Thursday, September 21, 2017

Criminalistic Junk Science

Cesare Lombroso
In the late nineteenth-century, Italian psychiatrist Cesare Lombroso advanced the idea of the "born criminal" based loosely on the work of naturalist Charles Darwin. Lombroso believed the criminal could be distinguished by "abnormalities" in the skull, face, and body. He compiled a list of criminal traits including receding hairline, forehead wrinkles, bumpy face, broad noses, fleshy lips, sloping shoulders, elongated arms, and pointed fingers.

In the Gilded Age of Queen Victoria, the belief there was a "face of evil" was an easy one in the era of Jack the Ripper. In the first half of the twentieth-century, this theory was strongly reinforced in American popular culture through radio mysteries, crime cinema, dime novels, and pulp-fiction detective magazines. This folklore reinforced the idea that criminals are easily identified because they look different from other people--loosely defined as "us".


Rather than scientific, these ideas broke along racial and ethnic lines. In nineteenth-century America, religion was also considered a prejudicial factor in determining guilt. It was generally believed by Anglo-Saxon Protestants--who made up the social and power elite--that Catholic and Jewish immigrants bore a greater responsibility for crime in cities like Boston and New York than law-abiding American folk. In Germany, the Nazis made great use of the pseudo-science of Social Darwinism against European Jews, which they documented to their shame in the last century.


In the early twentieth century, two new forms of pseudoscience gained popularity in law enforcement circles, the polygraph test--also known as a "lie detector" test--and the intravenous injection of truth serum. The polygraph machine measures and records several physiological indices such as blood pressure, pulse, respiration, and skin conductivity. The belief is that deceptive answers will record a different response that true responses. 

Sodium pentothal was invented in 1934 intended to be a pain killer, but it was found to relax subjects who would answer questions put to them in an unguarded and uninhibited fashion while under the influence of the sedative. During World War II, the drug was widely used as an anti-anxiety drug by psychiatrists for battle fatigue.

Polygraph printout.
Polygraph tests measure arousal and are inherently subjective. They can be affected by anxiety disorders and other factors. In 2002, the National Research Council noted "There is no specific physiological reaction associated with lying. The mechanisms associated with lying are unknown making it difficult to identify factors that separate liars from truth tellers." The National Academy of Sciences stated that polygraph tests "are simply unreliable, unscientific, biased, and inadmissible in the United States court system."

The belief that lie detectors are a useful forensic tool is generally discredited, but the myth is keep alive in the popular culture through fiction and film. Polygraph tests today are the subject of comedy as in Meet the Parents 3 where Robert De Niro straps a vintage polygraph machine to Ben Stiller for comic effect.


The idea of truth serum also has been the mainstay of pulp-fiction and true crime magazines. Its conceptual originator was Dr. Robert House in 1915. He gave the drug scopolamine to women during childbirth and noticed that they would speak spontaneously and respond to any questions put to them while under the influence. 

Sodium pentothal was invented in 1934 by Ernest H. Volwiler and Donalie L. Tabern as a sedative or painkiller, but it soon became what the public regarded as truth serum. Side effects included short-term memory loss, headache, nausea, agitation, drowsiness, and up to a three day hangover.

In 1963, the United States Supreme Court ruled that "barbiturate confessions" produced under the influence of truth serum were unconstitutionally coerced and therefore inadmissible. Truth serum results are not accepted by Western legal systems and legal experts as genuine investigative tools.

There is no drug proven to cause consistent or predictable enhancement of truth-telling. Studies have found that subjects questioned under the influence of truth serum are suggestible and their memories are subject to reconstruction and fabrication. Another problem is what the subject perceives as truth cannot be differentiated from unbiased, factual truth.

Unlike fingerprint and DNA science, Social Darwinism, polygraph tests, and truth serum are considered junk science and have no place in modern investigative forensics.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ypsilanti's Historic Depot Town

Mark Norris (1796-1862)
Ypsilanti, Michigan was a ramshackle frontier town on the old Chicago Road in 1828 when pioneer Mark Norris and his family settled just east of the Huron River. Perhaps more than any other Ypsilanti citizen, Norris advanced the development of the city. He was an industrious and shrewd businessman. He owned a wool carding company, a dry goods store, the Western Hotel next to the railroad, the Norris Block building on River Street, and the Ypsilanti Flour Mill.

Original Ypsilanti Depot
It was Mark Norris who convinced the Michigan Central Railroad to make Ypsilanti a scheduled stop and construct a wooden loading dock and a freight warehouse giving birth to Depot Town. The first train arrived on February 2, 1838. Ypsilanti was no longer an isolated frontier town. It became an economic hub for the area's growing agricultural and manufacturing concerns.

The Depot Town businesses on the ground floor catered to the needs of weary travellers and light manufacturing. The upper floors were used for lodging, warehousing, or residential use. In 1864, the railroad built a lovely, three-story train depot said to be the nicest between Detroit and Chicago. Unfortunately, the upper floors were destroyed by fire in 1910--only the ground floor was rebuilt.

