Saturday, March 31, 2012

Detroit: David Vartanian - RMS Titanic Survivor

     Since the has finally come to Detroit at the Henry Ford, I decided to go visit the grave of a Titanic survivor buried in Detroit's Woodmere cemetery.

     His name is David Vartanian, he was an Armenian man who was a Christian and was escaping from the Turkish Muslim persecution. Of five Armenians who were on board the Titanic, only he and one other survived the sinking. He had boarded the Titanic at Cherbourg, Normandy France bound for Canada. He was a third class passenger, ticket number 2658.

    He had married his wife, Mary in 1911 and he had set sail to Canada without her. Years later he found that she was still alive and began sending her money for passage to Canada. He met her on the Niagara Falls Bridge, meeting her half way across after 10 years of separation. He took her home to Meadeville, PA. The couple later moved to Detroit and he died in August of 1966 at the age of 76.

     His great granddaughter Melissa was married at the Titanic exhibit when it was in Milwaukee. 

Friday, March 30, 2012

Out on the town Party Pics 03-24-12 and 03-29-12

Backstreet 03-24-12

Click any photo to enlarge.

More Photos! Click "Read More" below for more photos.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Detroit: Menjo's in Aerial Views From 1949-Present

     I've been fascinated with looking at old aerial views of Detroit. I was interested to see Menjo's over time. Here are a series of aerial photos of Menjo's from 1949 until today.

  1949. The green arrow is Menjo's. Note that the Glass house was not yet built. Click to enlarge any of these photos.



1961. Note the Glass house now appears in this photo.

1981. The church parking lot on the corner was still not paved. If you look closely you can see the large tree growing in the patio. Guys used to get drunk and climb up in it. I remember parking in this lot in 1985 to go to Chosen Books which used to be right next door to Menjo's. I was going to look at a Damron Guide book, this was before the internet and a Damron guide book listed all the gay bars in the country. I didn't even know Menjo's was next door until I looked in the guide book. My hands were shaking and I was scared off my ass to go into the bookstore. 

1997. This view is turned sideways compared to the previous views.

Current Google view. Notice the larger patio next to the Glass House? I never knew that was there. I never had gone into the Glass House when it was open.

Older photos are courtesy Wayne State/DTE

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Detroit: Woodward and State Fair, Then and Now

     I found some interesting aerial photographs from 1949 of Detroit. The comparison of this view of Woodward and State Fair is striking. Use the landmarks of the school and the bowling alley to get your bearings. The current view is from Google satellite view. It is rather horrifying. Click to enlarge and then click back and forth. (One note: the "white lines" between the houses are the alleyways which were long ago closed in the 1949 view)

    Photo source: Google
    Photo source: Wayne State

Detroit: Murder on Marlowe St.

     Detroit 1927, Dr. Frank Remington Loomis was a prominent Detroit physician with offices at 8620 Grand River, phone number: Garfield 0800. Dr. Loomis had prominent friends in Detroit like Victor Kolar, assistant director of the Detroit symphony orchestra. He was a well respected man in his community and had a wife, Grace and two children, Frank 9 and Janet 6. Dr. Loomis graduated from the University of Michigan Medical School in 1914, serving an internship in New York, he met his wife Grace, a nurse from Sussex, NJ. Dr. Loomis had come from an old Brookyln, MI family. After New York he returned to Brooklyn for a short time. He then moved to Detroit in 1919 and began his practice.

     On Feb 22, 1927, Dr. Loomis came to his home at 13901 Marlowe St. from his office at around 8 o'clock and gave his wife $100 to buy clothes and household items the next day. He then told his wife that he was going for a walk and left down Schoolcraft Ave. When he returned about 45 minutes later, he found his wife beaten to death by a blunt object on the sun room floor. The children were not disturbed and were still asleep upstairs. The only witness, a canary in a cage in the sun room. Dr. Loomis then tried to phone the police but his phone was out of order. Dr. Loomis then went next door to the home of Mrs. Albert Twork and informed her of the murder. Upon her suggestion, he ran to the local police station to report the murder while Mrs. Twork stayed with the children.

The scene of the crime on Marlowe St.
(Click to enlarge any photo)
The infamous sun porch
(Click on enlarge. Photos are of the house today.)

     Dr. Loomis was taken into custody immediately and police said there were discrepancies in his story of the evening in question. Dr. Loomis offered an explanation that a prowler must have seen him give his wife the $100 through the sun room window and waited until he left to murder Mrs. Loomis. No weapon was ever found. Dr. Loomis told the same story which could not be broken under heavy examination. Police found blood in the inside of Dr. Loomis's coat sleeve and no corresponding stain on his shirt. Dr. Loomis explained that he had tried to move Mrs. Loomis's body and that is how the stain got there. The $100 was missing but not two rings on Mrs. Loomis's finger. Dr. Loomis theorized that in the excitement the killer did not notice the rings. Two pearl buttons were found in the ashes in the furnace and police think the doctor may have changed his shirt. The house was locked and a window in the sun room had been broken. However, the glass from the broken window was on the lawn, not on the inside of the sun room.

