100 YEARS AGO: Manistee sees sudden loss of streetcar service – Manistee News Advocate

(News Advocate graphic)
The following news items are reprinted from the Manistee Daily News for the week of Aug. 26 to Sept. 2, 1921 and are compiled by Teena Kracht from the newspaper archives of the Manistee County Historical Museum. Read more of the 100 Years Ago column at manisteenews.com.
Aug. 26, pg. 1
“Manistee today is experiencing and will continue to experience the same handicap which has beset Saginaw, Bay City, and Adrian, Michigan; and Des Moines, Iowa.
“The city is without streetcar service.
“Upon his return last night from an electric-light-men’s convention at Ottawa Beach, Manager Kressler immediately ordered the cars sent to the barns and the doors locked.
“The sudden loss of streetcar service this morning caused considerable inconvenience to factory employees who live in the outlying districts. As a result many arrived late to work. Factory managers this morning expressed indignation at the action of the company in not giving previous notice.
“Manager Kressler this morning explained the side of the streetcar company. ‘We haven’t any money to operate the cars longer, and as there is no prospect of obtaining relief we had no alternative but to suspend service.
“‘I had hopes that enough factory managers would be present at the commission meeting to bring pressure that would have saved the service. But the little interest shown convinced me that they did not care what course we took.’ Ed. N. Turner of the Iron Works and L. H. Peterson of the Goshen Shirt factory were the only managers who expressed themselves at the commission meeting. Manager Phillips of the Cooper Underwear company came in after the close of the meeting and spoke informally.
“‘I still have hopes,’ continued Kressler, ‘that streetcar service can be resumed in the future … but if an attempt is made to force operation it will be necessary for the company to go into the hands of receivers, and probably complete bankruptcy, which means that the rolling equipment will be disposed of and the tracks torn up.’
“The problem which arises … is the transportation of factory employees from Filer City, Oak Hill and Maxwelltown, and the shopping and theater crowds from these same districts on Saturday nights. Motor buses, which this summer have been in service between Orchard Beach and the bathing beaches in all probability will replace the streetcars.
“Factory-owned busses are not considered practical … J. W. Phillips of Coopers said that one-third of his force uses streetcars in rainy weather, and about 35 regularly … Manager Peterson of the shirt factory said that his employees will undoubtedly use the busses which have been serving them recently. About 50 use streetcars on rainy days and between 20 and 35 regularly.
“Opals, corals, and amber are among the stones and gems which have been cleverly imitated in a substance made from dried milk.
“WASHINGTON, Aug. 25 — The United States, by the new peace treaty with Germany, has made clear in exact detail its future international policy.
“By the treaty this government washes its hands of any connection with the League of Nations, the Shantung award to Japan, the international labor organization and other provisions obnoxious to the United States senate …
“Official peace with Germany now awaits on ratification … by the American senate and the German Reichstag … a mere formality … .
“How he had on three consecutive occasions broken into the American Railway Express company this month, stolen sums of money, some of which was used in purchasing whisky from Chicago, was divulged by Albert Roy Parish, Fourth Street, a former employee of the express company, in Justice Greve’s court today.
“Parish, who figured in an automobile accident Sunday, was apprehended last night by James M. Hammond of Grand Rapids, special representative of the express company, who conducted an investigation of the disappearances of money here. A written confession was taken from Parish today in the county jail … Parish was held under $1,000 bond.
Pg. 3
“With the hearty cooperation of a number of local business men and the idea to establish a precedent, the King-O’Connor Post No. 671, Veterans of Foreign Wars, has invited the public to attend its first annual picnic at Orchard Beach, Labor Day.
“Sentiment ranked high with the soldier boys who went over there, slept together, and fought against German intrigue as one man. And now the local veterans desire to still be active, to keep alive the memories of the past years by getting together at least once a year for a joyful picnic.
“ … The public is urged to bring their baskets of goodies along to make the event as successful as possible. Prizes have been donated by merchants in the city for the winners of various sports, games, and races, which will be some of the features of the day.
“A baseball game is scheduled … dancing will be held at the pavilion … A wrestler from Ludington will contest with Indian Coon (and) The Flying Dutchman and Battling Carlo of Ludington have been secured by the entertainment committee to go the rounds with local men, who have not yet been selected.
“A party of 30 people debarking from the Str. Puritan this morning attracted more than casual attention, not only for the pulchitude of the feminine portion of it but for the excessive amount of baggage for which checks were produced.
