Detroit Bookfest 2022 Festival Guide

Detroit Bookfest 2022 Festival Guide

Detroit Bookfest 2019 (photo by Ryan M. Place)

 

The Detroit Festival of Books, aka: Detroit Bookfest, is a FREE annual in-person event at Eastern Market in Detroit, Michigan.

Eastern Market

Shed 5

2934 Russell Street

Detroit, MI 48207

 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

 

Facebook event page

https://www.facebook.com/events/682806536217456/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/DetroitBookfest

 

We are also hosting Virtual Detroit Bookfest on our website from July 15-17, 2022

https://detroitbookfest.com/vendor-application-2022/

 

Eastern Market Detroit map

 

The phrase “Eastern Market” refers to both the large district/neighborhood and also the series of Sheds owned by the city of Detroit and run by the Eastern Market Partnership non-profit organization.

Opened in 1891, Eastern Market is the largest historic public market in the United States.

Featuring 43 acres of space, Eastern Market is comprised of a series of indoor and outdoor sheds which function as thriving year-round consumer markets.

This year, Detroit Bookfest will be located inside Shed 5 where vendors will be selling all sorts of books (ie: used, rare, antiquarian, authors, children’s, new, unusual, ephemera, etc), comic books, vinyl LP records, creative arts, and more.

Detroit Festival of Books (photo by Debography)

 

DJ Seven Whales will be providing the vibes.

 

Debbie Maciolek will be documenting the experience with her keen and perceptive eye.

 

Two food trucks, Delray BBQ and Treat Dreams will be on the south side of Shed 5 on Alfred Street (east of Russell Street)

 

 

Char’latte Coffee Company: Two Metro Detroit sisters are bringing their Mobile Coffee Cart to Detroit Bookfest

 

The Detroit Metro Convention & Visitors Bureau’s D-Rover van will be outside Shed 5.

 

Pong Detroit, the ping-pong social club, will be wheeling some ping-pong tables over to Bookfest!

 

Deon Forrest (aka: Greektown Hotbox) Detroit’s own world-famous street performer will be live on Russell Street (at Alfred Street) outside Detroit Bookfest.

 

Detroit’s own Arts & Scraps is bringing the ScrapMobile to Bookfest! Kids will be able to build their own books here!

 

And more!

Health and safety is our #1 concern.

Whatever safety protocols are in place on Bookfest Day, we will be following them 100%.

We ultimately have no idea what to expect this year but we will do our absolute best to make it fun and safe.

JR Jones and Lonni Thomas, two of Eastern Market’s finest and also members of the Detroit Bookfest Committee (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Our festival footprint has grown to include:

 

The Official Bookfest Afterparty down the street at Eastern Market Brewing Company (runs 10am-8pm)

https://detroitbookfest.com/bookfest-afterparty-embc/

 

Bookfest Bash inside Bea’s Detroit (runs 10am-4pm)

https://detroitbookfest.com/beas-detroit-bookfest-bash/

 

Please explore the Detroit Bookfest Festival Guide below.

We also encourage you to make a day of it and explore the entire Eastern Market district, which is packed with hundreds of fun shops, restaurants, and experiences.

 

Eastern Market’s Shed 5 Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Here’s our totally professional graphic designer-approved not flawed in any way screenshot MAP of the Bookfest Festival Footprint 

 

Detroit Bookfest festival map

 

Eastern Market Brewing Company 

2515 Riopelle Street

 

Located three blocks southeast of Shed 5, Eastern Market Brewing Company (EMBC) is one of the most popular destinations in Eastern Market.

Currently, the street they’re on, Riopelle, is closed to vehicle traffic. It is pedestrian-only and they have tables in the street, food tent, live DJ, and of course beer, glorious beer.

Some of their most popular beers are:

Elephant Juice, Market Day IPA, Mae Blanc, Wonderboy, and White Coffee Stout

 

Bookfest Afterparty

https://detroitbookfest.com/bookfest-afterparty-embc/

 

Beer list

https://easternmarket.beer/beers/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/easternmarketbrewing/?hl=en

 

Special thanks to Dayne Bartscht (owner) and his team

Eastern Market Brewing Company Detroit (photo courtesy of EMBC)

EMBC Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

EMBC Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Bea’s Squeeze Detroit 

1533 Winder Street

 

Half a block around the corner from EMBC is Bea’s lovely combination eatery and co-working space. This beautiful addition to the market is the brainchild of Beatrice Wolnerman and they now have a walk-up window.

Bea’s was recently voted the # 1 special occasion venue in Metro Detroit.

Be sure to try Bea’s signature lemonade (bottled lemonade or lemonade slushies) and some tasty scones.

 

Bookfest Bash

https://detroitbookfest.com/beas-detroit-bookfest-bash/

 

Homepage

https://www.beasdetroit.com/

 

You can even buy this awesome duffel bag from Bea’s

https://beassqueeze.com/products/duffel-bag

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/beasdetroit/

 

Special thanks to Beatrice Wolnerman (owner) and Connar McLeod (events director)

Bea’s Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s Detroit warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bea’s duffel bag (photo courtesy of Bea’s)

Live boxing inside Bert’s Warehouse (2739 Russell St, Detroit)

directly across from the Eastern Market Sheds

Sunday, July 17, 2022

2:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Buy tickets here:

https://www.detroitgoldengloves.org/

Live boxing inside Bert’s Warehouse during Detroit Bookfest

 

 

 

Pong Detroit

This afterhours ping-pong social club is located inside Bert’s Warehouse (2739 Russell Street)

 

The brainchild of former Honolulu-based radio DJ and pong enthusiast Mal Lang, their slogan is “unplug and play.”

Mal says, “Soccer is # 1 and table tennis is the # 2 participant sport in world. Table tennis is huge in China, India, Europe (especially Sweden & Germany).”

Bert’s Warehouse also features a comedy club, kitchen, and bar, so you can drink and pong all night long.

Lessons are available and they will be doing wheelchair table tennis soon.

Their other slogan is “Food, drinks, music and pong.”

Hours

Tuesday-Thursday

5:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

Cost

$10/hr from 5-7pm, then $15/hr 7pm-11pm

 

Homepage

http://pongdetroit.com/

 

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/pongdetroit/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/pongdetroit/

 

Thanks to Mal Lang (owner)

 

Pong Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Pong Detroit

Pong Detroit inside Bert’s Warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Michigan shaped ping pong paddle (courtesy of Pong Detroit)

Bert’s Warehouse Detroit (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

Red Bull Arts Detroit 

1551 Winder Street

 

Directly next door to Bea’s is the 14,000-square foot two-story Red Bull Arts warehouse. Inside they have a library and recording studio.

The basement of the warehouse is the old Eckhardt & Becker Brewery and is basically a cool subterranean brick-walled cavern. The brewery was here 1891-1969.

New York City and Detroit are the only two Red Bull Arts exhibition spaces in North America. There’s also one in Sao Paolo, Brazil called The Station. Red Bull’s global HQ is in Austria and their North American HQ is in Santa Monica, California.

Red Bull, yes the energy drink company, pays 9 artists from all over the world a $12,000 stipend to live and work at the warehouse for 3 month intervals (ie: January-April, April-July, August-November). The stipend allows the artists to focus on making art full-time while in Detroit. Being an artist is not easy and the money and dedicated time for free-flowing creativity are a blessing to struggling artists.

 

Homepage

http://redbullarts.com/detroit/

 

RBA Detroit Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/redbullartsdetroit/

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/redbullarts/?hl=en

 

Special thanks to Matt Eaton (director)

Red Bull Arts Detroit (photocourtesy of Red Bull)

Red Bull Arts Detroit warehouse (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

The Dequindre Cut

Closest entrance located at 3017 Orleans Street.

 

The Cut,” as it’s called is a lovely greenway/urban recreational pathway for walking, biking, jogging.

It is 2-miles long and runs from the Detroit Riverfront to the northern tip of Eastern Market.

Near the Wilkins/Orleans entrance, you can find the Freight Yard Bar, this is an outdoor bar made out of shipping containers.

To get to the bar:

Enter at Orleans St & Wilkins St, walk down to the Cut, make a right, then it’s down on your left.

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/DequindreCutFreightYard

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut Map

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut Freight Yard bar (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dequindre Cut (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Members of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra concert @ Dequindre Cut Freightyard Bar (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

 

Detroit City Distillery

2462 Riopelle Street

 

The Riopelle taproom of DCD is down the street from Eastern Market Brewing Company.

Here you will find a lively outdoor vibe, including music, cocktails and food from Midnight Temple, the Indian gastropub located above DCD. (hint: try the tandoori wings and gobi rollup).

 

Homepage

https://www.detroitcitydistillery.com/

 

Midnight Temple

https://www.midnighttemple.com/

 

Special thanks to JP Jerome (co-founder), Mike Forsyth (co-founder), Akash Sudhakara (Midnight Temple)

Detroit City Distillery (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Midnight Temple Indian food Detroit (photo courtesy of Yelp)

 

Trio of great shops

1337-1353 Division Street

 

This trio of great shops, Detroit Hustles Harder, Signal-Return, the 37th Shield Library, is located along Division Street, west of Russell Street.

 

37th Shield Library sells books and records and more.

https://www.facebook.com/The37thshieldlibrary/

 

Signal-Return is a letterpress studio.

http://www.signalreturnpress.org/

 

Detroit Hustles Harder is a globally recognized clothing store.

https://divisionstreetboutique.com/

 

Special thanks to Andrew Potvin (37th Shield), Toby Barlow and Lynne Avadenka (Signal-Return), and Brendan Blumentritt (Detroit Hustles Harder)

37th Shield Library, Signal Return letterpress, Detroit Hustles Harder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

37th Shield Library (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

 

The Eastern (event venue)

3434 Russell Street

The Eastern is a lovely 5,000-square foot industrial space you can rent out for special events.

Built in 1888, this is the old Hook and Ladder # 5 fire station. The Eastern has capacity for 300 seated or 600+ strolling and a 3,000 square foot outdoor patio.

Note: The entrance is not directly on Russell St, rather the main entrance is located on the north side of the building next to Wasserman Art Gallery.

Homepage

http://www.theeasterndetroit.com/

Virtual Tour

http://www.theeasterndetroit.com/virtual-tour

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/theeastern

Special thank you to Scott Rutterbush (owner).

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

The Eastern event space Detroit (courtesy The Eastern)

 

Elsewhere in the Eastern Market district….

 

Eastern Market sculpture at Orleans and Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Erskine (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Winder (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Eastern Market graffiti on Orleans Street, north of Alfred (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

J’adore Loft 

2501 Russell Street, ste. 400

This fun event space is 2,000 square feet and has capacity for 50 seated or 125 strolling.

Great for meetings, weddings, photo shoots, events of all sorts.

Homepage

https://www.jadore-detroit.com/the-loft-1

Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/jadoredetroit

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/jadoredetroit/

Special thanks to Candice Simons (owner).

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

J’adore Loft in Eastern Market (photo courtesy of J’adore Loft Detroit)

 

 

Dyno Indoor Climbing Gym

3500 Orleans Street

 

This place is really cool! Inside you will find 12-15 foot tall boulders and a 49 foot tall rope section.

You can get a day pass, punch pass, or membership.

Climbers must be over 4 years old and you have to be over 16 years old to belay.

 

Homepage

https://www.dynodetroit.com/

 

Special thanks to Dino Ruggeri (owner)

Dyno indoor climbing gym (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Dyno indoor climbing gym (photo courtesy of Dyno)

 

 

Dorais Park Velodrome

601 Mack Avenue

Located on the NW edge of the Eastern Market district, this is also another really cool place!

Inside the 64,000 square foot dome you will find an indoor wooden bicycle track.

Bicyclists beware, you can actually go up to 50mph on your bicycle inside here!

 

Homepage

https://lexusvelodrome.com/

 

Special thanks to Dale Hughes (owner)

Dorais Park Velodrome (photo courtesy of the Velodrome)

Dorais Park Velodrome (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

That’s not everything in Eastern Market.

Merely a small sampling of some of the fun and exciting things you can do.

Be sure to explore the entire district and enjoy your experience in Detroit!

Exclusive Interview: Detroit artist BILL MORRISON on his life & career with The Simpsons, Futurama, Mad Magazine, his new Beatles book, and more!

Exclusive Interview: Detroit artist BILL MORRISON on his life & career with The Simpsons, Futurama, Mad Magazine, his new Beatles book, and more!

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Bill Morrison is a tremendously talented artist and writer.

A child prodigy in art and drawing, he could draw better at age three than I can at age thirty-six. His competency across a broad range of specialties and his career trajectory are jaw-droppingly impressive as he continues upping the ante by challenging himself with new and different projects.

He lives in a lovely stately historic home in St. Clair Shores, Michigan, which backs up to the vast and beautiful Lake St. Clair.

Bill lives with his wife Kayre (pronounced ‘Care’), two dogs Gidget and Ripley, two cats Ziggy and Freddie, and a world-class collection of comics, collectibles, and artwork. His home studio is a delightful wonderland of creativity, pop culture inspirations, and gobs upon gobs of wickedly good Bill Morrison original art.

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

I’m here chatting with Bill. He was both brave enough to let me into his home and kind enough to answer my 10,000 rambling questions.

As a lifelong fan of The Simpsons and Bill’s work, I’ve owned several of his comics, watched several of his shows, and for years had the amazing full cast of The Simpsons poster on my wall that Mr. Morrison did.

Meeting him was an honor and I can tell you that he is a thoroughly cool dude.

The Simpsons kitchen sink poster art by Bill Morrison

He is also admirably, perpetually busy, as evidenced by his new book, The Beatles Nerd Search: All You Nerd is Love: A Yellow Submarine Puzzle Book, which came out November 02, 2021.

Published by Hero Collector, it’s a treasure trove of trivia masked as intentional continuity errors that are artfully designed to test your mental abilities of recognition and recall.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Bill Morrison!

 

Bill on The Beatles

Nerd Search: All You Nerd is Love: A Yellow Submarine Puzzle Book by Bill Morrison

I’m a huge Beatles fan. My involvement with creating The Beatles books goes back to 1998 when Dark Horse Comics asked me to do a graphic novel for the 30th anniversary of Yellow Submarine. The deal unfortunately fell through midway. However, in 2018, I ended up doing a 112-page graphic novel adaptation of The Beatles Yellow Submarine for Titan Comics.”

Titan Comics is based in London. They published our Simpsons stuff for Bongo in the UK. Initially, the licensing agent for The Beatles merchandise was interested in having me link up with Titan for the graphic novel. Then they came to me with a second project because they needed a pre-approved artist and put me in touch with Hero Collector, which is owned by Eaglemoss.”

“Hero said they have a series of books called Nerd Search where each scene has purposely incorrect information & items that the reader has to find, clues to solve, and at the end you get all the answers and rate yourself. I had a great time doing the book and I’m looking forward to seeing what the fan reaction is.”

