Wednesday, November 25, 2020

West Dearborn's Muirhead's Department Store

Mrs. Alberta Muirhead

If you grew up in Downriver, Detroit in the 1950s or 1960s, after the Hudson's Thanksgiving Day parade on Woodward Avenue, you had your heart set on a visit to Santa's igloo at Muirhead's on Michigan Avenue in West Dearborn. Baby Boomers have precious memories of riding along on rails in Santa's sleigh with their parents and siblings to get their photo taken with Santa Claus. Over the years, several men have donned the red suit and white beard. Early on, Mr. Muirhead played the role, but succeeding Santas were Bob Oxley and Tim Pryce. There may have been others.

In 1946, John Muirhead married Alberta (Jamieson?), and they opened a neighborhood department store featuring women's clothing and a toy department. Dearborn resident Jon Jahr explained that his father drew up the blueprints for the original Muirhead's building which was on three levels.

"The basement was the storeroom, shopping was on the street level, and the Muirheads lived on the second level. As their business grew, they expanded the footprint of the building, and in the early sixties, they built a new building around the old building, replacing the street facade for a modern, upscale look." By then, John and Alberta lived in their own home, creating more sales space on the second level.

Mrs. Muirhead - 1971

Lynn Richards Tobin worked at Muirhead's in 1961 and 1962. She remembers, "Mr. Muirhead was in his early sixties. Mrs. Muirhead was younger, maybe in her forties.... She always wore the cash register key around her neck. She took care of their customers and oversaw sales on the main floor. Mr. Muirhead spent most of his time on the second floor in the stockroom and oversaw employees to make sure everyone was working and not goofing off.

"The main floor was girls and teen clothing in front and children's clothing in the back. A customer service center was in the middle of the sales floor where shoppers could take returns and ask questions. There was a cash register station near the front door and one near the parking lot exit in back. An elevator and a stairwell led to the second floor where the stockroom and business offices were. Dolls were sold upstairs including the exclusive Madame Alexander dolls. Another stairwell on the ground floor led to the toy department in the basement which featured bicycles."

My family in 1957. I'm sitting next to my mother.

During the Christmas season, Santa's igloo sleigh ride in the basement was the big attraction. As far as I have been able to determine, the sleigh was manually pushed back and forth on a rail track. Jon Jahr remembers seeing the sleigh in the Muirhead's warehouse in the early 1970s. Jahr asked Mr. Muirhead if he might bring the sleigh out just for Christmas photos, but he was done with it by then. I wonder if the sleigh is waiting somewhere in Dearborn waiting to be rediscovered.

John died in 1983 at the age of eighty-three. Alberta operated the store by herself with the help of a dedicated band of loyal employees for seven more years. Then, she closed the popular store after forty-three years in business. Competition from shopping malls and Crowley's on Michigan Avenue off Outer Drive in particular cut into her business.

Alberta's story didn't end with the closing of her boutique department store. Mrs. Muirhead--as most people called her--became a model for philanthrophy. She believed in giving back to the Dearborn community who had supported her and her husband John, making their business a success. Alberta devoted her later life to Dearborn and its people.

Alberta Muirhead parlayed her charismatic personality and charitable spirit to become Dearborn's biggest benefactor and philantropist since the Ford family. For starters, she donated her three-level building to the Oakwood Health Care Foundation for their data-processing center. An avid believer in public education, Alberta became the namesake for Dearborn's Teacher of the Year award established in 1997. She supported both Henry Ford Community College and Rochester College giving generously to their scholarship funds to help needy and struggling students. Dearborn Public Schools awards an annual scholarship named after her.

In 2007, Alberta Muirhead established the Oakwood Healthcare Foundation with a $500,000 gift to support nursing education and advanced nursing degrees for Oakwood Healthcare employees. Many a nurse owes a debt of gratitude to the memory of Mrs. Muirhead. Her support was not limited to people. Alberta was a supporter of the Dearborn Animal Shelter and received their Big Heart Award in 2006.

