Progress without destruction – #DigMilford

January 5, 2015

“You raze the old to raise the new.”  (Justin Chen), as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog.  In modern terms this concept is sometimes called creative destruction. The idea seems to be the need to tear down the old to make way for the new. It is applied to buildings and industries and sometimes, unfortunately to relationships.

I’m not a Luddite by any means; however, I have a conflict of sorts with this concept, especially the rather cavalier discarding of everything old to make way for the new. I suppose it has something to do with the fact that I’m currently the President of the Milford Historical Society – a group dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of the Milford area.  old millThe name Milford came about because the area provided ample water-power sources and one could easily ford the Huron River at this point in the Huron Valley. Many mills of all sorts were built in Milford, none of which exist today. They were all torn down to make way for progress. Other communities that didn’t do so now have a nice attraction for visitors to see how things were done more than a century ago. All we have now are pictures of the mills in our Milford Historical Museum. Perhaps preserving at least one mill would have been a good idea.

Entire industries also get destroyed by progress and some of that is inevitable. The entire industry built around the horse and carriage as a means of transportation was rendered obsolete and Eire canaluseless by the invention of the automobile. The rise of the railroad industry put a quick end to the nascent industry devoted to building canals to allow for transport by boat. Eventually the railroads, at least as a means of long distance travel, were largely obsoleted by the rise of the airplane and the airliner. The railroad industry shifted almost completely to bulk transporting, which is does better than airplanes.  There are lots of other examples. Of course, not all progress has been accompanied by the demise of earlier industries. In some cases the new didn’t replace anything old; it just allowed new things that hadn’t been done before. One could argue the case for computers or the Internet as examples; although there were some things that were probably displaced by them, too.

Sometimes we allow new relationships to tear down old ones, often due to the demands of either the new or the old. New friends or loves in our lives demand attention, which is often time taken away from an older relationship. That does not go unnoticed and can sour the previous relationship. In the case of your life partner, there can be only one at a time, both legally and practically. Other long-term relationships, especially those of blood, can also get displaced. There’s an old saying that mothers everywhere know is somewhat true – “a son is a son until he takes a wife, but a daughter’s a daughter for all of her life.” Many moms feel displaced by their son’s wife, at least partially; but the woman to women relationship that remains between the mom and her daughter may just get stronger as the daughter matures.

Can there be progress without destruction? Can new things develop without tearing down the old? I think so. There is no doubt that the old will be somewhat displaced by the new; however, perhaps the old can assume a new role and not be completely destroyed. At a minimum, some examples of the old should be saved as part of our history and heritage, so that our children can see and appreciate how things were before the world that they live in came about. That is the role of our museums; a role that should be supported by the community, both financially, so that they can continue to exist, and by the community’s use and participation in their programs.

Our Milford Historical Museum is one tiny repository of history in our little corner of the world. It operates totally on donations, both from the community and from the membership of the Milford Historical Society. You can learn more about it at our web site – . We are currently involved in a project to preserve a key part of our history by bringing an microfilm readerimportant part of it into the 21st Century. The Milford Historical Society has for some time been collecting and preserving copies of the weekly publication The Milford Times on microfilm. Microfilm is an industry that is ending – displaced by the more modern digital means of storing things. The old microfilm machines are hard or impossible to buy or maintain anymore. So, we have joined several other local historical groups and libraries in the area in a project to have our microfilm library of issues of the Milford Times dating back to 1871 digitized into a searchable dtatbase. This is a valuable historical research resource that will become much more accessible once we get the library digitized, indexed and on-line. The project will go on to digitize images of our Museum’s collection of old photos and other memorabilia.

You can read more about the microfilm digitization project at our web site, as well as how to vote for this project in a grant competition in which we are a finalist. Between January  19 and January 25, any Tweets on Twitter that carry the hash tag #DigMilford will count as a vote for this project. I hope that many of my readers will vote for us and our project to preserve the history of the Milford area. I’ll post another reminder closer to the voting window dates.

Nationally aclaimed pianist coming to Milford

September 28, 2014

The Milford Historical Society proudly presents highly regarded Ragtime pianist Bob Milne in concert at The Milford Presbyterian Church, 238 N Main St, Milford, MI 48381, on Friday, October 24 at 7 pM.

