Warm Weather Now & Then

This weather has been freaking me out. People are running around in shorts going “Wheeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!” when they KNOW it’s not right. Some things in nature just are not right. If it were bright and sunny at 2:00 in the morning, you would not be running around going “Wheeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!”; you would be running around yelling “Holy God shit fuck we are all going to die!”

Okay, it’s not the same thing, exactly. But the fact that I had a Hawaiian shirt and light sweater on at school today is freaky to me.

When I get freaked out by the present, it sometimes helps me to look towards the past. I found a handful of reports of unseasonable warm weather in Ann Arbor from back in the day!

  • 1878 reported buds were opening
  • 1897 a clothier was practically giving its coats away because it was so warm in December
  • 1880 said that there was some weird shit going down with the bees, because of warm weather in January and February
  • 1886 had another clothier begging us to buy coats even though it was very warm in January
  • 1876 reported 70 degrees on Christmas and 64 on New Year’s Day

So maybe it’s not as scary as bright sun  in the middle of the night. And maybe this has all happened before. It still isn’t quite right to me….

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Tom Thumb Came to Ann Arbor in 1861

Well knock me on the ass and call me Sally! Ann Arbor hosted Tom Thumb in 1861! At the cool looking Hangsterfer’s Hall (SW corner at Main and Washington). He was going to ride in his miniature carriage from Huron and Main. That’s freaking awesome. You do you, old timey Ann Arbor!

Other exciting things happening in 1861:

  • A dude got a card maker and was selling Cards! Cards!! Cards!!!
  • The Argus wanted its money. It was not playing anymore. It didn’t actually come out and say “bitch betta have my money”, but that’s what it was thinking.

See the pictures and fun at @TreeTownPatti

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How Great Are Dogs?

I seriously have not stopped smiling…this is a great story about a dog who, in 1954, “helped” deliver the mail!

Click here for the pictures! Or go to @TreeTownPatti for higher quality pictures and cute, Twitter witticisms.

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Today in Ann Arbor….

Well, today 155 years ago in Ann Arbor, was our county fair!

Join the fun and historical tidbits at my Twitter account! @TreeTownPatti

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Labor Day in Old Ann Arbor

This week’s tweets at @TreeTownPatti tell of:

  • When Labor Day was in May
  • Elks’ outing to Jackson
  • Parade in Detroit
  • Students and “freeks” coming to the Dope Capital of the Midwest

And more at @TreeTownPatti!

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Back to School!

This week’s tweets focused on back to school, mostly in the recent past.

Some highlights:

  • Saline didn’t like the “long hairs”
  • 1MB of RAM for just $1,250 in 1989
  • 1975 Ann Arborites bitching about the urban sprawl in general and the new McDonald’s specifically
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Memorial Day, and Other Tidbits from 1880

I was lucky enough to do several speaking engagements regarding my book. (Oh, what’s that? Another one is coming up? Yes, yes it is! Please come if you can!) People have asked me what was my favorite discovery in my research. Without it doubt, it was discovering that this thing we call social media–the public sharing of our private information–is NOT NEW. It’s been around for a long, long time, and we can even read about it in our old Ann Arbor papers.

For example, our May 21, 1880 Ann Arbor Courier has a section called LOCAL. And it is what is purports to be–local stuff. For instance ~

Memorial Day was coming up on May 30th that year, and Ann Arbor planned to celebrate. Company A (in my book!) would be led by the city band (possibly Otto’s Band? also in my book!), along with city officials, clergy and citizens would march around the town. Starting at the courthouse square (OH MY GOD DO I WISH WE STILL HAD A COURTHOUSE SQUARE! I have to get over my irrational anger about this. I will, one day), they will march to the fifth ward, get decorated by the ladies decoration society, and then decorate the soldiers’ memorial at the cemetery, and then hear some speeches.We have a July 4th parade downtown, and I do wish we still had a Memorial Day parade.


  • There’s a new sprinkler on Huron Street (honestly, I had no idea that they had sprinklers back then. I hope kids ran through them like I used to in the 70s)
  • Mr. Gwinler is hosting the “Olympia”. There is nothing else said about it, but the use of the quotes makes me wonder exactly what Mr. G was up to.
  • The evening train now leaves at 9:55 instead of 9:38 (I can see and hear the train from my house…it runs a lot more than just 9:55, I promise you)
  • Alderman Mathewson is repairing his house. I can’t imagine our city council (many of whom I count as friends) skipping merrily to the news to share that they are fixing their houses, but maybe he was putting on some super fly addition?
  • Several bicyclists rode to Ypsi and back last Sunday. The paper says that this “animal” seems to be a favorite one for Sunday riding. So…is the bike the “animal” in question? Were there other animals that people rode on other days? I don’t get that.
  • The Grand Rapids review called the Courier the ablest paper in the state. Our friends replied that their “face was diffused with blushes”. Cute!
  • The Ann Arbor City Band owes $165 for instruments
  • Just in case we think it was all fun and games and blushing faces, there was a bit about a 15 year old “tramp” who was trying to hop on a freight train. He slipped and fell and had to have his leg amputated. Poor kid.