“I’ve been a lifelong Beatles fan. Favorite song is Hey Bulldog. Favorite album is Rubber Soul. And I listen to The Beatles Channel on SiriusXM all the time.”

“I saw ‘A Hard Days Night’ (1964) at the drive-in when I was five, sitting in the back of the station wagon. Back then everyone was playing Beatles records.”

“The first album I had was Alvin and the Chipmunks Sing the Beatles Hits, then I got into the Saturday morning cartoon (1965-67), and saw Yellow Submarine (68) the first time it aired on TV in 1970.”

Beatles Yellow Submarine graphic novel by Bill Morrison

“I remember in high school there was a Broadway show called Beatlemania (1977-79) which was really popular and created a resurgence of interest in The Beatles. By that time, I was doing artwork and t-shirts.”

“At high school, my friend Steve Colwell and I started a small t-shirt business selling shirts of rock stars. We passed an order sheet around to everyone at school and they would place orders for our shirts.”

“My sister actually got to see The Beatles live in 1966 at Olympia Stadium in Detroit. My dad drove them and sat in the parking lot. The Beatles only played for a half hour, but they had several other opening bands, which was common at the time. Dad was smoking a cigarette outside the car when the big garage door on the side of the stadium rolled up. A big black limo pulls out as he hears the kids leaving. Suddenly the crowd spots the limo, and this horde of Beatles-crazed fans starts running towards him. My dad is between The Beatles and the kids. He says he had to jump onto a lamp post to avoid being trampled!

 

The Early Years (or who is Bill Morrison and why am I in his house?)

Bill Morrison as Batman (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“I’m an artist, writer, collector. I like working at my home studio where I use mostly traditional tools of the trade, some digital. I sketch with a blue pencil, use graphite and ink for comics, acrylic for painting, brush painting or airbrush, depending on the texture I’m trying to achieve. As for writing, I frequently jot down random notes in a book, otherwise I type in Microsoft Word.”

My passion, thankfully, is my career and I don’t really have any other hobbies or interests beyond it. I love collecting toys, comics, art, but that all pretty much relates to my job. My wife and I like Art Deco, NY World’s Fair memorabilia, books (especially books on comics, comic collecting, illustrating, graphic novels).”

“My most marketable ability as a commercial artist is I can pick up other artist’s styles very quickly, which is very helpful in animation. I need a few practice sketches to find the rhythm, then I have it.”

Bill Morrison with Casper doll (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“I was born January 15, 1959, and grew up in Lincoln Park, Michigan, about ten minutes south of Detroit. My dad is from the Hocking Hills, Ohio area and my mom is from Wyandotte, Michigan. Her father was Judge Arthur Decker, who as a young man, was a prize fighter nicknamed Kid Decker. My parents have always been very supportive of my artistic ambitions.”

“I have four living siblings: Alice, Donna, Sue, and Janice. My brother Don just passed away recently. Two of my sisters live here in Michigan, and two live elsewhere. My wife Kayre is also from Lincoln Park. Yes, we started dating in high school, and we recently moved back to Michigan to be closer to our families. This fulfills the mission of my youngest sister Alice, who lives in Novi, and has been trying to re-gather all of us for years.”

“Growing up, my older sister Sue was artistic, and she taught me how to draw at age three. She sat me down at the kitchen table and taught me how to draw a stickman. She drew a figure and told me to copy it. Then she left, came back in ten minutes, and says I had “vastly improved” on the drawing. She got real excited, thought I was a natural talent. She was always keyed into what I was into. Early on I would emulate her character drawings of Snoopy, the Wolfman, etc, whatever my mania was at the time”

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“In 1977, I graduated Lincoln Park High School and immediately enrolled in Detroit’s College for Creative Studies. I started off wanting to be a comic book artist but learned I’d have to go to NYC to establish myself. I love New York now, but back then the idea of living there sort of terrified me. I had a teacher Gary Ciccarelli for airbrush class. He was really into the whole West Coast airbrush scene, which was highly glamorized, stylized, lot of palm trees and neon. And he turned us onto stuff I hadn’t been exposed to.”

“I graduated CCS in 1981 and got a job at Artech, Inc. in Livonia doing technical drawings for the automotive industry. I would be in a big room with 15 artists. The guys in the other room would look at a blueprint and sketch it out in 3D, then they would send it to us and we would refine and perfect it. We did mostly engine stuff, mechanics manuals & parts catalogs, cut-away paintings of diesel fuel pumps, etc.”

“In 1982, I married Karen “Kayre” DeLosier, the love of my life, and we lived in Plymouth, Michigan for a bit near Plymouth Road and Haggerty, before moving to the West Coast. Moved to Beverly Hills briefly, then Sepulveda (which became North Hills), then Simi Valley.”

 

L.A. in the ‘80s: a town awash in neon and perms and mohawks, oh my!

Bill Morrison with Roger Rabbit (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bill was employed as a professional illustrator at B.D. Fox and Friends Advertising from 1982-86, which is where he first met legendary cartoonist, Matt Groening, who was just an unknown scribbler at the time. After that, Bill was at Willardson & Associates. During this time, he also worked on iconic movie posters like the famous Little Mermaid (1989), The Land Before Time (1988), Oliver and Company (1988), all sorts of Disney movies, of which he said his favorite poster is The Prince and The Pauper (1990).

My first job in Hollywood was doing movie posters at B.D. Fox and Matt (Groening) was a freelance writer there. B.D. Fox was a boutique ad agency for the entertainment industry. A co-worker, Mili Smythe was an art director there and she was friends with Matt, they’re both from Portland, and she introduced us. Mili told me about Matt’s comic strip, Life in Hell.”

“Occasionally she would ask us for input on things like childhood songs to give to Matt, who would then put the song references in the comic strip. At work, Matt would pitch tag lines for posters, but we didn’t really become good friends until The Simpsons.”

The Prince and the Pauper (1990) poster art by Bill Morrison

“I designed the posters for horror movies House (85), Blood Diner (87), and I was the in-house illustrator doing rough sketches and comps for films like The Return of the Living Dead (1985). Art directors would come to see me with ideas they needed me to draw up. For the Return of the Living Dead poster, I don’t know who did the final painting but I remember being surprised that Bill Stout didn’t do it. He was a well-known poster artist, and he designed the zombies for the film”

“In 1986, I was invited to work at an illustration studio owned by David Willardson, the California airbrush artist, called Willardson & Associates. We did all sorts of advertising for all different products, mostly photo realistic work but glorified, Nestles Quick, Maxell Tape, etc, and one of the jobs was for Disney. It was a re-release of Cinderella, they wanted a one-sheet poster. I did a teaser they liked, then another one, and another one, then anytime Disney released an animated film into theaters. I did Little Mermaid, Oliver and Co, Rescuers Down Under, Roller Coaster Rabbit, Prince and the Pauper (a Mickey Mouse featurette), Peter Pan, Jungle Book, Bambi, Lady and Tramp, Fox and Hound, etc.”

“I did The Land Before Time movie poster for Amblin Entertainment. I only did the characters, not the background. This was in the pre-photoshop days and I’m at the studio and I get this big painting delivered. They said we need you to re-draw the dinosaur characters and paste them over the existing ones. I did it on one-ply Strathmore paper, which was tricky to paint on because it’s so thin. Then cut out the outline perfectly with an x-acto knife then painted the edges with a brush. It’s very hard to match outline colors perfectly. Then I took spray mount and permanently sprayed them onto this guy’s painting, which seemed kind of unethical but I had to do it.”

 

The Simpsons & Matt Groening

First signing with Matt: from L to R are Matt Groening, Steve Vance, Bill Morrison (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bill joined The Simpsons crew in 1990 and played a seminal role in the global expansion of the franchise. He was doing illustrations for 20th Century Fox and creating all sorts of art for merchandise, sketches, t-shirts, posters, etc, while simultaneously art-directing other merchandise artists at Klasky Csupo Animation Studio.

In 1987, The Simpsons made their global debut on the Tracey Ullman Show. It was one of the animated bumpers they did. Then it morphed into the December 1989 Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire holiday special episode, then the show officially premiered February 1990. It was an immediate blockbuster hit.”

Simpsons Yellow Album art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“I knew Matt (Groening) from our time working together at the ad agency a few years prior. He brought me into The Simpsons creative family, and I started doing character drawings for merchandise. I created the merch style guide, which is for companies who license the brand. If a licensee takes out a license, they get a style guide of images they can use. Some licensees pay extra for custom artwork. I also did almost all of the video game packaging in the early days, along with calendars, books, and more.”

“I didn’t have anything to do with the characters beyond what they looked like until we did the comic books. Sometimes the stories in Simpsons Comics necessitated creating new characters. For Radioactive Man we got to create a broader cast of characters because they didn’t exist on the show. Radioactive Man’s origins are similar to the Hulk. Fallout Boy’s origins are similar to Spider Man. It’s mostly parody and satire. At one time there was talk of doing a Radioactive Man cartoon show but the idea was shelved when Futurama came out. I would love to see the idea get revived and think it could be a big hit.”

Simpsons Comics & Stories # 1 art by Bill Morrison

“In April 1991, Simpsons Illustrated launched and the series ran for ten issues. It had a comic section, and at the end of the second year, Groening and Editor Steve Vance wanted a gimmicky annual issue, so we decided let’s do a comic book. We named it Simpsons Comics and Stories and it came out in February 1993.”

“It was such a big hit that it gave Matt the confidence to start Bongo Comics, so we did. Starting a comic was a dream come true. We started it in November 1993. I served as Art Director, Steve Vance was the editor and his wife Cindy was colorist and letterer. After the first year the Vances left, and I became the Creative Director (Editor and Art Director.) I was directly involved in some way with every issue (writing, penciling, inking, supervising, art direction, etc). My favorite character to draw is probably Radioactive Man.”

Matt and I are still good friends to this day.

The Simpsons episode: A Serious Flanders (November 2021) poster art by Bill Morrison

“In terms of The Simpsons tv show, my favorite episodes are Radioactive Man, Black Widower (great art direction), and many of the episodes from the Conan O’Brien era (1991-93). Also, I love the recent two-part episode “A Serious Flanders” for which I created an advertising poster.”

Bill also did the cover artwork for The Simpsons DVD’s.

And Bill won several Eisner Awards for Simpsons Comics (2000), The Amazing Colossal Homer (1994), and Radioactive Man.

 

Roswell Little Green Man, Futurama, and more!

Roswell Little Green Man art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“In 1996, I produced my own comic series for Bongo called Roswell, Little Green Man. Although Roswell loosely takes place in the late 1940’s, it was my love of 50’s sci-fi films that inspired it. The first story deals with giant ants, harkening back to Them! (1954 sci-fi movie). The series was nominated in four different categories for the highly coveted Eisner Award. We ended it because we started a little show called Futurama and I didn’t have time to work on the show, along with my Bongo duties, and also my own comic.”

I was the Art Director on Futurama from 1998-2003. I assisted in the creation of the cast of characters with Matt Groening. Matt was the creator of the show and Futurama was done by The Curiosity Company, Matt’s own production company.”

“We did four seasons, 140 episodes. It was on Tuesday nights when it first premiered, and Matt didn’t like that. He told Fox execs to put it on Sunday nights 8:30 p.m. right after The Simpsons. They wouldn’t do it. Finally, they put it on Sunday’s but at 7:00 p.m., which was too early. Futurama is a workplace adult comedy, it’s about adults, romances, and it was inappropriate to put on then. Plus, at that time slot, if sports games ran longer than anticipated, which they frequently do, they had to cut portions of the episodes or not even air the episodes.”

Futurama art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“I loved Futurama, especially Leela, and I helped design many of the weirder characters before Matt pitched the show. Matt would always do a final cut and tweak it. We’d be at his studio, he would give me a paragraph on a character, I would do drawings, then show him, it sparked him visually, then he would do a drawing, I would refine it, etc, it was a collaboration. I always felt my biggest contribution to the show was sometimes showing Matt what he didn’t want because it would help him decide which way to go with a character. It’s very difficult to create unique and original characters. Having some input from friends is valuable, the visceral reaction is valuable.”

“In 2000, I did a six-issue mini-series for Bongo called Heroes Anonymous. My editorial assistant at the time was Scott Gimple and I invited him to work on it with me. It’s about a support group for superheroes. We had it in development at the SyFy Channel for a while. Scott had moved on to Disney where he was working on a show called Fillmore, which was a safety patrol played as a 70’s cop show. He had an agent at this point who wanted him to go out and pitch ideas for shows that he owned. Since we co-created Heroes Anonymous he called me and we started pitching it to networks and the SyFy channel took an option. Scott and I worked together on the story for the pilot and Scott wrote the script. I was going to be on board as a producer. The network would give us notes on the script, and at first they were good notes. But eventually the notes got silly and were making the script worse. Finally, it got to the point that their suggested improvement notes were too embarrassing to seriously consider. We chose not to renew the option when it came up. Scott did okay though, he’s now the showrunner on The Walking Dead.”

“After that, I was lucky enough to be able to do my first book, which was a career retrospective on Dan DeCarlo, one of my favorite comic book artists. Dan is best known for drawing Archie comics and creating Josie and the Pussycats and co-creating Sabrina the Teen-age Witch. The book is called Innocence and Seduction: The Art of Dan DeCarlo. I knew Dan personally. We were friends until he passed away in 2001. I was also a fan and there were no good books on Dan’s art. I wanted to create something that didn’t exist yet.”

The Art of Dan DeCarlo book by Bill Morrison

“A few years later, I collaborated with Jane Wiedlin, co-founder of The Go-Go’s. In 2010, we did a comic book called Lady Robotika which was published by Image. The concept is based on Jane as a cyborg space hero.”

“In 2015, I wrote and illustrated Dead Vengeance for Dark Horse Comics. It’s a tribute to the gritty 1940’s pulp era and takes place in Detroit.”

Dead Vengeance by Bill Morrison

“Near my end at Bongo, Matt was working on a new show (what later became the show Disenchantment) and I was talking to the businesspeople telling them I’m looking for something creatively challenging. They said Matt wants to do a new company, comic, show, etc, but he’s not quite there yet. But we do want to develop a comic reader app for mobile phones and iPads, so I did that.”

“I designed comic reader apps. Here I am, devoted to printed comics, and I had to develop and promote comics on electronic devices. Had to learn the guided view mechanics of reading a comic online, panel to panel scrolling, etc. To do this I had to download digital comics and study them. I started taking them on trips with me and realized that you can still have your physical collection at home but also embrace digital comics as a convenience. I started promoting the app, called The Simpsons Store, then the Futuramaland comic reader.”

