GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 165

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You have an important story to tell and the Grosse Pointe Historical Society wants you to tell it! Your own personal
history—what you experienced throughout all the stages of your life—provides an important perspective on the history
of our society and makes history come to life.
Oral history-- the systematic collection of living people's testimony about their own experiences—listens to these
stories. Historians have finally recognized the value of the memories of everyday people, not just the rich and famous.
You and your family members can preserve unwritten family history using oral history techniques. You don’t have to
worry about "doing it right." A simple interview, recorded on audio cassette tape or by video camera, will become a
priceless treasure. Start by just talking to someone for an hour. Contact the Society, 884-7010, or visit our website
www.gphistorical.org for more information.
On September 25, 2002, Janice Lauhoff and her son came to the Grosse Pointe Historical Society Resource Center
to record an oral history with Gwen Balance. They discussed their wonderful memories of life in Grosse Pointe
Park. Mrs. Lauhoff noted that her parents in their later years did not want to leave the city.
My parents were Robert and Arlene Rasmussen. They moved to Grosse Pointe in 1948. My father saw a lot on
Lakepointe and he liked it, designed a plan for a house and hired a builder to construct the home. I am the oldest
in the family, and I have a brother who was born on my second birthday. My sister, Kay, was born eight years after
that, and Sally was born ten years after that. My mother spread us out.
Dad worked for Giffels and Rossetti. He walked down to Jefferson every day and took the Lakeshore bus downtown.
[As children], we spent many hours at the Grosse Pointe Park Park. Boats came close as they entered or left the
Detroit River. You could see sailboats, yachts and cruise ships such as the North and South American. My father
spent a lot of time watching the boats from the park and could identify all the lake freighters and ocean-going ships
by the markings on their funnels.
There were wooden docks for mooring boats until the ice carried part of them away one winter. There was a bath
house and concession stand on the west side of the park. My sisters hung out at the park all summer to swim and
play tennis. The swimming area was enclosed by a cement wall. There was a sandy bottom and bubbles in the shal-
low end (a roped-off area where the water was only up to four feet deep). There was a pipe to aerate the water. We
would try to sit on the bubbles, and they might even push you a little bit out of the water. In the winter, you could
ice skate in the area enclosed by the cement wall.
There were always fireworks on the Fourth of July. We went to the park or stood on the boulevard of Windmill
Pointe Drive. In 1963 or 1964, Dad, Mom and Sally went to the end of the dock at the park to see Queen
Elizabeth’s yacht go by on its trip up stream. She came out of her cabin and waved to the people on the dock.
In the fall of ’58, a Canadian bomber crashed in the canal at Alter Road. Sally had just returned from school. It
exploded and burst into flames. Small pieces were scattered on Barrington and Pemberton between Windmill Pointe
and Korte. The two pilots were killed but nobody on the ground was injured, although two houses were damaged.
People gathered airplane parts for souvenirs but the police asked that they be turned in to help the investigation.
My sister remembers a man who sold fruits and vegetables from his truck. There was also a man with a bicycle-
mounted grinding wheel who walked up and down the streets ringing a bell to let you know he could sharpen
knives or scissors. Of course, there was also the Twin Pines milkman and the Awrey and Sanders baking trucks.
My sister, Sally, remembers fifth and sixth grade ballroom dancing classes at the Grosse Pointe War Memorial. A Mr.
and Mrs. Wilson taught them. They taught the Double Swing, the Waltz and the Fox Trot. The students went to
dance parties at each others homes. The dance they all wanted to learn was Bristol Stomp.
Share Your Story by Creating an Oral History
How to Create an Oral History
• Contact the person to be interviewed or to interview you
(don’t be too shy to let your children or grandchildren
know you’d like to record your personal history).
• Set aside at least an hour—you may want to break the
interview into several sessions.
• Have a well-working recording device—tape recorder,
digital recorder, video camera.
• Prepare a list of questions to get started. See our website
for some suggestions. Go over the questions before hand
so you have some idea what to talk about.
• Try to remember specific names and nicknames of
people, places, streets, stores, etc. These details provide
a real concrete sense of life in the past.
• Structure should provide a guideline, but not be restric-
tive. Save some time for free-flowing memories.
• Send a copy of the interview to the Grosse Pointe
Historical Society to add to our archives.
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