Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

FROM BOMBS TO FLOWERS

Morning Star, October 3, 2004, pg. 22

If you read this article before Sunday afternoon, be sure and come to my annual guided tour of Riverside Cemetery on Sunday, October 3 at 1:30 p.m. We’ll meet in the “back corner” of the cemetery in Section 129. Take a south entrance along M-99 and drive eastwards to the back. This year’s tour is entitled “An Ethnic Tour of Riverside Cemetery, Part 3.” I hope to see you there for an enjoyable afternoon together. Tour programs will be available at the event, and afterwards at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. Be sure and get a copy of this year’s tour booklet for some very interesting reading.

In addition to featuring around 30 interments on the tour, we will also be featuring some special monuments found in Riverside Cemetery. One is a very unusual flower urn which you may have noticed in the cemetery, or in some back yards in Albion. There is a special story behind these urns.

During World War II, the Lonergan Manufacturing Company on N. Clark St. (the predecessor of McGraw-Edison) made bomb inner-casing front and back ends for the Defense Department, pressed from sheet metal. These were the tips and backs that formed part of an inner casing that held the working parts of bombs which were dropped from airplanes.

After the War (we won), local entrepreneur and mechanic Phlauras Rausch (1911-1958), who later served on the Albion Fire Department, approached Simon Lonergan and purchased the surplus bomb casing ends that had been left at War’s end. He also went to Union Steel Products and obtained strips of metal that formed the braces upon which oven rack wires were placed.

Mr. Rausch used these parts to fashion custom-made flower urns. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a picture of one of those flower urns. You may have seen one of these someplace. The large round part which forms the portion holding the dirt and flowers on the top, and the top of the bottom base (identical parts) had been pressed at Lonergan to be placed in the rear of the bomb. The top of the bottom base was welded underneath by Mr. Rausch to the front inner-casing placed on the bottom of the urn. It was cone-shaped and had a “point” where wiring and other bomb materials were to be placed in the front of the bomb. The cone part projects downward into the ground, thus securing the urn in place.

Notice the strips of metal on the side that form the handles and decorative portions. These were the bottom cross-braces for oven racks made at Union Steel. When you closely look at this urn, you’ll notice that these strips of metal have little rounded grooves in them on one side. This is where the wires were placed on the racks. The urns have been painted with silver paint, and the dirt holder portion is quite large, leaving room for plenty of flowers. Several still remain in Riverside Cemetery today, as well as in the yards of some private residences. How many of our readers recognize this urn?

If you didn’t get over to the Calhoun County Fair in Marshall this year and see our Fair Museum display located under the grandstands, you’ve got one last chance this year. The Museum will be open on Saturday, October 9 as part of the Fair’s annual Harvest Festival. There’s lots of Albion-related photographs in this display, including photographs that were taken of the fair in the 1950s and published in the Albion Malleable Iron Company magazine the Circle-A-Tor. In addition, yours truly will have his booth of history books and numismatic items in the Merchants Building that day along with other vendors. So come visit me at my booth and see the Fair Museum as you enjoy the Harvest Festival at the Calhoun County Fair with your family. Times are from 10 am to 6 pm., and admission is Free.


Lonergan Manufacturing Company Flower Urn

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - October 1904


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