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Paper, Ink, and Pi: Printing the Signal of Liberty (Part I)

Tue, 08/14/2018 - 9:20am by hmorse

Part I: “Pi”

On April 14, 1845 the editors of the Signal of Liberty (1841-1848), a weekly Ann Arbor antislavery newspaper, ran an apologetic notice stating that “Last week our whole advertising page was knocked into pi, and we were obliged to insert some advertisements in two places, while others did not appear at all.” While twenty-first-century readers may wonder whether they dropped the page into someone’s dessert (or a geometric formula), the term meant something quite different to a nineteenth-century printer. Newspapers such as the Signal of Liberty relied on a laborious technique of arranging individual pieces of cast metal type into lines, columns, and page-sized “forms” before they could be inked and pressed. Types became “pied” if they were mixed up, dropped, or otherwise jumbled to the extent that each letter and punctuation mark had to be manually resorted into cases before the printer could resume composing. For a whole page of a 4-page issue to be “knocked into pi”—that’s up to 56,000 pieces of type!—was quite a disaster, indeed.

To become a printer, you had to master the counter-intuitive practice of setting letters into your composing stick upside-down and backwards—no easy feat—as well as the vocabulary of the printing trade. In fact, the origin of the saying “mind your p’s and q’s” may very well have been in printing shops, where compositors had to double-check their selection of these easily-confused letters. It certainly helped to have a “lower case” and an “upper case,” which were wooden boxes designed to place the most commonly-used letters close to hand. Other printers’ terms included “devil,” a nickname for a young apprentice who got the messiest, most tedious jobs like rolling ink, sorting pied type out of the “hellbox,” and “distributing” it back into the proper cases. As one Signal of Liberty article joked, a mischievous newspaper printer might tell his young “devil”: “get your stick and conclude the horrid murder which Joe began last night—wash your hands and come to dinner, and then see that all the pi is cleared up.”

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Remembering Donald Hall, 1928-2018

Sun, 06/24/2018 - 12:29pm by amy

Donald HallDonald Hall, one of the last major poets of his generation, former University of Michigan professor, and 14th Poet Laureate of the United States, died June 23 on his farm in Wilmot, New Hampshire, where he'd been in declining health. 

Last year, AADL celebrated Hall's poem "Eating the Pig" with a website chronicling in poetry, prose, photographs, and paintings the now-famous Ann Arbor literary dinner that inspired his poem.

Listen to Donald Hall reading his poem "Eating the Pig."

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See Vintage Photos of 1970s Ann Arbor

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 9:09am by antdevee

Commuter Bus/IM BuildingCheck out this collection of black and white photos of Ann Arbor from over 40 years ago!

Shared by local resident RJ Godin, this collection includes vintage shots of past local businesses like the Flame Bar, Omega Pizza and Central Cafe

Also in this collection are charming street scenes of downtown Ann Arbor; and shots of iconic campus locations like the Observatory, Nickels Arcade and the Campus Corner. You can see more from this collection here.

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76 years ago this week in Ann Arbor: A bus of WWII draftees departs from Courthouse Square, May 13, 1942

Thu, 05/10/2018 - 9:56am by amy

Draftees leaving Courthouse Square "Just before the bus left this morning, taking him to Detroit and induction in the armed services, the last Ann Arbor draftee in the second bus (above) received the most appropriate of all farewells. More than 500 townspeople heard Mayor Leigh J. Young and the University ROTC and marching bands in the send-off program for the men of Selective Service Board No. 1 this morning."

More photos from that day here.

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Runners Celebrate!

