By Sue Moore
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Vicksburg Historical Society, the board of directors has lined up an all-star cast of speakers for its monthly speaker series. Dr. John Geisler will kick off the first of seven public presentations Tuesday, May 16 at 7 p.m. at the Vicksburg Community.
Geisler was an audience favorite in 2016 with his humorous talk on the Sauk Trail, a path mostly paralleling US-12 between Detroit and Chicago. He has been invited back to hold forth on the history of the many road signs that appear along this road and quite a few others in Michigan.
Normally, that wouldn’t be so funny in anybody else’s hands, said Randy Seilheimer, who recruited the former teacher to come back again. His PowerPoint presentation concentrates on the wackiest signs and their history throughout Michigan.
In one instance, he displays a state map of Michigan near the Sauk Trail area and challenges the audience to note what is different about this 1976 road map. Turns out it is one of the very few copies of a map that has in mouse type the legends of fictitious towns called “Goblu” and “Beatosu”. The towns came from the late Peter Fletcher, former chairman of the Michigan State Highway Commission, who ordered the wording inscribed in the 1976 map. The first printing of the map was destroyed once the joke was found out. He later ran for the Board of Trustees of Michigan State University – and was elected.
Dr. Geisler often teaches a class for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Western Michigan University. It sells out almost immediately each semester, and Vicksburg area residents will get to hear his presentation at no charge. He has degrees from Adrian College and the University of Toledo. He has been a public-school teacher, director of a poverty program, a college admissions counselor and a counselor educator at Central Michigan University and WMU.
The public is invited to each of the speaker series throughout the year on the third Tuesday of each month. On the last Sunday in September, the Society will be staging its annual Harvest Festival. The June speaker will be Steve Rossio from the Portage Public Library’s history division. His topic will focus on Kalamazoo County men who fought in World War I. He too is a returning speaker by popular demand.