Depot Town became a staging area for the Underground Railroad from 1841 until the 1860s. Escaped slaves hid in safe houses or wherever they could during the day and traveled down the Huron River at night. During the Civil War, the 14th Michigan Infantry Regiment and the 27th Michigan Infantry Regiment shipped out from Depot Town heading for the South.

Cross Street Bridge is left--Depot Town is right.
A thriving two-block-long commercial district grew up along both sides of East Cross Street. Mark Norris built his flour mill on the northeast corner of Cross Street next to the Huron River sometime in the 1850s. A water canal raceway powered the waterwheel. The property changed hands several times. In 1874, William Deubel bought the mill and ran it with his sons. The mill was damaged by fire in 1915 and rebuilt. It became obsolete in the electrical age and was demolished in 1925.


Frog Island Bridge--March 8, 1935.
The old flour mill was gone, but the water raceway remained. During the Depression, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) built a footbridge north off the Cross Street Bridge over the raceway leading to Frog Island Park. The following year on March 8th, 1935, the body of seven-year-old Richard Streicher, Jr. was found stabbed and frozen to death beneath the footbridge.

Richard Streicher, Jr. post:
https://fornology.blogspot.com/2016/11/little-richard-streicher-ypsilantis.html 

Monday, September 4, 2017

Unexpected America: A Memoir by Wanjiru Warama

At the age of six, Wanjiru Warama [WAHN-jee-row Wa-RAH-Ma] had no knowledge of the world outside the Rift Valley in the East African British colony of Kenya. Her father was from the Kikuyu tribe, the largest ethnic group in the country and loyal to the British. He worked for a wealthy farm owner but only made enough money for his family to live in abject poverty. 

After World War II, it became increasingly difficult for European countries to maintain a colonial presence in Africa. Kenya was given its independence from the United Kingdom in 1963 after eight years of guerrilla warfare known as the Mau Mau Uprising from 1952 through 1960. Amidst this political and civil strife, Wanjiru was sent to Nairobi where she was fortunate enough to be enrolled in a school where she earned a high school diploma.

Realizing education and job training were her only avenues for social mobility and personal independence, Wanjiru was motivated to pursue a business degree from United States International University (USIU) in Naiorbi. Reasoning that opportunities were scarce in the capital city of Nairobi and wanting to expand her horizon, Wanjiru saved up enough money from her clerical job to finance the final year of her bachelor degree program and transfer to the USIU San Diego campus.


San Diego Festival of books--August 2017.
This is where Wanjiru Warama's memoir Unexpected America begins. Armed with a certified check made out to USIU for a year's expenses, a student visa, and a plane ticket, Wanjiru arrives to make her stake on the American Dream only to discover a culture shock beyond her imagination. Her naive view of America collides squarely with the harsh realities of being an immigrant, a minority, and a woman in America--compounded by being in one of the most competitive job markets in the United States, San Diego, California.

Told in straightforward prose with revealing candor, Wanjiru weaves her story of determination, hard work, and perseverance in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds to establish herself as an American citizen. May her story be an inspiration to others who come to this country seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Unexpected-America-Wanjiru-Warama/dp/0998051306/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504469409&sr=1-1&keywords=Unexpected+America

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Preston Tucker from Ypsilanti, Michigan



One of the least recognized of Ypsilanti's notable citizens was Preston Tucker, an automobile innovator who many automotive historians believed was way ahead of his time.
                                                     
In 1939, Tucker moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan, and opened the Ypsilanti Machine and Tool Company. There he innovated and produced the Tucker Turret used on PT boats, landing craft, the B-17, and the B-29 during World War II. That's where he made his fortune. After the war, he turned his attention toward his life-long passion--automobiles.

The Big Three (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) Detroit automakers had not developed a new car since World War II began. This opened the door for small, independent automakers to produce post-war cars for a starving market. Studebaker--out of Indiana--was the first to produce an entirely new automobile after the war.

But Tucker's vision was to design and build a car with modern styling and safety innovations. He pioneered hydraulic drive systems, fuel injection, direct-drive torque converters, disc brakes, easily accessible instrument panel, padded dashboard, self-sealing tubeless tires, independent springless suspension, laminated windshield, an air-cooled aircraft engine, and a "cyclops" center headlight which would turn when steering around a corner for better visibility while driving at night. The "cyclops" became a fixed headlamp on the production model. There were only fifty Tuckers ever built.


Academy Award winner, Jeff Bridges, played Preston Tucker
masterfully in the 1988 movie--Tucker: A Man and His Dream. An interesting aside to the film is that Jeff's father, Lloyd Bridges, played the Michigan senator that kicked the legs out from under the automotive innovator. It's fun to see the real-life father and son actors battle it out in the film. Baby Boomer's will remember Lloyd Bridges from the 1950s television series--Sea Hunt. Younger viewers may remember him from the movie--Airplane.

I have been fortunate to have seen two working Tuckers, and a third fiberglass mock up used in the filming of the movie. One of the cars is in the Henry Ford Museum; another is in Auburn, Indiana, at their Auburn/Cord/Dussenberg Automobile Museum; and the fiberglass mock-up used in the movie is at the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum in Depot Town on East Cross Street in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Check it out the next time you are in town.

