Happy Birthday, Dianna Ross!

Diana Ross, 1976 by Motown Records

Diana Ross, 1976 by Motown Records/Wikimedia Commons

Today is the birthday of Detroit-born Motown singer, actress, record producer, and all around legend Diana Ross. The Black PR Wire Power news release in honor of her birthday says:

Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Ross rose to fame as the lead singer of the vocal group, The Supremes, who during the 1960s became Motown’s most successful act, and are the best-charting female group in US history, as well as one of the world’s best-selling girl groups of all time. The group released a record-setting twelve number one hit singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, including “Where Did Our Love Go”, “Baby Love”, “Come See About Me”, “Stop! In the Name of Love”, “You Can’t Hurry Love”, “You Keep Me Hangin’ On”, “Love Child”, and “Someday We’ll Be Together”.

Following her departure from the Supremes in 1970, Ross released her eponymous debut solo album that same year, featuring the No. 1 Pop hit “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough.” She later released the album “Touch Me in the Morning” in 1973; its title track was her second solo No. 1 hit. She continued a successful solo career through the 1970s, which included hit albums like Mahogany and Diana Ross and their No. 1 hit singles, “Theme from Mahogany” and “Love Hangover”, respectively. Her 1980 album “Diana” produced another No. 1 single, “Upside Down”, as well as the international hit “I’m Coming Out.” Her final single with Motown during her initial run with the company achieved her sixth and final U.S. number one Pop hit, the duet “Endless Love” featuring Lionel Richie, whose solo career was launched with its success.

Ross has also ventured into acting, with a Golden Globe Award-winning and Academy Award–nominated performance in the film “Lady Sings the Blues” (1972); she recorded its soundtrack, which became a number one hit. She also starred in two other feature films, “Mahogany” (1975) and “The Wiz” (1978), later acting in the television films “Out of Darkness” (1994), for which she also was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, and Double Platinum (1999).

She is the only female artist to have number one singles as a solo artist; as the other half of a duet (Lionel Richie); as a member of a trio; and as an ensemble member (We are the World-USA for Africa). In 1976, Ross was named the “Female Entertainer of the Century” by Billboard magazine. In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared her the most successful female music artist in history, due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts, with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. She had a top 10 UK hit in every one of the last five decades, and sang lead on a top 75 hit single at least once every year from 1964 to 1996 in the UK, a period of 33 consecutive years and a record for any performer.

In 1988, Ross was inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Supremes, alongside Mary Wilson and Florence Ballard. She was the recipient of the Kennedy Center Honors in 2007, the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Dig into the Supremes at Motown Museum!

Window Cake

Window Cake by Peter Kelly

Window Cake by Peter Kelly

For some of us, social distancing has been a thing for weeks, but with Governor Whitmer’s executive order yesterday restricting non-essential travel, a lot more of us will be making window cake for the next three weeks. Stay safe everyone!

You can see more in Peter’s The Henry Ford set on Flickr & see lots more portraits on Michigan in Pictures.

Wildfire in the Sky

Sleeping Bear Bay Northern Lights, photo by Kenneth Snyder

Here’s a feature via Leelanau.com

A Conflagration of Storms from his online book The 23rd Cycle, Dr. Sten Odenwald tells of the evening of March 13, 1989 when a massive wave of solar energy struck our atmosphere, creating one of the most impressive northern lights displays of the modern era.

Alaskan and Scandinavian observers were treated to a spectacular auroral display that night. Intense colors from the rare Great Aurora painted the skies around the world in vivid shapes that moved like legendary dragons. Ghostly celestial armies battled from sunset to midnight. Newspapers that reported this event considered the aurora, itself, to be the most newsworthy aspect of the storm. Seen as far south as Florida and Cuba, the vast majority of people in the Northern Hemisphere had never seen such a spectacle. Some even worried that a nuclear first-strike might be in progress.

Luke Pontin, a charter boat operator in the Florida Keys, described the colors in reddish hues as they reflected from the warm Caribbean waters. In Salt Lake City, Raymond Niesporek nearly lost his fish while starring transfixed at the northern display. He had no idea what it was until he returned home and heard about the rare aurora over Utah from the evening news. Although most of the Midwest was clouded over, in Austin Texas, Meteorologist Rich Knight at KXAN had to deal with hundreds of callers asking about what they were seeing. The first thing on many people’s mind was the Space Shuttle Discovery (STS29) which had been launched on March 13 at 9:57 AM. Had it exploded? Was it coming apart and raining down over the Earth? Millions marveled at the beautiful celestial spectacle, and solar physicists delighted in the new data it brought to them, but many more were not so happy about it.

Silently, the storm had impacted the magnetic field of the Earth and caused a powerful jet stream of current to flow 1000 miles above the ground. Like a drunken serpent, its coils gyrated and swooped downwards in latitude, deep into North America. As midnight came and went, invisible electromagnetic forces were staging their own pitched battle in a vast arena bounded by the sky above and the rocky subterranean reaches of the Earth. A river of charged particles and electrons in the ionosphere flowed from west to east, inducing powerful electrical currents in the ground that surged into many natural nooks and crannies. There, beneath the surface, natural rock resistance murdered them quietly in the night. Nature has its own effective defenses for these currents, but human technology was not so fortunate on this particular night. The currents eventually found harbor in the electrical systems of Great Britain, the United States and Canada.

Read on for much more about how our electrical grid can be brought to its knees by the power behind the beauty of the northern lights and get much more in the 23rd Cycle.

Kenneth took this photo back in July of 2012. See more great pics in his Sleeping Bear Dunes album & also check out many more northern lights photos in the Leelanau.com group on Flickr!

