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The Mancelona Centennial, 1972

I thought it might be fun for me to jot down some memories of my childhood in Mancelona, MI in the sixties and seventies. Hopefully you will also be mildly amused.

My hometown, Mancelona, Michigan, was founded in 1872, so in 1972, they had a centennial celebration. I was nine years old that summer. Part of the festivities was a beard contest. A good portion of the men in town grew their beards out. My dad grew an Abraham Lincoln beard - no mustache - I guess because he found the hair on his upper lip itchy, or maybe it grew out red; I don't recall the reason.

They also put on an elaborate show, a sort of outdoor theater thing recounting the founding of the town. I chose not to participate, but both my dad and my sister (who is still involved in community theater) did.

The cast was so big, that to photograph it, they had to take three or four shots and splice them together. This enabled one man to appear on both ends of the photo. I think it was Mr. Olson, the Spanish teacher in the local school.

That photo hung for years in our house, and is still down in my mom's basement. Over the years I would look at it once in awhile and try to identify people. But every year, more and more of the people who appear in that photo are dead. Such is the nature of time, alas. It's been almost 40 years.


childhood memories, mancelona centennial 1972

The beard lacked a mustache because one half grew out gray, the other half brown.

The photo was taken in one shot, not spliced. It was taken with an outdated and rare camera, I don't know what it was called. But it rotated slowly as it exposed the film. So Mr. Olson started out in the frame, camera pointed to viewer's left, and when it moved away from him, he ran around behind the camera in order to get it in again when it reached viewer's right. We posed for a couple of these, I think.

Alas, Mr. Olson is also long deceased. He was my favorite teacher, and wrote my recommendation to be accepted into the college of education at Central Michigan. I've always wondered what he said about me. I never took any other Spanish classes after that.

June 2019



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