Random items that may be helpful to some people searching for their roots

October 2016
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Church Picnic
Filed under: Michigan, 1980s
Posted by: Mike @ 10:33 pm

Here we have a bunch of us kids at a church picnic from the former Christ of the Lakes in 1980.
That’s me on the far left. If I’m not mistaken, next to me is Bob (Robert) Meyer and his brother John Meyer.
I’m not sure who the obscured person is. There in the front shirtless is Walter Svenkesen Jr. Behind him in the glasses is Geoff Switzer. Throwing the ball is Matthew Schantz. On the far right is Dick (Richard) Meyer, Bob and John’s father.
I don’t keep in touch with anybody here but I know that Bob is currently head football coach at Walled Lake Central High School. I don’t know anything about his older brother John. I believe they lived in White Lake and may still. Their dad I have seen occasionally within the past few years at my mother’s church. Walter now has an insurance agency in Waterford. Geoff I see occasionally but it’s been a couple years. And Matt I heard left the state after divorcing his wife Shelly. The Meyers probably went to Lakeland High School. Matt and Geoff went to Waterford Kettering. I think Walter went to Clarkston High School.

Here’s Walter’s mother’s obituary from a few years ago. I saw her about five years ago at the church before she passed away. She’d been a smoker all her life and there she was on oxygen looking about as good as one can look in such circumstances.

October 2, 2012
K. Svenkesen, 73, of Waterford, died Sept. 29, 2012, at Otsego Memorial
Hospital in Gaylord. She was the dearest wife of the late Walter J.
Svenkesen; the loving mother of Kari Jo (Michael) Stefanski of Gaylord,
Walter (Diane) Svenkesen Jr. of Clarkston; the loving grandmother of
Cameron, Joshua, Sean, Dominic, Ryan, Anona and Niklas; and the loving
sister of Judy Camperud and Sheri Hanson. She was preceded in death
by her parents, Joseph and Fern Johnson. Karen was born in Fargo,
N.D. She married Walter J. Svenkesen on Oct. 26, 1957, in Minnesota.

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Earl Hook with a Twinkie
Filed under: Michigan, Waterford, 1980s
Posted by: Mike @ 8:15 am

On that same Waterford Kettering class trip in 1987 I caught our physiology teacher Mr. Hook with a twinkie. Since he was also a coach and heavily into fitness I thought it was amusing. Although to be honest I think I was the one who had the twinkie and gave it to him in the first place.

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Amy Patterson Eats a Twinkie
Filed under: Michigan, Waterford, 1980s
Posted by: Mike @ 10:49 pm

Here’s another backdated post. It aligns with the previous one. This is a picture of Amy Patterson, former classmate from Mason Junior High School and Waterford Kettering High School, eating a twinkie. This was an Ecology Field Trip with Mr. Hook. I don’t recall doing anything related to ecology on that trip but we all had a good time canoeing and camping. This was in 1987 just before high school graduation.

Hopefully someday Amy’s kids will find this and see this shocking, unhealthy behavior.

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Mason Junior High School Nerds
Filed under: Michigan, Waterford, 1980s
Posted by: Mike @ 7:35 pm

I’m so bummed at myself for not continuing this blog in a timely manner; I’m backdating this entry and pretending I issued it three months ago. Part of the problem is that I haven’t been scanning old photos lately.
Anyway, this photograph is of some nerds at Mason Junior High School in Waterford who got some academic awards in, I’m guessing, 1984. I’m one of them but I don’t remember the award. Probably something to do with English. But possibly math.

On the left is Chris Switzer. For some bizarre reason the school secretary or whoever it was that did this fancy construction paper mounting and caption typing put his name as Jeff. (He did have a brother named Geoff but he was several years out of the school by this time). Chris and I are still friends to this day. Suzanne Kunse was a year younger than us so I don’t recall much about her. Amy Patterson was another one of the “smart kids” that I went to school with for years up to high school graduation at Waterford Kettering. I think I saw her once as an adult around 2007 or 2012. I believe she was doing well, had a family etc.  Steven Brown I don’t recall after junior high so I think he probably went to the other high school — Waterford Mott. With a common name like that it will be quite a coincidence if he or his family finds this post but stranger things have happened.

