By John Matonich
I guess it’s time for me to go on a little rant – not that I am known for that (yeah, right!). I simply can’t help it after reading an article on the “interweb” (as the Fast and Furious guru, Richard Rowlings would call it). It was a great article about who the most famous person born in each county of Michigan was. When I saw the headline, it really piqued my interest. I know Michigan has a number of folks we can be proud of and I have read about a few of them and where they were born, but I settled in my chair with a fresh cup of coffee and looked forward to more education.
As expected, I had never heard about some of the people in the article, but I had heard of their accomplishments. It was a really good read until I got to Ontonagon County. The article mentioned that Gus Sonnenberg was born in 1898 and played on five separate pro football teams, including the Detroit Panthers, as well as being named the World Heavyweight Champion of Wrestling in both 1929 and 1939. Gus’s accomplishments were sure cool, but unfortunately, the article said he was the most famous person from Ontanagon County, not Ontonagon County and that he was born in Ewan, Michigan (which doesn’t exist or ever did). I believe the article’s author meant EWEN, Michigan.
Ok, maybe I am nitpicking a little, but I can guarantee the author of the article didn’t misspell Wayne County when it mentioned Dianna Ross as their most famous person or that she was from Deetroit. It reminded me of a sign that was erected a number of years ago here in the west end of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula pointing the direction to a little town I spent a lot of time in as a young lad. The town is Ramsay. The locals pronounce it Ram-zee, so I am sure when the maintenance manager from MDOT called in to the sign shop in Lansing and said a new sign needed to be made for Ram-zee, we shouldn’t have been surprised when the sign that was erected said Ramsey with a nice arrow. It took the locals about 7 ½ seconds to pick up on the mistake, but took the state about 7 ½ months to rectify the error. In the meantime, it was on the front page of the local paper and even made the news on a Marquette TV station. Maybe it was the Markette TV station.
I have always been a little sensitive to how we get treated in the U.P. People not from here really can have the wrong idea of how things are. Many years ago when I was in high school, I was selected by our local American Legion to represent them at the Boys State program held on the campus at MSU. It was a great program that taught the attendees all about government from local to county to state. The last day was parents day, where they could come in and see firsthand some of the things we worked on. When they found out I was from the far west end of the U.P., one of my roommates parents actually asked if I had running water at my house. Of course I told them no, but we had a stream very close to our sod hut, so water wasn’t a huge issue until the winter when we had to chop ice to get access. “Ohhhh” was all I heard and got a sympathetic pat on the back. I just shook my head and walked away.
I can only ask those that have never been to this part of the country, please come on up and visit. It is a great place to experience. Our history is rich and diverse across the entire peninsula and I am pretty sure that most places you will visit will have running water and at least a kerosene lantern for evening reading.
And that the Situation as I Survey it …
After a 35-year career downstate amongst da trolls, during which he built a successful engineering and surveying business, John Matonich is back home in da U.P. His column will appear here occasionally, don’tcha know. His book “Surveyin’ Da Situation” is available on Amazon.