#27 Ann Arbor Stories: The Torch Murders
Thu, 03/16/2017 - 5:30am
In the pre-dawn hours in August 1931, a farmer in Ypsilanti reported a car on fire at the edge of his property. When police and firefighters arrived and extinguished the flames, they found a grisly scene that shocked the state. Four bodies, burned nearly beyond recognition, were found inside the vehicle, which was intentionally set on fire.
They called them the Torch Murders, and the entire story—from the crime itself to the manhunt that apprehended the killers to the insane criminal proceedings, would forever change law enforcement and the justice system in the state.
For more on the the Torch Murders, visit oldnews.aadl.org.
#26 Ann Arbor Stories: Henry Ford's Enforcer
Thu, 03/02/2017 - 5:30am
The most powerful person ever to live in Ann Arbor was Harry Bennett—Henry Ford's right hand man, union buster and general enforcer. Bennett lived behind the walls of Bennett's Castle at 5668 Geddes Road, where he ran the Ford Motor Company security division by fear and intimidation. He employed murderers, gangsters, and bad men of all types, and he was a signature away from becoming the president of Ford so many years ago. This is his story.
Music by Chris Bathgate
#25 Ann Arbor Stories: The Red Light District
Thu, 02/16/2017 - 5:30am
There was a time in Ann Arbor’s not-so-distant past when a part of town was widely known as the red light district. Adult bookstores, topless massage parlors, prostitutes, hoodlums, and bums—all just blocks from City Hall and Ann Arbor police headquarters. Cops were raiding massage parlors every few months, rounding up a dozen massage workers at a time, but the arrests never made a dent. Crackdowns on prostitutes and the johns who solicited them didn’t make much impact either. The red light district regenerated. Persisted. Grew stronger.
How did Ann Arbor become home to this kind of brazen adult fare?
Music by FAWNN
Learn more in the AADL Old News Archives.
#24 Ann Arbor Stories: Proud History of Punching Nazis in the Face
Thu, 02/02/2017 - 5:30am
Police spotted the Nazis in their rented U-Haul at the edge of the city around 11 am— two hours before anyone expected them to arrive. Fifteen members of the S.S. Action Group out of Westland—sitting three in the front and 12 in the back, riot shields and jackboots bouncing over every pothole.
It was March 20, 1982, and a crowd of 2,000 anti-Nazi demonstrators were about to show the world what Ann Arbor thought of their Aryan visitors.
Music by Diego and the Dissidents.
Learn more about this story in the AADL Old News Archives.
#23 Ann Arbor Stories: The Clairvoyant Physician
Thu, 01/19/2017 - 5:30am
In a time of spirits, specters, and the people who could contact them - Daniel B. Kellogg fit right in. The good doctor could diagnose you in person or halfway across the country—see inside you and prescribe the perfect cure—despite having no formal medical training. He needed only his keen sense of the spirit world and the ghosts of two medicine men to help with long distance cases. This is the story of Ann Arbor's clairvoyant physician and the family empire he built right in Lower Town.
Music by Hollow & Akimbo.
Special thanks to Katie Reeves for suggesting this topic, and our enduring thanks to the Ann Arbor District Library archives staff for providing many of our research materials.
Learn more about this story in the Old News archives.
#22 Ann Arbor Stories: For All the Marbles
Thu, 01/05/2017 - 5:30am
That spring in 1936, seven years into the Great Depression, the entire city of Ann Arbor, age 14 and under, lost their marbles over the biggest sporting event the city had ever known. Hundreds of kids battled for 26 coveted spots in a tournament that could determine their futures. It was the 1936 Ann Arbor Daily News Marbles Tournament, pitting the best shooters in the best schools in the city against each other for an all expenses paid trip to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to compete in the Western Finals. The champion of the west would punch his or her ticket to the National Marbles Tournament on the Jersey Shore, and a chance at marbles immortality.
Music by Stepdad.
Learn more about this story in the Old News archives.
#21 Ann Arbor Stories: Our Own Santa's Helper
Thu, 12/22/2016 - 5:30am
Most of Santa’s helpers are great people - guys and gals - and, as it turns out, Ann Arbor used to have one of the best.
Our Santa’s helper was so good that four U.S. presidents praised his work. As did governors, senators, congressmen - essentially any elected official looking to shake hands and smile into the camera around Christmastime. Our Santa’s Helper had the keys to the city of Ann Arbor, Detroit and Washington, D.C. Our Santa's helper was in Life magazine in 1956. Our Santa's helper was one of the best.
Music by Ben Benjamin, made possible by GhoLicense.
Read more about this story in the Old News Archives.
#20 Ann Arbor Stories: JFK Slept Here: The Presidential Special
Thu, 11/10/2016 - 5:30am
George Washington never slept here. Neither did Abraham Lincoln or Andrew Jackson or George W. Bush. Of the 43 men who have served as President of the United States since 2016, we’re confident 17 Commanders in Chief have set foot in the Ann Arbor area … 18 if you count young Army officer Ulysses S. Grant. Here are their stories, as well as the stories of some presidents who never set foot in Ann Arbor but are still tied to the city in some way.
Music by John Philip Sousa
#19 Ann Arbor Stories: A Very Dixboro Ghost Story
Thu, 10/27/2016 - 5:30am
Listener discretion advised. When Martha Crawford stepped out of her carriage and set foot in the Village of Dixboro in 1835, no one could have predicted her eventual fate, or that she'd be the origin of Dixboro's first creepy ghost story.
Music by Michna and Ben Benjamin, made possible by GhoLicense.
#18 Ann Arbor Stories: Riot at the Star Theater
Thu, 10/13/2016 - 5:30am
On St. Patrick’s Day, 1908, The Star was the site of the largest riot in Ann Arbor’s history. Why did an isolated beatdown incite 3,000 students and townies to destroy one of Ann Arbor's few theaters at the time?
Music by Frontier Ruckus