     A couple who were walking by the Loomis home at about 9:10 reported hearing a woman scream. Dr. Loomis swore the sun room shades were up when he left. Yet when Mrs. Loomis' body was found they were drawn. Detroit police homicide detective Fred Fraham started to investigate Dr. Loomis's life. He found that Dr. Loomis had been seen no less than a dozen times having drinks with a young stenographer, Mrs. Gertrude Newell in a Hungarian restaurant at West End and Jefferson Ave. Mrs. Newell was a divorcee from Ypsilanti, MI. Dr. Loomis was held on a murder charge but assistant prosecutor Paul O. Buckley said that he would not charge unless more evidence could be uncovered. Dr. Loomis was released and accompanied his wife's body to Newton NJ for burial on March 1st.

 The saucy young stenographer, Mrs. Gertrude Newell. A divorcee.

     Dr. Loomis was arrested again and charged with murder and given a $100,000 bond. Many of the Dr.'s friends believed in his innocence. Dr. E. T. Hoff at 817 Virginia Park mortgaged his house to raise the bond. The trial began on May 23, 1927 before Judge V. Brennan. The trial was one of the most sensational trials in Wayne County history. The story had made headlines in newspapers from coast to coast. It was the "O.J." trial of the 1920's. The trial lasted 10 days and the jury acquitted him after only 35 minutes. 

 The courtroom.

     Dr. Loomis was found to have shared an apartment with Mrs. Newell at 305 Richton Manor. They had rented the apartment under the name "Brown" which was Mrs. Newell's former married name. After the acquittal, Dr. Loomis, Mrs. Newell and Mr. Kolar would sit around the Hungarian restaurant listening to gypsy music. Dr. Loomis complained that his practice had dwindled, his finances were low and he was bitter about people pointing the finger at him. Even the other professionals in his office building were asking him to leave. He said he was shadowed by police and private detectives. The police denied this. After the acquittal Dr. Loomis had rented a house at 12019 Mendota, he said he could not stay in his former home on Marlowe.

     Dr. Loomis had confided in a friend that he wanted to marry Mrs. Newell but her parents objected to the marriage. It was after a visit to Mrs. Newell's parents in Ypsilanti that the couple had quarreled. He was afraid she was going to leave Detroit and move back to Ypsilanti. Then suddenly his brother-in-law Sumner Ladd who had been caring for his two children Frank and Janet died. Dr. Loomis was despondent over this death and did not know how he was going to care for his children. He had gone to the funeral in Brookyln and had visited with his children and his mother Dora Loomis.

     Dr. Loomis returned to Detroit and went to his office. On the morning of May 19, 1928, Jesse Hardy a janitor from his office found Dr. Loomis in the adjoining dentist's suite, dead on a mattress he had dragged from his own offices. Dr. Loomis had inserted a rubber tube and inhaled illuminating gas. He was found near a bible opened to "The hymn for the dying" and a note to the authorities stating that in 24 to 48 hours the newspapers would publish a letter he had sent explaining his actions. In his coat a photograph was found of him with his arms around Mrs. Newell in Frankenmuth taken May 6 last. He had penned two letters, one to the newspapers and one to his friend Victor Kolar.

     Mr. Kolar then made the letter public. In it he described his misery and his intense love for Mrs. Newell. "G. drives me crazy" he wrote. "Everyone in Detroit should receive consideration but myself" In the doctors letter to Kolar he expressed his love for Mrs. Newell such as "My God I love her, perhaps we will meet again when both of us will be more reasonable." Shorty thereafter the other letter was published in a Detroit newspaper, Dr. Loomis declared his innocence and said he was too miserable to go on living. He blamed his prosecution on "Cheap political maneuvering on the part of would be office holders."

     When told of her lovers death, Mrs. Newell suffered a near nervous breakdown. She twice tried to jump from her window and kill herself. It is thought that Mrs. Newell returned to Ypsilanti and was never heard from again. Dr. Loomis was buried in the family plot at Napoleon, five miles north of Brookyln. At his funeral was his mother Mrs. Dora Loomis who was 78 years old. She held up well through the service. The children did not seem to understand. Six close friends-  Frank H. Brown, banker; Frank Dermyre, farmer; Dr. C.W. Schepeler, physician; Dr. F. H. Austin, dentist; Bruce Gar, Farmer and W.L. Ford, editor of the Brookyln Exponent were the pallbearers.