The Christmas Tree Ships

an oldie but a goodie for #TBT!

elsie-schuenemann-christmas-tree-ship

Above is a portrait of Elsie Schuenemann at the wheel of the Christmas Ship, near the Clark Street Bridge on the Chicago River in the Loop community area of Chicago, Illinois. The boat carried Christmas trees to Chicago from Michigan. Her father, Captain H. Schuenemann, died when the Rouse Simmons, a ship carrying Christmas trees, sank in 1912.

The trees behind her likely came from the woods of Escanaba. Though the story of Barbara Schuenemann and her three daughters carrying on the tradition of the Christmas Tree Ships has perhaps been a little over-romanticized, there can be little doubt that the Schuenemann family and the many others who participated in the difficult trade of hauling Christmas trees south as the storms of winter closed in were heroes cut from a cloth that isn’t found too often today.

If you’d like to read more about all the Christmas tree ships (there were many more than just the famous Rouse Simmons) I recommend Christmas Tree Ships from Fred Neuschel. He has also written a book called Lives and Legends of the Christmas Tree Ships (available from UM Press). The National Archive also has The Christmas Tree Ship: Captain Herman E. Schuenemann and the Schooner Rouse Simmons that details the Schuenemann’s story.

You can also see Rich Evenhouse’s cool video of diving the Rouse Simmons.

Walking on the Moon: The Apollo Capsule in Grand Rapids

Now That Was Just Weird by Daniel E Johnson

July 20th is 49th anniversary of our first steps on the moon. The Mix 95.7 Grand Rapids tells the story of the Apollo capsule in front of the Grand Rapids Public Museum:

It turns out that the capsule is an actual Apollo Capsule, but it wasn’t a capsule that sat atop an Apollo Rocket. The capsule was made for training astronauts. But don’t let that news get you down, the capsule still has quite the history to it!

This type of capsule is known as a “Boilerplate” … built, along with dozens of other capsules, in the 1960s to test various systems on the Apollo Rockets. 

BP-1227 was lost at sea in early 1970 during a routine training drill to recover the Apollo boilerplate capsule by UK-based naval units. Later that same year, the capsule that was lost was miraculously recovered by a Russian “fishing vessel.” Many believe that the fishing vessel was actually a spy boat that was tracking the capsule as part of an intelligence operation.

The capsule was taken back to Russia and in late 1970 the Russians invited the Americans to recover their capsule. On September 8th, 1970 the US Navy Icebreaker, Southwind, made a stop in Murmansk to recover BP-1227. This was the first visit to a Soviet port by a US military vessel since World War II.

After the capsule was returned, the Smithsonian Institution spent the next several years restoring BP-1227 before it was eventually given on loan to the City of Grand Rapids in 1976. The boilerplate capsule was dedicated to the people of Grand Rapids on December 31, 1976. Students from local high schools filled BP-1227 with everyday items from their lives to form a time capsule. The time capsule was sealed on the last day of our nation’s Bicentennial year and it is to be opened on July 4th, 2076, as our nation celebrates its Tricentennial.

Read on for more. About the photo, Daniel wrote: We had a huge, odd cloud float over Grand Rapids today. Wednesday October 1st, 2008. HDR from one exposure shot in raw and split out three times , re-compiled in Photomatix.

See more in his HDR gallery.

Happy 131st Birthday to Michigan’s Best Porch!

Mackinac Bridge from the Grand Porch, photo by Marilyn Bogle

Happy 131st Birthday to The Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island which opened on July 10, 1887. Here’s some historical highlights about Michigan’s most iconic hotel:

1887 Grand Hotel opens, billed as a summer retreat for vacationers who arrive by lake steamer from Chicago, Erie, Montreal, Detroit, and by rail from across the continent. Rates are $3 to $5 a night.

1890s Grand Hotel’s Front Porch – longest in the world—becomes the principal meeting place for all of Mackinac Island, as well as a promenade for the elderly and a “Flirtation Walk” for island romantics. Grand Hotel Manager James “The Comet” Hayes invites an agent of Edison Phonograph to conduct regular demonstrations of the new invention.

1895 Mark Twain lectures in the Grand Hotel Casino. Admission: $1.

1897 The West Wing is added to the hotel.

Turn of the century – The automobile finds its way onto the island. Grand Hotel supports an island-wide ban. A law is passed, but not strictly enforced until the 1930s.

1919 Hotel rates: $6 a day per person.

1935 A radio salon where patrons can listen to Jack Benny and other popular programs is added.

1947 This Time For Keeps starring Jimmy Durante and Esther Williams is filmed on the island and at Grand Hotel.

1960 Grand Hotel owner W. Stewart Woodfill appoints R.D. (Dan) Musser president of Grand Hotel.

1976 Musser and wife Amelia begin the redesign of the hotel’s interior and exterior with the help of architect Richard Bos and decorator Carleton Varney.

1979 The Mussers purchase Grand Hotel.

1980 Somewhere In Time, filmed at Grand Hotel and starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer, is released.

1989 The U.S. Department of Interior designates Grand Hotel a National Historic Landmark.

View Marilyn’s photo background bigilicious and see more in her Mackinac album.

More Grand Hotel and more Mackinac Island on Michigan in Pictures!

House Drop: L Frank Baum, Oz & Michigan

The house began to pitch… by Cherie

“Oh rubbish, you have no power here. Be gone before someone drops a house on you.”
– Glinda the Good

On May 15, 1856, L Frank Baum was born. 44 years and 2 days later, he published the first of my personal favorite series of books and one of the most beloved children’s books of all time, The Wizard of Oz. While I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a gateway to the Land of Oz hidden somewhere in Michigan, I have no doubt that the magic & wonder of the Oz owes a lot to the time that the Goose Man of Macatawa spent in Michigan!

I’m not sure if there’s a wicked witch under this house, but you can check it out background big and see more in Cherie’s Rural Exploration album.