 

The National Cartoonists Society

Bill Morrison (National Cartoonists Society)

Founded in 1946, the prestigious National Cartoonists Society is the world’s main professional organization for people working in cartoons and comics. To be admitted membership, published cartoonists must send in samples of their work. Once vetted, they can become Artist members. Bill joined NCS in the mid-90’s and served as President from 2015-2019.

“I was a casual member for years. Then served on the board for Jeff Keane (Family Circus), then continued as VP on the board of Tom Richmond (Mad Magazine cartoonist). Then I became president.”

National Cartoonists Society 27 Club

“It was a lot of work but very rewarding. It’s mind boggling to think I’m part of that lineage, a fraternity of my heroes. It’s very difficult to get people to join clubs nowadays as regular dues-paying members. I’m glad that I was able to help come up with some good ideas to move NCS forward.”

Sergio Aragonés, Steve McGarry, and I were discussing effective strategies for reaching out to cartoonists and making it easy for them to join NCS. We came up with The 27 Club, where they don’t pay the $180 annual fee, and any cartoonist under 27 years old can join for only $27/yr. Jason Chatfield, who served as my VP and is now the president, continues taking it on. I love the NCS. We have the Reuben Awards every year for the Outstanding Cartoonist of the year. And last year we had our first annual online convention, which was great and well-received.”

 

MAD Magazine

MAD Magazine has been around since the Atomic Fifties, 1952 to be exact. This legacy institution had the foresight to hire Bill Morrison as Executive Editor in 2017.

“When DC Comics moved from New York City to Burbank, California, the MAD guys didn’t want to go. Finally, the publisher at DC worked out something with Warner Bros where the MAD Magazine offices could stay in NYC, but it was agreed that once they found someone to take over MAD, it would move to Burbank.”

Then they hired me, and I had to hire a full staff, except for one guy who did decide to move from NY. I had done some freelance jobs for MAD in the past and now here I was overseeing all creative aspects of the magazine. We had good people, especially the art director, Suzy Hutchinson. I’d look at everything, make notes, some minor changes, etc. I loved working there.”

Bill Morrison with Alfred E. Neuman (art by Tom Richmond)

“We were given a really tough assignment, which was to take a magazine read by mostly white males (ages 11-16 and 45-60), most of whom subscribed and they wanted us to expand the readership to women, other ethnicities, and other age-ranges, while not losing our current subscribers. We succeeded in getting subscription numbers up, had expansion ideas that were ambitious but doable, talked about the possibility of live comedy shows at the Hollywood American Legion Post 43, simulcasting, taking it on tour, new merchandise, etc.”

“We were getting great positive feedback. I’m connected with hardcore (and therefore critical) MAD fans who told us we had struck a great balance. But corporate decisions beyond my control caused MAD to go to a reprint format.”

 

Bill’s Influences & Collections

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

“I’m real big on Batman art and toys, non-superhero stuff like horror (especially Universal Monsters) and sci-fi, teen humor (any era but mostly 50’s 60’s). I typically go for eras and artists over genres. My favorite eras are 50’s-60’s.”

“Some favorite artists are Dick Sprang, Bob Oksner, Sergio Aragones, Dan DeCarlo. Growing up, some favorites were Neal Adams, Bernie Wrightson, Jim Steranko.”

It Rhymes with Lust (1950) cover art by Matt Baker

“Another favorite artist is Matt Baker, but his art is so expensive. He did the great cover for It Rhymes with Lust (1950) which many people consider to be the first-ever graphic novel.”

“Fine art, I like Salvador Dali, John Singer Sargent, M.C. Escher, Alphonse Mucha…though some might consider him more of an illustrator. Comedically, I’ve been influenced by Jerry Lewis, Woody Allen, Steve Martin, Mel Brooks, and more recently by Melissa McCarthy and Tina Fey.”

“To this day, I’m constantly discovering new influences. I also like the painter Norm Saunders, illustrator Wally Wood, Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, etc, too many to list!”

Mars Attacks art (card 32) by Norman Saunders (1962)

 

Upcoming Projects

Bill Morrison holding a giant eyeball bowling ball (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“Right now, I’m working on a new one-shot comic for Ahoy Comics. I just did a cover for an Image comic called Stray Dogs.”

“I’ve been doing stuff for the fine art print market. And I’m doing some animation development projects and helping producers visualize their concepts.”

 

Final Thoughts

Bill at the drawing board, Bongo Comics (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

“At Comic Con (SDCC) one year, maybe ‘94-95, right after a speculator boom, when the industry took a turn downturn and was downsizing and consolidating, some publishers were shutting down, things at the time were looking down not up. The great Will Eisner walked by the Bongo Comics booth and I asked him his thoughts about the doom and gloom end-of-the-industry rumors. He said ‘I’ve seen this happen five or six times since the 1930’s. Comics is a language and a medium that people love. It might change shape, but graphic storytelling is an artform and is always going to exist’ and I thought that was tremendously uplifting and insightful and I try to always keep that in mind.”

My advice to aspiring creatives is to always be open to opportunities you didn’t necessarily anticipate. For example, I never thought I’d be a writer, art director, editor. But I said yes, I was open to it and ended up discovering that I love those roles. Talented young people tend to focus on one single thing only and might invariably miss out on other areas of rich potential. Sometimes you just gotta say yes and then figure it out. If you don’t like it, you can always stop doing it and do something else until you find the things you’re great at and love doing.”

 

Atomic Battery Studios (Bill’s official Facebook page)

https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100063233047912

 

Comic Art Fans

https://www.comicartfans.com/gallerydetail.asp?gcat=9451

 

Instagram

https://www.instagram.com/atomicbattery/?hl=en

 

Twitter

https://twitter.com/billmorrisonman?lang=en

 

LinkedIn

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bill-morrison-679341b

 

More images from the Bill Morrison archives

Bill Morrison tiki mug (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Jetson’s Robot Basher art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Alice Cooper Make Parties Sparkle art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bartman # 1 art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bill Morrison with Dave Willardson, Calvin Patton and Dave Stevens (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Angry Donald Duck art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Dr. Phibes Rises Again VHS art by Bill Morrison

Little Mermaid movie poster art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bill Morrison, Cindy Vance, Will Eisner, Steve Vance circa 1995 (photo courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bongo Comics art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

movie House (1985) poster art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Aretha art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Disney Bambi movie poster art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bongo Comics art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

CAPS (Comic Art Professionals Society) bon voyage to Bill Morrison

Hot Coffey in the D album cover art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Futurama art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Peter Pan-American Airways art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

The Jungle Book movie poster art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Rollercoaster Rabbit poster art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bongo Comics art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Bongo Comics art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

Homer Simpson with Rocky & Bullwinkle art by Bill Morrison (image courtesy of Bill Morrison)

 

 

Photos from the Bookfest Interview

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

Detroit artist Bill Morrison at his home studio (photo by: Ryan M. Place)

 

Spooky true story: Detroit’s Eastern Market Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery

Spooky true story: Detroit’s Eastern Market Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

*PLEASE NOTE: This paper is not intended to be a scholarly dissertation. It is a true story of Detroit history intended for the general public. This article will be periodically updated as new information crops up. As stated at the end of the article, please fact-check me and feel free to email me at place313 at gmail dot com and let me know if anything needs to be updated for greater accuracy. Thank you! *

 

I first heard this story a few years ago from my friend, Lonni Thomas. Since then, I’ve scoured libraries, old newspapers and online for more information.

Eastern Market, the largest historic public market in the USA, consists of a series of Sheds, essentially a row of large indoor consumer buildings running North to South along the eastside of Russell Street in Detroit, Michigan. The Sheds host vibrant weekly markets and lively annual events like the Detroit Festival of Books, Detroit Fall Beer Festival, Flower Day, etc.

What many people don’t know:

These Sheds are built on top of the old Russell Street Cemetery (1834-1882) and where a portion of the old prison, Detroit House of Corrections, aka: DeHoCo, used to be located (1861-1931).

This is a largely hidden and unknown spooky true tale of Detroit history.

Let’s take a look back into the mysterious pre-Eastern Market history of Old Detroit.

 

Essential Background Details on the creation and dismantling of the Russell Street Cemetery

 

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

In the 1800’s, Detroit was not the sprawling cosmopolitan city it is today. It had a more rough-and-tumble frontier town feel to it.

According to Gen. Palmer, there was a town water pump at the foot of Randolph Street and tramps and thieves used to be whipped at the public whipping post on Woodward Avenue.

By 1834, the city had around 5,000 residents when the Russell Street Cemetery was established. Michigan was a vast territory at that time and didn’t even become a state until 1837.

Russell Street Cemetery was open 1834-1882 in what’s now known as the Eastern Market neighborhood of Detroit. It was located along Russell Street roughly from modern day Gratiot to Eliot. It was also known as the Second City Cemetery.

The First City Cemetery, often called Clinton Park Cemetery, was created May 29, 1827, on land the city had purchased from Col. Antoine Beaubien’s ribbon farm. It was a long, narrow, 30-foot wide plot of land stretching from Gratiot Ave and Clinton St down to Jefferson Ave. Supposedly, Gen. Friend Palmer’s father was the first person buried here. The cemetery closed to further interments in 1854 and was officially vacated by November 12, 1869. So, yes, it did exist concurrently for a few decades with Russell.

On May 31, 1834, the city of Detroit purchased 55 acres of farmland from the probate estate of Charles Guoin for the then-handsome sum of $2,010. The Guoin family had farmed this land for almost 100 years, since 1742. Charles Frances Guoin was born February 2, 1755 and died sometime between 1830-32. At some point, Charles had relations with Little Snipe, a local Pottawatomie woman, and they had a daughter named White Feather (Marie LaVoy).

A few months after the purchase, in August 1834, 38 acres became the Russell Street Cemetery. This decision was made by the Detroit Common Council. This area supposedly (although not conclusively) was bound by modern-day Russell Street, Eliot Street, the Freeway, Gratiot Ave, and an undefined eastern boundary. At its peak, supposedly, some 10,000-15,000 graves are estimated to have been here but nobody knows for sure because various records have either been lost or were never kept in the first place.

By August 1834, the burials at Russell Street Cemetery were numerous because Detroit was in the throes of a second cholera epidemic, which killed an eighth of the city’s population. Cholera epidemics hit Detroit hard in 1832 and 1834 and “congested the graveyards,” (Burton, page 969). There were most likely multiple bodies per grave in many instances.

In those days, the City Sexton was the title of the official gravedigger and person in charge of a cemetery. Originally, the City Sexton was tasked with selling plots (half or full) at the Russell Street Cemetery to people, which ranged in cost from five to ten dollars. The city of Detroit created the office of City Sexton on March 17, 1829 and it was abolished in 1879.

The first sexton of Detroit was Israel Noble. He was nominated by the mayor, then appointed by Common Council. He served as Sexton from 1829-32, then 1835-49. Noble, incongruously detached from living up to the meaning of his last name, supposedly sold Russell Street Cemetery lots under the table for some side cash, hence the mysterious lack of “official records”.

Noble was also, at one point, the keeper of the lighthouse in Monroe, Michigan.

Detroit Daily Advertiser (April 3, 1873)

In 1841, Mt. Elliott Cemetery opened, which helped divert burials from Russell Street.

In 1842, Dr. George Russell built a “Contagious Disease Hospital” on the potter’s field area of the Russell Street Cemetery. In reality, it was a small rickety shed. However, it may have been the first building in the Midwest dedicated to treating contagious diseases. The shed didn’t last long.

Then in 1846, the posh new Elmwood Cemetery opened, which served to briefly alleviate the overcrowding of the Russell Street Cemetery.

As the years went by, the city notoriously failed to maintain the Russell Street Cemetery and it became desperately rundown. One report stated that “People would steal tombstones and use them as doorsteps and beer counters,” (Lazar, page 15).

April 10, 1855, the Health Committee advises Detroit Common Council that no more burials should be allowed at Russell Street Cemetery. This was 27 years before the cemetery was officially closed in 1882, so there was definitely a long history of the cemetery being wretched and unkempt.

old Russell Street Cemetery, Detroit map

In 1857, Mayor Ledyard publicly called the cemetery a “disgrace” and wanted it torn down. Also, in May 1857, modern-day Division Street was constructed and cut right through the cemetery.

On July 6, 1861, a prison was built on a part of the cemetery (area roughly bound by Russell, Riopelle, Alfred, and Wilkins) called the Detroit House of Corrections (aka: DeHoCo). It remained there until 1931 when the prison was relocated 30 miles west to the city of Plymouth, Michigan.

original Detroit House of Corrections (DeHoCo) map (1861-1931) possible boundaries

Detroit Advertiser (May 16, 1865)

In 1868, modern-day Winder Street opened through the cemetery.

Fed up with the abysmal conditions of the cemetery, on April 20, 1869, Detroit city council ordered that no more bodies be buried at Russell Street Cemetery. Over the next 13 years, thousands of corpses were periodically transferred to Elmwood, Mt. Elliott, and the new 250-acre “rural cemetery” called Woodmere, which was formally dedicated July 14, 1869.

Woodmere Cemetery was located only a mere 8 miles west of Russell Street Cemetery, but at that time was considered rural countryside. Prior to being a cemetery, Woodmere was a Revolutionary War-era shipyard where several ships were built.

The City Sexton at the time, a German man named Valentine Geist, spearheaded the transfer of bodies from Russell Street Cemetery to Woodmere. He lived 1824-95 and served as Sexton in the years 1864, 1871-74, 1878. He also ran an undertaking business on Monroe Street downtown. He’s buried at Elmwood.

Around about 1870, the first makeshift Hay and Wood Market was built on Russell Street (between Adelaide and Division) and some independent street vendors started selling farm-grown produce from their own carts and wagons in proto-Eastern Market along Russell Street near the cemetery.

However, over the decade (1870-1880), nothing much happened at the Russell Street Cemetery except the tombstones became mossgrown, the cemetery became weedy and neglected, and people used to mess around in the cemetery at all hours of the day and night. A sad trend throughout history is that old, neglected cemeteries tend to become general dumping grounds.

Detroit Daily Advertiser (November 16, 1871)

Then on May 14, 1879, the Circuit Court ordered the cemetery to be officially vacated. Various contracts were issued for the removal and reinternment of the remaining cadavers in other cemeteries: Woodmere, Elmwood, Mt. Elliott, and elsewhere. This task was coordinated by the Board of Public Works. One of the few names mentioned in the newspaper, a man named John Griswold, was reinterred at Woodmere.

One wave, some 1,493 caskets, were removed in 1880 and re-buried at the City Hospital grounds in Grosse Pointe. In 1881, another 1,668 remains were shipped out. Then in early 1882, some 1,357 bodies were relocated. Various numbers are given in the newspapers, but the final destination of the caskets is not always given, thus, it’s impossible to know for sure what bodies went where.

By 1882, all known remains were removed from Russell Street Cemetery.