 Click here to view the event poster with ticket information. An afterglow event follows the concert. Read the poster for details on how to attend that event. Proceeds go to support the Milford Historical Museum.

bOb Milne - RagtimistConsidered by many to be the best Ragtime/Boogie-Woogie pianist in the world, Bob Milne specializes in this music style that developed in America in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.

Although Bob Milne comes from a classical background, having excelled as a French horn virtuoso at the Eastman School of Music, he is completely self-taught as a pianist, playing totally by ear.  When he took up saloon piano-playing on the side, he discovered what fun entertaining his listeners could be, and how natural it came to him.

Early on in this new career, Bob became fascinated by the Ragtime music found on nearby player pianos, and how listeners enjoyed it.  His “internship” lasted 25 years; he has even written a book on these experiences, The Journeyman Piano Player.

Bob naturally progressed to the concert stage, acknowledged by many as one of the best pianists of our time. He is now constantly performing across the country (and sometimes beyond) from concert halls to festivals, and everything in between, and still having fun with his audiences exhibiting ballistic speed as well as subtle harmonies.

Known as a “Ragtimist” (a term he coined), Bob Milne quickly made himself a dedicated student and presenter of this true American musical form, having acquired both a vast repertoire of tunes and extensive knowledge of their origins.

These histories and the stories of the piano players who were playing them are anecdotally incorporated into BobBob milne at piano Milne’s presentations.  (Bob also teaches music history at Florida Atlantic University every winter, and conducts a Music Retreat in Lapeer, MI each September.)

It comes as no surprise that the Library of Congress designated him a “National Treasure” when they documented his expertise for future generations, and that the U.S. State Department has utilized him as a “Musical Ambassador” in Japan and Switzerland.

Bob Milne brings endless enthusiasm, enchanting ease of playing, and an engaging manner while telling stories about Ragtime and Boogie Woogie music with warmth and humor.

Today Bob is well-known as an outstanding pianist specializing in Ragtime, Boogie-Woogie, the Blues, and the Player Piano styles of the turn of the century.

As a sample of the wonderful evening that you’ll be in for, click here for a short video clip of one of Bob’s performances.

Off to a good short start…

September 2, 2014

The weeks after a three day holiday always seem a little weird, but in a good way. This week in particular is strange because the schools started in this area today; so, traffic was up significantly as those parents with school buslittle princesses and princes who can’t walk to school or  ride the buses are transported by dads on the way to work or moms still in their pajamas. Perhaps many of them are “schools of choice” kids who can’t ride the buses, but I doubt it. More likely, they are our local versions of  Honey Boo-Boo. I guess the short week helps make the transition back into the school routine a bit easier for the kids.

Short work weeks are always a bit confusing, because the start feels like it should be Monday, even if it is Tuesday. By the time you get used to that, it’s already Wednesday and the week’s half over already – Yea! Wouldn’t it be great if every work week were only four days? There are some European countries that have proposed doing just that. They are looking at having four 10-hour workdays and then three day weekends every week. I could see that, since many already work 10-hour days (most without the benefit of overtime).

The people who really don’t like these short weeks are the garbage collectors, who have to make up that lost collection day by doubling up somewhere. Of course they will start entering the fall leaf collection period soon, which really doubles up their work with recycling bags of leaves.

Also this week…

The new minimum wage increase started in Michigan yesterday and so far the world has not come to an paid The wage for our food servers and other minimum wage jobs moved from $7.40 an hour to $8.15. It will continue to gradually increase to $9.25 hour in 2018. Of course there was grousing about this by many small business owners who fear that raising prices to cover the new costs will drive away customers. The bottom line; however, is that this increase will impact only 4-5% of the workforce. Meanwhile, a new study commissioned by the Michigan Association of United Ways finds 40 percent of Michigan households with at least one worker don’t make enough money to meet basic survival needs.