Mon, 04/23/2018 - 12:08pm by oldnews

Starting Line of the Dexter-Ann Arbor RunThe Dexter-Ann Arbor Run turns 45 next year and the Ann Arbor Track Club, who among many things helps to sponsor the run, turns 50 this year! You can see all the spectacular moments from start to finish like the winner of the first run. Participants range from the oldest to one of the youngest as well as those in wheelchairs. There are photos of the victors to those just clearly exhausted. See the moms & dads that participated, one carried his kids in the race and others pushed their strollers through it all while still other parents ran with their kids. But the most inspiring photos are those that show support between runners as well from family & friends here and here. So enjoy the walk (or run as the case may be) down memory lane with articles & more photos for the DX-A2 Run. You can also see more of the Ann Arbor Track Club like their relay team from 1966 and others here.

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Calling All High School Students!

Wed, 11/01/2017 - 2:51pm by amy

Do you love local history? If so, you or your team could win the annual Ray Detter Local History Award for up to one thousand dollars! And our Oldnews team at AADL can help! Possible projects you could consider include, but are not limited to one of the following:

  • Document an historic site in Ann Arbor.
  • Assist with Ann Arbor Historical Street Exhibit tours.
  • Develop material for a local historical museum: e.g., Kempf House Museum, Cobblestone Farm, Museum on Main Street.
  • Produce media that promotes local history, e.g. Community TV; graphic novel.
  • Document an interview with a local historian.
  • Contribute to local history efforts at the Ann Arbor District Library.
  • Develop a program to promote this Award to all Ann Arbor high schools.

Watch this video for more information about the award, or email project director Ilene Tyler at historicA2@gmail.com.

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Mast Shoes Marks 75th Anniversary

Tue, 09/19/2017 - 1:39pm by oldnews

In 1942, Ann Arbor High School graduate Walter Mast struck out on his own and opened Mast Shoe Store on S. Main St. No sooner had Mr. Mast opened the store than Uncle Sam called and Helen Mast took over running the store while Walter served in World War II.

In 1949 Mast Shoes added a Campus store on Liberty with elegant departments for women and men. Their stores featured the latest styles in sandals, winter boots, trendy boots, and top brands for men.

In 1968 the flagship store moved down to 217 S. Main and re-opened with much larger display areas. The Westgate store opened in 1993. In 1997, Tom and Greg Mast made the tough decision to close the Main Street store. In 2004, the Masts closed the Liberty St. store, concentrating their business to Westgate. Stop by Westgate and see the display of vintage photos they've put in the store to celebrate their 75th anniversary.

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Solar Eclipses

Mon, 08/07/2017 - 8:29am by oldnews

A total solar eclipse will be visible in North America on Monday, August 21. Although in Ann Arbor only a partial eclipse will be visible, it will still be an exciting event! In honor of this event, we have gathered some articles and pictures from past solar eclipses as seen in Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor News' photographer, Cecil Lockard, captured the 1970 eclipse in time lapse. Examples of how to view the event include an Ann Arbor resident's pin hole box created for the 1963 solar eclipse, and the use of paper to project an image as seen in this picture from the 1994 eclipse. See additional photos and articles from the News pertaining to solar eclipses here.

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In The Path of Amelia Earhart

Wed, 06/14/2017 - 11:32am by oldnews

Aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan departed Oakland, Calif., on May 29, 1937, in a second attempt to circumnavigate the earth by airplane. About three-fourths of the way, Earhart, Noonan and their plane disappeared somewhere over the Pacific Ocean.

In 1967, 30-year-old former Saline schoolteacher and aviator Ann Pellegreno made news by tracking and completing Earhart’s historic flight in a duplicate of Earhart’s Lockheed 10 Elektra. Pellegreno was a graduate of the University of Michigan with two education degrees. At the time of the flight, she and her husband, Donald Pellegreno, were living in Saline.

She became interested in aviation when she helped her husband and brother-in-law build a small biplane and was encouraged to try flying it. She and Donald joined an aeronautical club in Ann Arbor and began a lifetime of flying. While working as an English teacher, she was also involved working as a flight instructor and working for Gordon Aviation at the Ann Arbor Airport.

