Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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"Albion in the Twentieth Century"

Copyright 2002 by Frank Passic
Published by Arcadia Publishing
This book is INDEXED HERE WITH CORRECTIONS on-line for your convenience.

Book Cover: Automobile Repair Class, Albion High School 1931

Albion Historian Frank Passic has released his latest book entitled, “Albion in the 20th Century,” a 128-page pictorial published by Arcadia Publishing of Chicago, Illinois and Charleston, South Carolina. The book has been included as part of their “Images of America” series. Arcadia is the nation’s leading publisher of local and regional history books, and has published over 1,700 titles of local histories across the country. More information about the publisher is found on their www.arcadiapublishing.com web site.

“Albion in the 20th Century” features photographs from the personal archives of Albion Historian Frank Passic. It is a fascinating pictorial glimpse of the people, places and events that helped shape this community of 9,144 persons located in south-central lower Michigan 100 miles west of Detroit. Passic is the author of several previously-published books about Albion. “Albion in the 20th Century” features totally different images never before published in his earlier works. “These are photographs that I have collected over the past several years,” states Passic. “People will really enjoy seeing all these ‘new” historical photographs about our town that they didn’t know even existed,” he continued. Passic’s collection is also supplemented by over two dozen other images that were borrowed from generous members of the Albion community in order to enhance the content of the book. In total, the book contains 225 photographs which are amply described and identified.

One special feature available to reseachers is a 10-page “on-line” index with corrections to the book prepared by Robin James, featuring every name, business, and location mentioned and/or pictured in the book. The index is available here on the www.albionmich.com web site. “This index is a useful tool in locating various names in the book,” says Passic. “A person can easily learn about whose names are in the book, and choose to print the index on their own printer if they want to,” he continued. “We wanted to make this available to everyone as a special bonus,” he said.

The book is arranged by dual-decades beginning with 1900 up to the present. Each chapter features a variety of images designed to represent a particular era. Several unusual downtown Superior Street postcards from the 1900s and 1910s are being published for the first time. These not only show various businesses that existed at the time, but capture events of the period as well. These include the burning of the Commonwealth Power Company in 1913, the fire at the four-story Eslow Block in 1919, and a bizarre picture of 192 sheep that were killed by just two dogs in 1913.

Changes that have occurred in downtown Albion are interspersed throughout the book, such as parallel parking before 1940, the 1940 re-bricking project, and “national chain” stores of the 1960s, Photographs of the 1993 re-bricking project and the 2000 removal of bricks on W. Erie St. were personally taken by the author. Other street scenes include the “Farmer’s Market,” the original Albion Chamber of Commerce Office, the old Fire Station on W. Cass St., the Albion City Hospital, the White Mill, and others. Passic has also included a few photographs from neighboring villages such as Devereaux, Duck Lake, Eckford, and Marengo which readers will enjoy.

“Albion in the 20th Century” covers a variety of events that happened in recent years, such as the 1994 NCAA Division III national football championship of the Albion College Britons under the direction of coach Pete Schmidt, the Cardboard Classic sled race, the Albion Aglow parade, and a U.S. Census 2000 display. Photographs of recent mayors, the present City Council, school board, and the current presidents of Albion College and Starr Commonwealth are also featured.

“This is a people book,” Passic relates. “There are lots of group photographs of factory workers, officials, clubs, churches, and other organizations--all identified. Many family names will thus be represented in this book.” One special attraction will be several photographs of workers and union officials at the Albion Malleable Iron Company during the 1940s and 1950s. This main Albion employer was a big supporter of the Albion community during its heyday, and these images are a reflection of that period in Albion’s history. The founder of this firm, Warren S. Kessler (1845-1933) is pictured for the first time, as well as his step-son, Harry Parker (1871-1936) who managed the Malleable. Today it is known as Harvard Industries/Hayes-Albion. Other factories are represented, such as Service Caster and Truck Company, Longergan Manufacturing Company, Union Steel Products, and Corning Glass Works.

Much of Albion’s diverse ethnic community was connected with the Malleable, and the book also features several “west end” photographs such as the (Russian) Holy Ascension Orthodox Church, the Russian Baptist Church, the African-American Boy Scout Troop #28 scoutmaster Edward “Doc” Anderson (1903-1977), Will Curtis (1896-1930) of the American Legion Post No. 144, the Koroluk Confectionary on Austin Avenue which operated from 1927 to 1948, the “West End Market” operated by John Mymochod (1884-1961) from 1926 to 1957, Tyszko’s Grocery, Dubina’s Tavern, and others. Four soldiers who lived in Albion served as Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, and a 1943 photograph of Richard Weatherford standing next to his B-52 bomber is a highlight of the chapter covering the 1940s.

Some local sports notables are included, such as: James T. “Deacon” McGuire (1863-1936) a noted baseball catcher who played for the Detroit Tigers; Ralph Locke, a local boxing legend who developed the Albion Amateur Boxing program, was named the Michigan Golden Gloves Outstanding Coach of the Year in 1985, and was inducted into the Michigan Amateur Sports Hall of Fame in 1976; and Ulysses Curtis, who played as a running back for the Toronto Argonauts which won the 1950 and 1952 national championship in the Canadian professional football league.

Albion has been the home of numerous persons who have achieved national and international notoriety that are included in the book. Gwen Dew (1903-1993), noted international journalist and photographer traveled around the world during the 1930s writing travelog stories for the Detroit News. She was captured in Hong Kong at the start of World War II and spent several months in a concentration camp. After her release she toured the United States, lecturing and writing about her experiences and publishing a book on the topic. Also during World War II, Colonel Joseph Duckworth (1903-1962) was the first person to purposely fly through the eye of a hurricane (1943), and is considered the “father” of modern-day instrument flying. His training manuals were used by the U.S. Air Force for many years.

Lynn Bogue Hunt (1878-1960) was one of this country’s greatest periodical wildlife artists. An 1897 graduate of Albion High School, Hunt drew wildlife scenes for the covers of national magzines such as Better Homes and Gardens, Field & Stream, and the Saturday Evening Post. He designed the 1939 Migratory Waterfowl stamp, 19 National Wildlife Federation stamps, and numerous works for Ducks Unlimited.

In the political realm, Jack Hood Vaughn (b. 1920) graduated from Albion High School in 1939. An avid boxer, Vaughn earned the Golden Gloves 1937 state championship in the featherweight open class. He went on to join the U.S. State Department in 1951. Jack was appointed as U.S. Ambassador to Panama and Columbia, and was the second director of the U.S. Peace Corps from 1966 to 1969. He later served as the president of Planned Parenthood for several years.

"Albion in the 20th Century" is available by mail from the author, with check or money order payable to: Frank Passic, 900 S. Eaton St., Albion, MI 49224. The cost is $19.99 each plus $4.50 shipping and handling. Michigan residents please add 6% sales tax. The books are also available in Albion at the Albion Chamber of Commerce at 416 S. Superior St. in downtown Albion.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Albion Historian Frank Passic writes weekly history columns in the local Albion newspapers, and is the author of several books on the topic. He is a 1975 graduate of Spring Arbor College.

Also, be sure to take a look at Frank's Albion History Books And Calhoun County Resource Materials, as well as some numismatic items Frank has for sale.

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