After the death of her husband, Alberta and Russ Gibb--of Grande Ballroom fame and Dearborn High School teacher--became friends. How and when they met is unclear, but Gibb was a deejay at WKNR-FM which was next door to the department store. They became lifelong friends and companions for nearly thirty years until Alberta's death on January 14, 2011 at the age of ninety-one. "Alberta put so many people through college," Gibb said. "She was a great, generous lady and I loved her dearly."

Ford Rotunda Christmas Memories

Monday, November 16, 2020

The Grande Ballroom--Detroit's Hard Rock Mecca

Mural painted on plywood used to board up the Grande Ballroom.

Detroit empresario Harry Weitzman was the financier and original owner of the Grande Ballroom located on the corner of Grand River Blvd and Joy Rd in the predominately Jewish Petosky-Otsego neighborhood on Detroit's Westside. Construction began in May 1928 on the multiuse, two-story building with basement space which opened that October. The architectual style was Art Deco with Spanish Colonial Revival elements. The building was not equipped with air conditioning, so the ballroom was surrounded on three sides by twenty-two Moorish arched windows for cross-ventilation during the hot summer months.

Retail shops occupied the first floor, the mezzenine, and the basement. The ballroom dance floor filled most of the second floor--one of the largest in the Midwest with a capacity for 1,837 dancers. The hardwood floor featured a "sprung" design built over subflooring and a lattice work of cork strips to allow the floor to cushion the dancers' steps, and whether by design or happy coincidence, the ballroom had fabulous acoustics.

The Grande Ballroom became a favorite playground for the surrounding Jewish neighborhood. One can imagine Purple Gang members dressed in fancy clothes, strolling into the dance hall checking out the local talent. From the 1930s until the end of World War II, the Grande featured jazz and big band music. After the war, the music business changed as prewar entertainment habits changed.

The jukebox and a burgeoning record industry turned many dancers into listeners. Youth in the1950s began hosting basement and garage record parties to the detriment of ballroom culture. Commercial radio and television did not help either.

The rise of teen dance television programs like Dick Clark's American Bandstand and Swinging Time with Robin Seymour helped record companies shift America's musical tastes from big bands and orchestras to smaller rock & roll bands and rhythm & blues groups that could lip synch their music and reach a huge, teenage audience. All the city's ballrooms fell on hard times. The Grande's dance floor was turned into a roller skating rink for a time and then a storage facility for mattresses.

In 1966, WKNR deejay "Uncle" Russ Gibb cut a rent-to-buy deal with current owners, the Kleinmann family, for $700 a month. Gibb turned the boarded-up eyesore into a hard rock venue modeled after Bill Graham's San Francisco Fillmore Theater. The surrounding neighborhood and the outside of the Grande had seen better days and was in decline.

Gibb asked other Detroit deejays to partner with him, but they said, "It will never work; that's a Black neighborhood." He reached out to John Sinclair, a key figure in the collaborative Detroit Artists' Workshop, which morphed into Trans-Love Energies Unlimited. Together, they made the Grande Ballroom a success. Where else could young people in Detroit go to see two local bands and two headliner groups for five dollars?

Russ Gibb wanted the Grande to be a place where bands were free to write and perform their own material and forge their own identities. He was not interested in cover bands or bar bands. To help create a psychedelic atmosphere, one of the largest strobe lights ever constructed was installed.

A large screen behind the bandstand displayed light shows created with vegetable oil, food coloring, and a piece of Saran Wrap manipulated in a clear glass bowl or plate projected onto the screen with a transparency projector. This low tech light show combined with the strobe light was unlike anything Detroit kids had ever experienced before. Pretty soon, the weekly gatherings of the tribe began to resemble the characters on the pages of Rob Crumb's Zap Comix.

First Grande Ballroom handbill by Gary Grimshaw in October 1966.