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Hudsons Handbook - Management
Filed under: General, Michigan, Detroit, 1940s
Posted by: Mike @ 1:40 pm

My mother found an old J.L. Hudson* employee handbook in her possession. There’s no date on it but it’s probably from around 1948. Neither she nor my aunt ever worked there but she thinks my aunt might have received it there when applying for a job. (Apparently my aunt, Barbara, had been let go from her job at Kresge’s for being late.) Eventually I’ll scan the whole thing but for now here’s the cover and “store organization” page which lists the managers. They were:

Mr. R.H. Webber, Chairman of the Board
Mr. Oscar Webber, President
Mr. J.B. Webber Jr., Vice President and General Manager
Mr. J.B. Webber, Vice President and Director of Merchandise
Mr. L.B. Sappington, Vice President Merchandising and Publicity
Mr. E.C. Stephenson, Vice President Financeand Accounts
Mr. Read Jenkins, Vice President and General Superintendent
Mr. D.C. Pennington, Secretary and Assistant to the President
Mr. Foster Winter, Treasurer
Mr. Read Jenkins, Vice President and General Superintendent
Mr. W.E. Simmons, General Merchandise Manager Main Store
Mr. H.M. Bingham, Merchandise Manager Home Furnishings Section
Mr. F.J. Wilton, Merchandising Manager General Sections
Mr. H.G. Petzold, Basement Store Manager
Mr. Frank Colombo, Assistant Basement Store Manager
Mr. Chess Lagomarsino, Jr., Publicity Director
Mr. J.W. Paynter, Controller

* J.L. Hudson was the iconic department store in Detroit rivaled only by New York’s Macy’s in its heyday. At the time this handbook was written the flagship store was 24 stories tall with 4 basements underground and a total area of 2,124,316 sq. feet.

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Bill & Ruth Clement
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 9:02 am

This is Bill (William) & Ruth Clement in Des Plaines, Illinois with their daughter Barbara. I didn’t realize at first but later determined that Ruth is pregnant with her son Rich here.

My dad used to work with Bill at American Standard in Chicago around 1955. This was taken in 1959. My parents had moved back to Detroit but they were back in town visiting. Fortunately my mother remembered the couple’s names otherwise I would have had to post this as an “unknown.”

I was able to track down Rich Clement and share this and other pictures of his family with him. He in turned shared them with his dad and sister.  (His mom passed away in 2011). Rich’s dad, Bill, remembered my parents well he said and “raved” about my mom’s dumplings. Very cool that something like that would still resonate 50+ years later. But I gotta admit, I like my mom’s dumplings too.

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Martin Kraal Cabinet Card
Filed under: Unidentified, 1920s
Posted by: Mike @ 5:40 pm

This photo has nothing to do with me but I just happened to run across it online for sale just now and couldn’t help myself from posting it. I know I can’t save every bit of history but this one has a name on it that may lead to a connection. 

I put a larger version here for downloading.

The Montana seller states:
Vintage cabinet card from South Dakota. Name written in pencil is Martin Kraal.
Hickell, Beresford, S.Dak.

