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

May 2024
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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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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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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.

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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Trenary’s Rustic Motel
Filed under: General, Michigan, 1960s
Posted by: Mike @ 4:11 pm

This is a photograph of Trenary’s Rustic Motel from the summer of 1963. The preceding photos on the roll were taken at Fort Michilimackinac so I think this place is somewhere near Mackinaw City.  However is also possible that it was in the actual town of Trenary which is in the U.P. (Michigan’s Upper Peninsula).  The street number noted on the office is “261.”

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George Janjecic
Filed under: Janjecic, Michigan, 1940s
Posted by: Mike @ 12:05 pm

George Janjecic was my step-grandfather whom I never met. My grandmother was always known to me as Grandma Janjecic (pronounced Yanyechich). According to his death certificate he was born 12 Nov 1889 in Croatia. His given name was Juro according to his 1938 naturalization record.
I believe they got married sometime between 1940 and 1950. It could have been a common-law marriage without an actual wedding license.
He may have had children with his first wife and is the main reason I’m posting this photo. The story goes that he caught his wife cheating on him and beat her up with his shoe and kicked her out.  (No idea how much truth there is to it.)
My father resented him but he wasn’t necessarily a bad guy. More likely it was because this new father figure came into my dad’s life in his late teen years. George died in Nov 9, 1959 of a heart attack and is buried in Mt. Olivet in Detroit (Tier 79, Section 29, Grave 631).
My grandmother was able to receive some small pension from Burroughs Corporation as his widow. He worked there as a “drill operator” according to a 1950 city directory for Royal Oak Township (Madison Heights).

I don’t have a date for this photo. Maybe late 1940s or early 1950s.

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Detroit DesRosiers Family
Filed under: Desrosiers, Michigan, Detroit, 1940s
Posted by: Mike @ 11:23 am

Here is a photo of Johnny DesRosiers (my dad’s best friend in the early 1940s) and his sisters and mother.
Presumably it’s in front of their Detroit house (not sure where).  If I’m correct, depicted is John, his mother Agatha, sisters Noella and Antonia and possibly a sister-in-law (Mary?).
John also had an older brother, Joe, who died in WW2 (Aime Joseph Des Rosiers). 

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John Des Rosiers
Filed under: Desrosiers, Michigan, Detroit, 1940s
Posted by: Mike @ 11:44 pm

Johnny Desrosiers was my father’s best friend in Detroit around 1940. He was from a French Canadian family that moved to Michigan. These photos would have been taken around 1942.  Location of the “park” is unknown but almost certainly within Detroit, Michigan.  Belle Isle perhaps.
On the right side of the photo is my dad, Louis Chachich.


I believe this is the John DesRosiers who was born 12 June 1927 and died 5 June 2001 according to social security databases.  According to my mother his wife’s name was Lillian and was of Polish descent. 

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