 

The Unclaimed Dead (or what happened next?)

 

April 22, 1906 (Detroit News) page 21

Conner’s Creek, named for Henry Conner, existed from 1840-1925, according to Dr. Krepps (page 21 of her report). The Algonquin lived here prior to city development.

In 1872, Antoine Dubay owned a farm here. The deed was purchased from him on August 24, 1872 by Frederick Ruehle (sometimes spelled Ruelle). Frederick quickly turned around and sold the 34-acre property to the city of Detroit on October 18, 1872. He purchased the 34 acres for $3,000 and conveniently sold it less than two months later for $6,000.

At the time, this property was in the neighboring city of Grosse Pointe, which is where Detroit wanted to build a City Hospital for smallpox victims (aka: the Grosse Pointe Pest House), but the deal never fully went through. A structure was built here but was never used as a hospital.

Instead, a large corner of the farm became the Conner Creek Cemetery (aka: Third City Cemetery or the City Hospital Grounds, as it was commonly called at the time). It was used to re-bury the unclaimed/unidentified bodies from the Russell Street Cemetery.

The cemetery was dedicated August 27, 1880. It eventually contained around 4,500 bodies, which were (most likely) transferred via wagon some five miles NE up Gratiot Ave to Harper Ave and over to Conner Creek. Between 1880-1882, some 4,500 bodies were taken from Russell Street Cemetery to Conner Creek Cemetery.

Gratiot Avenue, at that time called Fort Gratiot Road, was constructed  between 1829-1833.

Conner Creek Cemetery, Detroit map

In November 1881, the city of Detroit did build a pest house structure on the SW corner of Conner at Olga Street, however, it was never used because Grosse Pointe effectively blocked the construction of a pest house (smallpox hospital) in their town. So, the city rented it to a farmer, whose name is listed sometimes as August Stahlman, other times as August Schultz, and he ended up living inside the 24 x 76 building for a few decades.

The structure burned down in 1923. Currently, the Wayne County Community College Eastern Campus is located where this structure used to be.

Furthermore, a playground called the Conner Playfield (located on Conner, north of Harper) was built over a portion of the cemetery at some point, possibly in the 1930’s or early 1940’s.

The Conner Creek Cemetery was largely forgotten for decades until October 6, 1950 when utility workers accidentally dug up some corpses and a tombstone across from a house at 6020 Gunston. During Virginia Clohset’s discovery interview of Ida and Pasquale Gianfermi (residents of 6020 Gunston St), Ida said she vividly recalled the 1950 dig and said that spectators took bones home as souvenirs.

Then on April 4, 1958, the city of Detroit sells the property containing the Conner Creek Cemetery to the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) via quit claim deed. MDOT ends up building a freeway interchange over a portion of the cemetery. The construction of the (Edsel) Ford Freeway, which jaggedly divided the area, facilitated the unearthing of more remains.

Nearly two more decades passed without any press or acknowledgement.

Conner Creek Cemetery boulder-plaque memorial

Then, on October 16, 1976, a boulder-plaque was officially placed at the intersection of Conner St & Hern St to commemorate the Conner Creek Cemetery, which was listed as having 4,518 known graves at the time. “It is the only cemetery belonging to the Michigan State Highway department. Many bodies now rest under the roadbed of Conner Street.” (Detroit Free Press article).

The boulder-plaque was courtesy of the Michigan Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In April 2013, MDOT archeologists and their Pavement Evaluation Unit performed spot excavations and used ground penetrating radar (GPR) to investigate the subsurface of the Conner Creek Cemetery. They found “clearly defined subsurface anomalies, indicative of dense, solid objects.” However, the soil profile (ie: moist silt) in that particular area makes it essentially impossible to use GPR accurately.

Currently (October 2021), the triangle patch of land with the boulder-marker is still there at Conner and Hern. To get there, plug in the address 6008 Gunston Ave, Detroit. This is the neighborhood where Ravendale meets Chandler Park on the NW side of the Chandler Park Golf Course, which itself has been there since the 1920’s (most likely 1923).

Thanks to the amazing efforts of Dr. Karen Krepps, this area has been designated as an archeology site #20WN383. In 1984, she was commissioned by the Eastern Wayne County Historical Society (EWCHS) to write a report about the cemetery. Her report is fascinating, highly detailed and insightful, and I especially agree with her assertion that “cemeteries are important cultural resources.”

Big Question:

Are the various unclaimed human remains still there? Nobody knows.

However, on page 46 of her report, Dr. Krepps states, “The prime area has enjoyed minimal below ground disturbance and may well contain human remains reinterred from the Russell Street Cemetery.”

What ended up happening with the old Russell Street Cemetery property? Let’s take a look.

Conner Creek Cemetery boulder-plaque memorial

 

Some Eastern Market History

early Easter Market Detroit (DPL Burton Historical Collection)

After the dismantling of the Russell Street Cemetery, Eastern Market gradually came into being and transformed the area.

By 1885, there was a small market and scales for weighing produce at the NE corner of Division and Russell.

Eastern Market was created in 1889 when the Detroit Common Council formally established the boundaries of the Eastern Hay Market, also known as the Hay and Wood Market.

The construction of Eastern Market’s Shed 1 (Russell St, between Winder and High St) by Richard E. Raseman, was completed in September 1890. It was tiny, supposedly only 575 x 208 feet, rickety and was destroyed in a violent storm on December 23, 1890.

Aerial drone photo of Eastern Market Sheds Detroit (courtesy of Josh Garcia at JDG Innovative)

Shed 1 was rebuilt in 1891 and lasted until 1967 when the creation of the Fisher Freeway forced the shed to become a parking lot. In 1898, Raseman built Shed 2.

Shed 3 was built in 1922 as an “all-weather shed”. Shed 4 was constructed in 1938 and Shed 5 in 1939. They are connected by a covered walkway. In the 1950’s, Rosie the Riveter (real name Rose Kurlandsky) ran a produce stand here at Eastern Market. Her stall was located across from the Samuel Brothers Deli.

In 1965, Shed 6 is built. It’s a long, narrow shed with a roof and no walls.

In 1980, the original Shed 5 is demolished and a new Shed 5, along with a 2-story parking structure, are built in 1981. All of the Sheds were majorly renovated in the early 2000’s.

To this day, Eastern Market is a major cultural attraction in the city of Detroit, visited by millions of people annually.

 

 

Final Thoughts

Graveyard stock photo (courtesy of Unsplash)

In 1834, when the Russell Street Cemetery was created, Detroit had a population of around 5,000 people, according to census data. By the time the cemetery officially closed in 1882, Detroit was a rapidly expanding metropolis with a population of around 150,000 people.

Big cities have fascinating histories and trajectories. They tend to expand so rapidly that many of the historical facts and stories are lost to time and never fully recovered.

Detroit’s very first cemetery was located behind St. Anne’s log church at the NW corner of Jefferson and Griswold. This cemetery was functional 1701-1760 and consisted mostly of French Catholics in mostly unmarked graves. The cemetery moved several times after that.

Are some still buried there? The probability is high that there are indeed still human remains there. Such is the case with any large city. All big cities are dotted with random buried corpses from centuries past, hidden under modern-day structures like skyscrapers and apartment buildings.

Is this true of all early cemeteries? Were ALL the graves exhumed and relocated? Or are some still hidden down below, awaiting discovery?

The unclaimed dead from the Russell Street Cemetery. The nameless who were buried, most likely multiple bodies per grave, in the Conner Creek Cemetery, who were they? Where are their bodies at this exact moment?

Whatever may happen or not happen in the future, PLEASE RESPECT the land and the remains.

 

 

Where did you find this information?

Libraries, mostly, and some online repositories. I love libraries. As a lifelong library enthusiast and haunter of book collections, I highly recommend everyone spend more time at these sanctuaries of knowledge. Leave your phone in the car. It’s a good respite from the endless overwhelming digital switch-tasking bombardment perpetually fragmenting your time and sanity.

The bulk of this information was derived from poring over hundreds of vintage Detroit newspapers, along with heavy digging inside the Library of Michigan, the State of Michigan’s main library, in Lansing. Shout out to librarian, Adam Oster, for helping this wayward lad track down some primary source material. I would’ve been at the DPL’s Burton Collection in Detroit talking Mark Bowden’s ear off, but they’ve been closed for a while, first Covid, then flooding. Hope to explore upon their glorious re-opening.

Big thank you to the State Historic Preservation Office (archeologist Michael Hambacher) for providing Dr. Krepps report. And, to MDOT state archeologist James Robertson, for his kindness and alacrity on the FOIA request.

Thank you to Patrick Shaul at the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research for tracking down and scanning the incredibly hard-to-find 5-part article by Detroit archeologist Charles Martinez.

Thanks also to MDOT’s FOIA coordinator Fae Gibson for sending me a disc containing several key documents.

Also, this article is a work-in-progress. Please fact-check me and help me update it. If you have any pertinent and critical information, please email me at place313 at gmail dot com. Thank you!

 

 

Bibliography

Krepps, Dr. Karen Lee. Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Burton, Clarence & Agnes. History of Wayne County & the City of Detroit. Vol 2. SJ Clarke Pub. Co., 1930.

Caitlin, George & Robert Ross. Landmarks of Wayne County and Detroit. Detroit, Evening News Association, 1898.

Clohset, Virginia C. The Detroit City Cemetery in Grosse Pointe. Self-made, 1976. (this detailed 64-page report can be FOIA’ed from MDOT)

Detroit Free Press archives.

Detroit News archives.

Farmer, Silas. History of Detroit and Michigan. Detroit, S. Farmer & Co, 1889.

Fogelman, Randall & Lisa Rush. Detroit’s Historic Eastern Market. Arcadia, 2013.

Hershenzon, Gail. Detroit’s Woodmere Cemetery. Arcadia, 2006.

Krepps, Dr. Karen Lee. Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984. (this incredibly difficult-to-obtain report can be located at the State Historic Preservation Office).

Lazar, Pamela. Directory of Cemeteries in Wayne County. Dearborn Genealogical Society, 1982.

Maps (assorted).

Martinez, Charles. “Death Defiled: The Calamity of Russell Street Cemetery.” The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine, vol. 63-64, Spring 2000-Winter 2001. (this hard to find 5-part article can be purchased via the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research).

Palmer, Gen. Friend. Early Days in Detroit. Hunt & June, 1906.

 

Detroit Free Press newspaper clippings (and some Detroit News clippings):

*These are screenshots of newspapers Detroit Free Press and Detroit News mainly, along with a few other papers. The ones not marked are Detroit Free Press.

January 09, 1838 (entry for James Witherell from the Biographical Directory of American Congress)

May 01, 1870

At this time, the Eastern District hay and wood market was on Hastings Street.

 

November 02, 1870

 

February 02, 1871

 

July 29, 1873

“At a late hour Saturday evening, some boys discovered a man disrobing himself near the Russell Street Cemetery. When they approached, he attacked them vigorously. The next morning he was discovered in the cemetery. He jumped up from behind a tombstone and fired shots from his revolver. He was not wearing any clothes and went running down Russell Street.”

 

September 17, 1874

“A dreary spot. The Russell Street Cemetery is one of the most dreary and neglected spots in Detroit. Scraggy trees, rank weeds, broken tombstones and sunken graves meet the eye everywhere, and the fences are falling down and going to decay.”

 

January 30, 1875

An old horse of an ash collector fell while pulling his wagon. He fell in front of the cemetery and was flogged by the owner so badly that someone came up and shot the horse in the head to put it out of its misery.

 

May 29, 1875

“Condemned as a public nuisance and recommending it’s abatement.”

 

April 15, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Advertiser)

 

May 02, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Post)

 

May 04, 1876

“Oscar Davis tries to steal a human skull at the Russell Street Cemetery but is caught and arrested.”

 

November 23, 1876 (from the Detroit Daily Advertiser)

 

 

April 26, 1877

George Moorehouse (9) got his left eye knocked out by a spear while hunting for frogs with a group of boys inside RSC.

 

August 22, 1877

 

1878

Alderman Youngblood states that the city wants to make Russell Street Cemetery the location of Eastern Market.

 

 

October 20, 1878

Proposals for disinterring bodies from Russell Street Cemetery and re-interring them at Woodmere Cemetery are entertained by William Purcell, president of the Board of Public Works.

 

October 03, 1879

In one of the graves, 3 corpses were found, “believed they were victims of cholera and buried in haste”

 

October 29, 1879 (DFP, page 5)

special thanks to Eloise for this article

Capt. John Burtis and John Griswold, Russell Street Cemetery, Detroit (thanks to Eloise for this)

 

 

October 30, 1879

 

 

November 14, 1879

“A pile of old coffins, which were dug up last week, presents a ghastly sight in the old RSC.”

 

November 18, 1879

Germans want to hold Saengerfest (a type of choir singing festival) on the old RSC grounds.

 

November 22, 1879

 

November 12, 1880

Still digging up bodies. Body removal is funded by “collection of city taxes”.

 

October 04, 1881

Bid to disinter bodies and re-inter them is awarded to Hugh Fallon who says he will do it for 93 cents per body and 25 cents per fence.

 

October 31, 1881

“An interesting discovery was made on Saturday in the old RSC, where the work of digging up the dead is in progress. Two bodies were found to be petrified and in a natural state with the exception of the heads, which had crumbled into dust.”

 

November 03, 1881

 

January 11, 1882

 

October 26, 1882

Contract for removing 1400 bodes to the City Hospital in Grosse Pointe. Disinterred at 100 per day, being done under the direction of the Board of Public Works. Reinterred at City Hospital Grounds GP.

 

October 30, 1882

 

November 03, 1882 (Detroit News)

“Some coffins are very primitive. One was made of sidewalk planks. The remains of a very small body were found inside a soap box. The depth at which they’re buried varies greatly. Some are a foot and a half under the surface, others are 6-7 feet. Some bodies are missing (from coffins). Students having snatched them for dissecting purposes.”

 

February 14, 1883

“The remains of 1,357 bodies were removed from the Russell Street Cemetery to the City Cemetery Grounds at Grosse Pointe at an expense of $1,153.10”

 

May 30, 1883

 

September 04, 1887

August Stahlman (Grosse Pointe) farm 36 acres, 2 acres used for bodies from the Russell Street Cemetery, “several thousand skeletons removed from Russell Street Cemetery”.

 

 

June 15, 1898

“Laborers brought up a decayed coffin containing a skeleton while excavating for drainage pipes for the new Eastern Market on the old Russell Street Cemetery”.

 

June 14, 1902

Human bones are found while digging at the old Russell Street Cemetery grounds.

 

 

April 22, 1906 (Detroit News)

The city of Detroit owns 34-acre farm in Grosse Pointe. “The farm is rented by a tenant, August Schultz, who has occupied the property for 20 years. It was bought by the Detroit board of health October 18, 1872 to be used as a site for a pest house, or contagious disease hospital.”