Home Tour picture 1The countdown to the next big weekend in Milford started on September 1. The big Home Tour Weekend is September 20 and 21. The 38th annual Milford Home Tour will take place on that Saturday and Sunday, with 5 historic Milford homes offered for public viewing on the tour. Tickets for the Tour are on sale now at several locations in Milford – Acorn Farm, Main Street Art, Your Nesting Place, the Milford Township office and of course at the Milford Historical Museum. Tickets are $15 for adults and $13 for youth and seniors. The tickets are good for both days and include visits to the Log Cabin in South Side Park, a visit to the Milford Historical Museum and a walking tour of Oak Grove Cemetery. For more on the Home Tour, click here.

In addition to the Home Tour, the big weekend includes The Milford Car Show on Sunday all down Main car show graphic 1Street and into Central Park, with over 300 cars on display; and a Tractor Show out at the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot near the corner of Milford Road and GM Road. On Sunday the Milford Rotary also stages its annual rubber duck race in Central Park, this year expanded to include a family fun picnic event starting at 10 AM. Several hundred bright yellow rubber ducks are dumped into Pettibone Creek, which leads to the Huron River; with the first few RotaryDucksducks to make it to the catch net at the end leading to prizes for the duck owners. The first place duck earned its owner $2,000 last year. Events for the kids, plus food are part of the family fun day. Plan on spending the day in Milford on that Sunday. There will be something going on for everyone in your family.

Next big weekend event in Milford…

August 9, 2014

MM_Postcard_2014The annual Milford Memories Street Festival, run by the Huron Valley Chamber of Commerce, is in full swing this weekend in Milford. Rated as one of the top 100 Street Art Fairs in the Country, Milford Memories draws thousands of people each day over its three day run. Milford Memories is open from 9 AM until 7 Pm today and from 9 Am until 5 PM on Sunday. Over 300 artists and venders from around the country come to Milford each year for this festival, which also features a number of ancillary events (see the events schedule here). There’s still plenty of time to get out to Milford for this year’s Milford Memories festival. This show is ranked as one of the best of the year by the vendors who attend.

The next big weekend event on the calendar this year will be the Milford Home Tour weekend. Each year the2014 Annual Home Tour PosterMilford Historical Society organizes and runs this tour through some of Milford’s fine older homes. There are five homes on the tour and it is usually a walkable tour, which means an enjoyable stroll along the streets of Milford. In addition to the Home Tour, which will be on Saturday, September 20 and Sunday, September 21, from 10 AM until 5 PM both days.  Click here to go to the Milford Historical Society web site and view a poster of the event and the five houses.

MilfordCarShow-2014On Sunday only, the annual Milford Car Show takes over all of Main Street and part of Central Park as over 300 cars of all types are on display. This audience- judged show has lots of different categories for entrants, so you’ll see a little bit of everything from vintage cares to street rods. Click here to go to the Milford Car Show Web site and register your car for the show.

On the Sunday of  Home Tour Weekend two other events draw people into Milford. There is an annual Tractor tractorShow at the south edge of town in the Huron Valley State Bank parking lot. This show features working tractors of different vintages and sizes. One never knows what will show up there. Then, in Central Park around noon the Rotary Club of Milford holds its annual Rubber Duck Race in which hundreds of little yellow rubber ducks vie to see which one can make it to the end of a stream leading into the Huron River. Each duck is numbered and sold as a fund RotaryDucksraiser. The owner of the first duck to reach the finish line wins a money prize based upon how many ducks are sold. Last year the winner took home $2,000.

So, that third weekend in September will be another time to plan to come out to Milford and enjoy our small village and the events that will be going on. While you’re there, you can enjoy shopping in our quaint downtown and a good meal in one of our many fine restaurants. Many restaurants feature outdoor dining areas which should be very pleasant at that time of the year. Come on out today for Milford Memories and put the Milford Home Tour Weekend on your calendars for the fall.

Get into the 4th of July Parade…

June 15, 2014

The Milford Historical Society invites you to participate in the 2014 Independence Day Parade. Our Parade will be held at 11:00 A.M. on Friday, July 4rd.   As you know this Parade is an opportunity for business and individuals to “Toot Their Horn” and show community spirit at the same time.  The Parade will begin in downtown Milford and end at Huron Street. Participants can begin staging in designated areas by 10:00 A.M.  Below is a link to the Application for the parade.  Please complete and send  or fax back.