More specifics on Preston Tucker can be found in the link below. He died of lung cancer on December 26th, 1956, at the age of fifty-three. He is buried at Michigan Memorial Park in Flatrock, Michigan.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Winding Down Terror In Ypsilanti

My wife and I at Detroit Bookfest 2017.
Since Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked was published last August, it has done well in the marketplace for an independently published book. This project took me, with the help of my researcher Ryan M. Place, five years to gather and research public documents, interview people connected with the case, and write the book; almost a year to edit the manuscript and publish it; and a solid year to promote the title and arrange author talks and book signings. It's been a busy year.

Over the last seven years, I have made nineteen round-trip flights from San Diego to Detroit to bring the tragic facts of these fifty-year-old serial murders to the forefront. Six of the seven murders never went to trial, so those facts were largely unknown to the public.

Writing TIY has met or surpassed all of my original goals. I set out to:
  • recognize and pay respect to the memories of John Norman Collins's victims, their identities obfuscated by the use of pseudonyms in an earlier novelized account,
  • clarify the facts and circumstances surrounding these murders obscured by time and misinformation on the Internet,
  • reconstitute a faithful rendition of the Collins case which was purged from the files of the Washtenaw County Court sometime in 1976,
  • and counter the blatant lies, alibis, and prevarications of Collins's attempts from prison to manipulate the press and the public. These falsehoods were given new life by social media.
The positive book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are appreciated more than I can say, but occasionally I receive an email or letter of a personal nature which helps validate the long and difficult task it took to cobble this tragic story together.

The latest letter I received was from Michaeline B. after my July tour in Michigan. She gave me permission to run an edited version of her remarks. Being able to move people with words may be the most satisfying thing I have accomplished with my writing. On this note, I end my 2017 promotions and move forward to my next project.

"It was a pleasure meeting you. I have finished Terror In Ypsilanti. My testament to your writing skills can best be told this way: I am an avid reader who almost never reads hard copy books. Ebooks suit my reading style and needs better. Yet, I read Terror in record time, adjusting my reading prerequisites accordingly without complaint. I even lugged this paperback around during the Traverse City Film Festival to better use my waiting-in-line time.

This is not a feel good book in any usual sense as the story is awful and sad. However, as one who is disturbed by the shortcomings--even the failures of our (criminal) justice system--you make a very satisfying case for justice decently served. I appreciate that.

The late sixties found me preoccupied with early motherhood duties and the big public events of the period (Vietnam, civil rights, the moon walk, etc.). Overwhelming! To a large extent, John Norman Collins and the related horror barely made it onto my radar screen. In some unspoken and unrecognized sense, I chastised myself over the years for my neglect. Thanks to you, I have done my duty to be informed on this matter--finally.

Devoting five years to this endeavor is a high price to pay, Greg. Please accept my humble thanks, admiration, and congratulations.... I look forward to reading Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel."

I thank Michaeline for sharing her story with me, and I appreciate every book review readers write on Amazon and Goodreads. It is these word-of-mouth endorsements that make the best kind of promotion and warm this author's heart.

Saturday, August 5, 2017

Detroit Bookfest 2017 Surpasses Expectations


Organized as a "goodwill effort to help generate a deeper love and appreciation of books in the Greater Detroit community," the Bookclub of Detroit sponsored Bookfest 2017 was a rousing success for the city and festival organizers. Held in Shed 5 at the historic Eastern Market on Detroit's eastside, people from every corner of the city and the surrounding suburbs came out in force. The foot traffic was strong all day. Thousands of people attended.


Author Herb Boyd
In adition to rare and used books, contemporary works and their authors were present as exhibitors, most notably Herb Boyd, the author of recently published Black Detroit: A People's History of Self-Determination. I was happy to meet Herb and get his autograph on my copy. Michigan independent author Claudia Whitsitt and yours truly shared a table and did quite well at the end of the day. 

Making a sale.
Books were not the only attraction. Vendors included food trucks, craft beer, photography, vintage LP vinyl, movie memorabilia, local craft items, clothing, and more. The festival was a free, family friendly event and a good time was had by all.

While talking with Janet Jones, owner of Source Booksellers in Midtown Detroit, I commented on how Bookfest appeared to be a big hit. Her response was, "That it happened at all was good for the city." I agree with Janet and I will be back next year for Bookfest II.

Congratulations to Ryan M. Place and his team for organizing such a well-run and well-received event. In addition to the Bookclub of Detroit, other Bookfest sponsors were the City of Detroit, Eastern Market, Margrave Pictures, Cafe D'Mongo's, John K. King Used Books, White Raven Books, Black Lotus Brewing Co., and DJ Zig-Zag.
***

Life In Michigan pictorial: http://www.lifeinmichigan.com/detroit-book-festival-2017/

For more information on Detroit's Eastern Market:
https://www.easternmarket.com/ 

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Willow Run Bomber Plant Changes Ypsilanti Forever


Original Three-story Ypsilanti Depot Station.
At the turn of the century, before the second World War, Ypsilanti had an active downtown area along Michigan Avenue. Northeast of town, there was a thriving business district called Depot Town.

