Aviation collection: from plane seats to pilot’s jacket

Patrick Burnham is an avid collector of aviation-related items.

By Jef Rietsma

Collector? Patrick Burnham.

Collection? Aviation-related materials.

How did your collection begin? I’ve been interested in aviation my whole life. From the time I was old enough to drive, I’d go up to the Kalamazoo Airport and watch North Central’s [Convair] 580s come in. My collection started unintentionally, but it was at a thrift store up in Holland where I found a captain’s uniform jacket.

What is your best source for acquiring/trading/selling? I don’t really sell but my main interest is buying. I’ve acquired pilot uniform jackets mainly from just looking at thrift stores, and, of course, I’m always on the lookout for other aviation-related items. Pilot wings (pins) are very expensive and I look on eBay just to see what’s out there and what various items cost.

Your most unusual item? I have a set of airline seats from a McDonnell-Douglas DC-9. I was up in Oscoda at an air museum, where Kalitta Air (cargo) has a contract with a heavy-maintenance (Air Force) base. They have tons of planes and they’re always pulling out seats to convert into cargo planes. The seats are donated to the museum, which they turn around and sell to help support their operations. The seats were originally in the plane of a Florida-based regional airline.

What item or items are missing from your collection? I’d love to have a full Delta Airlines uniform. I work for Delta part-time in customer service, and I work at the counter and at the gate up at AZO, so I would really like to get my hands on a full pilot’s uniform.

What joy do you get from collecting aviation?
I’ll pick up anything that is aviation related. I just love the history of aviation and everything about flying.

Describe your most memorable acquisition. I’m a retired police officer and after that I went to work for the sheriff’s department. My assignment for three to four years was at the airport. I was there when they closed the old terminal in 2011 and opened the new one. I had occasion one day to be inside the old terminal before they tore it down and there were things scattered all over the counters, on the floor, just everywhere. They said I could take whatever I wanted because it was all going to get thrown away, so I picked up a lot of really unique stuff. I especially liked coming across the old arrivals and departures slides, where the name of the city is listed and used to be displayed at the gate before that all went digital.

What’s the most you ever paid for an item? I spent $85 on a captain’s hat. I’ve also driven to quite a few places around the state to get mannequins so I can display the pilot jackets and shirts. I pick up mannequins at places going out of business.

Are you on the Web? There’s a Facebook page called “Aviation Man Cave” and guys are always posting their stuff on there. I’m in contact with a lot of people and I enjoy the camaraderie. I’ve acquired a few things as a result of that Facebook page.

Footnotes: A Pickerel Lake resident, the 66-year-old Burnham went into the Air Force from high school and served for 12 years. He served 10 of the 12 years as a military police officer. He also has an impressive collection of Air Force memorabilia. Burnham’s collection now includes full uniforms with accessories from American Airlines, Spirit Airlines and Jet Blue.

Miniature Custom Manufacturing expands

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

Miniature Custom Manufacturing broke ground May 17 on a 30,000 square foot addition to its Leja Business Park site.

Co-owners Kevin Murphy and Steve Shoemaker called it a clear sign of the company’s success and their belief in investing in the future, adding that they’ve worked to build a culture based on their values of “people first, quality second and production third.” They attribute the company’s growth and success to a team whose members work tirelessly and support one another.

The addition, to be built by Kalamazoo-based Delta Design, is being financed in collaboration with the Village of Vicksburg, Michigan Economic Development Corporation, Southwest Michigan First and First National Bank of Michigan.

In 2007, the two were looking for a facility that was affordable and would accommodate their machinery; Murphy says they looked for two or three months before they discovered an available space in the business park on Vicksburg’s west side. Village leaders Jim Mallery, Tim Frisbie and Ken Schippers made them feel welcome and helped connect them to resources. “We feel so lucky to be here. The village has been amazing to work with,” said Shoemaker.

Over the years, their automated injection molding company has grown. They have gradually added and accommodated new machinery. Business has gone from 49 employees in 2019 to 80 employees today, with 21 positions open and 10 to 15 more to be added by the year’s end. Murphy stressed, “We need people, and we train and compensate our employees well.” miniaturecustommfg.com.

Honoring Sue Moore’s legacy

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

This issue marks one year without Sue Moore, and we at the South County News still feel the loss of our beloved editor and publisher. During the year, it’s been common for us to grapple with the answer to a question about our communities, businesses and organizations.

Sue would have known the answer in an instant.

We at the paper aren’t alone in missing Sue. Her family and close friends still expect to see her enter an event with her smile and trusty Canon camera. And the boards of several organizations are still learning to function without her. The Vicksburg Historical Society, the Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation, the Vicksburg Rotary Club, the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market – all these groups have experienced the hole left by Sue’s death. Her public-relations experience, her advertising expertise, her contagious positivity and energy, her countless connections throughout the state are all a memory and part of the legacy she leaves behind.