I suppose the name could be Martin Kural. Hard to tell. Date is unknown but probably 1900-1909s.
I noticed in the ancestry database a 1913 border crossing record at Buffalo for Martinios Kraal. 
Could it be the same person I wonder…

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Milan Borchich
Filed under: Detroit, 1960s
Posted by: Mike @ 5:32 pm

Here is a shot of Milan Borchich at my aunt’s wedding in 1960. I assume it’s his wife and daughter in the shot but I don’t know for sure. I couldn’t find any records of a wife or daughter.
Milan Borchich was a groomsman at both my aunt and mother’s wedding. He was the brother of Annie (Borchich) Yarich, one of my mother’s best friends. He died in 1985 according to public records. I found a Greg Borchich in the Detroit area online so I assume he’s probably related to Milan.  Hopefully this shot will be a pleasant discovery for Milan’s relatives someday…

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Wabash & Congress
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 9:28 pm

This is a Chicago street scene that my father took in 1955 (or 1956). He didn’t take a lot of street shots like this but probably the track work on the elevated train tracks caught his attention. Notice the guy climbing a ladder and men above him on the track. I thought it would be very difficult to find the location but when I zoomed in on the far side of the ladder, I could make out a shop called Seymour’s Record Mart next to Heartbeat Music Publishers. Turns out this shop which was located at 439 S. Wabash and its owner Seymour Schwartz were at the root of some significant history in the Chicago jazz scene. I’m not sure what the skyscraper is in the distance.

Here’s a modern view from a similar vantage point using Google streetview. As you can see, the (Roosevelt University Auditorium) building has been rebuilt but the architect kept the double arches on the far side to maintain some of the history.

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5014 W Pensacola Ave
Filed under: 1950s, Chicago
Posted by: Mike @ 11:04 am

Here is a picture of the brownstone rental that my parents lived in for a couple of years in 1953-54. It was located at 5014 W. Pensacola Ave in Chicago, Illinois. Out front is “Luanne” the 1953 Plymouth Deluxe that my parents purchased new after marrying in 1952. They paid $46 extra for the red roof which, my mother tells me, was great for finding the car in parking lots.

Here’s a shot of that same house in modern times (found at According to Trulia this multi-family home was built in 1913, has two bathrooms and is 2478 square feet. I sure hope they upgraded a few things since my parents lived there! This is probably a two-family home today but back in the 1950s, it contained 5 rentals — can you believe it?!

During their time in Chicago my dad worked at American Standard (plumbing & heating company) and Polk Brothers (selling appliances at night). My mother worked at General Finance Company at first and then quit and found a better job at Victor Adding Machine.  Here are some remembrances from her:
The brownstone house we were renting on Pensacola Street had been converted into five apartments…one in the basement and two on the first and second floors.  We had the front on
the second floor.  The owner was a young bachelor, driving a new
Cadillac, and owning five buildings. Nevertheless, he kept a 7 watt bulb on the stairwell; it was hard to see so I replaced it with a 25 watt
and it wasn’t long before he put back the 7 watt. 

General Finance was all the way downtown so I had taken the el, however, Irving Park Blvd was closer to where we lived.  I was really happy for that job [at Victor Adding Machine Co.].  A huge room with many persons, each department was a row of desks.  I was lucky to be the secretary to the all male department.  When they were out of town I would help the typing pool with their work.  One of my jobs was delivering the pay checks to everyone in the building (including where the machines were being made).  I remember  Mr. Pomiaks department was really noisy.  It was pleasant because everyone was so happy to  see the paychecks arriving.  One thing they did, that I am sure would not be allowed today, was to allow the wives of alcoholics pick up the checks from the Personnel Department.

There was a two story Sears and Roebuck off of our main drag and Irving Park Blvd; the groceries being on the lower level so I was able to walk to the store with one of those little two-wheeled shopping carts.  We were also near Montrose harbor which had a long dock leading toward the water which might have been off of Lake Michigan.  Oddly, enough we happened to go there within a few days of a serious situation.  The tides had risen to over eight feet, swept the fishermen off the dock, who drowned. 

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Ernie Dietrich’s Visit
Filed under: Michigan, Detroit, 1950s
Posted by: Mike @ 12:27 am

This is Ernie Dietrich of Maple Plain, MN in town visiting with my dad and mom. He was a contact through my dad’s work at American Standard, a plumbing and heating company. On the left is my mother’s sister Barbara Chuncich. (Who knows maybe there was some hope of them making a love connection. My aunt looks like she’s dressed to impress.)