If Crumb was the artist in residence for the Fillmore West in San Francisco, Gary Grimshaw and Carl Lundgren were the artists in residence for the The Grande Ballroom. Their original graphic art became famous and was featured in the Grande's weekly handbills which were produced in large numbers and widely distributed. Today, original Grande poster and handbill art attracts collectors, especially if it's signed by the artists or featured band members.

An example of Carl Lundgren's work.

Arguably, the Grande Ballroom is the birthplace of punk and hard rock music. They started with Detroit's local power bands like SRC, Frost, Iggy and the Stooges, The Amboy Dukes, Bob Seger and the Last Herd, and the Grande's house band The MC5. Then the San Francisco bands like Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, and Janis Joplin with Big Brother and the Holding Company started making Detroit appearances on their concert tours.

When emerging British rock groups heard about the Grande's rabid rock & roll scene, they made Detroit part of their tours--groups and performers like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Jeff Beck, Jethro Tull, Procol Harem, and Cream. To get a sense of how intense performances could be, listen to MC5s "Kick Out the Jams" album which was recorded live at the Grande.

The Grande also hosted Black jazz and blues performers helping to expand their audiences. This drew in racially mixed crowds and endeared the Grande to the local community--performers like John Lee Hooker, B.B. King, John Coltrane, Howling Wolf, Taj Mahal, and Sun Ra were booked, as well as rock & roll legends Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, and Jimi Hendrix

Russ Gibb closed the Grande on New Year's Eve 1972 after six years of operation. The counter-culture and the record business had changed. Corporate suits realized they could make megabucks promoting these groups through much larger venues like auditoriums, university fieldhouses, and stadiums. One by one, the groups signed binding record contracts changing the performers and their performances, making the Grande's grassroots venue a victim of its own success.

Gibb returned to teaching and landed a job at Dearborn High School where he worked until retirement promoting media education. As the decades passed, the weather and vandals turned the dance hall into a ruin. Some efforts are being made to restore the roof of the building to make it weather tight.


Suffice it to say, the Grande's history takes more than a blog post to recount. There is an interesting book available on Amazon, named aptly enough The Grande Ballroom: Detroit's Rock 'N' Palace, by Leo Early.

An Emmy-winning documentary Louder Than Love--The Grande Ballroom was released in 2012. It tells the rock palace's story as told by many of the people who made musical history there. The 52 minute documentary is linked below.

Louder Than Love

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Early Detroit River Speedboat Racing History

The Gold Cup--officially known as the American Power Boat Association (APBA) Challenge Cup--is the oldest continually-awarded trophy in all of motorsports. This huge trophy dates back to 1904 when the motorboat race was held in New York. In those early days, boats plowed through the water rather than skimming the surface. The first winning boat measured 59 feet with an 8.5 foot beam; its 110 hp Standard motor averaged 23 mph.

In 1915, the community-owned Miss Detroit won the Gold Cup on Manhasset Bay, New York. On race day, Miss Detroit's pilot could not be found, so crew member Johnny Milot jumped into the cockpit at the last minute without any protective gear next to riding mechanic Jack Beebe. Milot took a pounding on the first turn and heaved up his guts, so Beebe took over and won the race. The Miss Detroit team earned the right to defend the Gold Cup in home waters.

The single-step hydroplane was powered by a 250 hp Sterling engine. The revolutionary hydroplane design gave the boat the ability to plane over the water's surface and break the 60 mph speed barrier. The decisive win spelled the end of the speedboat displacement era and the beginning of the hydroplane era.

Detroit, Michigan became the Boat Racing Capital of North America surplanting New York as the watersport's epicenter. The Detroit River track was 2.5 miles long for a 5 mile circuit. Beginning in 1917, industrialist Garfield (Gar) Wood became the sport's first superstar winning five consecutive Gold Cup victories. During the winter of 1921-1922, the APBA changed the Gold Cup rules to make racing more competitive and affordable because Wood's boats were unbeatable. Wood retired from Gold Cup racing.