She made a difference and worked to make life better in south county. Our recognition of Sue’s many projects challenges us to honor her legacy through following her example and contributing to the success of our communities.

Farmers’ Market opens Fridays at Vicksburg Pavilion

By John Kern

A joyful noise filled the air on the village’s northeast side in late May as an estimated 300-plus shoppers celebrated the start of the Vicksburg Farmers’ Market’s 12th season at the Vicksburg Community Pavilion.

Market-goers were treated to a wide array of high-quality meat, cheese and poultry options, and a variety of fresh produce, prepared baked goods, soaps and personal care items and crafts.

Looking for a return to normalcy after last year’s COVID shortened season, the market’s board continues to explore how to best build on the legacy of community building, fun, and the celebration of local food producers that has developed over the years.

“The difference between shopping at the Farmers’ Market and any other grocery outlet is night and day,” said Board President Stella Shearer. “This is a unique opportunity for shoppers to get to know the people who are producing their food. The quality is higher, fresh items last longer and taste better. It’s a unique experience and certainly one that is not available to every community the size of Vicksburg.”

She went on to point out that the current board is charged with the task of perpetuating the work begun by a small group of like-minded individuals nearly 15 years ago who had a vision of creating a place for community members to gather and enjoy the bounty of the local area.

In honor of the one-year anniversary of market co-founder Sue Moore’s passing, green and white ribbons denoting her alma mater were displayed at entrances to the Pavilion.

The Pavilion is located at 300 Richardson Street, next to the Brady Township Hall.

As the area continues on the road back to normalcy, there are some considerations that shoppers need to bear in mind as they venture out to the market.

In keeping with the latest guidelines offered by the Center for Disease Control and County Health Department, masks for vendors and patrons are now optional. Picnic tables, however, will remain outside the pavilion on the adjacent lawn.

Construction along Spruce Street will continue to impact traffic flow to the parking area, but the board and village government have worked together to ensure that shoppers can get into the lot just as they have in the past, entering on Spruce and exiting onto Richardson Street.

There are a number of returning and new elements added to the Market for the 2021 season as well.

Music will be returning later in the season as will a version of the very popular Kids’ Plate program. The Vicksburg Schools’ Big Read Machine will also make regular appearances, as will weekly food trucks.

The Vicksburg Farmers’ Market is open every Friday from 2 to 6 p.m., mid-May through September.

The Market is also a registered 501c3 non-profit organization. Anyone interested in donating to the Market can contact the board through the market’s website at vicksburgfarmersmarket.com

A hidden world of dragonflies and damselflies

An eastern amberwing dragonfly.

By Jeanne Church

I have been eagerly awaiting the return of the dragonflies and damselflies. They are surprisingly beautiful, endlessly fascinating, and yet largely unfamiliar to most of us.

To the casual observer, dragonflies and damselflies, collectively known as Odonata, probably look the same. Both have six legs, a head and an abdomen; both have two pairs of transparent wings, bulgy eyes and stick-like bodies. But there are a couple of features that will help you to easily differentiate the two: body shape and wing position.

Dragonflies have bodies that are much thicker and bulkier than damselflies and because of their heftier size, it’s more likely that you’ll notice a dragonfly long before you’ll ever see the tiny, delicate-looking damselflies.

When dragonflies are at rest, they hold their wings perpendicular to their bodies like an airplane. Damselflies, on the other hand, fold their wings up and hold them together across the top of their backs. Knowing these two features alone will make you an expert!

Before I started taking pictures of dragonflies and damselflies, I had no idea that there were so many different kinds, that they came in such a wide variety of colors, or that they have been here for over 300 million years!

Worldwide, there are well over 5,000 species of dragonflies and damselflies, with the dragons being more common than the damsels. Both are found on every continent except Antarctica.

If you take a closer look at the bodies of these beautiful insects, you’ll find a surprising assortment of colors including, red, white, blue, green, yellow, orange, black, brown and purple! When you take a closer look at their history, you’ll find that the earliest dragonflies had wingspans of over two feet!

Dragonflies and damselflies are not just amazing little insects to admire and photograph, they are also highly beneficial to have around. Nearly every minute of their day is spent devouring the insects that are most annoying to us – like mosquitoes and flies! One dragonfly alone can eat hundreds of mosquitoes a day!