I think this photo was taken in 1953 because they are sitting on the stoop of 19357 Carman St in Detroit (Highland Park) which is the house my parents bought before my dad got transferred to Chicago in 1954. My grandfather took it over and it became a rental house.

Ernie died two years ago today. This strapping young man turned into a strapping old man. Here’s a copy of his obituary.

Here’s text from the obituary to help his descendants find this photo some day.
Ernest R. “Ernie” Dietrich, 86, of Cedar Grove…Ernest is survived by his wife of 56 years, Delores; two daughters,
Catherine (David) Hartwig, and Becky (Brian) Sueppel, both of Grafton;
four grandchildren, Maddie (Riley) Falk, Karen Sueppel and Rachel and
Ryan Hartwig; his brother, Kermit Dietrich of Waconia, MN

Unbelievably my mother and they kept in touch via Christmas cards all these years even though they haven’t met in 50+ years. (Actually my mom’s not even sure if she ever met Delores in person at all.)

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Harold Armstrong of American Standard
Filed under: Michigan, Detroit, 1950s
Posted by: Mike @ 7:48 am

Here’s a shot from the 1950s my father took at an American Standard company event. American Standard was a plumbing and heating company and the brand still exists today although owned by some other corporation I’m sure. Note the Harold M. Armstrong: This is Your Life banner. Is it a Comedy Central roast?  No… It appears to be a retirement party for Mr. Armstrong. I don’t know what Station AR55 means. Perhaps the office code for the Detroit office. No idea of the names of the other guys standing around. Coworkers of my dad. Mr. Armstrong was the branch manager who hired my dad in 1952 so this guy had a direct effect on the trajectory of my Dad’s (and thus my) life. It certainly ensured that most of the scrap paper we used in our house when I was a kid were engineering drawings for sinks, toilets and the like.

Most likely this is the Harold Armstrong with SSN 374-05-0466 who was born September 6, 1893 and died June 29, 1976 in Broward County Florida at the age of 82. So that means he had a long and (probably) happy retirement. Good for him.

According to the 1954 city directory for Birmingham (MI), Harold was indeed the branch manager for American Standard and lived at 6105 Gilbert Lake Rd in Bloomfield Township with his wife Josephine Armstrong. According to Zillow, that house was built in 1952 and has 2046 sq. ft. and has 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms.
Josephine may be his second wife. There is a 1940 Birmingham city directory entry for Harold M & Mildred Armstrong at 579 Puritan Ave and he is Branch Manager for American Radiator Company. In 1940 census, he had a son Richard who would have been born about 1937.

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Catholic Irish Hills
Filed under: Michigan, Unidentified, 1950s
Posted by: Mike @ 7:49 am

According to my mother, these 1957 shots were taken at a Catholic place in the Irish Hills area of Michigan which is west of Detroit. So far I haven’t been able to pinpoint the spot. It could be St. Joseph’s shrine in Brooklyn, MI but I haven’t found any matching photos of these locations.

Statue of St. Joseph (?) with a wishing well in front. That’s my mother pregnant with my brother.

Another statue with flower beds in the shape of a cross.

This is also from 1957. I found a modern photo from St. Joseph’s shrine with a similar sculpture to this one but it’s definitely not the same. Of course they may have replaced it since concrete sculptures are certain to degrade over time. Based on that site, this may have been one of the sculptures created by Dionicio Rodriguez.

If you have any more clues for me, please leave a comment.

Clifton Inn Hotel Niagara Falls
Filed under: 1950s
Posted by: Mike @ 8:59 pm

Here is a shot taken by my father in 1954 on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
My parents would have been young newlyweds at that time. They probably did not stay at this hotel but it’s possible. The Old Dutch Mill Shop was selling souvenirs of Fine Bone China, Gifts, Jewelry, Novelties and, of course, Woollen Sweaters.

It’s a far cry from the Clifton Hill of today which is filled with kitsch.

