Sunday, December 9, 2012

Menominee Photo Tour, Part One

In Menominee’s downtown historic district (1890’s)

Dear George,
From the time Katja and I were first married (and even before) we made annual visits to my hometown of Menominee, Mich., to get together with my parents and siblings.  When our son J came of age, I’d take him on a car tour around town and show him the places where I’d grown up.  By the time J reached his teens he‘d gotten that tour at least a dozen times, and he could practically recite it verbatim.  Though our visits to Menominee aren’t as regular these days, I still enjoy making the rounds.  On our recent trip in late summer I spent some time each day taking photos of local landmarks.  Here’s how my annual tour used to go.

 St. Joseph-Lloyd Hospital (former)

All the kids in our family were born in the St. Joseph-Lloyd Hospital, brought into the world by Dr. Sethney.  Nowadays I don’t remember my mother ever being pregnant or any of my siblings being born, even though I was eight years old for Peter’s birth, ten for Vicki’s.  The only time I remember visiting the hospital was when my brother Steve fell out of the oak tree during an acorn fight and broke his arm.  Some years ago the local hospitals consolidated, and St. Joseph-Lloyd is now a retirement home.

Dr. Sethney’s Office and House

Dr. Sethney had his office in his home, right next door to the drugstore on Sheridan Road.  He made house calls in emergencies, but we’d go to the office for more routine care.  The most frequent reason was shots.  They didn’t have measles or mump shots back then.  I think tetanus was the main thing.  The needles were huge, and they left you with a red welt that hurt for the next few days.   

Our family home on Ogden Avenue

This was our first apartment.  My mom was 27 and my dad was 29 when I was born.  It was the midst of the Great Depression.  We lived on the second floor of this wood frame house on Ogden Ave. near the foot of the Interstate Bridge.  Sally F. lived on the first floor with her parents.  Sally and I were one another’s earliest playmates and walked together each day to kindergarten at Boswell School. 

The Tourist Information Lodge

We were a half block away from the Tourist Information Lodge which featured the longest hill in Menominee (maybe twenty yards high).  My mom and Sally’s mom would take us there in the winter for sledding.  It’s the most hair-raising thing I remember from early childhood.  The log cabin burned down sometime after I left for college, but they rebuilt it to be exactly the same.    

Our house on Sheridan Road

In 1943 I entered first grade, and we moved to Sheridan Road (now First St.) which ran along the bay.  Menominee was relatively danger-free, and we were allowed the run of the neighborhood.  We swam in the bay, played cops and robbers in the back yards, and shot pool at the D.A.R. Boys’ Club.  My neighborhood friends included Skipper B., Frank and Mary S., Sam W., Darl S., Dooley W., and Jimmy J.   

Triangle Park

Triangle Park was at the north end of State St., one block west of Sheridan Road.  It was our best neighborhood location for playing softball and touch football, though an errant ball could wind up on Highway 41. 

Lloyd Manufacturing Company

Menominee is a manufacturing town, and the Lloyd Co. has been one of the major local firms for many years.  The Lloyd plant is on Highway 41, heading north toward the city limits.  They make wicker and aluminum furniture.  Its founder, Marshall Burns Lloyd, invented a wicker weaving process in the 1910’s that revolutionized the industry. 

Electric Square, looking south on Sheridan Road (now First Street)

Electric Square is at the heart of Menominee’s business district, with stores and offices located to the south on Sheridan Road and to the east on Ogden Avenue.  I think it was named Electric Square because it was the first place in the twin cities to get electric lights on the street.  Washington Grade School was a half block away.  The magnificent First National Bank building, now sadly vacant, is on the southeast corner (at the left of the photo).  

The Menominee Drugstore

My grandfather’s Menominee Rexall Drugstore was located on Electric Square kitty-corner to the bank and the breakwater.  My Uncle Kent was the head pharmacist there during my childhood, and I was eternally grateful to him for allowing me to come in and read comic books off the rack whenever I wanted.  After our family had moved out to the river, Steve and I ate our lunch in Uncle Kent’s drug store office every school day, an arrangement that became storied in family history because of Steve’s throwing all of his bread crusts behind Kent’s desk and eventually attracting a large population of rats.    

