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.


Morning Star, August 10, 2003, pg. 8

This week is a big one for our region, as we celebrate the 155th annual Calhoun County Fair August 10-16 put on the by the Calhoun County Agricultural & Industrial Society.

Yours truly has prepared a special exhibit at the fair entitled “The Fabulous 1950s at the Fair,” featuring over three dozen 1950s-era fair photographs from newly discovered original black and white negatives. The display is located in the Boys & Girls Annex building just west of the Merchant’s building. This in an expansion of the display I prepared last year.

Several of the photographs are of 4-H Club parade floats at the fair. Back in those days through the 1950s, agriculture was a mainstay of livelihood for those growing up in the rural areas of our county. Our townships were once dotted with one-room rural “country” schools every few miles, and these became centers of activities for the area neighbors. Many of these schools had their own 4-H clubs which promoted traditional farming and homemaking. The annual Calhoun County Fair was the highlight of every 4-H’er as they entered competition to show off their livestock, produce, hobbies, or cooking skills.

When the country schools were annexed to nearby towns in the early 1960s, several 4-H clubs either folded or were re-named, or were consolidated with others in the area. It was never the same again as the old era gave way to the new. Students were subsequently bussed into town to receive their education. The rural neighborhood country schools along with the associations and experiences that went with them became just memories. This display captures the waning years of the country school 4-H era. Included in the display are photographs of the following 4-H Clubs: Babcock School, Bell and Clarence Center Schools; Clarendon, Co-Operators; Partello-Lee, South Albion, West Leroy, and White School clubs.

Furthermore, included in the display are several photographs of 4-H individuals whom we won’t mention here (you’ll have to see the display and let ‘em know that there photo is there) showing off their farm animals, and of course the traditional fair scenes like the midway, grandstand, races, etc. There even is a photograph of Michigan Governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams standing with a group of Albion Malleable Iron Company union officials at the annual Union Labor picnic held at the Fair during the early 1950s.

From our Historical Notebook this week in keeping with our summer 1950s theme, we present a 1954 photograph from the display, featuring the White School float. This school was located on the southeast corner of C Drive North and 28˝ Mile Road. Classes were held here until June, 1967. The former schoolhouse is now a private residence. The float states in large letters, “WHITE WILLING WORKERS,” with the word “school” in smaller print. The 4-H youth (no tennis shoes, either--all leather soles) sit on the float with the theme above stating, “Jack and Jill went up the hill to join a 4-H group to make the best better. Now Jack and Jill and little Bill are leaders of the troop.”

On the left hill: Ron Tilley and Kay Wales. Boy facing forward by the American flag is Mike Masternak. The boy turned to the right by car hood is Bert Fetters. Under stripes: Gene Wales, Ruth Ann Jankovic, and Don Sims on the right end.

How many of our readers remember this float and can recognize anyone else?

While visiting the fair this year, be sure and also view the new fair historical artifacts and memorabilia display put together by Joanne McKeever. It is located under the grandstands (in the old restaurant location), west side. Enjoy the history as you enjoy the fair! We’ll see you and your family at the Calhoun County Fair this week!

The White School 4-H float, 1954


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