“It was the ‘Some Girl’ company cast which is to show in the musical comedy of that name at the Ramsdell Sunday and Monday evenings … And it was the verdict of dock habitues that almost any of the show girls would qualify, in physical appearance, for the title role …
“The hardest winter in history is always the one just ahead.
“The unfilled coal bin in the basement grows larger every time one looks at it.
“And now maybe the ukulele will not be such a pleasant malady for those suffering with it. According to the Hawaiians, the word ukulele means ‘bouncing flea.’ Who wants to play the bouncing flea?
“There’s something cheerful in the chirp of a cricket under the sink in the kitchen or by the back stoop these days. The little musician has his fiddle tuned up, and though he never varies from one or two notes it’s a rhapsody of joy.
“Congress decided home brew is all right. Congress hasn’t tasted some of it.
“A Frenchman predicts beards for women. Wouldn’t it be righteous retribution, long delayed, for hubby to trim his corns with wifie’s best razor?
“SPECIAL Saturday and Sunday … Strawberry Fruit Ice Cream … Mertens Drug Co.
“School Books and Supplies Are Here. BRING IN YOUR SECOND HAND BOOKS NOW … ALSO leave your orders for books to be called for at your convenience. This will save time for you. A. H. Lyman Co.
Aug. 27, pg. 1
“(Much of the beginning of this article is missing, but the later descriptions are interesting.—T. K.) THREE AND ONE FOURTH INCHES OF RAIN IN HEAVY STORM … the longest and heaviest in years … began about 4 o’clock … torrent … before it ceased after midnight had (made) the hilly streets into roaring (rivers?) and created small lakes in the downtown district … At the corner of River and Oak streets a lake of considerable depth was formed by the streams which came down the curbs on both sides … The water rose so high by the inability of the sewers to take care of it that it seeped into Elks temple . A tunnel was formed under the driveway to the dock … A similar thing happened at the foot of Greenbush Street where a miniature lake was overflowing into the basement of the Famous 99. The water was lowered by lifting out the sieves of the catch basins. Residents on First Street did the same thing to prevent water from entering their cellars.
“Roofs of several store buildings and residences which heretofore were impervious to rain last night were unable to prevent leaking. Rain even crept underneath automobile hoods … enough to cause motors to stall.
“Both telephone and telegraph lines were interrupted … The electric power transmission system passed through the storm without trouble. Only once was power cut off.
Pg. 3
“On the job and up to his ears in work—and that’s some distance, if anyone should ask you—is Benjamin Klager, Manistee’s new superintendent of schools.
“But the new superintendent seems equal to the requirements, and is digging into his task with every appearance of efficiency. Tall in stature and of forceful but prepossessing personality, he gives the impression of vigorous competency …
“A whale of a big man, physically, the new superintendent looks genial and companionable. And he is good enough to admit that he already likes Manistee quite a lot. If first impressions count, we think Manistee is going to like Superintendent Klager a lot … .
“A fairly good advance sale indicates a good audience for the opening performance for the musical comedy, ‘Some Girl,’ at the Ramsdell tomorrow night.
“One thing is certain — no one’s eyes will be offended by the vision of the chorus, the members of which are exceedingly easy to look at … .
“Good evening, have you noticed the skirt shortage?
“Some men are born poor and others buy second-hand cars.
“Our idea of a mean trick is some janitor testing the school bell before Sept. 6.
“Lots of self-made men forget their wives bossed the job.
“Our appendix may be useless to us, but see what it does for the doctors.
“As Noah Heap puts it: Some women are like an upholstered chair — not much framework after the covering is removed.
Aug. 29, pg. 1
“Built up around the vivacious, captivating personality of Miss Gudrun Walberg, cast in the title role, the musical comedy ‘Some Girl,’ which comes nearer to being an operetta … in its season premiere at the Ramsdell last night proved itself in all particulars a most satisfying evening’s entertainment.
“‘Some Girl’ from curtain-rise to curtain-fall went over with a zip that was refreshing and won the unqualified approval of a critically disposed audience … (There is) a clever and capable cast … The costumes especially are radiant, ravishing and revealing (though less so in the last mentioned particular than some seen at our beaches this summer), the action is rapid, the singing good, the comedy clean and keen, the dancing exceptionally good … (and) there is not a risque line to mar one’s enjoyment.
