'Every picture tells a story...'
June 09, 2010
The late 1950s-era photo of the group of official looking men originally published on May 19 continues to bring phone calls.
The photo was passed along to us by Rick Liblong, a former resident of Almont—and one of Almont's success stories. A communications specialist, Rick has worked in some high-powered jobs and rubbed elbows with more than a few movers and shakers. Rick can identify a couple of the men in the photo, and asks if we'll run it to see if anyone recognizes others or knows anything else about it.
The men all look official. Suits, ties. Buttoned up and neat. To my untrained eye the attire says the photo dates to the late '50s, maybe even 1961-63 or so. That's about all I can tell.
One of the known faces in the photo is that of the late Reid Wilcox. I never met Reid, but knew his wife Thelma—a real lady in every sense of the word—before she passed away several years ago. I also knew their son Paul Wilcox, as do many many others. Before his death a couple of years back Paul was the longtime fire chief in Almont. Though I never laid eyes on Reid, I didn't need anyone to tell me that there was someone closely related to Paul Wilcox in that photo. The resemblance is uncanny.
Reader Marilyn (Martz) Seidell believes she knows another of the faces. In the front row at the far right is Arnold Goodrich, a former treasurer of Lapeer County. Marilyn recalls him stopping in the Times' office in downtown Imlay City in the late 1950s when she worked there.
"He didn't come in often but I do remember him coming into the Times office when Clare Cross was the owner-editor," Marilyn recalls.
She worked at the paper from 1955-58, and in some ways the more things change the more they stay the same. Marilyn's job description was what we call "varied."
"I did some writing, I mailed out bills, I put mailing labels on papers, I put the fair books together," Marilyn chuckles. "I was a jack of all trades, master of none."
Today Marilyn enjoys traveling and spending time with her family, which includes six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Lapeer County Clerk Marlene Bruns also recognized someone in the photo. She emailed longtime staffer Rosie Ruby with this: "Rosie— in the paper was a picture of men that included Harold Williams. I believe the man in the front row at the far right is Lyle Stewart—County Clerk from 1957 to 1975."
Old photos were included in last week's column, too, and I get lots of comments about them and the story. The photos had haunted me until I found them again. I never met the great uncles pictured in their Italian World War I uniforms but I stare at the faces looking for some connection—for something familiar in the dark eyes, the shy grins.
People like old photos. I do too. Every time we do anything with old photos it draws some sort of response.
I think of reader Bev Waller of Attica, who is a keeper of old photos. Pictures of people she never met, doesn't know. She looks at them as snatches of life. They tell stories frozen in time, she says. Body language, clothing, the tilt of the head, the look in an eye reveal things that speak above the silence of still life captured in the lens.
Steve Campbell, a Dryden reader, also reflected on his ancestry after reading last week's column. Here's what he recalled:
"As your family are all Italians, we are all Scotsmen—obviously quite a difference. From what I have been told, my grandmother and her sister (Aunt Jean), came here to the United States on a ship called the SS Lusitania, which strangely enough sunk on the journey back from the United States! I was that close to "not being here.
"I can also remember when my ex-wife's aunt had passed, we were in charge of cleaning out her house and I went up into the attic only to find 5 or 6 photo albums chock full of actual photographs of WWII and Korea. My God, were some of the photos gruesome—just beyond humanity. Most of them in the old sepia tones. What an experience. Too bad the soldier wasn't there to give me the play-by-play that was needed.
"I did, however, find the excerpts from your sister's diary very interesting. It reminded me of a song from a rather young band called "Carolines Spine." The tune named "Sullivan" has a surprising history behind it.
"Seems as if in the draft of WWII there was a woman named Sullivan who was widowed, but had five boys, all were drafted into war upon the same battleship. The battleship was sunk, killing all five of them with no one left to carry on the family name.
"The widow was now completely devastated, without a husband and no children. The government made a policy that said there will never be allowed another two fraternal men to serve upon the same vessel ever. As far as I know, it still stands to this day."
Thank you to everyone who takes the time to share their thoughts, stories and recollections. I am very grateful.
Email Catherine at
Catherine Minolli is Managing Editor of the Tri-City Times. She began as a freelance writer with the Times in 1994. She enjoys the country life, including raising ducks and chickens.