Clarence Brewer Park and Rec Center – Park #84

Location:  Warren and Fairview; Eastside; Delorme Farm

Moody sky over the 8 acres of Brewer Playground.

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Sgt. David Stockton – Park #75

Stockton playground location: Dwight, Parkview, Detroit River

David Stockton playground was the starting point for the Gold Cup Races on the Detroit River in the mid 1960’s. Feel the thunder!
David Stockton playground on the right – directly east of the Mayor’s residence. Map courtesy of Google.

 

~ Thanks to Sandy L. and especially Linda G. who generously opened their digital family photo album. You meet the kindest-hearted, left handed folks through genealogy.  andreag

Local Yokel, Business Man, Soldier

This is a story of a life interrupted. 

David Frederick Stockton [1911-1944] became a Detroiter via the hills of Cookeville, TN.  His story is short and like many men who served in WWII, David’s life ended in an act of courage.  He was the only son of Houston Albert Stockton and Daisy Pearl Kinnaird.  Love those southern names.  The Stockton’s left the family cow in Tennessee and headed to Michigan in the 1920’s. [Sorry I didn’t get the cow picture.. but it exists].  They landed in Gratiot Township which would later become Harper Woods. Both father and son worked at US Rubber in the tire factory; Houston as a rubber former, David as a ‘box man’.

Stockton family courtesy of sandy l.
David with his sisters and uncle in front of their garage in Detroit. I always say that naming a child is the greatest gift.. these kids were super fortunate with gracious southern names. L to R – Minnie Jewel; Uncle John Quincy Kinnaird (visiting from Tennessee); Gladys Estelle (the tiny one), Edna Mae and a barefoot David Frederick. Photo use with kind permission of Sandy Lewis.

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SGT. SYLVESTER L. DUEWEKE – PARK 31

The Dueweke clan is historically known as a large, longtime Detroit family of merchants.   Caroline and Frank Dueweke had 5 boys – Harold, Gordon, Clifford, Norbert, and Sylvester. Frank worked as a meat salesman to support his brood.  They were an east side family living on Sheridan Street in close proximity to the playground that stands as a remembrance to their youngest son.

DITCHING DEFINED

If an aircraft ditches, or if the pilot ditches the aircraft, essentially it comes down in the ocean in an emergency.  Ditching was commonplace in World War II.  Air-sea rescue planes [code named ‘dumbos’] and crew were always on standby to drop provisions and large life rafts to survivors in case of a ditch or distress.

The flagpole base is a little rusty but the dedication plaque is still intact.
The flagpole base is a little rusty but the dedication plaque is still intact.

 

MISSION No. 36

Sylvester Dueweke rose to the rank of Sergeant in WWII, working as a tail gunner in U.S. Army Air Forces, 873rd Bomber Squadron, 498th [Very Heavy] Bomber Group.  On March 31, 1945, Dueweke and 10 crew members departed Saipan in their B-29 for a bombing mission over the Japanese island of Kyushu.  Mission No. 36 went terribly wrong.  Thirty minutes into the flight, the right gunner along with another aircraft reported that the 3rd engine of the B-29 was on fire.  The airplane commander immediately aborted the mission and changed course heading toward Iwo Jima. No immediate danger was felt; no distress call was sent out.

Within minutes, the fire blossomed and the gunners informed the pilots that the blister [a transparent dome or bubble like window for observation] was melting and the right elevator was on fire.  The fuel shut off valve became inoperable increasing the risk of explosion. The ditching command was quickly given. The crew on board – Clinton, Ed, Earl, Fred, Harold, Herron, Harry, Orville, Ray, Robert and Sylvester – barely had time to take their positions.  A short three minutes elapsed from the abort decision to the ditch of the aircraft.

INTO THE SEA

Other craft in the formation radioed in distress calls.  Able crew members assisted the injured into life rafts and administered morphine.  A super Dumbo flew over dropping a smoke bomb to camouflage the wreckage from Japanese fighter eyes.  All men except for Sylvester managed to escape from the B-29 as it began sinking into the South Pacific.  The USS Ronquil submarine rescued the remaining crew at 12:22pm.  Dueweke heroically went down with the aircraft and died at sea. For his service, he was decorated with the Air Medal and the Purple Heart posthumously.  His service is memorialized through this Detroit Park, as well on the Tablets of the Missing at the Punchbowl Cemetery in Honolulu, HI.

USS Ronquil  photo: public domain
USS Ronquil photo: public domain

Dueweke Memorial Playground is a large park with older play equipment, basketball courts, wavy roofed picnic shelters and the original flagpole with a dedication plaque.  While the components are old, the park is tidy and always busy.  In the spring, summer and fall is it mowed regularly by the Detroit Mower Gang.

dueweke 4
Walking path with swings looking south.
Map courtesy of Google.
Map courtesy of Google.

Copyright Andrea Galluccci, 2014

Fred Magnus Butzel – Parks 18 & 19

DETROIT’S MOST VALUABLE CITIZEN  

Fundamentally kind and understanding, he gave direct and extremely pointed criticism where he thought it would be helpful.  Though neglectful of his own health, he himself contributed and secured from others substantial funds for Detroit medical education and hospitals and made an enormous number of loans to enable college students to complete their education…There were many business and professional men who would not take a major financial step without his advice.. ”

 –  Julian Krolik (1887-1956) Detroit businessman and Jewish community leader on his friend Fred Butzel

THE IRONY AND THE PHILANTHROPY

Fred Butzel 1877-1948
Fred Butzel 1877-1948

Fred Butzel was admitted to the Michigan Bar in 1899 and soon after began a law firm with his brother called Butzel and Butzel.  The firm was large and successful,  but somehow Fred practiced law mainly for philanthropy and not the cash reward.  He had no social aspirations; however, there was no one more in demand to attend social events.

Butzel shunned both wealth and status.  As a philanthropist, it’s nearly impossible to list all the causes where he assisted or contributed.  He was an early advocate for the idea of childcare / foster care; organized the Boy Scouts in Detroit; taught English to new immigrants.  He attended more bar mitzvahs, engagement and wedding ceremonies – where officiated [and then often played piano] – than any other individual, anywhere.   Dedicated to his family, Fred changed colleges from University of MI to Detroit College of Law in order to read to his father whose eyesight was declining.

Knowledgeable and trusted, he sat of the board of directors for many Detroit entities –   foundations, banks, African American hospitals to automotive related businesses.  Strong in his faith, he spoke frequently at his home congregation of Temple Beth El, as well as orthodox and conservative synagogues who beckoned to hear his words.   As an attorney, he advised regular folks on establishing businesses to help strengthen Detroit and bring dreams to life.

In life and death, Butzel received many acknowledgements including honorary degrees; a building [on the left in photo}, an Israeli [then Palestine] forest, a Detroit Rec Center, school, and two Detroit parks bear his name.  Each year the Fred M. Butzel Memorial Award is presented to a Detroiter who exceeds in community service.

In 1947, the editorial director of the Detroit Free Press named him Detroit’s Most Valuable Citizen.

Detroit’s biggest supporter was lost on May 20, 1948 at the age of 70 years – Fred Butzel lived a life for the public good.

East Side Butzel Family Center and Grounds
West side park at Myers and Lyndon in Detroit
West side Rec Center at Myers and Lyndon in Detroit. The property includes an ice rink, ball fields, basketball courts and on. The ice rink is home to the Detroit Hockey Association and is named in memory of Jack Adams, a Canadian hockey player and coach / general manager of the Detroit Red Wings. Adams won the Stanley Cup as a player, coach and general manager.

 

©Andrea Gallucci 2013.  All rights reserved.