If dragonflies and damselflies are eating all the smaller insects, who eats all the dragonflies and damselflies? Apparently, everything else! Before dragonflies and damselflies even emerge from their aquatic larval stage, they are being gobbled up by ducks, frogs, toads, newts, fish, and even bigger dragonfly larvae. When they finally emerge from the water and become airborne adults, dragons and damsels have even more predators. Birds are particularly fond of them, especially the more acrobatic fliers like flycatchers, swallows, kingfishers, falcons, and kites. Odonata are also a favorite snack for spiders, praying mantis, robber flies, fish, frogs, bees, bats, other dragonflies – as well as the carnivorous sundew plant.

Because I have been waiting so patiently for the dragonflies and damselflies to return, I started wondering, “Where will they be returning from?” Do they migrate? Do they hibernate? Where do they go during our long, cold Michigan winters?

Part of the answer lies in the life cycle of dragonflies. They lay their eggs in the water throughout the summer where they will hatch and grow into nymphs. Some of those nymphs will remain in the water over the winter and then emerge as adults the following summer. Some will remain in the water for years! A few dragonfly species in North America actually migrate. One of those migrants, the green darner, travels nearly a thousand miles on its two-inch wings, fluttering from Canada all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

During the month of May, I have spotted only the occasional dragonfly or damselfly but soon they will be abundant. Hopefully, I’ll find at least one that I’ve never seen before!


Old Car Festival volunteers needed

Organizers of Vicksburg’s Old Car Festival are looking for volunteers to help out on Saturday, June 12

Volunteers are needed to direct cars to parking spots, working in teams of two. More will be asked to judge entries. Judging will replace people’s choice voting due to COVID requirements. And still more are needed to for a 30-minute teardown, involving folding chairs and tables, taking down pop-up canopies and moving sound equipment.

Volunteers are asked to call 269 649 0562 or 269 720 4144.

The volunteer schedule:

7:30-10 a.m. – Old Car parking directors

1 p.m. – Judging volunteers

3:30 p.m. – Tear down

Quack on: Duck Derby at Clark Park is a go

The Annual Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation Duck Derby will be held in Clark Park on June 12 during the 40th Vicksburg Old Car Festival. The kids’ race will start at noon with the adult race to start at 1 p.m.

The kids’ race is a challenge among the district’s elementary classrooms; students from the classroom selling the most tickets will receive an ice cream token from Apple Knockers. That classroom will also host the coveted Duck Derby Trophy.

In the final race, the top 10 student ducks will receive prizes. First prize is a $100 gift card from Target. In the adult race, the top three adult ducks win $100, $75, and $50. Raffle tickets for both races are on sale now and may also be purchased before the race. Contact the Foundation office at 321-1006 for more information. Proceeds from this event help the Foundation and its financial support for the Vicksburg Community Schools for needs beyond traditional educational funding.

Vicksburg Old Car Festival returns June 11, 12

A classic car seen at 2019’s Old Car Festival, photo taken by Sue Moore. Festival, photo taken by Sue Moore.

By Skip Knowles

When the Old Car Festival debuted 40 years ago, it was met with rain and thunder by Mother Nature, but 76 brave souls showed up in the rain and enjoyed the day. Since then, the Festival has grown to host as many as 1,300 cars. Since that first rainy day, we have only had one rain that caused us to close the show early with the threat of lightning and hail.

The Vicksburg Community Association has hosted the Festival since that very first year. It came about when people such as Knowles, Sue Moore, Mike Wunderlin, Dick Masse and others came together to help the village which was struggling, hosting an event to bring people to discover us. Community activities and volunteerism was down and the town needed a reason to give it a little spit and polish.

Historic-vintage vehicles like the Model T, hot rods and special-interest cars will one once again find their way to Vicksburg on Friday night and Saturday, June 11 and 12. The message from the Knowles family and their merry band of volunteers remains the same. The Old Car Festival is meant to be a very special day of fun in the Village. From its inception, there has been one main goal and that is to have a show where people interested in cars can gather their hobby and interest. For a long time, Chevy had this great slogan: Baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet. That’s really what the Festival is all about – life in a small town! You might see a brass-era car built in 1910 all the way up to 2021 C-8 mid-engines Corvette.

The outside activities will be much the same as in years past. However, because of COVID and indoor requirements, we will not be having the Library book sale or the pancake breakfast at the Fire Station. We expect both to be back next year. The Historic Village will not be open this year because of COVID protocols but will be back next year for the Tin Can Tourists and Gas and Steam Engine Show.

Come join us for a fun day and a return to seeing friends in the Village!