The theme for the Parade will be:

Our  Milford,

    “A Small Village with a Big Heart”


parade band pic

We ask that your float, music or demonstration somehow relate to the theme through the use of colors, etc.

To participate in this year’s Parade, please fill out the attached form and return to the address below, with a stamped, self-addressed envelope so we may mail back to you your assigned parade spot.

We will be mailing back to you, in the envelope you have provided, confirmation of your placement in the Parade.

If you have any questions, or require additional information, please feel free to contact me.

In order to offset the rising cost of running the parade we are asking business participants to consider also including a donation to the Milford Historical Society with your application. Your donations of $10 – $50 will help keep the Independence Day parade going. Thanks



Katherine and Russ Rheaume, Parade Coordinators

PO Box 685

Milford, MI 48381-0685

248-684-7373      248-684-0070  Fax   Email




The Milford Historical Society Independence Parade is an entertainment event.

It is geared for both businesses and families to show off our town and support this

great country where we live.


*    All vehicles towing floats should be driven with a clear path of vision.  People

walking along side should help with keeping children from stepping in front of the vehicle and getting injured..


*    The Parade line up will be mailed or e-mailed about a week before the event..

We ask that each participant respond by phone, E-mail, etc. that they have received their Parade Spot Number at that time.


*     Entry themes or props must not be based on controversial, political or social

issues  Naturally, no alcoholic beverages or banned drugs are allowed.

*     Parade participants are permitted to distribute material while going down the

parade route.  Absolutely nothing including candies, toys can be THROWN

at the parade viewers.  Michigan State Law prohibits throwing items in a parade.

Please hand these items to the parade participants. We don’t want anyone hurt while running into the traffic to pick up items off the ground.


*    Please do not leave any large gaps between your float and the one in front.

The Parade is usually video taped and video copies are shown to the community and nursing homes throughout the year.  Large gaps destroy the continuity of the

parade.  We suggest no more than 20 feet exist between each exhibit.


*   An announcer will be reading your provided script promoting your exhibit as you

pass by.


*   Milford Historical Society volunteers wearing MHS T-Shirts will be situated all

along the route to assist and answer any questions that arise.


*   We encourage animals in the Parade, but insist that they not be dangerous and are

properly trained to be among people while leashed, ridden, hooked up, etc.


*     The Milford Historical Society reserves the right to restrict, limit, accept or reject

any exhibit application.


*    Our goal is to have everyone go home after the event with fond memories of

a Parade well done in a safe, fun  and interesting manner


Click here to get the parade application. Print it out and return it (see address above) or Fax it in (248-684-0070) to reserve your spot in the 2014 Independence Day Parade on July 4th.

Remember those who fell and those who served this weekend…

May 23, 2014

It’s Memorial Day Weekend; a time that younger people may see as a nice long weekend start to the summer season. It’s much more than that, of course; it is a time to pause, reflect and say thank you to the men and women who have served and are serving in our nation’s Armed Forces. We especially take time to remember those who sacrificed their lives in service to out country.

Memorial Day 4On Memorial Day there will be the traditional parade of veterans in Milford, Michigan, along with all of the hoopla that goes along with a modern parade – marching bands from the local schools, Military vehicles of all types, scout troops and more.

And then there are the veterans – hundreds of men and women from wars stretching back to WWII and forward to the actions in Afghanistan and Iraq of today, and covering all of the time in between.

Thousands of people line the streets of Milford, standing and applauding continuously as the groups marches by 2-abreast. As a marcher for the last few years, I can tell you that it is a great feeling to experience this outpouring of appreciation; especially so for us who march in the View Nam Veterans contingent. We had no such welcoming parades back then.

The Milford Memorial Day parade steps off from the VFW hall on W. Commerce 11 AM and all veterans are
welcome to join the march. For those who cannot walk the parade route there are volunteer Jeeps for transport along the parade route.

There is another experience that I encourage you to have, if you have the time over the weekend – visit the Petpic88 Cemetery in South Lyon/Lyon Township at Milford Rd and 11 mile Road and pause to see the War Dog Memorial.

