Remembering Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison, photo by David Brigham

I’m actually forced to write about Michigan because as a native of that state it’s the place I know best.
~Jim Harrison

I found out last night that Jim Harrison passed away. In addition to being a noted Michigan author, Jim was one of my father’s best friends and a frequent (often late-night) visitor to my house.

If you’d like to read more about Jim, I encourage you to read this fairly recent feature on Jim by Jerry Dennis on MyNorth and also this excellent feature from the New York Times.

The photo is (I’m pretty sure) by another family friend, David Brigham from the original jacket Jim’s book Dalva.

Detroit’s annual Marche du Nain Rouge

Nain Regards the Parade

The Red Dwarf regards the Parade, photo by Kate Sassak

Kate Sassak took today’s photo back in 2014 as the official photographer of the event. In a photo-packed article on her website she writes:

One of the coolest events in the City of Detroit is the Marche Du Nain Rouge. Every year, on the Sunday after the Vernal Equinox, Detroiters gather in Cass Park to say “Eff you!” to the Red Devil. The Marche is a huge Mardi Gras style party and parade with a fire breathing dragon, music and outlandish costumes. People from all over the city come together to “banish” the Nain and celebrate all the good things happening in the City of Detroit.

The Marche du Nain Rouge is an annual, symbolic celebration of the liberation of Detroit from the Nain Rouge (Red Dwarf), a supernatural imp who has purportedly plagued the city since at least its founding. The celebration takes place this Sunday (March 20, 1-3 PM) and you can get all the details and lots of great photos at from the Marche du Nain Rouge website. Also be sure to check out the story of the Nain Rouge on Absolute Michigan.

See more more in Kate’s Marche du Nain Rouge photo gallery and stay tuned as she is once again photographing in 2016! Definitely follow both Kate Sassak Photography and the Marche du Nain Rouge on Facebook for the latest.

Pint Sized Leprechaun

Pint Sized Leprechaun

Pint Sized Leprechaun, photo by Danielle Ericks

Luck is believing you’re lucky.
~Tennessee Williams

My St. Patrick’s Day wishes are that my Michigan State Spartans prove they should have been a #1 seed all along (Go Green!), that the Michigan Wolverines show they’re not the only ballers in the Great Lakes State by defeating Notre Dame (Go Blue!), and that luck makes itself a believable part of your life (Go Luck!!).

Danielle writes “This little guy was having a hard time keeping his hat on – my best shot was a little blurry so had to resort to this one.” View photo bigger than a leprechaun and see more in her Motor City slideshow.

#TBT: Marquette’s Chief Kawbawgam

Chief Kawbawgam

Chief Kawbawgam, photo via Michigan’s Past & Superior View Gallery

Michigan’s Past shares all kinds of great old photos on Twitter. This one shows Chief Kawbawgam, a Chippewa who was reportedly over 100 years old when he died in Marquette in 1903.  According to the January 1903 edition of the The Lake Superior Journal:

Charley Kaw-baw-gam’s long life was brought to a close about 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon, when the old chief passed peacefully away at St. Mary’s hospital at Marquette, where he had been lying ill for the past couple of months.

Charley was one of the best known figures in Marquette, and he enjoyed this distinction from the first day when white men began to frequent the spot where the city was to grow. Charley’s reputation was not local alone. He was known throughout the upper peninsula and even below the straits his name and fame were familiar to many people.

He was an excellent type of the original owners of the soil, and an unusually creditable specimen. He was a full blooded Chippewa and a chief by blood. What is more he was a good Indian, and he lived a good life, according to his lights.

Kaw-baw-gam was also remarked upon time and again for his great age. It is believed that he was over 100 years old at the time of his death.

In 1849 when Peter White first landed on the shores of Iron bay it is well known that the first Indian to greet him and the party of which he was a member was the same chieftain. In the same year 1849, Mr. White, in carrying on a conversation in Chippewa with Charley asked him, for the sake of having something to say, “How old are you, Bawgam?” Charley replying said: “I am fifty. I spent twenty at the Soo; twenty years on the Tonquomenon bay and ten years on the Canadian side.” If Charley spoke the truth on that occasion he was about 103 years of age when he died, and there was no reason to doubt that this was the case. The Indians of his day were a notoriously long lived race and Charley was a find Indian physically, strong, tireless and healthy. Furthermore his countenance was that of a patriarch.

You can see Chief Kawbawgam’s grave in Marquette’s Presque Isle Park.

View the photo bigger and definitely follow @MichiganHist on Twitter for lots more great photos.

More Throwback Thursdays and more portraits on Michigan in Pictures.

#TBT: Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1

Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1

Remembering the Crew of Apollo 1, photo by NASA

“You’ll be flying along some nights with a full moon. You’re up at 45,000 feet. Up there you can see it like you can’t see it down here. It’s just the big, bright, clear moon. You look up there and just say to yourself: I’ve got to get up there. I’ve just got to get one of those flights.”
-Roger Chaffee (The New York Times, January 29, 1967, p. 48.)

Thanks to longtime Michigan in Pictures contributor Rudy Malmquist for the find on this. By total coincidence, Rudy will be back tomorrow with a photo!!

The National Air & Space Museum at the Smithsonian shared this photo yesterday, saying:

Remembering the crew of Apollo 1. On January 27, 1967, astronauts Virgil I. “Gus” Grissom, Edward H. White II, and Roger B. Chaffee perished in a fire during a pre-launch test for what was to be the first crewed Apollo mission.