Depot Town was the area's commercial hub and provided services for weary train travelers. Ypsilanti's three-story brick depot station was ornate compared to the depot in Ann Arbor. In its day, it was said to be the nicest train station between Detroit and Chicago.

The Norris Building built in 1861 was across from the depot on River Street. It was originally supposed to house a retail block on the ground floor and residential rooms on the two upper floors. Instead, the building became an army barracks during the Civil War. The 14th Michigan Infantry Regiment shipped out of Depot Town in 1862, as did the 27th Michigan Regiment in 1863. 

The facade of the historic Norris Building remains on North River Street, despite a fire which decimated the rear portion of this last remaining Civil War barracks in Michigan. Work has begun on rebuilding the historic building.

Michigan State Normal School was located west of Depot Town on West Cross Street and northwest of downtown Ypsilanti. It spawned a growing educational center which later expanded its mission to become Eastern Michigan University. 

Ypsilanti's residential area with its historic and varied architecture filled the spaces between. Surrounding everything was some of the most fertile farm land in the state.

The water-powered age of nineteenth century manufacturing on the Huron River gave way to the modern electrical age of the twentieth century. The soft beauty of the gas light to illuminate homes was replaced with the harsh glare of the incandescent light bulb. The times were changing for Ypsilanti--ready or not.

***

The countryside was prime tillable ground with fruit groves scattered about the countyside. Henry Ford owned a large tract of land in an area known as Willow Run, named for the small river that ran through it. The Ford patriarch used the land to plant soybeans, but the United States government needed bombers for the Lend Lease program with Great Britain. On December 8, 1941, one day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, the Nazis declared war on the United States on behalf of their ally. America was drawn into the second world war.

The Roosevelt administration asked the Ford corporation, now run by Edsel Ford, to build a factory that could mass produce the B-24 Liberator Bomber. Edsel Ford, Charles Sorenson (production manager), and some Ford engineers visited the Consolidated Aircraft Company in San Diego to see how the planes were built. 

That night, Sorenson drew up a floor plan that could build the bomber more efficiently. His blueprint was a marvel of ingenuity, but the Ford corporation made one significant change in his master plan.

The best shape to build a front to back assembly line operation is in a straight line. But to avoid the higher taxes in Democratic Wayne County, the bomber plant took a hard right to the south on one end to stay within Republican Washtenaw County, which had lower taxes. This was at the insistance of Harry Bennett, Ford's head of security who had strong ties to Washtenaw County being a graduate of Ann Arbor High School.

The construction of the plant in Willow Run began in May of 1941, seven months before Pearl Harbor. Lengendary Detroit architect Albert Kahn designed the largest factory in the world, but it would be his last project. He died in 1942.

The federal government bought up land adjacent to the bomber plant and built an airport which still exists today and is used for commercial aviation. The eight-sectioned hangar could house twenty Liberators.

***
Soon, workers flooded into Ypsilanti and the rapidly developing Willow Run area where makeshift row housing was hastily constructed. Overnight, the sleepy farming and college town of Ypsilanti became a three shift, 24/7, blue collar community. 

Suddenly the area was hit with a housing shortage. Ypsilanti homeowners rented rooms to workers or converted their large Victorian homes into boarding houses. It was wartime and money was to be made. Some families rented "warm beds." One worker would sleep in the bed while another was working his shift, but still there was a housing shortage. Many people slept in their cars until they could make other arrangements. 

Ford sent recruiters to Kentucky and Tennessee to draw workers in from the south. That is when the derisive term "Ypsitucky" originated. Long time residents did not like the changes they saw in their town. The bomber factory workers worked hard and drank hard. Fights broke out in local bars, and Ypsilanti developed a hard edge and a dark reputation.

Because so many men were in uniform serving their country, there was a shortage of skilled labor at first. But then the women of Southern Michigan stepped up big time. They donned work clothes, and tied up their long hair in colorful scarves. It was calculated at the end of the war that 40% of every B-24 Liberator was assembled by women.

***

Little known factoid: The first stretch of expressway in America was made with Ford steel and Ford cement. It connected workers in the Detroit area to their jobs at the bomber plant in Willow Run via Ecorse Road. It's still there and runs along the north end of the former GM Hydromatic Plant and Willow Run Airport.

***

The Yankee Air Museum housed on the east end of Willow Run Airport was established in 1981 to restore and preserve the almost forgotten history of Willow Run Airport, and to commemorate the achievement of the men and women who helped win the war by the sweat of their brow producing 8,685 B-24 Liberators.

Background history of the Yankee Air Museum: http://yankeeairmuseum.org/our-history/

The following link has some vintage bomber plant footage: http://www.annarbor.com/news/ypsilanti/pbs-to-air-documentary-about-ypsilantis-legendary-willow-run-b-24-bomber-factory/

Monday, July 17, 2017

Clinton LeForge Runs Amuck In Ypsilanti

Ypsilanti Daily Press--August 26, 1935.
To the reader: The documentation for this post was collected by the late George Ridenour and Lyle McDermott of the Ypsilanti Historical Society.