Friday Night June 11

6-10 p.m.: The Cruise In as in years past

Saturday June 12

8am: Car Registration on Main Street

9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Vicksburg Old Car Festival, Downtown Vicksburg with Live Entertainment

9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Clark Park Arts and Craft Show, Prairie Street

9 a.m.-3 p.m.: Flea Market Swap Meet

1 p.m.: Vicksburg Community Schools Foundation Annual Duck Derby

Excellence in Education recognizes local students

Excellence in Education recognizes top-achieving high school seniors from Kalamazoo County’s public and non-public high schools. This year, 43 seniors were selected for the honor, which comes with a $1,200 scholarship. Each student recognized an educator who had a significant impact on their education.

Elijah Bombich
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Matthew & Myriah Bombich
College: Michigan Technological University
Major: Engineering
Significant Educator: Amanda Szczesny

Allie Goldschmeding
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Amie & Jon Goldschmeding
College: Undecided
Major: Accounting
Significant Educator: Melissa French

Noah Green
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Amy and David Green
College: Kalamazoo College
Major: Pre-Med
Significant Educator: Rachel King

Joseph Loriso
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Joanne & Anthony Loriso
College: Illinois Institute of Technology
Major: Computer Science
Significant Educator: Lucas Wolthuis

Maeve Stitt
Schoolcraft High School, KVCC
Parents: Marna Godby & Rusty Stitt
College: Kalamazoo Valley Community College
Major: Nursing
Significant Educator: Douglas Martin

Levi Thomas
Vicksburg High School
Parents: Steve & Theresa Thomas
College: Undecided
Major: Business
Significant Educator: Amanda Sczcesny

Do you live on Pond Street?

Students outside Maple Street School a few years after trees were planted along the street in 1871.

By Maggie Snyder for the Vicksburg Historical Society

Maybe you do but didn’t know it.

When the Village of Vicksburg was platted in the 1840s, names had to be assigned to the streets. They were Water Street, Main Street, Pond Street and Townline Road running north and south; and Prairie Street, Washington Street, Brady Street, Park Street and Section Line Road running east and west.

Brady Street was probably named for General Hugh Brady – see last month’s article – but it was re-named Maple Street in 1902 at resident’s request. Why?

Maple Street school, Vicksburg’s second school, was located on the southeast corner of present-day Maple St. and Michigan Ave. A letter written by a pioneer family member and dated 1876 states, “…Last Saturday (a) week ago the School Board procured Maple and Elm Trees for all the Schollars and each one that was disposed set out a Centennial Tree on the School Ground upwards to 150 trees was set making our School Grounds when the trees get to growing one of the Finest in the Co.” No doubt those trees DID “get to growing”, so that by 1902 they were a fine sight and provided appreciated shade for those living on the street.

Pond Street was the original name of present-day Kalamazoo Avenue because it ran along the western edge of a body of water named Lake Vicksburg.

This lake, or pond, was located to the north and east of the present-day school Administration Building. Once the pond dried up into a swamp, its name hardly made sense, and it was renamed Kalamazoo Avenue – a choice requiring no particular thought or imagination.

Water Street was the original name for present-day South Michigan Avenue because its northern terminus was the mill pond occupied by John Vickers’ grist mill. However, after the mill burned down around 1900, the residents of the street petitioned the Village to change the name to Michigan Avenue. Why? Like Kalamazoo Avenue, it was an easily accepted alternative.

Townline Road, running along the line dividing Schoolcraft and Brady Townships, became Richardson Street in honor of one of the earliest pioneers in the area.

Gould Richardson came to Kalamazoo County in 1838 and by 1842 had accumulated enough money to build a frame house on Townline in Vicksburg.

According to a Vicksburg Commercial article, Richardson often worked on the interior of his house at night by candlelight. One evening he accidentally overturned a candle, setting his new house on fire. Despite his best efforts, the house was a total loss. And, to top it all off, he fell while carrying water to fight the fire and broke several ribs. Hearing of his troubles, merchants in Kalamazoo raised money to help him rebuild.

Richardson, his brother Solomon, his son John, and grandson Jerry were all involved in business in early Vicksburg and lived at one time or another on Townline Road. They planted and cared for the maple trees that still line the street today. In October of 1920, the close association of the Richardson family with that street led to the suggestion it be re-named to honor its part in Vicksburg’s history.

Did houses in the Village always have house numbers? No. House numbers weren’t needed until house-to-house mail delivery began in 1917. Previously, getting your mail meant a walk to the post office. Finally, residents got tired of the trek and asked the Village to petition the federal government for home delivery. The Village adopted the popular Philadelphia System that assigned a specific group of numbers to each consecutive residential block, starting from a central point. Street names were formalized, signs were ordered by the council and erected, house numbers were put up by homeowners, and house-to-house mail delivery began in the Village in May of 1917.

So what’s in a name – or number? Like everything else around us, the names of our streets and roads and the numbers on our houses all reflect our collective history, changing and growing over time.

Want to know more? Ask us at info@vicksburghistory.org.