Friday, April 10, 2015
Story contributed by Michael H. Whiting
Troy was a different place in 1973. It was transforming from a residential, rural township into a commercial center. That process, however, was far from complete. Despite labeling itself “Tomorrow’s City Today,” much of Troy’s rural past was still evident. For example, the southwest corner of Big Beaver and Coolidge was occupied by a large sod and dairy farm. The single room, red-brick Poppleton School House, which stood near the northwest corner of Big Beaver and Crooks, was very much in use. Gow’s Little Acre sold antiques and craft pieces from an old frame house near Livernois and Square Lake, and there were several operating farms within the city limits, north of Long Lake Road. Troy still had a municipal court, and Judge Bill Bolle recalls handling more than a few “horse-at-large” citations in those days.
My office, at 1650 W. Big Beaver, overlooked a small, single-story frame house to the west. It had seen better days. The backyard was occupied by a goat, tethered to a stake set in the middle of the yard. As the homeowner needed his “grass” cut he would lengthen the tether, allowing the goat to “mow” an expanding circle. Just before dirt overtook grass, the tether was hauled in, so the grass could recover. The cycle would repeat a couple of weeks later. I have no idea what the goat ate between mowings. In the absence of computers and the internet, that goat provided entertainment when things got slow.
On the other hand, in 1973, modernity was on the march, and Troy’s rural flavor was evaporating quickly. Somerset Mall was under construction. The Saks Fifth Avenue store had been completed three years earlier, as a stand-alone building. Several years later, the first floor mall shops and Bonwit Teller anchor store were added on the east end. The second floor of mall shops and the north side Somerset Collection development came years later. The fashionable Somerset Inn Hotel opened in 1973 and, together with Somerset Mall, became the social center of the new Troy. Restaurants and saloons proliferated during the 1970’s. Perhaps you recall good times in some of these: Schraffts; Piper’s Alley; Grub Street; Eden Glen; Victoria Station; Roy’s; Sebastian’s; Lums; Magic Pan; and Niki’s.
To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.