Pg. 3
“When pitcher Otto Linderman yesterday in the baseball game at Orchard Beach … was ‘beaned’ in the first half of the eighth inning, his wife replaced him on the mound in the last half and struck out one man. Her side … won 13 to 11.
“There are quite a few who would like to celebrate Labor Day this year by working.
“The modern way to a man’s heart is through your hip pocket.
“A woman wants $10,000 for a lost thumb. Must be the one she kept hubby under.
“As Noah Heap puts it: It is mighty hard for a boss to run his business as his help think it ought to be done.
“News has been received here today from Chicago that the wireless stations at Ludington and Frankfort will close Thursday as the result of naval retrenchments.
“Have you sent your 50-word essay on ‘Reputation’ to the manager of the Lyric theatre yet? If you want to get four free tickets for any performance of Priscilla Dean’s latest big picture, ‘Reputation,’ you must hurry, as the contest will close tomorrow morning.
“Manager Otto Lauer announces that the summer schedule for the Lyric has been abandoned and the showhouse will be open tonight on its schedule of performances every evening … .
“An Italian, with ‘da monk’ and a grind organ, evidently migrating south with the birds of passage, added to the attractions of the shopping district Saturday night. Even though the music box was wheezy and the monkey not very peppy, children enjoyed the novelty and Guiseppe or Peitro or whatever his owner’s name is took in a fair harvest of small coins.
Aug. 30, pg. 1
“CHICAGO, Aug. 30 — Federal investigation of the Ku Klux Klan was started today by John C. Clinnin, assistant U. S. district attorney.
“Clinnin’s action started following receipt of numerous complaints against organization of the new ‘invisible empire,’ he said.
“‘I don’t wish to pass any reflection upon the organization or its leadership,’ Clinnin said … ’but I have had numerous complaints … If I find anything wrong I will lay the whole thing before a grand jury and ask indictments.’
“LANSING, Aug. 30 — ‘Death was due to heart disease.’
“More than one tenth of all deaths which occur in Michigan are explained by this phrase … according to the state department of public health …
“‘Organic heart disease annually claims nearly twice as many victims as either tuberculosis or pneumonia,’ says Dr. R. M. Olin, commissioner of health, ‘and yet many of the deaths from this cause are undoubtedly preventable or postponable.
“Intemperance is the greatest contributory cause to acute heart disease—intemperance in eating, drinking, working, playing—excess, in fact, along any line. Many of the communicable diseases and even minor infections against which physicians and public health workers are urging prevention when neglected and ignored, lead to this most common cause of death.’
“Inasmuch as only three persons submitted essays on ‘Reputation,’ Manager Otto Lauer of the Lyric has rewarded all of them by forwarding four tickets to each, good for the performance of Priscilla Dean’s super-picture, ‘Reputation,’ tomorrow night …
“The (entry) by Miss Marie Anderson, 603 Maple St. … was the best for clearness and pointedness of thought:
“‘Your character is your own, but your reputation belongs to anybody who cares to gossip about you. Commit a single error, and the world’s estimation of you is that you are bad—even though your life may otherwise be full of laudable acts. Show the world your good side and you have a “rep,” but let any of your weaknesses be known and you’re labelled “bad.” Reputation is merely an estimation of one’s true self by the world in general.’
Pg. 2
“(Ad.) Mother! Be careful! Unless you stop at once we are both ruined! … ’Reputation.’ TODAY AND TOMORROW … STUART PATON’S Great Drama of WOMAN AGAINST WOMAN … Starring PRISCILLA DEAN … The Most Dynamic Personallity Appearing on the Silver Sheet … Better Than ‘Outside the Law.’ (At the) Lyric.
Pg. 3
“An enterprise in Manistee which those who watch the industrial advancement of the city must give serious consideration is the business of bean snipping. Though this enterprise, like the resort season, is of only short duration, it leaves at its close a fine sum in the pocketbooks of many Manistee county people. City people alone … engaged in the snipping of beans number more than 200 … Between five and six tons of beans (are) snipped daily by the W. R. Roach company.
“Bean snippers are paid two cents a pound. The average wage is $2 a day.
“An interesting thing about the local (Roach snipping) station is the fine order maintained. In spite of the fact 150 women are gathered in one place, there is no loud talking or throwing around of beans. In fact, the place is as quiet as a schoolroom.
“Local fishermen are taking their last crack at the trout streams as the season officially ends on Sept. 1, at midnight …
“Notices have been posted in express offices and other shipping points that brook trout cannot be shipped … but must be carried as hand luggage and open for inspection … according to the game laws … designed to prevent fishermen from shipping trout to their homes and then taking their legal limit with them as hand baggage.