In lighter news, there were some personal notes that talked about people visiting relatives, people going to Illinois to find some good horses, a guy who fell and broke his knee caps, and a new sewer system for William Street. Facebook, 1880s style!

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1860s Ann Arbor Condolences & Today

As I write this, I am up in East Lansing and on my laptop, listening to the Ann Arbor City Council meeting that is live streaming, half-listening to CNN on cable, and reading an 1860 copy of the Michigan Argus that has been digitized and placed on the internet. I am reasonably sure that our friends in 1860 would be rather perplexed at exactly what all the hell I am doing. Indeed, I would have to explain electricity, wi fi, laptops, and the fact that I am a foul-mouthed woman who votes in every election, is not wearing a bra right now, and likes to drink.

But I think they would understand this: as I was reading a particular article about the death of a friend of Ann Arbor, my friend & city councilperson Chuck Warpehoski proposed a moment of silence for a friend of the city who died from a brain tumor. They would understand this, because they did this too.

Here is what happened in 1860: Charles Slingerland was removed from us by the hand of Death, said the Council. The Argus said that the inscrutable Providence “removed him as it were by a thunderbolt and in the twinkling of an eye”. Mr. Slingerland passed in the “morning of life, in the vigor of his manhood and usefulness”. The Council offered many condolences to his family, and ordered that these be printed in the paper (which they were).

Tonight, Chuck requested a moment of silence for another friend of Ann Arbor, named John (and I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t catch the last name…alas, 21st century wifi is not perfect and his voice was going in and out). I did, however, hear that John had a brain tumor and passed away, and that he was a good person who was a friend to the city.

So what have we learned? That in 1860, we had good councilpeople who made lovely proclamations for fallen friends of the city…and we still have good councilpeople and good friends to Ann Arbor 155 years later.

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Parade Season Starts with Fool Moon and FestiFools!

Back in the day, you had to take your entertainment where you could get it. I guess that is still true, except that right now my entertainment is coming from Law & Order reruns on cable and a laptop hooked up to wi-fi. The first people who owned our little blue house in the mid-1890s couldn’t do that, and so they had to actually leave the house if they wanted entertainment.


Lookit us! We’ve left the house!!!!

We had an opera house, and there were speakers coming into town, and church activities, but the big thing were parades. (One of the first pictures in my book is of a parade coming down Main Street). We don’t have as many parades in the ol’ deuce these days, but we have some good ones. And one of my personal favorites is coming soon–FESTIFOOLS!


Rededication Parade from 1948

Here in Ann Arbor, when we talk about Ann Arbor being cool and unique and Ann Arboring, we almost always include Festifools and Fool Moon in that conversation–as we should! Festifools takes place on Sunday, April 12 at 4:00pm and will feature paper mache puppets dancing in the streets. (I am proud to say that, thanks to my friend Andrea, I will be a prancing praying mantis!). FoolMoon takes place on Friday, April 10 from dusk (parade steps off around 8pm) until midnight. This parade will feature homemade luminaries all aglow. Ken and I will be hopping around in hats with lights on them (lights!!!!!) while we show off our wedding cake luminary (sorry, you can’t eat it. Well,  you can, but it would taste like paste and tissue paper and wire).

Both events will be a blast! We will leave the house and be entertained, just like our friends in the past. I only wish that the 1890s era owners of our home were around to dance around with us!

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So, Apparently “Bride-Elect” Was a Thing…(and, two dead kids got married in 1879 but they were really in their 30s at that point so I guess it’s okay)

I’ve heard of president-elect, and vice-president-elect but…bride-elect? Seriously? Apparently so. It seems to be a thing back in the 50s….


Isn’t she adorable? And she’s the bride-elect! I wonder how she felt about being called that…or maybe it was just the thing and she didn’t think twice.


Note that Martha is in medical school (back in 1952!) I hope she got to become a doctor!

Now notice this….


This woman has a doctorate, is a professor…and becomes Mrs. George Cohen. Because fuck you, Jean Carl and all of your years of hard work to earn your MA and PhD and become a freaking PROFESSOR! Yes, I know it was the 1950s, but deep down…I have to wonder how Dr. Carl felt about this. I am Dr. Smith and I would be really unhappy to suddenly become Mrs. Kenneth Anderson (which I suppose according to 1950-land I will become on June 19th). Even just looking at that is pissing me off, so I will move on.

Okay, this is freaking awesome! Apparently, spiritual weddings were also a thing, back in the 1870s. So peep this: a baby dies at six weeks, shows back up at a seance 34 years later, and pronounced herself engaged to another dead person. And there was a wedding. And she wore green. And she wrote a letter to her dad. And they went on a honeymoon in the spirit world. And I seriously feel like I am in some sort of crazy space in my head right now.

spiritual wedding

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