Clinton LeForge was known as a collector of Native American artifacts and fancied himself a self-taught expert in archeology. He spoke about his collection wearing an Indian headdress and a ceremonial robe and claimed Indian blood coursed through his veins.

"Whatever the Indian has done has been in defense of his wigwam and hunting grounds," LeForge said in an Ypsilanti Daily Press interview. "The Indian killed only in defense of his family. Trespassing on Indian land meant death in the native code." 

LeForge believed peace-loving Algonquins and the warlike Iroquois used the Ypsilanti area as a neutral burial ground. He gathered over 3,000 artifacts such as arrow heads, spear heads, tomahawks, and grinding stones from his property and searching along the Huron River, Ann Arbor Trail, and the Sauk Trail--all known Indian pathways.

Local farmers familiar with Clinton's interest in Indian artifacts would give him relics they found while plowing their fields. During the excavation of the Detroit Urban Railway in 1901, many Indian remains and artifacts were removed by souvenir hunters who damaged many of them. Clinton got his share, you can be sure of that.

Even a casual investigation of the LeFurge/LeForge family records reveals Clinton had nary a drop of Indian blood in his background. For that matter, he also claimed he was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, but there is no record of his enlistment. His 1930 Federal Census report indicates he had no military service. It is clear that Clinton LeForge was a raconteur and not above stretching the truth, nor creating it out of whole cloth when the purpose suited him.

When LeForge died in 1949, his estate included his Indian artifact collection valued at $2,488.50 and some Mayan pottery valued at $285. How this material was appraised is undocumented. What is known is his widow Grace LeForge did not share her husband's enthusiasm for Indian artifacts and sold the collection to a private collector for an unknown amount of money.


Ann Arbor News, March 15, 1935.
In 1931, tired of scratching a living off the land, LeForge tried his hand at selling insurance and practicing law. But in March of 1935, LeForge was named as a suspect in the murder of seven-year-old Richard Streicher, Jr, an Ypsilanti child found stabbed and frozen under the Frog Island Bridge in Depot Town.

Prior to the boy's killing, LeForge represented Mrs. Lucia Streicher in a divorce action which was dropped immediately upon Richard's death. The buzz around town was that Lucia and Clinton were having an affair. The day after the boy's body was found, LeForge went to the Streicher apartment at Lucia's request and removed Richard's toys from his bedroom, an act that raised eyebrows in the community and set idle tongues wagging.

Ypsilanti Daily Press, March 8, 1935.
Then, for some reason known only to her, Lucia Streicher turned on Clinton and implicated him as a possible suspect in her son's murder--a charge he vehemently denied. LeForge wanted to clear himself of malicious rumors circulating around town, leading him to take a battery of polygraph tests on two separate occasions hoping to clear his name--one polygraph given locally at the Ypsilanti State Police Post and the other in Lansing at Michigan State Police Headquarters. Lieutenant Van A. Loomis, state police polygraph examiner, wrote in his analysis of the data that he was convinced LeForge was innocent and knew nothing that would help solve the Streicher case.

Further damage to LeForge's reputation came eight months later when he was arrested on November 28, 1935, for the embezzlement of $3,685 from the estate of Darwin Z. Curtis. That was a huge sum of money during the Great Depression. LeForge pleaded guilty to the charge and made restitution to the Curtis Estate, paid $50 in court costs, and resigned from the Michigan Bar Association. The judge sentenced him to five years probation--a virtual slap on the hand. After LeForge's disbarment on September 8, 1936, nothing more is known publicly about his activities until his accidental death on August 30, 1946.

LeForge was operating a saw mill on his property at 7120 Ford Road. He was milling a 2" x 8" length of timber when the saw blade kicked the board back hitting him squarely in the chest crushing his ribcage. When Grace went outside to check on her husband, she found him dead on the ground. The Washtenaw County Coroner came to the farm and pronounced him dead at 6:00 pm. Clinton I. LeForge was sixty-four years old. He was buried in a family plot in Highland Cemetery on September 2, 1946, leaving a two-mile length of county road as his legacy.

The Richard Streicher, Jr. Murder: http://fornology.blogspot.com/2016/11/little-richard-streicher-ypsilantis.html

Monday, July 10, 2017

Clinton LeForge--Grandson Of An Ypsilanti Pioneer


To the Reader: The documentation for this post was collected by the late George Ridenour and Lyle McDermott of the Ypsilanti Historical Society.

One of the most colorful and controversial residents of Ypsilanti was Clinton Isaac LeFurge. He was born in Superior Township on June, 1885, to Insley B. LeFurge and Mary Ette Gale. In his mid-thirties, Clinton changed the spelling of his last name to LeForge. While looking through an heirloom family Bible, he found the names of twenty-two Leforge (sic) ancestors recorded on the flyleaf dating back to January 12, 1723.