 

 

June 30, 1910

 

 

October 06, 1950 (Detroit News)

“A page of Detroit’s past has been rudely opened by a gang of workmen who have uncovered an ancient cemetery while extending an electric cable pit along the Gunston playground between Harper and Conner avenues.”

 

May 23, 1967 (DFP page 3-A)

special thanks to Frank Castronova for sending this article over

 

 

November 19, 1978

 

 

Assorted Maps and Images

old Detroit cemeteries map (Detroit Free Press)

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Map from Dr. Krepps 1984 report Land Use History of Conner Creek Cemetery (20WN383) Containing as Well Background Studies of Clinton Park and Russell Street Cemeteries in Detroit, Wayne County, Michigan. K.L. Krepps, 1984.

Exclusive Interview: Psychedelic Pioneer, Author, Acid Tests Graduate & Original Merry Prankster KEN BABBS discusses his life, work, recollections of Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, and more

Exclusive Interview: Psychedelic Pioneer, Author, Acid Tests Graduate & Original Merry Prankster KEN BABBS discusses his life, work, recollections of Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, Hunter S. Thompson, Timothy Leary, and more

Ken Babbs Reddit AMA

 

Ken Babbs Reddit AMA

Fri, December 4th, 2020

10:30am PT/ 1:30pm EST

https://www.reddit.com/r/gratefuldead/comments/jmloej/announcement_ask_me_anything_with_very_special/

 

 

The only true currency is that of the spirit.”-Ken Kesey

Furthur.

Ken Babbs. What a guy! This soon to be 85-year-old Merry Prankster lives on a 10-acre farm in the small, rural town of Dexter, Oregon along Lost Creek, a tributary of the Willamette River.

Babbs is still a Prankster and still boldly subjecting his endurance to unique irritations like recently answering 100 questions from a plucky sprat wordsmith who’s pieced together a rickety quasi-mythic collage of the psychedelic 1960’s while basking in the dual luxuries of 20-20 hindsight and internet access.

Writer, humorist, humanitarian, musician, athlete, Midwest native, former chopper pilot in Vietnam, Babbs is a wonderfully multi-dimensional character who is best known for co-creating the now legendary phenomenon of The Merry Pranksters.

 

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Led by literary college buddies Ken Kesey and his best friend and co-pilot, Ken Babbs, the Merry Pranksters were a core group of 14 people who helped give birth to the psychedelic counterculture in the mid-1960’s.

There was the Beat Generation, then the Pranksters, then the Hippies. Neal Cassady was the living link between the Beats and the Pranksters.

These cosmic jesters had japes aplenty. There was the core group and an extended family of peripheral associates. Just reading a list of Prankster nicknames will make you chuckle: Intrepid Traveler (Babbs), Swashbuckler (Kesey), Zonker, Hassler, Sometimes Missing, Gretchen Fetchin the Slime Queen, Captain Trips, Space Daisy, Mountain Girl, Barely There, Lord Byron Styrofoam, Doris Delay, Cadaverous Cowboy, Mary Microgram, Sensuous X, June the Goon, Marge the Barge, Dis-Mount, Mal Function, etc.

One of the most well-known adventures of the Sixties, the Merry Pranksters two month long, cross-country bus trip from June-August 1964 symbolized the searching, mind-expanding spirit of the Sixties and is the adventure that kicked off the Psychedelic Sixties.

They crammed into a psychedelically painted bus named ‘Furthur’ and filmed their zig-zagging journey from La Honda, California to “Madhattan” New York and back. Along the way, amid hallucinogenic hijinks, the Pranksters (and the bus) all blended into one rollicking amorphous organism spreading cheer, humor, kindness, and good-natured mayhem to the unsuspecting citizens of America.

Merry Pranksters (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Fueled by orange juice laced with LSD (which was still legal until October 1966), the Pranksters would stop in various cities, dress up their alter ego’s in weird clothing, play music and join people in their fluffy cozy web of institutionally-induced conformity coma. Synchronizing into a communal group consciousness, the Pranksters unsnarled uptightness and gave joy to of all forms of exploration: neurocognitive, geographic, interpersonal, multi-media, etc.

After the bus trip, the Pranksters began throwing Acid Test parties in the Bay Area of California. At an Acid Test, you would drink LSD-laced kool aid, dance to the Grateful Dead playing music live, watch Prankster home movies and engage in assorted shenanigans amongst dayglo painted everything, strobe lights, and smiles galore. There would also be the liquid light show going on, using a technique pioneered by Prankster Roy Sebern (he was also the guy who named the bus Furthur), using an overhead projector with changing cellophanes and liquid oil.

The Grateful Dead started off as a Palo Alto jug band with Bob Weir on washtub bass and Jerome “Jerry” Garcia on the banjo. They were called Mother McCree’s Uptown Jug Champions, then they changed their name to The Warlocks and became the official Acid Test houseband before finally morphing into The Grateful Dead as electric rock & roll instruments transformed the musical landscape.

Everything the Pranksters stood for and promoted was geared towards generating fully joyful experiences. Blasting open those hidden vaults of your own mind, unlocking positive thinking, traversing new unexplored dimensions of your being, and accessing higher levels of reality beyond the usual mundane ordinary everydayness.

It had the flavor of a traveling circus of the mind and a sort of raw, universal quality to it. They personified the multi-colored living in the moment NOW spirit of the Sixties. Bold and inventive, the Merry Pranksters, were the ones who really, truly, unintentionally, popularized psychedelic culture on a large, global scale.

Prankster Acid Test (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Babbs and company were the focus of ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ (published August 1968), a superb in-depth tale of the Pranksters written by journalist Tom Wolfe, who never rode on the bus himself.

Although the Pranksters were early LSD proponents, the role of drugs in general has been over-magnified. Yes, the late Sixties youth culture was drenched in LSD from a veritable free flowing melting neon tap of acid but what was really at the forefront was the powerfully deep yearning amongst young people to increase their mindfulness, kindness and creativity. A line from The Bardo Thodol says “Everything can be transformed to limitlessly positive configurations” and that ethos was one of the main driving forces of the counterculture.

The impossibility of distilling the Prankster experience into words creates a hilarious paradox. The more ultra uber transformatively fantastic something is, the harder it is to accurately describe.

But Ken Babbs, whom due to his historical figure status over the decades becoming an almost fictional comic book type character himself, is gonna give it a whirl.

KEN BABBS BIO

Gretchen Fetchin and Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“My family has been in Ohio for a long time. Our ancestry is English, Scottish, Irish, German. I have nine kids. Was married three times. Had four, four, and one.”

“I grew up 30 miles east of Cleveland in Mentor, Ohio on Lake Erie. Used to call it ‘minor Cedar Point on the lake’. They had a roller rink, bowling alley, dancehall where one side was underage and the other side was for drinking age. Going there only cost a dime!”

“Fortunately, my parents accepted me being a Merry Prankster. We were never on the outs. Although, I’m sure they often found themselves wondering what happened to this All-American Boy?”

“In the past 55 years, what questions haven’t I been asked? Have I had venereal disease?” (laughs)

Ken Babbs & Neal Cassady on the Pranksters bus c. 1964 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“Oh man, the way things have been going, things are so crazy, gonna get crazier probably. Question of what’s next? In terms of global scale, this is the absolute craziest I’ve ever seen things in my lifetime. This whole Covid pandemic lockdown isolation experience forces you to dip into your creativity.”

“There’s been such a huge change from the 1960’s to now. There’s more people and everything has expanded exponentially. I love watching the faces of the world. We may totally fuck up and destroy the Earth, who knows? Need to look to space to get a good perspective on life. Best thing we’ve done lately is we got a puppy 4-5 months ago. Taking care of this creature living with us has been tremendous.”

“San Francisco and the Bay Area in the 60’s were halcyon. Hard to describe, you had to be there for the experience. As things change in life, one day’s fad is another day’s antique. Shit happens but the 60’s live on.”

“The Pranksters, the Sixties, we’re talking about myth, which is made up of everybody’s contribution to the myth. You don’t want to refute anything, just add your own version. The Sixties will be a mountain of myth. 2,000 years from now some Homer-esque historian scribe will put it all together.”

Babbs comes to Detroit

Grateful Dead at Detroit’s Grande Ballroom (December 01, 1968)

“I’ve been to Detroit once.”

“I was in Ohio at my uncle’s and Jerry Garcia called me saying the Grateful Dead would be playing Detroit (December 1st, 1968 @ the Grande Ballroom). So I got in my car and drove up there. Great show, then we all partied at a hotel downtown afterwards with Jerry, Pigpen and the gang.”

 

On The Art of Writing

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“I used to write daily. Mostly journaling, thoughts, poetry. Still write frequently. My Vietnam novel Who Shot the Water Buffalo was published a few years ago. Also, recently wrote a big book called ‘Cronies’ which is about Kesey, Cassady, and Prankster adventures but can’t find a publisher for it. Might just self-publish.”

“I co-authored The Last Go Round with Kesey in 1994.”

“A recent chapbook, ‘We Were Arrested’ is about the April 23, 1965 bust at Kesey’s La Honda home. You can buy the chapbook on my Facebook page.”

Ken Babbs-We Were Arrested

“I have piles of manuscripts. No shortage of material. I will soon be publishing a book called ‘7 Poems of Ken Babbs’.”

“In terms of what I like to read, I’m mostly into fiction, works of imagination. At the time I graduated from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio in 1957, Kerouac published ‘On the Road’ and the free form jazz-like flow of his writing had a tremendous influence on me.”

“Plus, my mother was a librarian. My dad was a newspaper editor. I grew up in a literary household reading Faulkner, Hemingway. There’s a great book called ‘The Way West’ by AB Guthrie Jr. I also love fiction adventure stories, detective stuff. Michael Connelly does some great stuff. There’s so many great writers today.”

Ken Babbs-Cronies

Order Ken Babbs books directly from Ken here

www.skypilotclub.com

 

 

Comic Books

Kesey and I both loved comic books. Our favorite character was The Spirit.”

“Comics are great. What we loved about Sixties Marvel comics was the heroes were always fighting against bad guys for noble ideals like rights and justice. Kesey and I had both been into comics since we were kids.”

“My dad thought comic books were trash, just a mind rotting waste of time. But not me, I loved them. Kesey even wanted to be a comic strip artist at one point.”

 

Experiences in Vietnam

Ken Babbs Vietnam (photo courtesy of Ken Babbs)

Babbs served in the US Marine Corps from May 1959-1963. He trained in Quantico, Virginia, then attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida where he learned to fly choppers. He moved to San Juan Capistrano, CA and was stationed at nearby Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine before shipping off to Vietnam. While in Nam, he flew a Sikorsky H-34D “Dawg” in the Delta and Da Nang and wrote a novel called ‘Who Shot the Water Buffalo’ which was finally published in 2011. You can buy it on his Facebook page.

“The entire experience I had in Vietnam was completely insane. It was still early in the war, I was flying the chopper, we were supplying troops. It was a beautiful country. Within a few weeks in country it was obvious that us being there was a ridiculous waste of time and resources.”

The government always has to have an enemy that they can rouse the people against. Generals want to play with their toys, the big bombs and the fun guns.”

Vietnam domino theory (courtesy of Google Archives)

“In Nam they had the Domino Theory. First Vietnam will fall, then the Philippines, then Hawaii, then suddenly the dirty Reds will be in San Francisco having babies. The Red Horde will be at your door before you know it!”

Still have my leather flight jacket.”

“The Pranksters and my Nam buddies never got together but I’ve had great experiences with both groups. Beautiful thing as you get older, all your experiences are the sum of who you are right now. Just incorporate those experiences into your being. We’re all material beings, we’re not angels. As such, we’re fucking up all the time. Over time, your fuck-ups become your best stories.”

Sikorsky H-34D in Vietnam

 

Babbs at Woodstock

August 15-18, 1969, the Pranksters attend Woodstock music festival along with an estimated 400,000 people at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre farm in Bethel, New York. Mistakenly anticipating violence and chaos, the police were shocked at how courteous and well-behaved the attendees ended up being. There were so many people that there was a perpetual 9-mile long traffic jam. Of the 5,000 reported medical incidents, 800 were drug related. Hog Farmer Wavy Gravy was the official head of security of “the please force.”

“Woodstock was pivotal. It was a wonderful, momentous scene and experience in American History. During times of turmoil, awful times, the magic and people living the good life, helping each other, keeps the American spirit alive. Woodstock was a celebration of collaboration among the peace-loving people.”

“I was hired by Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm to help out. We took 4 buses and about 40 people from Ken Kesey’s farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon and headed some 2,900 miles over to Woodstock in Bethel, New York.”

“Some of us Pranksters had our musical instruments. Across the hill from the main stage, we had the free stage. At one point I was on the main stage with the Grateful Dead. But mostly I was either helping out at the Freak Out tent or playing music on the free stage. I kept a very detailed journal of that amazing experience and should probably release it as a book.”

 

Memories of Ken Kesey

Ken Kesey on the Merry Pranksters bus (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey and Ken Babbs were best friends. Kesey was a groomsman at Babbs wedding in 1959. Kesey then volunteered to take mind-altering drugs at the local Menlo Park VA hospital later that year. He didn’t know it at the time but this was part of the CIA’s clandestine MK-Ultra project. He fictionalized his experiences in the instant bestseller ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ (1962). Couple years later he moved to a large house (7940 La Honda rd, La Honda, CA) on 3 acres in the middle of a beautiful redwood forest. This became the HQ of the Merry Pranksters where spontaneous happenings would be attended by Hunter S. Thompson and the Hells Angels. In early 1966, Kesey was busted for marijuana, faked his death and became a fugitive in Mexico. He did time at a prison work farm called the Honor Camp (7546 Alpine rd, La Honda, CA) which was hilariously located only 1 mile SE of his house, practically in his backyard. After that he moved up to a farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon and the rest is history.

Oh, God, so many great times and fun memories of Kesey!

“We met at Stanford University in the Graduate Writing program. We hit it off right away in grad school. He lived nearby on Perry Lane (9 Perry Lane, Palo Alto, CA), which was a collection of cottages. Block parties were frequent. Kesey was a social force. He’d written an entire novel called ‘Zoo’ before we even got to Stanford.”

Ken Kesey at a Pranksters Acid Test (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“He had also been a wrestler at the University of Oregon.”

“One time he hurt his shoulder. He had shown me some wrestling moves and we both signed up to compete. They wouldn’t let him participate but I did and he became my coach and mentor for that experience. My first opponent was this big red headed guy. Kesey said ‘I’m gonna teach you a trick. This is called the Telephone Takedown. When the match starts, make a big noise and commotion, make it look like you’re answering an invisible ringing telephone. Then when the guy is confused, dive, flip and pin him’. So, I took Kesey’s advice. The match starts, I do what he said to do. The red headed guy looks at me, steps back, throws me over and pins me in two seconds flat. And the sonofabitch broke my tooth, I spit it out!”