Gar Wood also won the prestigious British Harmsworth Trophy nine times in international competition. In 1932, Wood piloted Miss America X --powered by four supercharged Packard V-12 engines producing 6,400 hp, setting a waterspeed record that went unbroken for over thirty years.

In addition to Gar Wood's unchallenged reign, I found a couple of other noteworthy Gold Cup races on the Detroit River. In the 1933 competition, Dodge Motor Company heir, Horace Dodge Jr. entered eight hydrofoils in the race. El Lagarto--also known as The Leaping Lizard of Lake George (New York)--left the Dodge boats in its wake.

Due to gas rationing for War War II, the APBA suspended its Gold Cup competitions from 1941 through 1945. The race resumed in Detroit on Labor Day in 1946 to huge interest. Big Band leader Guy Lombardo piloted Tempo VI garnering lots of pre-race publicity for the sport. After a hard-fought race, Lombardo won a spectacular victory by breaking Gar Wood's average 70.412 mph lap record for the 30 mile race by 0.478 mph. Gar Wood was in the grandstands to see his twenty-six-year-old Gold Cup record broken by the bandleader.

More on industrialist Gar Wood

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Alex Karras--Basketball Bully?

Anybody know what this publicity shot was for? I recognize Alex Karras and Merle Olsen. Who are the other guys? I think the guy with his legs crossed might be Jack Nicklaus.

Over the spring of 1963, Detroit Lion Alex Karras was waiting to hear his fate over NFL gambling allegations. He continued to go about his life as normally as possible. In the off-season, the Lions' public relations department organized a series of exhibition basketball games in the greater Detroit area to raise money for worthy causes with the side benefit of selling Lions' season tickets. The games were meant to be fun, with the Lions players pulling gags, breaking the rules, and ignoring the volunteer referees much like the Harlem Globetrotters but without the talent or precision timing.

On March 24, 1963, The Detroit Free Press reported that during a Lions exhibition game in Bronson, Michigan on March 19th Alex Karras hit community player Darian Wiler with a "deliberate backhand blow to the neck that left him flat on the floor for five minutes." After Karras was pulled from the game and sent to the showers, the rest of the Lions stuck to playing the basketball game without any further antics.

Another roughing incident occurred several days later in Belleville, Michigan which broke up the game before the clock ran out. The Lions' opponents were an alumni team of former Belleview High School basketball athletes who wanted to prove they still had what it takes before the hometown crowd who was rooting them on.

Former local basketball star, twenty-year-old Gerald Linderman told the Free Press that Alex Karras roughed him up on the court and slugged him when he attempted to shake hands with him in the locker room. Karras denied the incident, "I didn't get hit and I didn't hit anybody. I can't understand what all the trouble is about. There was no real trouble."

Detroit Lions Logo 1961-1969

Spectators reported that they hoped to see a fun Lions' celebrity fundraiser for Little League baseball, but Karras was playing roughhouse basketball more like a football game or a professional wrestling match.

"Before me," Linderman said, "(Karras) hit one guy with a forehead and he elbowed another in the mouth; then, he got all over me just before the game was ended. The game took a turn for the worse when our team's biggest player, Fritz Steger (6' 3"/220#), was sent to the showers after he bumped Lion Wayne Walker, and Walker hit him with a basketball squarely in the face from only five feet away.

"Karras came up to me and said, 'You gave me an elbow for the last time. I'm gonna give you one in the mouth'. We swung at each other a couple of times as I tried to back away to protect myself. He tackled me giving me a cut over my right eye. The (organizers) called off the game."

One of the referees Richard Duffield, a teacher at Livonia High School, was an eyewitness. "Linderman had his hand out and said he was sorry thinking Karras would shake it, then he pinned Linderman against the wall. (Karras) backed off, changed his mind, and hit him hard in the jaw. Thirty minutes later, Karras apologized saying he was already in enough trouble.

A couple days after the unflattering Free Press article ran, the Detroit Lions' public relations office had club trainer Millard Kelly and a couple of players including Karras make a press statement about their promotional basketball program and the incident.