“Don’t expect to find a groom like the collar ads—or a bride like the corset ads!
“Only three months to pay last Christmas’ debts.
“August is on its last legs … .
“As Noah Heap puts it: The reason so few men are there with the goods is because they have no goods to be there with.
Aug. 31, pg. 1
“With a majority of the attorneys of the city acting as counsel for one or other of three angles, the examination in the case of Lauritz A. Larson and Charles W. Beattie in connection with the sale of the Bank of Copemish in 1918 bids fair to resolve itself into a bitter legal battle with many ramifications, and if half the number of witnesses subpoenaed were called to the stand, a very long drawn-out hearing.
“The village of Copemish and surrounding country was largely represented at the opening of the hearing, as the impressive array of legal talent mobilized for the attack and defense.
Pg. 3
“Announcement is made by G. N. Kelley, general manager of the Proslate Panel Buildings, Inc., of which the Noud Pro-Slate Building company is a member, that arrangements have just been completed under which the control of this corporation which was formerly held in the east has been taken over by a group of western manufacturers of which Ben D. Noud, of Manistee, is a leading figure. This corporation operates a chain of licensed manufacturing plants producing the pro-slate factory-made sectional buildings. Since the beginning of manufacture of these buildings two years ago, the chain of plants and the agency connections now cover the entire United States.
“This corporation under the new control will continue to develop the sectional building field and will continue the same aggressive sales and advertising policy.
“All Manistee and the surrounding countryside is invited by the resort committee tomorrow night to the last pavement dance of the season.
“It is desired that a record crowd take advantage of this last opportunity as the climax to a very successful series.
“Members of the resort committee … estimate that the attendance this year totaled all of 30,000 … Visitors from nearly every state in the Union were among the merry-makers, and it is obvious that they carried back to their home towns a fine impression of the city’s hospitality.
“Now come on, you September Morn.
“Liberty bonds are becoming more valuable; so is liberty.
“No matter how it is on the question of living, Manistee porch hounds and veranda wrens have proven that two can sit as closely as one.
“One probable reason for fewer payroll robberies is because so many payrolls have stopped.
“As Noah Heap puts it: A feller don’t know what trouble lies ahead of him when he begins to fool with a carburetor or a girl.
Sept. 1, pg. 1
“Taking cognizance of the local transportation situation created when the Manistee Railway company ceased operation of its cars the board of directors of the board of commerce named a special committee yesterday afternoon to ascertain whether street railway operations could not be resumed and if not, what service shall be instituted to replace the trolley. The matter was brought up … by Director P. P. Schnorbach …
“‘The impression has gone forth,’ Mr. Schnorbach stated, ‘that the manufacturers of this city are indifferent whether we have any street railway service in Manistee or not. I for one refuse to be the goat … I believe a committee should be appointed to go over the books of the company and see whether (company statements) are correct. If they are and we cannot find some way … to get service … I believe that we should see to it that the people of Manistee get some other service.’
“Other directors expressed the opinion that a properly operated jitney bus service with a five or $0.06 fare, running on schedule, would be the best solution …
“Manager Kressler, when informed of the appointment of the committee, stated that his books were open to inspection and that he would be glad to have the committee go over them.
“Sunday of this week will be a Memorial Day for Manistee. Two of the city’s sons who were killed in the World War and whose bodies are returning home will be buried here Sunday afternoon. They are Lt. Harold King and Corp. Edwin J. Larsen.
“The bodies will be met … by an escort of ex-soldiers … Those in charge of the funeral services Sunday … request that all flags be displayed at half-mast during the afternoon … .Lt. King was fatally wounded Oct. 10, 1918, by a bullet of a sniper … Corp. Larsen … was killed in an engagement in Belleu Wood (on June 6 or 7, 1918) which marked the beginning of the end for Germany.
“How five well-to-do farmers, regarded as highly competent in their own vocation, were induced not only to invest $1,000 each in the banking business, of which they confessedly knew nothing, but also to imperil and eventually lose their lifetime savings in meeting liabilities which went with their purchase, was further divulged in the continuation of the hearing on the cases against Lauritz A. Larson, former president, and Charles W. Beattie, former cashier, of the defunct Bank of Copemish on the charge of obtaining money under false pretenses.