Lee Koepke told Pellegreno he was rebuilding a plane similar to the one flown by Earhart. Koepke’s encouragement and a book on Earhart’s flight convinced Pellegreno to make the attempt in commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Earhart’s flight. The Lockheed plane used in the flight was owned by Koepke, who accompanied her on the flight as a mechanic. Two additional crew members participated, navigator William Polhemus and co-pilot William Payne. The plane was prepared for flight at Willow Run Airport. The plane flew from Willow Run to Oakland, Calif,, to officially begin the world-circling flight at the same place as Earhart.

National news services tracked Pellegreno’s flight as she and her crew sky-hopped around the globe and dubbed her Michigan’s flying housewife. Back at home, the News kept up with Don Pellegreno as he “kept the home fires burning.

In Saline, the excitement was building around Pellegreno’s return and plans were made for a big parade. Pellegreno touched down at Willow Run Airport in mid-July. Saline held a ticker-tape parade for Pellegreno and her crew on July 16. A large crowd of enthusiastic fans held up signs, cheered and wrapped themselves in ticker-tape while Pellegreno and her crew smiled their appreciation for the strong local support.

Pellegreno wrote an award-winning book on her flight, World Flight; The Earhart Trail, in 1971. She and her husband left Michigan for teaching positions in Iowa. In 1990, Ms. Pellegreno was inducted into the Iowa Aviation Hall of Fame.

Pellegreno, 80, still lives in Iowa and still flying.

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Nickels Arcade Celebrates 100 Years

Wed, 05/24/2017 - 8:58am by oldnews

By Grace Shackman

Nickels Arcade celebrates its Centennial this year and the Arcade and AADL are commemorating the milestone with exhibits, receptions and a digital history of the Arcade. AADL will host an exhibit at the Downtown Library beginning June 1, 2017, featuring photos, articles, and artifacts that tell the story of the first 100 years of Nickels Arcade. The Arcade "family" will have ongoing exhibits throughout the Arcade and a gala reception in July.

When Tom Nickels inherited his father’s State Street meat market, he decided to tear it down and build the elegant European-style Nickels Arcade that is still there one hundred years later. He bought the land all the way down to Maynard from his siblings and then hired local architect Herman Pipp to design. The section on the southeast corner, then Farmers and Mechanics Bank and now Bivouac, was finished in 1915, but the rest was not ready for occupancy until 1917 due to shortage of materials during World War I.

Soon the Arcade filled with up-scale businesses of the kind that European arcades aimed to attract. The oldest business is the barber shop, which opened in 1917 and, although changing owners periodically, has stayed in the same location offering the same service. The oldest store to stay in the same family is VanBoven Clothing, which opened in 1927 where the meat market had been located. The Caravan Shop opened the same year but has, like the barber shop, had different owners. Tom Nickels’ sister, Bee Nickels, opened a store that specialized in fine children’s clothing imported from Europe.

Many of the other stores that opened in the first decade stayed for years, including a post office substation (until 1998), Bay's Jewelry (three generations until 1992), and Betsy Ross Restaurant (closed in 1975). Women’s undergarments were sold at the Van Buren shop, owned by Mae Van Buren, who had managed that department at Mack’s Department Store and knew how to do perfect fittings. From 1932 to 1982, a mainstay of the Arcade was the Arcade Newsstand at the State Street entrance.

As the economy picked up after World War II, a crop of new stores opened that followed the pattern of pre-war tenants of staying for many years. Milford Boersma, who opened his travel business in 1945, was a pioneer in many phases of travel. Jessie Winchell Forsythe opened Forsythe Gallery, the first art gallery in Ann Arbor, in 1954. In 1956 University Flower Shop moved into space that had been Aunt Bees and has been a flower shop ever since. In 1987 the Arcade was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Today, the Arcade is a mix of old-time stores, such as the tobacco shop that opened in 1964 and Arcadian Antiques, which dates back to 1983, with very “now” concerns such as Babo Juice and Food and Comet Coffee, keeping the European feel.