County. All local tax millages must be approved by the Jackson County  Board of Commissioners.

The Council was able to show, through their budget hearing, public meetings and meeting minutes that their intent was always to add millages for the purpose of General  Highway Fund, which includes equipment used to maintain the roads. Additionally the Village’s general fund includes contributions to road funding within the Village.

At Tuesday nights regularly scheduled meeting, the Village Council adopted a resolution “clarifying intent”. “This is Step 1 in the process” said Trent. The Village adopted the resolution levying up to 5 mils, higher than the original 2.444 mils, however the Village intends to only collect the original 2.444 mils, so taxpayers will not see an increase in their taxes because of the new resolution. “This just allows us to make modifications in the future to account for the Headlee Amendment rollback if necessary or if we have a disaster like we saw in Fraser (the giant sink hole from a failed sewer) said Trent.

It next goes to the Ways and Means committee of Jackson County next month.