Almost 200 hundred years later, Clinton chose to adopt that spelling and capitalize the letter F. LeForge is how his name appears in most public documents. The David LeForge family Bible is in the collection of the Ypsilanti Historical Society, contributed by Mrs. Dwight A. (Cora) Peck, Clinton LeForge's sister.

Young Clinton grew up a farm boy on his parent's 160 acre farm which ran along what was locally known as Paper Mill Road leading to the Huron River. He attended Bennett--a one-room schoolhouse on Geddes Road about a mile from his house. He showed promise as a student, so his parents sent him to Ypsilanti High School--a two mile walk.

The LeFurges: Insley/Mary and Clinton/Cora--1903.
It was common at the turn of the twentieth century for farm kids to drop out of school in the eighth grade to work the family farm. Many young women received little formal education beyond the domestic chores they learned at home. Graduating from high school was a significant achievement, but Clinton was not satisfied with that. He went on to earn a law degree in 1908 at Detroit College of Law, but it would be twenty-three years before he would practice law.

The following year, Clinton married Edith Grace Crippen and wasted no time starting a family. Soon they had two daughters and two sons. Earning a living to support his growing family through farming prevented Clinton from pursing his legal career. To compound matters, his father Insley died May 5, 1915, leaving him his mother's only means of support.

On November 12, 1920, Mary Ette transferred ownership of the family farm--160 acres of prime farmland--to her son Clinton in exchange for her "full use and possession of" the farmhouse until her death. For Clinton's part, he agreed to "keep up repairs and pay taxes during that time" as well as work the farm. The transfer was not recorded in the Washtenaw County Register of Deeds until January 30, 1924.

Sometime during the 1930s, Detroit Edison was stringing electrical lines in Superior Township and officially renamed Paper Mill Road, changing it to LeForge Road. In those days, it was customary to name county roads after the name of the predominate land owner. The same can be said for Gale, Vreeland, Geddes, Wiard, and Whittaker roads, among many others throughout Washtenaw County.

Clinton LeForge was a well-known figure in Ypsilanti as a self-taught Native American expert and collector of local Indian artifacts. For five years, he maintained a law office on South Huron Street before things started going wrong for him. More on that in my next post: "Clinton LeForge Runs Amuck In Ypsilanti."

How Ypsi Got Its Name: http://fornology.blogspot.com/2015/08/ypsilanti-michigan-history-whats-in-name.html

Friday, June 30, 2017

How I Sold 2,000 Terror In Ypsilanti Books in Six Months

My first shipment of direct-marketed books

On Wednesday, June 14, 2017, my publisher Sam Henrie of Wheatmark Publishing interviewed me for their Authors Academy webinar entitled How I Sold 2,000 Books in Less Than a Year. I recently learned that most self-published books sell fewer than 50 copies and 200 is considered a success. Sam wanted me to discuss my marketing secrets. My number one piece of advice for beginning authors, "When the muse comes looking for you, she better find you writing."

In this sixty minute interview, I discuss how my marketing plan evolved from the publication of my first book Zug Island: A Detroit Riot Novel (2011) to the release of my current book Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked (2016). 


My first book talk with Zug Island first edition.
If you are not as sick of me as I am of myself, give a listen. Afterward, I think you will agree that getting New York professional voice artist Chris Ciulla to narrate the audiobook was the correct choice.

This recorded-live webinar interview was conducted over the phone. Please excuse the slight lag time between questions and answers.

***

How I Sold 2,000 Books webinar: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o77sREwmPXY

mp3 link: 20170614HowISold2000unedited.mp3 

mp4 link: 20170614HowISold2000unedited.mp4

Terror In Ypsilanti audiobook (5 minute sample listen): https://www.amazon.com/Terror-Ypsilanti-Norman-Collins-Unmasked/dp/B06XS9HJD2

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Terror In Ypsilanti Wins Book Awards


Literary Classics Press Release, Rapid City, South Dakota:
"The 2017 Literary Classics Book Awards and Top Honors Book Awards Finalists have been announced. Selected from submissions by entrants around the globe, these distinguished honorees are recognized for their contributions to the craft of writing, illustrating, and publishing exceptional literature. In this highly competitive industry these books represent the foremost in literature in their respective categories."

***

This month, I learned my book Terror In Ypsilanti: John Norman Collins Unmasked won a 2017 Literary Classics Silver Book Award in their true crime category. Last month, I earned a similar honor from the 2017 International Book Awards as a finalist in their true crime category. I am hoping to hear from a third writing competition to made it a clean sweep. 


Winning, placing, or showing in one of these writing contests gives authors bragging rights and the documentation to label their work award-winning. Winners receive a certificate suitable for framing, a roll of award emblems to festoon their book covers, and a digital emblem file for internet use.

The hosting organization announces winners with a press release and provides promotional opportunities through their business website and social media outlets. Often, there is a formal award ceremony offering press, photo, and networking opportunities. This year's Literary Classics Book Awards ceremony takes place over Labor Day weekend in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

As I wind down my Terror In Ypsilanti book tour this summer, I plan to shift my attention towards the film industry. So far, two media companies have shown an interest. One company pitched the idea to A&E, but the network is taking their programming in a different direction. Not to worry! There is still plenty of time to shop the project to other production companies, so I am not discouraged.