“Kesey started off as a magician. He had a ventriloquist dummy named Blinky. In his hometown of Eugene, Oregon, he would do shows on Saturday’s at the movies. In between movies, he would come out and do his magic and ventriloquism and he was great, very captivating. He was also fond of sleight of hand coin tricks. He’d be expertly pulling coins out of people’s ears and noses.”

Ken Kesey (photo by Jerry De Wile)

“I remember in the 90’s when Kesey and I were traveling around the country performing our play ‘Twister’, Kesey would bring his ventriloquist doll Blinky out.”

“Kesey had a pet parrot named Rumiako. Man, that thing could crack macadamia nuts.”

The story about Kesey’s involvement with the LSD test monkey’s is a bunch of bullshit. That was some guy down on the coast. Kesey was not involved with releasing them into the wilds of La Honda.”

 

Timothy Leary

Timothy Leary

During the Pranksters bus trip, they stopped at Millbrook in upstate New York, home of psychedelic Harvard exile Dr. Tim Leary.

Leary had the flu, so we didn’t see him until leaving. He said he was sorry. We were on the same wavelength and we became really good pals shortly after that.”

Timothy Leary & Neal Cassady (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

 

Neal Cassady

Neal Cassady at the jukebox (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Neal Cassady was a constantly on the go historical literary character who was intimately involved in both the Beat Generation in mid-1940’s New York when he linked up with Jack Kerouac and also the Merry Pranksters when he drove the Furthur bus in the mid-1960’s. From the mid-50’s onward, Cassady lived periodically in Los Gatos, CA until his mysterious death in Mexico in 1968, some 2,000 miles south of home.

“I first met Neal Cassady on the Prankster bus in 1964. Took a while for us to get acquainted. He called me a “tourist” (haha).”

Neal Cassady (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“Super guy. He was the living link between the Beat Generation and the Merry Pranksters. He was a very rambunctious, energetic, knowledgeable person. Very intelligent. He was like our elder Uncle.”

“Cassady was also the very first sales clerk at the Hip Pocket bookstore. That was Ron Bevirt and Peter Demma’s store in Santa Cruz. Bevirt’s Prankster name was Hassler

 

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson circa 1967 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Hunter Thompson was the famous Gonzo journalist from Louisville. In the 60’s he lived at 318 Parnassus Ave, San Francisco. Over the years, his work has become tremendously influential, especially the seminal ‘Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas‘ (1971).

“Oh man, Hunter was a great guy. Lucky to get to know him. We need his acerbic wit today, right now.”

“One time in the early 70’s he wrote a story about the Marathon in Honolulu, for some running magazine. He couldn’t finish the article so the editors flew him to Eugene, Oregon and put him up in a motel. He had locked himself in a bathroom. Paul Perry got him out of there by calling me because Hunter had asked for me to get him some weed. Thompson comes out of there and lights a string of firecrackers right in the room. So I get him the pot, and he finished the article. He’s getting ready to leave. Kesey and I are outside in Kesey’s car, waiting. Then Hunter comes out. He’s standing by the car door in his white shorts, white shoes, white shirt. As we pull away, Kesey lights a long string of firecrackers and throws it at Hunter’s feet! He’s dancing around as we pull off laughing.”

 

Ken Babbs on The Merry Pranksters

Merry Pranksters bus Furthur (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“The Merry Pranksters came together through divine planning. And the labels just happen. Deadheads are followers of The Grateful Dead. The Beats were named by John Clellon Holmes. The media came up with the label Hippies. I came up with the name Merry Pranksters spontaneously, naturally. This was not an intentional calculation whatsoever.”

Early 1964, after hanging out at San Gregorio Beach, we were all back at La Honda around the campfire when I was goofing around and said: ‘Tis I, the Intrepid Traveler, who has come to meet his Merry band of Pranksters across the country in the reverse order of the pioneers. We won’t blow up their buildings, we’ll blow their minds!’.

“I’ve told that story about 6 million times. Good stories do not get old.”

Initially, we were going to take my station wagon, a 1958 Ford, but instead we bought the bus right as our group grew, and we took the bus instead.”

Merry Pranksters on the bus. Ken Babbs (lower right, striped shirt). Ken Kesey (up top in the porkpie hat playing the flute) (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

“Kesey and I were tired of writing on the manual typewriter. We were tape recording. We’d lie on the floor at night and rap stories onto tapes. Problem with that method is afterwards you have to spend too much time listening to it.”

“Then (George) Walker bought a 16mm movie camera, so we started filming everything.”

(Mike) Hagen saw the ad for the bus. It was located in Atherton. He and Kesey went to pick it up. Kesey sunk his money into the bus and the trip to Madhattan and back and the cost of filming the movie. Other than that, everyone chipped in what money they could and we did plenty of shows and performances which we got paid for.”

“On the trip, our very first prank was in Arizona. Barry Goldwater was a senator in Arizona and we drove through his hometown. Painted a sign ‘A Vote for Barry is a Vote for Fun!’ He was pro Vietnam. His actual philosophy was summed up in his phrase, ‘Nuke the Gook’.

Merry Prankster Mountain Girl (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Prankster nicknames were created in the moment spontaneously as the bus trip unfolded. Ron Bevirt became ‘The Equipment Hassler‘, which was just shortened to Hassler. This was because every morning he would be rooting around in a drawer for things.”

“The Prankster movie was about interacting. We’d stop at a gas station somewhere and people would flock to the bus. We’d get out with our musical instruments and movie camera and help turn it into a fun thing. This happened everywhere we went. NYC was the climax of the trip. It was like we were a moving theater and the random people we encountered were the audience, they didn’t have a choice.”

We would balance intentionality and spontaneity. The intentionality is shooting the movie. Being spontaneous is having no script whatsoever. We were making it up as we went along.”

“The whole Prankster thing was about being open, friendly, creative, artistic, kind. Instead of participating in violence of any kind, take another path to keep the tranquility alive.”

Merry Pranksters bus with observation bubble (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

 

The Grateful Dead

UNITED STATES – CIRCA 1965: Photo of Grateful Dead when they started playing as the Warlocks (Photo by Paul Ryan)

“We became friends with them before they were even called The Warlocks.”

“They played our 1965 Halloween party at my house in Soquel. Wonderful group.”

 

LSD: The Merry Prankster’s Acid Test Parties

Merry Pranksters Acid Test handbill (courtesy of Google Archives)

The Merry Pranksters threw legendary LSD events from Fall 1965 to Spring 1966. This sort of gathering they dubbed an Acid Test, a reference to how a psychedelic chemical would test the strength and pureness of your being. An informal precursor to the official Acid Tests took place on Halloween night 1965 at Ken Babbs house ‘The Spread’ (Soquel Dr and Dover Dr, Soquel, CA). Then on November 27, 1965, the first official Acid Test also took place there. Since it was only advertised by limited word of mouth and a flyer at the local Hip Pocket Bookstore in Santa Cruz, the turnout was small compared to the thousands of attendees who would swarm future Acid Tests. The Pranksters went on to throw dozens of Acid Tests at various locations until the final Acid Test graduation at San Fran’s Winterland Ballroom on Halloween night 1966.

Pranksters LSD was put into orange juice, kool aid, and let me see, oh yeah, elephant piss! (laughs).”

LSD helped blow out the old imprints. You should keep the great ones but don’t get too hung up on old ideas. Make sure you let in some new stuff continually.”

We took LSD in whatever form the doctor prescribed. We ate mushrooms. Nitrous might have even been popular but it wasn’t always pretty.”

Ken Babbs at the Merry Pranksters Trips Festival (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

LSD was cheap enough back then, you could trade it for a pound of hash oil. Last time I took acid? 1866 or was it the Greco Roman war?

All psychedelics and drugs should be legalized.”

The original Acid Test movie reels, the raw 45 hours of 16mm film are now in a vault in L.A.

Paul Foster, a fellow Prankster, created the acid test poster, it was printed at a local shop.”

Merry Pranksters Acid Test handbill (courtesy of Google Archives)

Tom Wolfe the journalist was never on the bus. Great guy and great writer though.”

“His book Electric Kool Aid Acid Test was going to be made into a movie by Gus Van Sant but the project got shelved because a satisfactory screenplay never materialized.”

“We need Pranksters now. We need humor and off the wall happenings. The real battle is in minds between malevolent and benevolent thoughts, doing good or bad things. Don’t fight them. Just make a concentrated effort to grow your benevolent thoughts.”

Merry Pranksters Acid Test (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

 

Ken Babbs Final Thoughts

Ken Babbs with Kesey’s parrot Rumiako (photo by Jerry De Wilde)

What’s a good way to prank a Prankster?

Ask him 95 ridiculous questions.”

 

General advice for young people?

“Follow your bliss. You need a daytime job to pay for your nighttime creative fun. As you go through life, make this your goal. Follow the donut, not the hole. Be kind.”

 

Caution: Weird Load.

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Ken Babbs)

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[email protected]

Poem by Ken Babbs

Everything in a Aristotelian world

is in chronological order

but in a quantum physical

Einsteinian universe

everything is happening

all at once and we had

that experience when doing acid.

He was dyslexic, insomniac, agnostic,

woke up crying, Is there no dog?

No dog. What? No dog?

Does the universe end with a whine

and not a bark?

The wolf howled

and a heavy fog

held the cold

like a frozen blanket

juices were flowing

and the sap was rising

as spring awakened

from winter’s sleep.

We was swamped,

deluged, flooded

got muddy feet, the swamp lily,

now that was immaculate.

“Don’t eat when you’re angry,”

Cassady said, “No one

was ever happy, angry.”

—- Ken Babbs

 

Merry Pranksters & Assorted Psychedelic Timeline

NOTE: this is a raw, unpolished timeline compiled from my research notes. I approach interviews like doing detective work and always try to assemble a timeline for story coherence. Thought I’d include it since it might be a helpful resource to others. Cheers! Ryan

January 14th, 1936-Ken Babbs is born in Ohio

1938-LSD synthesized by Dr. Albert Hoffman @ Sandoz Lab (Basel, Switzerland)

1939-Al Hinkle and Neal Cassady, both 12, meet in Denver at a YMCA gym circus class

April 19, 1943-Dr. Albert Hoffman unintentionally takes the world’s first acid trip

April 30, 1943-Sandoz files the first LSD patent application in Friborg, Switzerland

1946-47-Neal Cassady moves to NYC, meets Jack Kerouac

1949-Dr. Max Rinkel brings LSD from Sandoz Labs in Switzerland to the USA, Boston

1951-Dr. Nicholas Bercel, a neurophysiologist at the University of Southern California (Los Angeles) supposedly becomes the first American to experience LSD

1951-Dr. Humphry Osmond moves from London, England to Saskatchewan, Canada. He begins testing the therapeutic effects of LSD on schizophrenics and alcoholics at Weyburn Mental Hospital.

1951-Neal’s son John Cassady is born @ 29 Russell st, San Fran; Kerouac also lived here for a bit; Carolyn Cassady took the famous photo of them across the street

1953-CIA chemist Sidney Gottlieb buys the entire known world supply of LSD so the CIA can conduct mind-control experiments with it, thus kicking off the MK-Ultra Project

1953-City Lights books opens in SanFran, owned by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. A plucky young sci-fi novelist, Philip K. Dick, is a frequent customer.

Dr. Albert Hofmann (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

1954-Dr. Gottlieb starts Operation Midnight Climax where the CIA gives unsuspecting customers of prostitutes LSD inside a house (225 Chestnut Street, SanFran) so they can study their behavior

1954-68-the Hungry I nightclub in San Fran

1954-Neal Cassady buys house in Los Gatos (18231 Bancroft ave, Monte Sereno, CA). Lives here periodically until his death in 68. His wife Carolyn sells the house in 87 and it gets bulldozed.

1955-Babbs attending Case Tech school in Cleveland, then Miami University (Oxford, OH)

1955-Ginsburg reads Howl poem in San Francisco

1955-Baltimore, MD-Spring Grove State Psychiatric Hospital, founded in 1797, becomes early LSD experimental ground in Cottage 13, a small cottage on the property. Over 700 people are given LSD by Dr. Albert Kurland from 1963-76 when the program was “officially” running and was funded by NIMH. In 1968, Dr. Stan Grof arrived.

1957-Kerouac’s book On the Road comes out

1957-Dr. Humphry Osmond coins the term ‘psychedelic’

1958-Ferlinghetti’s book Coney Island of the Mind is published

1958-Ken Kesey and his wife Faye Haxby move to California

Fall 1958-Babbs gets a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and enrolls at Stanford grad school writing program where he meets fellow outsider Ken Kesey at a cocktail party at professor Wallace Stegner’s house

1959-Pasadena, CA-Ken Babbs wedding. Ken Kesey is groomsman

Jack Kerouac (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

May 1959-Babbs enters the military; trains with USMC in Quantico, then Pensacola, FL flight school and learns to fly choppers

1959-Naked Lunch WSB

1959-Jerry Kamstra runs the Cloven Hoof Bookstore (Grant ave, SanFran)

1959-After being encouraged by Dr. Vic Lovell to sign up, Kesey volunteers at Menlo Park VA hospital (795 Willow rd, Menlo Park, CA) to take mind-altering drugs as part of MK-Ultra (financed by the CIA; they paid Stanford University; also supposedly tested LSD on monkeys). Kesey takes drugs under the supervision of Dr. Leo Hollister.

1960-Kesey lands job as psychiatric aid at the VA

1960-Cambridge, MA-Tim Leary and Richard Alpert conduct LSD experiments on themselves and others

1960-HST first encounters LSD in Big Sur but does not take any

1960-while working at Dow Chemical in Berkeley, a young Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin has his first psychedelic experience in the form of a mescaline trip at Dow

1961-Springfield, OR-Ken Kesey, Ken Babbs, John Babbs all take IT-290 (aka: alpha-methyltryptamine)

1961-Ken Babbs moves to Ganado Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA. He’s stationed at Marine Corps Air Station El Toro in Irvine before shipping off to Vietnam.

1961-while living briefly in Paris, France, psychedelic researcher Dr. James Fadiman is introduced to psychedelics by friend Ram Dass when Dass, Tim Leary, and Aldous Huxley pass through town. Soon after this, Jim and Dorothy Fadiman become Perry Lane neighbors of Ken Kesey.