Kelly told the local Detroit media, "You get some (players) who want to make it a friendly exhibition game and some who are gung-ho about winning. The gung-ho ones are kids out of high school a few years that are rusty but ready to show the hometown crowd they can still play basketball and aren't going to be pushed around by any pro football bullies."

Detroit Lion end Gail Gogdill said of the Belleville scuffle, "We want to put on a good show, but there are always some of the hometown team who want to beat the big, bad Lions. They think they can pop a few elbows. Wayne (Walker) and Alex (Karras) were elbowed all the time. We pulled our stunts like flying wedges, fake field goals, holding each other on our shoulders to make a shot. We signed autographs at halftime and everybody had a good time."

Karras' final words on the subject were "You know how guys are sometimes? He (Linderman) banged me in the throat twice with his elbows, and I told him 'Kid, that's enough. Cut it out now', so he bangs me again. So, I'm the bully?"

Karras in locker room interview.

The fracas undoubtedly reached the desk of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, as did the news of the professional wrestling match Karras was scheduled to have with mauler Dick the Bruiser at Detroit's Olympia Stadium on April 29, 1963. Karras was left to twist in the wind until April 17th when Commissioner Rozelle called and informed him he was suspended for the 1963 NFL season after admitting gambling on NFL games.

On April 21st, Karras was contacted by The Detroit Free Press for comment. The Lion's beleaguered, defensive lineman said he felt the suspension was unfair but there was nothing he could do about it. To play down his simmering resentment, he added, "I even got a call from Belleview. They said they were forming a Dick the Bruiser fan club. They're coming down to see me take a beating."

The Bellevue boosters were not disappointed.

Killer Karras vs. Dick the Bruiser

Friday, October 30, 2020

Docuartist DeVon Cunningham--a Detroit Art Treasure

DeVon Cunningham
Born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on February 21, 1935, DeVon Cunningham began his art training at the tender age of eleven when he won a scholarship to the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis, Indiana. Part of his training was a two-week, all expenses paid seminar to study in Italy.

He continued his art training at the Detroit Center for Creative Studies and the Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center. Cunningham went on to complete a bachelor's degree from the Detroit Institute of Technology and a master's degree from Wayne State University.

When he wasn't working as a marketing executive for Detroit Edison, DeVon was painting. Over his long career, DeVon's paintings have appeared in many galleries including eleven one-man shows, and his work hangs in many private and public art collections--the most notable being the Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian Institute.

In 1969, DeVon Cunningham achieved national recognition when he painted the mural of the Black Christ on the dome of St. Cecelia Catholic church at Livernois and Burlingame in Detroit. This work featured a twenty-four-foot, brown-skinned image of Jesus with six multiethnic angels beside him serving high mass. The church's parishioners were mostly African Americans from the neighborhood. The mural was a welcomed addition to this French Romanesque church built in 1930 before the ethnicity of the neighborhood changed.

A national controversy erupted when the mural appeared on the cover of Ebony magazine in March 1969. Twenty-five years later on December 25th, 1994, the mural once again became the topic of controversy when the New York Times featured the church mural on Christmas Day. Reverend Raymond Ellis, rector of St. Cecelia's, responded to the criticism in a Detroit Free Press interview.

"Black parishioners have a legitmate complaint when they walk into a church to worship and everything is white. Christianity forces people to accept Western European culture.

"The historical Christ was Hebrew, a Jew from the Middle East. He might have had dark skin; he might have been fair. But Christ is the head of the church, he is God, and he is any color people want him to be."

Cunningham's commissioned portraits of prominent Detroit community leaders include Martha Jean "The Queen" Steinberg, a WCHB radio personality active in Detroit's African American community; Coleman Young, the city's first black mayor; Abe Burnstein, Detroit's reputed Purple Gang boss during Prohibition; and many others.