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Unknown Family
Filed under: Teufner, Michigan, Unidentified, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 11:19 pm

This photo shows my mother Annie Chachich with her old high school friend Doris Teufner and husband Joe Teufner. We were on a joint family vacation with the Teufners the summer of 1974. The family on the right are unknown. My mother doesn’t remember them, so we think they were other residents of the lakeside cabins that just happened to be there at the same time as we were. We made good enough friends with them such that they came out on the rented pontoon boat with us, probably to share the cost.

Lake and location are unknown but undoubtedly somewhere “up north” Michigan. Probably somewhere in the middle of the state rather then truly way up north. Below are a couple pictures of the lake and shore in case somebody recognizes the location. If you do recognize the place or people, please let me know.

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Cleveland & Carley Kids
Filed under: Cleveland, Michigan, Waterford, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 8:57 am

This is a shot from 1978 taken in my back yard on Pomeroy in Waterford, MI. It looks like I’m putting my friend Mark Cleveland in a headlock. His sister Crissy (Cristina) Cleveland is in red and Jennifer Carley in pink. Mark, along with his twin brother Grant, were my best friends prior to kindergarten. I think they had already moved from our street in Waterford to Lake Orion by the time this picture was taken so maybe they had come by for a visit. Jennifer Carley lived two houses down from us.

Note the yellow ring on the ground. It was from a lawn dart game called Jarts we had. They were pointed metal darts. Incredibly dangerous in hindsight. I remember throwing them up as high as I could. Somehow we managed not to get hurt. Probably could get a good price for one on ebay now but ours were well-used and the plastic fins eventually broke.

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Mark Cleveland
Filed under: Cleveland, Michigan, Waterford, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 12:26 am

This is Mark Cleveland on the left and me on the right in 1974 in my (parents) house on Pomeroy Ave in Waterford.  He and his twin brother Grant were my best friends up until about kindergarten and then they moved out to Lake Orion. We wrote letters or sent cards a couple times but quickly lost touch. Oddly enough I still remember their birthday which was March 3. If he or his brother or sister have offspring, perhaps someday they’ll find this cute picture of their dad or uncle and cause some momentary

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Possible Sandvik
Filed under: Michigan, Unidentified, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 10:22 am

This is from our 1975 family trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Canada. I believe this was taken at the Canadian Soo Locks observation area. The kid in the yellow shirt second to the left I think is Cindy Sandvik’s brother (assuming she had a brother).  My brother has vivid memories of Cindy Sandvik (not pictured) because he has a small crush on her. So she was probably 18ish.
We were visiting them on our way to Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.  I’m not even sure how we knew the Sandviks.  My understanding is that they are related to us somehow via my grandfather John Chuncich with links going back to Croatia. I don’t think I ever met them again after that day but my parents continued exchanging Christmas cards with them for many years.

The other people in the photo I know well. That’s me on the left, my sister Paula and my two cousins Paul & Robert.

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DC Everest at Sault Ste Marie
Filed under: General, Michigan, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 8:58 am

This is a shot of the crane/cargo ship DC Everest entering the Canadian Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie in the summer of 1975.  This appears to have been taken from the park located on Canal St. on North St. Mary’s island.
According to, DC Everest was built in 1953 and primarily carried wood (pulp) products between Marathon, Ontario and Green Bay, Wisconsin. Later it was renamed to Condarrell.

Vintage Pants Time Warp
Filed under: General, Michigan, 1970s
Posted by: Mike @ 11:54 pm

OK, I know what you’re thinking.
What an adorable kid… and where can I get myself a pair of pants like that?
Well, sorry, that kid is all growed up now and he’s no longer adorable.
That’s me circa 1975. Luckily the 70s wasn’t really my coming-of-age decade but I was still collaterally damaged.
(How could one wear clothes like this and not be traumatized?)

I’m not sure of the location.  Some nature or park setting, most likely in Southeast Michigan.

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