     When the letter written by Dr. Loomis was read to Mrs. Dora Loomis, his mother, she said it vindicated her faith in him and proved his innocence to the world. Mrs. Dora Loomis would die about a year later in 1929. It is not known who raised the children. Mrs. Grace Burns Loomis was buried in the Newton cemetery in Newton, NJ in an unmarked grave, cemetery map number 1918, plot 151.

     I traveled to Napoleon because I wanted to see his grave. Below are pictures of his grave and his mother's. There is also a short video of the cemetery. I make no judgement about his guilt or innocence. It had been 85 years since the murder and I think it will always remain a mystery.

Dr. Frank R. Loomis

Dora Love Loomis

Video of the Oak Grove Cemetery in Napoleon, MI

Sunday, March 25, 2012

My Gay Brothers Lost In The 80's

     I was thinking today about the guys I knew in the 80's who died of AIDS. I knew so many young guys who died in the prime of their lives, guys with so much potential, talent, and nobody talks about them today or knows their names. I remember the desperation in their faces, they knew they were going to die. I can never forget the look on a 23 year old guys face when he knew he was going to die in the prime of his life, and I remember that 23 year old dying. These weren't presidents of corporations, they were young waiters, students, on their path to adulthood. Here it is 25 years later, and these Detroit guys that I remember have long been gone and nobody knows about them, nobody even knows their names. I remember my gay brothers lost in the 80's, I will never forget them. The early days of AIDS were thought of as a "gay disease" therefore nobody gave a shit, Ronald Regan didn't even say the word "AIDS" for years.

     It pisses me off that nobody hardly remembers them, I remember them, I will never forget them. They were treated like shit by society, nobody gave a shit that "fags" were dying. Young people today don't even understand that a huge part of a generation is missing, they should be here, but they are not. We are missing a beautiful bunch of human beings that would have contributed so much to Detroit.

     I wanted to choose a song to pay tribute to them. I chose this one because they were treated like shit in death, and I think they should hold their heads up high.

 Chris H.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Out on the town Party Pics 03-22-12 & 03-23-12

Menjo's 03/22/12

Click on photos to enlarge.

More photos! click "Read more" below

Friday, March 23, 2012

Detroit: Palmer Park Apartments Revisited 2012

"No Scrap Left"

     I decided to take a drive through the Palmer Park apartments area the other day to see how the area was doing. The area is designated as a The area was once home to a large gay community. This was before my time, but I've heard many people speak of the old days on my other  Architecturally some of the buildings are just stunning. I've never been inside any of these buildings, I would love to see what they look like on the inside. I was mildly surprised to see how many are vacant and derelict.

     There are a few with signs saying that renovations are coming. I have heard of a few people who tried living in these apartments but had too many problems with break ins and having their cars broken into. The proximity to Ferndale, Royal Oak, freeways, etc should make them attractive. But the crime factor has held them back. Gay people are the ones with balls enough to gentrify an area, maybe gay people will rediscover this area? I'm sure the scrapping boom of the last few years has greatly harmed many of these gems. Who knows, it could be the place to hang your disco ball? As a self-respecting homosexual, it makes me sick to my stomach to see such architectural glory left to rot. It is kinda like gay "Turn off" porn. 

Thanks to a reader for tipping me about this link: 

Click "Read more" below for more photos. Click photos to enlarge.

Detroit vs. East Germany, Detroit can be restored.

     I found this very interesting photo gallery of before and after photos of East Germany. Before, meaning just after the Berlin wall fell, and after the buildings were restored. The change is very striking.

Click the link to view. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Out on the town Party Pics 03-17-12 & 03-08-12

I have a couple of weeks worth. Finally getting around to posting them.

Menjo's  03/08/12

Click photos to enlarge.

Click "Read more" for more photos

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Western Market - Detroit

     While I'm on the subject of stuff that is no longer here. You know about Eastern market. Did you know there used to be a western market? You can see it on the map from 1887. Comparing it to the Google earth image from today you can see it was where I-75 is now. I circled it in green.

Click the photo to enlarge.

Old Riverfront

     I was looking at an old map of Detroit from 1887 and saw something interesting. There was a rail yard on the riverfront called the Michigan Central depot. If you compare the Google earth photo from today you can see where the rail line used to be and the yard. Look at the green arrow in the photo, that is where the rail line goes into the tunnel to Canada. Before the tunnel was built the line went to the rail yard. You can even see that old building on Fort St. has an angle to it because the tracks went by to the yard. Just west out of the photo is the Michigan Central building, which was not yet built in 1887 of course. The green space is where this old yard used to be.

Click to enlarge the photo