Rudy pointed out that Chaffee was from Grand Rapids, and you can read a very detailed biography on Roger B. Chaffee from NASA’s History Office.  Here’s a few choice bits about his early life … and here’s hoping that Michigan in Pictures readers can do their best to instill a love of service, science and following ones dreams in the young folk in their lives:

“On my honor, I will do my best…” are the first eight words of the Scout Oath for the Boy Scouts of America. Individually, the words are short and simple. Collectively, however, they speak volumes and serve to inspire millions of boys to strive for excellence. Lieutenant Commander Roger Bruce Chaffee was a Scout for whom the Oath was more than just mere words. He took the pledge to heart and accepted the challenge to fully live the words of the Oath. Whether he was meticulously hand crafting items from wood or training to be the youngest man ever to fly in space, Chaffee always did his best by putting one hundred percent of himself into the effort.

…Earlier in his career, Don Chaffee had been a barnstorming pilot who flew a Waco 10 biplane. He was a regular sight at fairgrounds and made a bit of extra money on the side by transporting passengers. He also piloted planes for parachute jumpers. Later, Don worked for Army Ordnance in Greenville and in 1942, he was transferred to the Doehler-Jarvis plant in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he served as Chief Inspector of Army Ordnance.

Don shared his love of flying with his son and at the age of seven, Roger enjoyed his first ride in an airplane when the family went on a short excursion over Lake Michigan. Although it was a relatively brief flight, Roger was absolutely thrilled. To satisfy his continued interested in planes, Don set up a card table in the living room where he and Roger would create model airplanes piece by piece. By the time he was nine, Roger would point to a plane flying overhead and predict, “I’ll be up there flying in one of those someday”.

…By the time Roger was fourteen, he had developed an interest in electronics engineering and tinkered with various radio projects in his spare time. In high school, he received excellent grades and maintained a 92 average. Vocational tests showed that Roger’s strongest abilities were in the area of science. He also scored high mechanically and artistically. Mathematics and science were his favorite subjects, with chemistry being particularly appealing. Once the family switched to a gas heating system, Roger transformed the outdated coal bin area into his own private workshop where he spent countless hours experimenting with his chemistry set. By the time he was a junior in high school, he was leaning toward a career as a nuclear physicist. As a senior, he established a lofty goal for himself: he wanted to someday have his name written in history books. Before the world’s super powers took their first halting steps into space, Roger Chaffee had shared his dream of being the first man on the moon with his closest friends.

Here’s an article about the fire, and if you’re in Grand Rapids, check out the Roger B Chaffee Planetarium at the Grand Rapids Museum.

A fond farewell to Michigan Radio’s Tamar Charney and the importance of local news

Tamar Charney On the Mic

On the mic, everyone pitches in, photo by Michigan Radio

“I’ve heard many people dismiss local news as parochial ‘not in my backyard’ disputes or worse, merely coverage of the latest house fires. But there are many local stories that should, and do, become national and even international news when they are told right.
~Tamar Charney, Michigan Radio

I’ve been telling the stories of Michigan for over a decade, and one person who’s always been there digging deeper on the stories of our state that matter is Michigan Radio’s Tamar Charney. No longer, as she announced that she’s moving on to work for NPR One. Her column A farewell reflection on Flint, local news, and Michigan Radio tells why she believes that local news still matters:

…The water crisis in Flint is an example.

Michigan Radio reporters have been toiling away on this story for months. It’s taken a while for it to get traction as revelation after damning revelation came out. But eventually this ‘local’ Flint story has become international news. The problems with the drinking water have roots in racism, poverty, failures of government oversight, and our country’s aging infrastructure. These are problems shared by communities all across the nation. It’s an incident that taps into our fears about the safety of our water and of our children. It calls into question whether we can trust our government.

We look down our noses at developing countries with unsafe water. We scoff at places weighed down by corrupt and incompetent governments. We pride ourselves on our American technological know how. But here is a city, right here in the US of A, where you can’t drink the water, where government failed the people, and the technical knowledge about how to keep lead out of the water wasn’t employed.

Telling this kind of story is what Michigan Radio does. It is what local news can and should be.

There’s all kinds of cynicism about journalists. But I have to tell you, the journalists at Michigan Radio are some of the most idealistic kind hearted people I know. They got in the business because they think the world will be a better place and our democracy will work better when citizens have information. These are people committed to finding out the truth and getting answers. It saddens me that society undervalues the work journalists do and even worse, blames them for causing the problems they cover.

The Flint water problems were being swept under the rug and nothing might have been done if it weren’t for a mom, a researcher, a pediatrician, and yes, reporters. It’s a story I’m proud to say Michigan Radio has been at the forefront of telling.

In this era of vanishing local journalism, it’s good to have people like Tamar and outlets like Michigan Radio still working hard. I urge you to consider a donation to Michigan Radio.

View this photo of Tamar bigger and see more in Michigan Radio’s A Day in the Life of a Pledge Drive slideshow. You can share your photos in the Michigan Radio Photo Group as well!

Let it snow … please

Brockit Holiday

But if you really hold me tight, all the way home I’ll be warm, photo by brockit inc

Still looking for some of that frightful weather so we can enjoy the delightful parts of winter!

View the photo bigger and tune into brockit’s Facebook for lots more creative portraits (that sometimes wander into the NSFW realm).