Cooney’s Gas Station (former)

Cooney’s Standard Oil Station was next door to the drug store, and my dad had a running account there, which meant that I could pull in and get gas “for free” once I started driving.  My high school friends were bitter about my good luck.  The gas station attendants never checked the oil level on our family car, and the engine eventually burned out (much to my father’s dismay).    

Ogden Avenue

Ogden Ave. (now 10th Ave.) runs from the Green Bay shore to the town’s west end and is one of Menominee’s main thoroughfares.  When we turned 16 we spent a lot of nights driving up and down the strip, as well as cruising through Marinette.  A friend of my dad’s told him that he’d seen me drag-racing on Ogden Ave.  My dad was initially upset, but, when I explained that I had to do that as a male teenager in Menominee, he became more accepting.

The Ogden Club

There were lots of taverns in Menominee and Marinette, and the Ogden Club was a local favorite.  Kids were allowed in with their parents, so we’d sometimes get to fraternize with the grown-ups while they drank Silver Cream beer and talked about the Packers.  Once we reached young adulthood, the Ogden Club was one of my brother Steven’s favorite hangouts.  I wasn’t as much of a barfly myself, though I’ve made efforts to improve.  

Stan’s Barber Shop

I’d swear that this barber shop was named Stan’s back when I was a teenager, but maybe my memory is playing tricks on me.  I always felt uncomfortable getting a haircut because of the felt necessity of conversing with the barber.  However, Stan always took care of that by carrying on the entire conversation by himself.  

The Menominee Marina and breakwater

Menominee was and is a big boating town.  Several of our family friends, namely the O’Haras and the Caleys, owned power boats which they moored at the Menominee Marina, and occasionally the kids would get to go on trips across the Bay to Door County.  I was a dismal sailor – 100% prone to seasickness.

Marina Park and beach

Menominee’s Marina Park on the Green Bay Shore featured a good swimming beach and a bandstand which was/is the site of regular summer musical concerts and community events.  It’s now the location of the annual Waterfront Festival in early August.  Our teenage gang would get together there on the lawn, laying on blankets, working on suntans, and listening to Doris Day and Bing Crosby on a battery-operated radio.    

The Spies Public Library

My dad had great reverence for the public library and served as one of its trustees for years.  Our grade school was a block away, and our classes made frequent trips to the library for stories, reading, and checking out books.  As adults, we always visit the library and its handsome interior when we come to Menominee.   

The Lloyd Building

The Lloyd Building was Menominee’s largest.  In my childhood there was an A&P grocery store in the basement.  I was impressed by the very thought of being in an “Atlantic and Pacific” store.  Montgomery Ward, the town’s major department store, was on the first floor -- a frequent site for clothes shopping.  The Lloyd Theater was in the rear of the building, and I spent many happy hours there at kids’ matinees.  I saw my first night-time movie at the Lloyd – “Meet Me in St. Louis” with Margaret O’Brien.  

The American Legion

The American Legion was booming in the years following the war.  My dad was belonged to the Legion, but it was my Uncle Kent who was the most active participant from our family, becoming the local commander and then being elected the Michigan State Commander.

So those are some of the highlights of Menominee’s downtown area.  There’s lots more to see, but I’ll save that for another occasion.

G-mail Comments
-Gayle C-L (12-9): David,  OMG  talk about memory lane :). Pretty Good'
Really Good. My oh my how the world turns :)  Thx for the memories
Lots of love:).   G


  1. My best friend is renting the second floor of your childhood home. I could talk to him if you're interested in seeing it!

    1. Thank you for your thoughtful offer. I was such a little kid that I wouldn't have any recollection of the interior. Also it will be a while before I'm next in Menominee. I do appreciate your invitation. DL