Ken Kesey one flew over the cuckoos nest 1st edition hardcover

Fall 1961-Kerouac writes novel Big Sur @ Ferlinghetti’s cabin in Bixby Canyon, Big Sur. Later, Kamstra writes The Frisco Kid here

September 1961-Cambridge, MA; Leary takes LSD for the first time via Michael Hollingshead

1962-Tim Leary’s Good Friday psilocybin experiment in Boston

1962-Kesey’s One flew over the cuckoo’s nest published; breakout success, instant bestseller

1962-under the supervision of Dr. James Fadiman, Stewart Brand (soon to join the Merry Pranksters) has his first LSD experience at Myron Stolaroff’s International Foundation for Advanced Study in Menlo Park, CA

1962-63-Babbs is USMC helicopter squadron in Vietnam (wrote novel Who Shot the Water Buffalo, unpublished until 2011); stationed down south in Delta, then north in Da Nang; he was flying a Sikorsky H-34D “Dawg”

Late 1962-Neal Cassady hangs out with Kesey in Palo Alto

1963-Babbs returns from Nam, hangs out at Kesey’s house (9 Perry Lane, Palo Alto) bongos and wine and pineapple chili. Pot wasn’t even on the scene yet

July 21, 1963-Perry Lane ends, bulldozed

1963-Leary fired from Harvard, moves to Millbrook

1963-Owsley synthesizes his own LSD in Berkeley. He then starts manufacturing homemade LSD via ‘Bear Research Group’

Merry Pranksters bus (c. 1964) Ken Babbs, Gretchen Fetchin the Slime Queen, Ken Kesey (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

November 22, 1963-JFK assassinated in Dallas

1964-Kesey publishes Sometimes a Great Notion

March 1964-sci-fi author Philip K. Dick takes LSD and says the experience transports him to Latin-speaking ancient Rome. He then writes the Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch during extended amphetamines binges at his house (3919 Lyon ave, Oakland, CA)

Early 1964-Kesey moves to La Honda (7940 La Honda rd, La Honda, CA) a large house on 3 acres in the middle of a beautiful redwood forest

1964-the Merry Pranksters are named by Babbs at San Gregorio Beach, CA. The Merry Pranksters form (core group of 14 people) = zapping the “squares” out of their conformity to the Establishment by using LSD, a day glo bus, music and laughter

Spring 1964-Prankster Hagen sees classified ad for 1939 International Harvester bus for sale by Andre Hobson in Atherton, CA. Kesey buys it for $1,200 with his ‘One flew over cuckoo nest’ money

June 17, 1964-the famous Furthur bus trip starts from Kesey’s house (La Honda, CA) to “Madhattan”; “Kesey wanted to see what would happen when hallucinogenic-inspired spontaneity confronted what he saw as the banality and conformity of American society”

June 29, 1964-Pranksters arrive in NYC. While in NYC, Neal Cassady introduces the Pranksters to Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg at Chloe Scott’s apartment (Madison Ave and 90th St)

August 1964-the Furthur bus returns to La Honda

1964-San Francisco area-Pranksters help give birth to the counterculture

Ken Kesey and Neal Cassady on the Merry Pranksters bus

1964-HST first reports on the Hell’s Angels

August 2nd, 1964-Gulf of Tonkin incident in Vietnam

October 1964-the Hip Pocket Bookstore opens (1500 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz) Run by Ron Bevirt (aka: Prankster Hagen) and Peter Demma. Neal Cassady is the stores first sales clerk.

February 21, 1965-Owsley’s home/LSD lab (1647 Virginia st, Berkley, CA) raided by police

March 30, 1965-Owsley creates first big batch of LSD

April 12, 1965-Tim Scully first takes LSD. Shortly afterwards, Owsley hires him as a roadie for The Warlocks (whom in a few months become The Grateful Dead). After that, he becomes Owsley’s lab assistant in Point Richmond.

1965-Roy Sebern, Prankster affiliate and artist, invents the liquid light show

April 23, 1965-Kesey’s La Honda estate raided by Agent Wong (Willie Wong, SF Chinese narc) but the Pranksters had a few days heads-up and ended up pranking the cops. Kesey and 13 other Pranksters arrested

May 1965-HST first article on Hell’s Angels appears in The Nation magazine

1965-Wes Wilson creates the world’s first psychedelic concert poster (San Francisco)

Hip Pocket Bookstore (1500 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA) opened 1964

1965-Lafayette Hills, CA-While working for Dow Chemical in Berkeley, legendary chemist Alexander ‘Sasha’ Shulgin synthesizes MDMA at his recently built home laboratory.

1965-Vietnam big surge US troops 500,00 (Marines to north, Army to south)

July 1965-Dow Chemical Company (Midland, MI), the makers of saran wrap, score a $5 million dollar Department of Defense contract to become the US military’s only supplier of Napalm. Until 1969, they manufacture Napalm-B, a jellied mix of gasoline, benzene, polystyrene.

Aug 7, 1965-La Honda party w/ HST and some 40 Hells Angels; “amusingly incongruous cast of characters, a microcosm of an unsustainable social movement”; also present were Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsburg; 100 people total, all on LSD, HST’s first LSD experience; Lord Byron Styrofoam (aka Sandy Lehmann-Haupt) the KLSD radio station DJ, “800 micrograms in your head”

August 13th, 1965-Jefferson Airplane debut at The Matrix (3138 Fillmore st, SanFran)

August 24th, 1965-The Beatles first take LSD together @ Zsa Zsa Gabor’s house (2850 Benedict Canyon rd, Beverly Hills, CA) with Peter Fonda, David Crosby, and others

September 02, 1965-The Beatles concert @ SanFran Cow Palace (bad vibes, Pranksters leave early, return to La Honda to see 400 people there and Owsley, the world’s greatest acid chemist)

September 5th, 1965-the word “hippie” first appears in print in the San Francisco Examiner

October 15, 1965-Kesey and the Pranksters @ the Vietnam Day Committee protest @ University of Berkeley, Sproul Hall Plaza, some 15,000 people. Paul Krassner’s first encounter with the Pranksters

October 31, 1965-Babbs says that an informal Acid Test party, a precursor to the official Acid Tests, takes place during a Halloween costume party at his house “The Spread” (Soquel dr and Dover, Soquel, CA) on 400 acres

Merry Pranksters Acid Test LP

November 21, 1965-Lysergic A Go Go @ AIAA Aviation Academy Auditorium (7660 Beverly blvd, LA) event put on by Hugh Romney (aka: Wavy Gravy) and Del Close for 500 people

November 27, 1965-Soquel, CA-Babbs house ‘The Spread’ first Acid Test; advertised at the Hip Pocket Bookstore; Pranksters home movies, Cassady, Ginsberg

2nd test = December 4, 1965-San Jose Acid Test @ Big Nig’s house= The Warlocks first performance as the Grateful Dead; took place right after the Rolling Stones played San Jose Civic Auditorium

December 10th, 1965-Bill Graham takes over The Fillmore (1805 Geary blvd)

3rd test = December 11, 1965 = Muir Beach, CA feat. Grateful Dead, strobe lights; 300 people; Hell’s Angels, Owsley has LSD freakout, claims he goes into “parallel time dimension” with Count Cagliostro

December 18, 1965-acid test @ the Big Beat (998 San Antonio rd, Palo Alto)

January 1966-October 1967-Ron and Jay Thelin run the Psychedelic Shop (1535 Haight, SF)

January 8th, 1966-Fillmore acid test. Paul Krassner attends.

January 15th, 1966-Portland, OR acid test

January 19, 1966-Kesey arrested again for weed. Busted on Stewart Brand’s rooftop (Vallejo Street @ Grant St, North Beach, SanFran). Kesey along with Mountain Girl busted for only 3.54 grams of marijuana.

Merry Prankster Stewart Brand

January 21-23, 1966-Pranskters put on the Trips Festival, a 3-day long Acid Test @ Longshoreman’s Hall SanFran (considered the first true hippie festival/official gathering?) Babbs does the sound system and builds scaffold control tower; 10,000 attendees drinking LSD punch; Stewart Brand, Bill Graham

January 23, 1966-Kesey moves into Babbs house, The Spread, in Santa Cruz where he plans to, rather than do 5 years in prison, fake his death and become an outlaw in Mexico. Mountain Girl, Lee Quarnstrom, Ron Bevirt, Space Daisy, also move in.

January 31, 1966-Kesey’s abandoned vehicle is found in Orick, California. Inside is an 18-page long suicide note reading “O Ocean, ocean, ocean, I’ll beat you in the end”

February 04, 1966-Kesey becomes an outlaw in Mexico

February 1966-Ken Babbs becomes unofficial leader of the Pranksters. The Pranksters acquire the Sans Souci (saan soo see) old mansion in Stinson Beach. They have acid test at nearby Sawyer’s Church in Northridge.

Feb 12, 1966-Watts Acid Test (either 13331 S. Alameda or 9027 S. Figueroa, Compton, CA) 200 people; 30 gallon plastic trash can full of “Electric Kool Aid” (coined by Wavy Gravy), Grateful Dead

March 1966-Pranksters take the bus to Mazatlán, Mexico to visit Kesey. They do several small Acid Tests in Mexico. Kesey sneaks back into USA via Brownsville, TX.

1966-Mountain Girl has child with Kesey & also marries and separates from fellow Prankster George Walker. She later marries Jerry Garcia.

1966-Grateful Dead and Mountain Girl move to 710 Ashbury, SanFran

Summer 1966-1969-Lithuanian Leon Tabory takes over ownership of ‘The Barn’ in Scotts Valley from Big Daddy Nord. The Barn was a well-known beatnik, Prankster, hippie community gathering place located off Highway 17, just north of Santa Cruz. The Barn address (Granite Creek road and Santa Village Dr, Scotts Valley, CA).

July 24, 1966-Pranksters Lee Quarnstrom and Space Daisy (aka: Judith Ann Washburne) are married at The Fillmore. The best man is Julius Karpen.

September 1966-The Oracle newspaper begins

Merry Pranksters Trips Festival 1966 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

October 1966-Prankster affiliate Julius Karpen becomes the manager of rock band Big Brother & the Holding Company for one year.

October 6, 1966-LSD becomes illegal in the state of California (note the overtones of 666)

October 20, 1966-Kesey arrested on freeway in San Francisco

October 31, 1966-final Acid Test graduation @ Winterland Ballroom (SanFran) strange end to the Pranksters acid tests. The group gradually go their separate ways afterwards, periodically hanging out.

January 14, 1967-The Human Be-In @ Polo Fields (Golden Gate Park, SanFran) 30,000 people

Jan-Feb 1967-Tom Wolfe’s first articles on Pranksters run in New York Magazine

1967-Ken Babbs moves to Oregon

1967-Owsley living and making LSD at 2321 Valley st, Berkeley, CA

1967-Hugh Romney (aka: Wavy Gravy) starts the Hog Farm (West Conover St, Sunland-Tujunga, CA). This is a 33 acre commune in the hills above Los Angeles. To find it on a map, use the address 9401 Tujunga Valley st, Shadow Hills, CA. In 1969, the Hog Farm moves to Llano, New Mexico.

Feb 1967-HST book Hell’s Angels published

March 1967-Prankster Denise Kaufman (aka: Mary Microgram) joins all-female rock band The Ace of Cups. She does vocals, guitar, harmonica.

Merry Pranksters Acid Test Graduation (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

March 16, 1967-Houston acid test @ Rice University. Teacher and novelist Larry McMurty was a Stanford Univ pal of Kesey’s.

May 26, 1967-The Beatles release Sgt. Pepper album

June 16-18, 1967-Monterey Pop Fest in Monterey, CA (feat. Hendrix, the Who, Shankar, Joplin, etc)

June 23, 1967-Kesey goes to work farm for 5 months for marijuana charge. This is the San Mateo County sheriff’s Honor Camp (7546 Alpine rd, La Honda, CA). 11 acres. Former Boy Scout camp in the Santa Cruz Mountains above Pescadero Creek. It is hilariously located only 1 mile SE of Kesey’s house.

Summer 1967-San Fran-Summer of Love-“flower children followed by the sharks; Bay Area wasn’t kind of place we wanted to be around anymore”

1967-Lenny Bruce protégé & quasi-Prankster affiliate Paul Krassner founds the Yippies (Jerry Rubin, Abbie Hoffman)

1967-Tim Leary moves to Laguna Beach to live with the Brotherhood of Eternal Love (250 Woodland Dr)

1967-Quasi-Prankster affiliate Norman Hartweg car accident in Las Vegas, leaves him a wheelchair-bound paraplegic. He spends 1yr in hospital in Ann Arbor, Michigan, then stays in Ann Arbor until moving back to LA in 1977. Norman’s father, Dr Norman E. Hartweg, was curator of reptiles at the University of Michigan, he was an international expert on reptiles.

October 21, 1967-Washington, DC-a group led by Abbie Hoffman attempt an exorcism of The Pentagon. They sing and chant, trying to get it to levitate so they can perform an aural exorcism

November 1967-Rolling Stone magazine begins

Merry Prankster The Hermit (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

November 1967-Kesey gets out of work farm after 5mnths and moves to Kesey Farm (64acres) in Pleasant Hill, Oregon

November 27, 1967-The Beatles release Magical Mystery Tour album

December 1967-William Leonard Pickard moves from Cambridge, MA to Berkeley, CA and gets a job at UC Berkeley inside Latimer Hall at the Department of Bacteriology and Immunology

December 1967-Owsley’s LSD lab raided in Orinda, CA; Owsley arrested; the Brotherhood of Eternal Love takes up the mantle of LSD production

Feb 1968-Neal Cassady dies mysteriously some 2,000 miles south of La Honda, CA in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

1968-Sausalito, CA-William Mellon (aka: Billy) Hitchcock introduces the Brotherhood of Eternal Love to chemists Nick Sand and Tim Scully

August 1968-Tom Wolfe publishes book ‘The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test’ detailing the fascinating exploits of The Merry Pranksters

September 1st, 1968-Stewart Brand (Prankster) publishes the first Whole Earth Catalog

Late 1968-the hippie scene starts getting ugly as the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood turns seedy and violent after an influx of street predators move into the neighborhood

October 24, 1968-Congress passed Staggers-Dodd Bill, effectively criminalizing the recreational use of LSD-25. LSD is made illegal in USA

Electric Kool Aid Acid Test (1968) Tom Wolfe first edition softcover

November 05, 1968-Nixon elected President

December 9th, 1968-the Mother of All Demos introduces email, hypertext, and the computer mouse via Prankster Stewart Brand and computer scientist Douglas Englebart at San Fran’s Brooks Hall, Civic Center Plaza. Stewart was at SRI HQ in Menlo Park working one of the computers

March 1969-LSD chemists Tim Scully and Nick Sand make the famous Orange Sunshine acid at their farmhouse (Mitchell Lane west of Baldocchi Way, Windsor, CA). They make 3 pounds (4.5 million hits) of Orange Sunshine LSD

July 20, 1969-NASA on the Moon

August 9-10, 1969-Charles Manson’s cult the Family kills 5 people

August 15-18, 1969-Pranksters attend Woodstock, along w/ an estimated 400,000 people

September 1969-The Beatles breakup

October 21, 1969-Kerouac dies

December 6, 1969-Altamont Free Concert (Grateful Dead hire Hell’s Angels as security, one of whom stabs a man to death)

1970-LSD declared Schedule One controlled substance in USA

Charles Manson and Sharon Tate (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

1971-Prankster Mountain Girl (Carolyn Garcia) and Jerry Garcia move into the Sans Souci mansion (18 Avenida Farralone, Stinson Beach, CA)

1971-Mark McCloud’s house (3466 20th st, SanFran) becomes an LSD museum called the Blotter Barn. He has over 30,000 blotter works of art here.