Terror In Ypsilanti has been out less than a year and garnered more attention and success than I expected. All formats--a quality paperback, digital ebook, and audiobook--are doing well. My publisher Sam Henrie of Wheatmark, Inc. tells me that Terror In Ypsilanti is their best selling title. For more information, click-on the book cover image in the right-hand sidebar.

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Literary Classics Seal of Approval Book Review: For Immediate Release Literary Classics pr@clcawards.org Literary Classics is pleased to announce that the book Terror in Ypsilanti, by Gregory Fournier, has been selected to receive the Literary Classics Seal of Approval. 

The CLC Silver Seal of Approval is a designation reserved for those books which uphold the rigorous criteria set forth by the Literary Classics review committee, a team comprised of individuals with backgrounds in publishing, editing, writing, illustration and graphic design. There’s nothing pretty about murder, and Gregory Fournier’s Terror in Ypsilanti is a testament to that fact. A compilation of first-hand reports of the moments leading up to and following the gruesome deaths of Michigan co-eds, this book follows John Collins, the convicted mass murderer of Michigan, and explains the evidence leading to his arrest and subsequent conviction. 

Extensive research has culminated in this ultimate reference guide for information on John Collins and the Ypsilanti murders. Told in narrative, each incident is detailed, including descriptions of the victims, crime scenes, witnesses, etc. Each of the cases were quite complex, but Fournier presents the facts concisely and objectively. Riddled with graphic detail, this book is not for the faint of heart. Regardless, for anyone wanting specific information on the Ypsilanti murders, or as a general case study, this book is an excellent resource. To this day, John Collins maintains his innocence. Multiple interviews and witness reports are presented showing both sides of the case. After reading the book, the reader is free to draw their own conclusion.

Amazon Author Site: http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Lunch With Soupy Sales in Detroit

Soupy Sales was born Milton Supman on January 8, 1926, in Franklinton, North Carolina. His father Irving Supman immigrated to America from Hungary in 1894. He was a Jewish dry goods merchant. Later in life, Soupy would quip that the local Ku Klux Klan bought their sheets from his father's store. Milton's nickname came from his family. His older brothers were dubbed "Ham Bone" and "Chicken Bone." The youngest son was "Soup Bone." Milton (Soupy) Supman enlisted in the United States Navy and served in the South Pacific. After the war, he earned a Master's degree in journalism. His oldest brother had become a doctor, and his other brother became a lawyer. Soupy had little choice but to go into show business.

After graduation, Soupy worked as a morning DJ and performed a comedy act in nightclubs. In 1949, Soupy Sales began his television career on WKRC-TV in Cincinnati with "Soupy's Soda Shop," television's first teen dance program. The show was cancelled after a year. Soupy moved to Cleveland and did a late night comedy/variety program called "Soupy's On!" where he took his first pie in the face which became his trademark. After a couple of seasons, Soupy left Cleveland for health reasons. "The station manager was sick of me," he quipped.

In 1953, Soupy Sales relocated to Detroit and worked for WXYZ-TV Channel 7, the local ABC station. Soupy not only had the Lunch With Soupy program, he also hosted a Friday evening variety show called Soup's On, which featured musicians and jazz performers who were working one of the twenty-four jazz clubs operating in the Paradise Valley entertainment district in old Detroit. Top performers like Louie Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holliday, Charlie Parker, Della Reese, Dinah Washington, Charlie Parker, and Miles Davis, to name a few, made guest appearences on Soupy's show. After an appearance, jazz artists would regularly sell out their venues.

Lunch With Soupy had a fixed-set of a kitchen with a window and a table and chair to the left and a door center stage in the background that would interrupt Soupy mid-sentence with frantic knocking. Naturally Soupy would stop and answer the door. Usually, Soupy would play against only an arm and a voice appearing from the door jam.

Soupy wore a dark Orlon sweater, a white shirt with an oversized checkerboard bow tie, and a beat up top hat. Besides the pie-in-the-face running slapstick gag, Soupy was know for the Soupy Shuffle (his signature dance) and his Words of Wisdom like, "Be true to your teeth and they won't be false to you."

