2020 Still a Year of Hope
by Ed Howard
Reprinted from Society News, the newsletter of the Arcadia Area Historical Society
August 2020. Volume 26 Issue1.
This was to have been a year of special celebration at our little Victorian museum, maybe a few special exhibits or some added events... After all, it’s the 20th anniversary of our big grand opening back in July, 2000. But, of course, any exuberating plans ended with the invasion of this dreaded virus. The scheduled day came in June, and the Museum’s doors couldn’t even be opened for the season. Year twenty-twenty should have symbolized a year of clear new visions but, thus far, it’s mainly been a year of numberless closures and shut-downs.
Arcadia VFW Post 3314
Raising the Flag at the New Museum
This is how the Museum’s opening ceremonies began. Left to right: Veterans March, Lubahn, Berry, Masten, and Gilbert perform the honors.
But, rest assured, our Museum leadership and dedicated volunteers aren’t accepting this as a year of inactivity. They’re thinking, there’s no better time than down time to seriously plan the continued success of our Museum. Hindsight they say is always 2020, so, let’s first look back and determine just what created the Arcadia Area Historical Museum. What led to that eventful grand opening twenty years ago?
First in remembrance is of the overwhelming support the Museum received during those developing years. There was great excitement and anticipation. The excitement and the number of involved supporters grew as the dream progressed and the thought of having a place to preserve and present Arcadia’s own history neared reality. It was amazing that with all the hard work involved in the construction, moving, gathering, and assembling in those early days, that there was also such great satisfaction.
We’re increasingly realizing that there’s a great need to renew some of that by-gone enthusiasm. Membership support in the Arcadia Area Historical Society remains outstanding, but, through time, our cadre of dedicated volunteers has been decreasing in number. (Age and the end result of aging hasn’t helped.) There was a time when our docent chairperson, then Mrs. Gladys (Fredericks) Brown, had a list of about 80 names she could call on for docent duty. That list has shrunk to “small” and our week-end management teams often do all the docenting themselves.
We’d like to revive some of that enthusiasm and involvement that was there in November, 1994 when our old Victorian home was being transported to its new site. It was an energy that carried to and beyond that grand opening in year 2000. Back then, the Museum was the “main act” in town. The Society end-of-summer pot-luck picnic (first held at Finch Park and later the Point Arcadia Club House) was a much anticipated annual event. The picnic always ended with some positive business notes by then Historical Commission president John Paulson, notably short reports about successes in fundraising and the status of the Museum.
Back then, there was a full-blown cadre of volunteers, and the many-member Society was a mighty force. The Society’s committees (exhibits, events, building and grounds….) were fully staffed and ever active. The Society’s special activities and events were many and fun: the bus excursion to the Ramsdell Theater for munchies and a play (so well attended, then board member Virgil Schneider had to chauffer his own party separately), a 50s dance party at the White Owl on Herring Lake (couples Don and Meredith Manke and Pat and Steve Tondu tied and went overtime in the dance contest), magnificent local home tours, auctions with refreshment sales at the old Martineau Drug Store, auctions during the Point Arcadia potluck picnics, a major silent auction in the Carriage House, a major quilt show at the Trinity Lutheran Church, Ruth’s (Burkhead) regular and large book sales on Lake St. (now carried on in the Carriage House), sessions where experts appraised patrons’ antiques and rarities,---and so many other less remembered things.
Many of the attendees dressed up for the occasion.
The First Society Board
2003 Home Tour Booklet
2003 Quilt Show Booklet
The Society’s current annual event, the “Cracker Barrel” session is still very popular and well attended. These panel discussions have dealt with many topics of local historical interest, including the “Arcadia Furniture Factory,” “Country Schools,” and “Arcadia High School Sports.” They present portions of Arcadia’s history through “those who’ve been there.” Society Board members have considered expanding this “local participation” concept with, perhaps, story-telling contests, delivery of famous speeches—or imaginary speeches delivered by Arcadia’s early leaders, or just talks by knowledgeable citizens on topics pertinent to Arcadia. Another endeavor long desired by the Board and the Historical Commission is developing a means of connecting with young people and introducing local history into our schools. This would, of course, require programs and knowledgeable personnel.
Hope you get the idea; much more is possible in gathering and presenting area history. So, this is where we appeal to you, our Society companions. Our Museum operates totally with a volunteer staff, and the present core of volunteers is doing about all possible to maintain current levels of service. Much is in the hands of the creative few. We’d like you to join them in imagining and carrying-out the things that can be done with more participants. Out there amongst you is vast additional energy and creative thought—so many new ideas. We need that power and creativity and encourage you to join us by becoming a more active member of the Arcadia Area Historical Society.
Aiding at (or for) the Museum can be satisfying, enjoyable--and educational. History is interesting; after all, it’s about people, places, and things. You’re obviously part of Arcadia’s history already. Surrounded by local history, you might soon become one of our semi-experts on Arcadia history. You’ll surely enjoy the friendly, helpful companionship of your fellow volunteers. And, don’t hold back because you feel unprepared. In whatever area of interest you choose, there’ll be someone there to tutor you in. We want you to feel prepared, confident and comfortable. Whether it be a little or a lot, your time serving will be helpful and greatly appreciated.
Thank you for being a member of the Arcadia Area Historical Society and for considering playing an active role in our Museum’s operation.
WE REMEMBER THREE WHO HELPED ALONG THE WAY
In remembering the exciting and satisfying Museum grand opening twenty years ago, we can’t help but remember and appreciate the many lives who made it all happen. Recently, we lost three of those lives and, on this anniversary year, we’d like to recognize and remember them here:
Gordon Rockwell was the Grandson of Dr. Jamieson, Arcadia’s early and long-serving doctor. Gordon, though residing in Florida, became one of the Museum’s earliest supporters. With family, he sponsored the completion of a Museum room during the very successful room-completion program. That very successful fundraising program greatly shortened the Museum’s completion. In recent years, Gordon, a life member of our Society, had become a regular summer visitor to the Museum and a major financial supporter. We miss his welcome visits, and his enthusiasm for Arcadia. We, sadly, learned of Gordon’s passing shortly before the Museum opened last year.
Early last fall, Dick Gregory returned to his Arcadia retirement home from his original home in Bloomfield Hills. Dick and wife Ro had decided they preferred to spend their remaining life in the home they most loved, Arcadia. Dick passed away shortly thereafter. Dick and Ro had both been active members of the early Historical Society’s executive board. They were life members of the Society and had sponsored the completion of the Museum’s current “Harriet Quimby Room.” The moment the Society was formed, Dick and Ro were there in support and had remained faithfully involved thereafter.
Jerry Schroeder’s family was one of Arcadia’s earliest. In the early 90’s after a successful career in supervision with General Motors in Grand Rapids, Jerry and wife, Joyce, returned to his beloved home town. Jerry was honored to serve on the Historical Society board and was there when the Society became incorporated in 1998. Because he remembered the history, Jerry often received calls from docents on Museum duty when they were stumped by patrons’ questions. Sadly, Jerry passed away Easter Day this year.
Our Victorian House