Nov 1971-HST publishes Fear & Loathing

1972-Watergate

1973-Pigpen dies

1973-Nixon creates the DEA

November 1973-Billy Hitchcock rats out the Brotherhood of Eternal Love

1974-81-Babbs involved with Spit in the Ocean publication

1975-Vietnam War ends

1975-One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest movie released starring Jack Nicholson

Jerry Garcia (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

1978-Mountain Girl finally officially divorces George Walker

1982-Owsley moves to Australia

1983-Babbs editor of The Bugle (Eugene, OR zine)

1984-Kesey’s son Jed dies in car accident

1985-Prankster Stewart Brand & Dr. Larry Brilliant co-found The Well. Larry, a native Detroiter, is the guy who delivered a Native American baby on Alcatraz Island in 1969 during the Indians of All Tribes Occupation of Alcatraz. And then in 1975 he led the UN effort that successfully eradicated smallpox in India (eradicated globally by 1980).

1994-Norman Hartweg dies

1994-Kesey and Babbs co-author The Last Go Round

1995-Jerry Garcia dies

1997-Kesey sells his La Honda house

1999-Babbs plays Frankenstein in Twisted, a play he co-wrote w/ Kesey

2001-Kesey passes away

Merry Pranksters Roy Sebern liquid light show

2001-Jim Irsay (owner of Indy Colts fb team) buys original Kerouac scroll for $2.45mil

2001-Sandy Lehmann-Haupt dies

2003-work camp where Kesey served time is permanently closed

2003-Paul Foster dies

2005-HST suicide

2005-Ken’s son Zane Kesey pulls the original Furthur bus out of the swamp at Kesey’s Oregon farm

2008-Dr. Albert Hoffman dies at the ripe ole age of 102

2010-George Walker published a chapbook

2011-Babbs book ‘Who shot the water buffalo’ published (thanks to Sterling Lord)

2011-Owsley dies

2012-Ken Babbs brother and noted fly fisherman John Babbs (his Prankster name is ‘Sometimes Missing’) passes away

Dec 2018-Al Hinkle (92; San Jose) dies; he was with Kerouac and Cassady in the On the Road story in the 1949 Hudson Commodore; Al was a brakeman and conductor with Southern Pacific Railroad for 40yrs

Dec 2018-Babbs publishes chapbook ‘We Were Arrested’ (talks about 14 Pranksters busted for pot at Kesey’s house; and the first acid tests)

July 2019-Paul Krassner dies

October 2019-Chloe Scott passes away. She was a Perry Lane neighbor of Ken Kesey’s. The Merry Pranksters stayed a night at her cousin’s apartment in New York in 1964 where they met Jack Kerouac.

February 2021-Lawrence Ferlinghetti passes away at 101 years old

Ken Babbs business card (courtesy of Ken Babbs)

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Ken Babbs)

Merry Prankster George Walker (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Prankster Neal Cassady circa 1964 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Haight Ashbury poster (courtesy of Google Archives)

The Warlocks (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Pigpen of the Grateful Dead (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters Acid Test handbill (courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters Ken Kesey, Lee Quarnstrom, Neal Cassady (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters Watts Acid test (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of Ken Babbs)

Turn on tune in drop out Leary (Courtesy of Google Archives)

Mountain Girl’s Merry Prankster Acid Test diploma (courtesy of Google Archives)

October 1966, Ken Kesey outside the Warehouse, Harriet Street, South of Market, San Francisco, California (photo by Ted Streshinsky)

Ken Kesey and Mountain Girl (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Neal Cassady (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

The Grateful Dead in San Francisco (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters first official Acid Test November 27, 1965 (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ace of Cups business card (courtesy of Google Archives)

The Beatles (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Neal Cassady mugshot (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Timothy Leary poster by Brotherhood of Eternal Love (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Keseydelics (courtesy of Google Archives)

LSD chemist Owsley & Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia

Grateful Dead concert poster (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Barry Goldwater (“A vote for Barry is a vote for fun!” (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Gretchen Fetchin at La Honda circa 1965 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey’s La Honda estate (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Haight Ashbury circa 1967 (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Hunter S. Thompson (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey mugshot (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey farm in Pleasant Hill, Oregon (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey graffiti mural (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

downtown San Francisco circa 1960’s (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Prankster Mountain Girl (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Prankster Paul Foster (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Neal Cassady sorta kinda resembling Dennis Hopper (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters at Millbrook. Ken Babbs is the shirtless weirdo (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Timothy Leary’s Millbrook estate (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

 

The Realist (courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Prankster George Walker (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

 

Merry Pranksters poster (courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Prankster Zonker (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Merry Pranksters Trips Festival

Ken Kesey (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Hunter S. Thompson the edge (courtesy of Google Archives)

LSD chemist Tim Scully (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Jack Kerouac’s original manuscript of ‘On the Road’ (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Owsley Stanley (courtesy of Google Archives)

The Doors psychedelic poster (courtesy of Google Archives)

Timothy Leary (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

LSD cologne (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Thelin Psychedelic Shop (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Albert Hofmann blotter acid LSD

Roy Sebern, Merry Prankster (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Trips Festival advertisement (courtesy of Google Archives)

Ken Kesey circa 1957 (photo from The Eugene Guard newspaper in Eugene, OR)

Timothy Leary trippy gif (courtesy of Google Archives)

The Diggers funeral notice for the death of the hippie (October 1967, San Francisco) image courtesy of Google Archives

Hells Angels annual party (c. 1971)

Grateful Dead-trip or freak (c. 1967)

The Barn (Scotts Valley, CA) c. 1966-69

Spit in the Ocean literary journal by Ken Babbs (photo courtesy of PBA Gallery)

Wavy Gravy’s Hog Farm (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

The Grateful Dead Book (1973) Hank Harrison (image courtesy of Abebooks)

Timothy Leary (photo courtesy of Google Archives)

Owsley Stanley (photo by Explorewithstorm)

One lucky person will Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ signed by author & historian KEN MILLER! (Retail value $100.00)

One lucky person will Win a FREE Autographed Copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ signed by author & historian KEN MILLER! (Retail value $100.00)

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

*Special thanks to Ken Miller and 1870 Publishing Group for this*

We are raffling off only ONE FREE autographed copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ by Ken Miller!

 *ONE winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!* 

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, May 18, 2020 – Sunday, May 24, 2020

 

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, is considered The Roller Coaster Capital of the World.

Repeatedly voted the USA’S best amusement park (with best coaster Steel Vengeance and best amusement park hotel Hotel Breakers), Cedar Point attracts over 3 million visitors per year.

Lucky for us, Cedar Point is only two hours south of Detroit. Every Summer, my mom and grandparents and I used to drive down and join the adrenaline junkies for the great endorphins rush of coaster mania. My favorite ride is probably the Magnum, an underrated, terrifyingly jerky 80’s-tastic coaster. I also enjoy the annual HalloWeekends event.

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Opened in 1870 on Lake Erie, Cedar Point is 364 acres and features 72 rides (18 roller coasters), 5 hotels, Cedar Point Shores waterpark, two marinas, a mile-long sandy beach, and more.

Some of the top coasters are: Steel Vengeance (world’s best coaster; 74 mph straight drop for 30 seconds), Millennium Force, Top Thrill Dragster, Raptor, GateKeeper, Wicked Twister, Valravn, etc.

You can also ride the Gondola (aka: Sky Ride) over the Main Midway. It’s 92 feet in the air and offers great views of the entire park. And there’s the classic Railroad ride (built 1963) where you pass through Boneville, an Old West town of 48 animatronic skeletons.

Cedar Point hires more than 5,000 seasonal employees from all over the world every year. Workers live on-site in the Commons Campus dorms and also Bayside Campus Apartments.

 

Ken Miller, the Herodotus of Cedar Point

Ken Miller (image courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

In the back NW corner of the park, in Frontier Town, inside the Town Hall Museum, you can find Ken Miller eagerly explaining park history and memorabilia.

Ken Miller has distinguished himself as a major Cedar Point historian. He is also a high school math teacher and chess enthusiast.

Recently, his company 1870 Publishing Group printed the bible of Cedar Point, a massive coffee table elephant folio sized book entitled ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’.

Scholarly, informative and action-packed, this tremendous resource took Ken over 7 years to write and compile. He even minutely combed through more than 100,000 newspaper articles.

Lushly inlaid with photographs and historical memorabilia, the book is 392 pages, measures 12 inches x 18 inches, weighs 12 pounds, and contains 75 maps.

1,000 limited-edition signed and numbered copies of the book featuring a special cover designed by Paul Bonifield and Ashley Spedding, quickly sold out.

 

Biography of Ken Miller

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“I was born and raised in Michigan. Lived in Livonia from 3rd grade to 11th, then moved to Ohio in high school during the 70’s. I worked sales and marketing after college in the Dungeons & Dragons industry. Switched to teaching math about a dozen years ago.”

“Still read science fiction and fantasy, as well as historical drama. Favorite TV show is MASH. In my free time I play tournament chess, but I haven’t had any free time in years.”

 

Ken started working at Cedar Point in 2000 and started working at the Town Hall Museum in 2004

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

“I started with Cedar Point running the store inside the Sandcastle Suites Hotel. When the guests were in the park, the store was very slow, so I started reading the Cedar Point books we had there. Learned a lot of trivia and history about the park.”

“A few years later, I was working front of the park when management asked me to help in the museum.”

“The Town Hall Museum is run by Guest Services, so most of my job functions revolve around that. I think I have the best job in the park. I get to work with the guests, share some trivia, tell them where to get funnel cakes, etc. And stay in the air conditioning.”

 

Cedar Point is fascinating, unique, and worthy of attention

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Cedar Point wasn’t designed. It grew organically, gradually into what it is today. The development over the last 150 years has been incredible.”

“The book is loaded with fun facts and trivia about the park. The ‘Did you know?’ pages 186-7 have lots of miscellaneous stuff.”

“One of my favorites is the amount of food the park goes through every season: 190,000 pounds of hamburger, 91 miles of hot dogs, 29,000 gallons of ice cream, 595 tons of french fries, and 800,000 gallons of beverages!”

“As for the coasters, I’m not much of a rider anymore myself. Can’t do circles, otherwise I’d be fine on the Raptor, until the final helix at the end. Favorite coaster is GateKeeper, favorite ride is the Train.”

 

Ken’s Overview of the Book

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“’Rolling Through The Years’ is a textbook and the ultimate resource about Cedar Point. It is divided into two main sections.”

“The first section is grouped by subject. For example, if you want to know everything about the Carousels, the information is all together in one place.”

“The second section is by year. Starting in the 1700s, all the major events and developments are listed. Included in this section are over 75 maps of the park, which illustrates the amazing development of the park.”

 

The Process of Assembling and Publishing the Book

Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology by Ken Miller

 

“Assembling the book was time consuming and difficult.”

1,200 images all had to be formatted and laid into the software. Every change on one page could inadvertently change the next page, so we had to be very careful as we put the book together. After the book was assembled, we sent it to three editors, two for content and one for copy. I also had both the current and retired Cedar Point General Manager look through the book.”

“Actually, it was far harder to print the book than expected. There are not many printers that could handle the size and weight. Our first thought was overseas, but they couldn’t guarantee any kind of time frames. We then chose a printer in Cincinnati. We ended up switching printers halfway through the project to a printer in Tennessee. The cover material was special order due to the weight and the new printer had issues with it. They could only handle a small amount of books each week, so we missed our original release date.”

 

Commonalities Among Coaster Enthusiasts & the Legendary Regulars

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

“Sure, just like any fans/enthusiasts in any pop culture milieu, we have our fair share. When I worked in the Dungeons & Dragons industry, there were fans. Football has its enthusiasts, Nascar has theirs, Broadway musicals have theirs, etc. And to anyone on the outside, it’s all weird.”

“Cedar Point has its share of regulars, many of whom come into Town Hall. Most notable was ‘Mean Streak Henry’ Sievers who had the unofficial ridership record for the Mean Streak roller coaster. And I mean thousands upon thousands of rides.”

 

Ken’s Recommendations on places to check out in Sandusky

 

“I like Danny Boys Pizza and Berardi’s Family Kitchen. My favorite place to go is the Merry-Go-Round Museum.”

 

If you have any vintage Cedar Point stories or memorabilia to share, please contact Ken

 

1870 Publishing Group

PO Box 173

Sandusky, OH 44871-0173

[email protected]

 

Cedar Point image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

*Special thanks to Ken Miller and 1870 Publishing Group for this*

We are raffling off only ONE FREE autographed copy of ‘Rolling Through The Years: A Cedar Point Atlas and Chronology’ by Ken Miller!

 *ONE winner will be selected at random. Enter now for your chance to win!* 

https://detroitbookfest.com/enter-to-win/

The raffle will run from Monday, May 18, 2020 – Sunday, May 24, 2020

 

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

 

Order the book here

https://1870publishinggroup.com/about-the-book#e2de80f4-6bd3-4f20-97e9-301ed042afa2

 

Cedar Point Timeline

https://pointbuzz.com/history

 

Theme Park Insider

https://www.themeparkinsider.com/

 

American Coaster Enthusiasts 

https://www.aceonline.org/

 

Cedar Point Food Blog 

https://cpfoodblog.com/

 

PointBuzz: CP News 

https://pointbuzz.com/News

 

Cedar Point Demon Drop image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

 

Cedar Point’s Official List of Rides

https://www.cedarpoint.com/play/rides-coasters

 

Cedar Point Memories (Facebook Group)

https://www.facebook.com/groups/891098047631065/

 

CP Rundown 

https://www.facebook.com/cprundown/

 

Wicked Twister GWR fastest 

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85489-fastest-roller-coaster-inverted-design

 

Wicked Twister GWR tallest 

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85487-tallest-roller-coaster-inverted-design

 

Valravn GWR largest drop

https://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/85483-largest-drop-on-a-roller-coaster-floorless-design

Cedar Point Boneville image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point Ferry image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point Facts image (courtesy of 1870 Publishing Group)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Boneville railroad @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Red Garter Saloon @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Beer @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Marina @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)

Marina @ Cedar Point (image courtesy of Cedar Point)