This cemetery has been in existence since the 1930’s but only in the last few years has it been reclaimed from the terrible condition that it was in and a monument to the K-9 heroes of several wars was enhanced. There are dogs buried in this cemetery that were in service as far back as WWII.


There are literally hundreds of pet buried in this location, both dogs and cats. There are also many dogs that pic90served overseas in our wars buried in the cemetery, including its newest hero Sgt. Mina, a veteran of 9 tours in Afghanistan and 2 in Bosnia. You can read Mina’s story by clicking here.


You can read the back story on this wonderful facility and the rescue effort that is still under way to reclaim this final pet resting ground from nature at their web site – Michigan War Dog Memorial. It had fallen on hard times and been forgotten for years when the current rescue group found it and started work in 2010. They have succeeded in cutting back enough of the overgrowth and cleaning up the area that you can now get an idea of the size of this place, which houses hundreds of pet graves. They’ve also added benches so that people can sit and contemplate these largely unsung heroes of our past wars.

It’s really a pretty awesome place and one that cannot help but bring back memories of some loved pet from longpic86 ago, or maybe a service dog, police dog or military dog that you knew.



To watch a YouTube video about the cemetery and the reclamation effort, click here.

Go to their Web site if you’d like to help with a contribution or volunteer to help with the continuing reclamation work on this unique cemetery.

A Community investing in its future…

February 28, 2014

“It’s better to walk alone than with a crowd going the wrong direction.” –  (Diane Grant)

I love that saying by Diane Grant. It is such a strong endorsement about doing what is right, even in the face of unpopularity. For many young people the choice to buck the trend or direction of the crowd that they have been running with feels like walking alone. It’s not, of course, but it is walking without those around you that you may have felt were your friends and whose support you always counted upon. It can seem that to turn away from that crowd is to be alone.

That’s why programs like the Huron Valley Youth Assistance Program are so important. My wife and I attended their annual fund raising event, A Taste of the Valley, Thursday night. Last year it was great to get to talk with some of the counselors and some of the kids who’ve been helped by the program. If there was one consistent theme that I got out of the discussions with the kids that I met, it was that the counselors and mentors and other volunteers in there program were there for them and gave them the strength and encouragement to turn and walk against that crowd that was headed in the wrong direction.

Many kids realize that what they are doing or the direction that they are headed in is wrong;mentoring but they don’t see any way out. It is a frightful and lonely feeling to realize that in order to do what is right, you have to give up those “friends” who have been leading you and encouraging you in the wrong direction. If there is nothing there it grab on to, it feels like a blind leap of faith to go against the grain. The YA Program offers that hand to hold onto through its counseling and mentoring and activities. When it comes down to “who can I turn to?” – the YA program offers an answer.

The event last night was a success with great support by the local restaurants that provided the “Taste of the Valley” and nice prizes to be won in the silent auction. If there was a disappointment to last night it was just that there weren’t enough people there. This is a program that should be better supported by the community because few things are more important that the future of our children. I will certainly try to figure out if there is some way that I can help make it even more successful in years to come.

A day earlier I attended the Community Breakfast at the Carl’s Family YMCA. It was well attended and had a great keynote speaker – Terry Woychowski, Vice President at American Axle – who spoke about “The importance and impact of Community”, especially on our youth.

kid jumping in poolThe Community Breakfast is the kick-off for the Y’s annual fund raising to support its scholarship program. The Y scholarships are provided to allow participation by kids who otherwise couldn’t afford to participate in many of the Y activities, like swimming, soccer, and other team sports programs. Like the YA programs these are intended to give kids healthy alternatives to activities that might be taking them in the wrong direction or t having no activities at all.

The common theme through this week’s youth oriented events is that there is a community support and community programs aimed at providing alternatives to those who choose to turn away from crowds going in the wrong direction. In fact, the message really is that you don’t have to walk alone when you make those choices – the community is behind you and beside you. I hope that you can support both of these worthy efforts. They are aimed at helping and nurturing our most important community assets – our youth. The fact that our community supports both of these effort gives credence to a quote that I’ve used here before –

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future. - Franklin D. Roosevelt


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