The most mysterious portrait Cunningham has painted is of Motown founder Berry Gordy Jr. It was unveiled at Gordy's Boston-Edison mansion as a birthday present from his sister Anna Gordy Gaye--the wife of singer Marvin Gaye. Berry was quite moved and lauded the painting of him dressed up like Napoleon. Somewhere along the line, someone suggested that it might not be a compliment to be compared to Napoleon, and the painting disappeared. (More on that story appears in the link at the end of this post.)

Cunningham's portraits gave way to what he calls docu-art that informs, instructs, and involves the viewer. His work combines symbolism with cultural iconography that leaves the viewer with a montage of images to ponder. DeVon's art not only appeals to the eye but also to the mind.

DeVon's jazz musician series typifies much his later work. Historically, Detroit was instrumental in the 1920s through the 1950s for providing African American jazz and blues musicians venues to perform and make a living through their music. To document the historic relationship of Jews and African Americans, Cunningham painted legendary performers like Theolonius Monk, Louie Armstrong, Billie Holiday, and Miles Davis, who performed in Detroit's legendary nightclubs owned by Jewish empresarios who hired black acts when other venue bookers wouldn't.

Billie Holiday docu-art
At the age of eighty-five, DeVon Cunningham continues to produce significant art that remains relevant in our changing times. He has a distinguished body of work and presently is working on a commission for the Spill the Honey foundation, a group that emphasizes the shared legacy of Jewish people and African Americans seeking historical truth and social justice through educational and artistic programs.

With over sixty years of artistic achievement, ask people in the contemporary Detroit art world who DeVon Cunningham is and the likely response will be "Who?" What a shame.

Berry Gordy's Lost Portrait

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

The Evolution of America's Patriotic Images: Yankee Doodle, Uncle Sam, Miss Columbia, and Lady Liberty

Originally titled Yankee Doodle Dandy, The Spirit of '76 was painted in 1876 by Archibald MacNeal Willard for the centennial celebrations in Philadelphia.

Today, the most internationally recognized personification of the United States is Uncle Sam, but it wasn't always so. Before and during the Revolutionary War, the British Red Coats characterized ramshakle colonial soldiers as Yankee Doodle Dandies. It wasn't a compliment. The rousing British drinking song portrayed colonists as foppish, anti-royalists impugning their manhood.

The colonists were able to co-opt the insulting song and make it their own. Taking the song's melody, Edward Bangs--a Harvard University sophomore by day and a Minuteman by night--wrote fifteen new verses to the British song in 1775 and circulated the lyrics throughout New England. Yankee Doodle Dandy went from being an insult to a song of American national pride.

On September 7, 1813, Uncle Sam became the official nickname and image for the United States government. The name is attributed to cattle tender and meat packer Samuel Wilson. He supplied oak barrels of meat to the United States government for rations during the War of 1812. His workers stamped US on his government shipments, and he became known locally in Troy, New York as Uncle Sam. Soldiers soon picked up on the name.

Early on, the image of Uncle Sam did not have a standard appearance. Popular political cartoonist Thomas Nast is credited with the first image of Uncle Sam in a November 20, 1869 editorial cartoon in Harper's Weekly supporting the Fifteenth Amendment for universal sufferage. Uncle Sam (symbol of the government) and Columbia (symbol of the country) are hosting a Thanksgiving dinner for a group of diverse immigrants. Nash's Harper's Weekly editorial cartoon images of Uncle Sam helped establish the patriotic icon we know today.

The image we all recognize as Uncle Sam evolved over time. The long and lanky man with the white goatee and white hair, dressed in red and white striped pants, a dark blue frock coat, a white top hat with a blue starred band, and a red bow tie was the creation of James Montgomery Flagg for the famous 1917 World War I United States Army recruiting poster which was used again during World War II. Millions of copies were distributed establishing Uncle Sam as the national symbol of American patriotism and pride.