“Both respondents were bound over this morning for trial at next term of circuit court … Bond in the sum of $10,000 was required and furnished for Larson, and $2,000 for Beattie.
Pg. 3
“The charter revision commission at its meeting last night completed its list of tentative changes in the present draft, and instructed City Clerk Graves to prepare the revised charter for second reading and consideration.
“The work of drafting the proposed revisions will occupy the clerk for some time. Upon its completion the commission will resume its sessions and take up the document article by article and section by section, either adopting them or subjecting them to further trimming up … .
“Prin. S. H. Lyttle of the high school is anxious to get school work under way promptly after the new term opens Tuesday morning, and in order to accomplish this purpose he requests that freshmen enroll with him tomorrow, Saturday and Monday and arrange their studies at that time. In explaining the work of the term he says:
“‘Each student is to carry four studies … (the general course) is recommended to all students who have not definitely planned to take the commercial course or who will not be able to go on to college.’
“Following are the freshman studies: physical geography, typewriting and penmanship, domestic art and science, manual training (wood and metal work), English, algebra, Latin and art. In the general course the student takes English and elects three … .
“Many workmen who were pitying themselves as ‘wage slaves’ a year or two ago are now looking for a chance to slave.
“The saying that ‘a man is never too old to learn’ should be changed to ‘a man is never too old to look,’ says a member of the local police force, who declares that a lot of elderly ‘sightseers’ infest the windiest corners nowadays.
“If women really do develop beards, as scientists claim they will, we’re liable at last to get somebody in the chair that can out-talk the barber. And the cultivation of burnsides ought to put an end to this cheek-to-cheek dancing.
“Did you September Morn? The water was fine.
“The railroads will never forgive Henry Ford for showing them how to make money in their business.
“Willie’s brow is furrowed with care. He is trying to figure out how such a long vacation could be so short, after all.
“SPECIAL AT OUR FOUNTAIN … Hawaiian Pineapple Ice Cream … TRY A CANTALOUPE SUNDAE With Our Special Ice Cream—$0.20. City Drug Store.
“The summer school vacation is drawing to a close and in a few days the schoolboy and schoolgirl will be dragging themselves back to their studies. Schools will officially open on Tuesday morning, Sept. 6.
“School children have no complaint to make against this summer’s vacation. For those who find their enjoyment in the woods and water, the weather was ideal. A number of the more industrious were busy at odd jobs, and those whose fathers’ and mothers’ pocketbooks are well filled availed themselves of the privilege to visit other towns.
“On Tuesday morning at 7:55 the first peal of the Central school bell will again be heard.
Aug. 27, pg. 4
“(Editorial) Quite a number of Manisteeans, after riding on streetcars for years and cussing the service, now have the alternative of walking and cussing the lack of it.
“Long-threatened suspension of the service yesterday put a city accustomed to surface transportation to considerable inconvenience, and worked a hardship to something over 200 regular patrons. It is a distressing dilemma such as confronts a number of cities several times Manistee’s size …
“Accepting the company’s statement that an average of 499 passengers have been transported daily in recent months, it can readily be figured out that if the cash fare of $0.10 were collected in each case the company’s revenues would be but $49.90 per day, (which) would hardly make it profitable to keep in employment a force of five men and maintain the two cars and half-dozen miles of track which comprise the equipment of the Manistee Railway company.
“On the presumption that most of the fares rode each way, that would indicate about 245 persons dependent upon the streetcars for their daily transportation, and to them the streetcar line was an essential necessity. But what city could, in all honesty, hope to support a trolley system on that number of patrons?
“Several industrial plants of the city are hardest hit, but when they were invited to present arguments to the council at the time the proposition to operate the line municipally was under consideration but two employers were present, neither of whom was willing to recommend city operation.
“Naturally, Manistee will miss the streetcar service considerably—mainly because she has so long been accustomed to it. Working people who live considerable distances from their place of employment will have to devise other means of transportation or get an earlier start and hike. Such a situation could not arise in any neighboring cities of Manistee’s relative rank, for the simple reason that they have never had the benefit of streetcar service. Although some of the towns sprawl over as much ground as Manistee, Traverse City, Cadillac and Ludington have each of them hundreds of residents who have never even seen a streetcar. To them any place in their city is ‘walking distance,’ because it has to be. So, apparently, it has to be in Manistee.
“But the streetcar company does not contemplate taking up its tracks. And though the company is flat broke, there is hope that changed conditions may ultimately restore the service.”


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