Pookie the Lion and Hippy the Hippo
If it was noon in Detroit and you were planted in front of a television set with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, and Soupy was on, you knew you were in for a good time. Regulars on the show were hand puppets Soupy interacted with. Soupy was the straight man for voice artist Clyde Adler who did the off-stage puppeteering and voice characterizations. The show's favorite puppets were:
  • White Fang, "The Biggest and Meanest Dog in the USA." He appeared from the left corner of the screen only as a giant white shaggy arm and paw with black triangular claws. Fang spoke in unrecognizable grunts and growls which Soupy repeated in English for comic effect. White Fang often threw the pies when Soup's jokes bombed.
  • Black Tooth, "The Biggest and Sweetest Dog in the USA." She had a black shaggy arm and paw with white triangular claws. She had feminine grunts and groans, and always flirted with Soupy. Her trademark move was pulling Soupy off-camera and giving him big, noisy kisses.
  • Pookie the Lion appeared on the ledge of the window behind Soupy. Pookie was a hipster with a wicked wit. He lip synced novelty records or prerecorded bits. My favorite memory of Pookie was a routine called "Life Got You Down, Bunky?" It was a pep talk he gave Soupy every time Soupy complained about feeling blue. Comically, it was inspirational.
  • Willie the Worm, a latex accordion worm that popped in and out of an apple. Willie was known as "the sickest worm in all of Dee-troit." Willie had a perennial cold and an exaggerated sneeze. He read birthday greetings to Detroit-area kids. Sadly, Willie's health failed him. He did not survive the show's move to the Big Apple in 1964.
When Soupy took his show to WNEW-TV in New York City, it went into national syndication. This was the height of Soupy's popularity. His guest stars included the likes of Frank Sinatra, Tony Curtis, Jerry Lewis, Judy Garland, and Sammy Davis. 

On New Years Day in 1965, to fill a few extra moments at the end of the show, Soupy made an off-the-cuff remark to the kids in his television audience. He suggested they go into their parents' rooms, find their parents' wallets, and take out the green pieces of paper with pictures of bearded guys and mail them to him. In return, Soupy said he would send them a postcard from Puerto Rico. The show was aired live and no transcripts or videotapes exist, so the exact language he used is not known.

Soupy's remark was an ad-libbed gag not meant to be taken literally, but an angry parent filed a complaint with the FCC. The way the press reported the story, it sounded like this was the biggest heist since the Brink's robbery. Some adults were livid that a TV personality would manipulate children for commercial gain.

Show business legend has it that the prank netted some $80,000. Soupy revealed publicly that he netted only a few real dollars which he donated to charity--the rest was fake money.

The station suspended Soupy. The outcry from Soupy's fans swamped the station's switchboards and packed their mailroom with demands that Soupy be reinstated. Within a week, his suspension was lifted. Soupy worked for two more seasons before he gave up the top hat and bow tie and moved to Hollywood to become a panelist on many game shows including What's My Line, To Tell the Truth, Match Game, The Gong Show, and Hollywood Squares in the 70s and 80s.

Milton (Soupy Sales) Supman died of cancer October 22, 2009, at Calvary Hospice in the Bronx. He was eighty-three years old. Soupy Sales is best remembered by his many fans for his trademark pie-in-the-face gag, but in the comedy world, Soupy is remembered for his inventive, anarchic brand of riotous, television comedy. 

 Soupy and Pookie: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aB8e_uRzhMU

Friday, June 2, 2017

Final 2017 Terror In Ypsilanti Michigan Book Tour Schedule

2017 True Crime Category
Terror In Ypsilanti was released August 1, 2016, almost a year ago. Much has happened since. In addition to a quality paperback edition, a Kindle and all ebook formats are now available from Amazon <http://www.amazon.com/Gregory-A.-Fournier/e/B00BDNEG1C> at a reduced price. On March 31st, an audiobook was released by Tantor Media which opens up new markets for my book--also available on Amazon. And in May, the 2017 International Book Awards chose Terror In Ypsilanti as a Finalist in their True Crime category. The first half of 2017 has been kind to me.

Everywhere I speak, people come forward with stories about knowing one of John Norman Collins victims or of riding on the back of his motorcycle and living to tell the tale. I have had a couple of encounters with him as well. It is remarkable how many people are now willing to share their stories of memories long unspoken. Many local law enforcement members who worked on the Collins' case have come up after my talks and validated my work--foremost among them is former Washtenaw County Sheriff Douglas Harvey.

Jackson librarian Erin Kurtz and I.

My Michigan book tour this May was successful with talks in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and four in Jackson. The Washtenaw Avenue B&N in Ann Arbor surprised me when they agreed to carry my book as a perennial local title. Copies are also available while supplies last at Nicola's Books on Jackson Avenue on Ann Arbor's west side, Brewed Awakenings just east of Saline on Michigan Avenue, and the Ypsilanti Historical Society in their basement archives on Huron Street. Autographed copies are always available on my author website--gregoryafournier.com.


My promotional window is closing as I gear up for my final three Terror In Ypsilanti book talks. If you want to learn more about the Washtenaw County murders or have me answer your questions in person, attend one of my last Michigan venues.
  • Wednesday, July 12th at 7:00 pm, Nicola's Books--Ann Arbor's Premier Independent Book Store. 2513 Jackson Avenue, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
  • Saturday, July 15th at 1:00 pm, Adrian District Library. 143 E. Maumee Street, Adrian, MI 49221
  • Sunday, July 16th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, for the First Annual Book Club of Detroit Bookfest at the famous Eastern Market--Shed 5. 2934 Russell Street, Detroit, MI 48207 
Bringing this dastardly tale to light has been one of the most difficult and meaningful experiences of my life. I am proud to have paid a down payment on this debt to history.