The earliest known personification of pre-United States appeared in 1738. Miss Columbia was the embodiment of liberty. European nations used the term "Columbia" to refer to the New World and then the thirteen colonies, based on the mistaken belief that Italian explorer Christopher Columbus discovered America. Miss Columbia's image was depicted as a strong, classical woman modeled after Greek goddess Athena and infused with a healthy dose of Americanism. She became a central figure in the narrative of early America, its values, its Westward expansion, and its promise of establishing the American ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Columbia's image was often seen in political cartoons in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but her dominance as America's favorite female icon was challenged in 1886 by the installation of the Statue of Liberty. The two iconic images co-existed for thirty years, but the personification of Columbia fell out of favor with the issuance of Liberty Bonds in support of the World War I war effort which had The Statue of Liberty's image printed on them.

When Columbia Pictures chose their trademark in 1924, they created a blended version of Miss Columbia with The Statue of Liberty pose, doing neither icon any favors. To compound Miss Columbia's troubles, some of America's most iconic coinage bore the image of Lady Liberty, who became the favored personification of liberty.


Columbia endures as the name of many cities and streets throughout the United States, as well as Columbia University in New York, Columbia Records, Columbia Pictures, Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), and the name of our ill-fated space shuttle which exploded in mid-air on February 1, 2003. 

Contemporary cartoonist for The Independent Weekly in Durham, North Carolina D.C. Rogers may have expressed it best, "One of the reasons Miss Columbia has declined is that The Statue of Liberty has risen." The most famous American monument to liberty was a gift from the people of France.

America's enduring symbol of freedom--The Statue of Liberty.


Lady Liberty's image also has a long and distinguished history on American coinage. A one cent coin was struck in 1793. Liberty's cameo image was considered unattractive with a wild mane of hair and a balding, sloped forehead. It was quickly retired making this coin one of the most sought after American coins for collectors.

In 1795, the Liberty Draped Bust silver dollar showed an attractive, middle-aged Lady Liberty with flowing hair held back with a decorative bow. She is surrounded by stars representing the number of states. This image of Lady Liberty was minted from 1795 until 1804. 


In 1878, George T. Morgan designed what is known as The Morgan Silver Dollar, prized by collectors because of its size and weight. The model for the coin, Anna Willness Williams, became known as the "Silver Dollar Girl." Morgan designed a cameo profile with Liberty's beautifully quaffed hair in a Phrygian cap which signifies freedom and the pursuit of liberty. This silver dollar was minted until 1921.

The Walking Liberty half dollar was minted from 1916 until 1947. This silver coin is rich with symbolism. Lady Liberty walks towards the dawn of a new day. She carries a bouquet of laurel and oak representing military and civil victories of the nation. Her outstretched arm imparts the spirit of liberty to others. She is clothed in a lovely, flowing gown representing the American flag, and she is wearing a Phrygian cap. The coin was reissued for collectors because of its exceptional beauty. It is also known as the American Silver Eagle because of the image on the reverse side.


Thursday, October 22, 2020

California Kid/Midwestern Heart

I'm proud to announce that my daughter Nicole Fribourg is a romance novelist. I asked her to write a brief guest post about her motivation.

It's been wonderful to have a foot in one state and a toe in another. I've always been an observer of people, curious about what makes them do what they do and think what they think. The Michigan blizzard of 1979 drove my parents to leave the Detroit area for sunny San Diego. I grew up 2,400 miles away from Detroit, but Vernor's ginger ale was always in our fridge and I know what a Boston Cooler is.

When my family visited Michigan in the summers, we always went by car. We drove across the California mountains, the Southwestern deserts, the Great Plains, the Midwest, and the Great Lakes region--often on the back roads off the interstate. We'd have an adventure of the sites, sounds, smells, and tastes along the journey--not to mention the many people we encountered.

This treasure trove of memories and images I use to create my characters to make them more textured and relatable to readers. I write through the lens of the experiences and the diverse people I've met along the way. My wish is that my books take readers on an entertaining journey to better understand themselves and their personal relationships.


Check out my latest romance novel: "Fixing Flynn"

For a list of my current novels, see my Amazon Author page: 

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