“When I am sitting on that panel deciding cases, sometimes I find myself thinking that it’s like playing in a jazz trio and deciding how we’re going to play that tune most effectively so that it comes out sounding good..” Judge Myron Wahls
Judge Myron “Mike” Hastings Wahls
Park location: East of Livernois at Warrington and Chippewa.
Judge Wahls (1931-1998) was often referred to as a Rockefeller Republican, a term coined in the mid 1970’s to denote a moderate to liberal political stance similar to New York Governor / U.S. VP Nelson Rockefeller. He was a unique, talented man confident and comfortable in his own skin. The media described him as a tireless fighter in matters of the law and within his personal world.
Wahls was tireless. He served on the Appeals Court from 1982 – 1998. Reports indicate he reviewed cases at home up until his death from cancer. Prior, he was nominated by the Republican party to run against Frank Kelley (D) for the position of Michigan Attorney General in 1974. He lost the bid, but won an appointment to the Wayne County Circuit Court by Governor William Milliken in 1975.
Wahls was an Detroit Attorney and a member of the Michigan Employment Security Commission Appeals Board from 1969-1975. He fought for civil rights by marching in Alabama and Mississippi in 1964 as part of the Freedom Summer. He was tireless in his efforts to register people to vote. Continue reading “Hyde Park – Myron Wahls – Park 64”
“Hell, I am not one of those starry eyed reformers, but I can get things done.” – Ira Waite Jayne
APPOINTMENT AFTER APPOINTMENT
In 1915, Ira Jayne became Detroit’s first recreation commissioner appointed by Mayor Oscar Marx. Ira was an avid sportsman, earning varsity letters in track, baseball and football at the University of MI. He also had a brief career as a pitcher in the Ohio Valley Baseball League.
He got ‘things done’ during the 1910’s when funding recreation was wanted by the public, yet unpopular with politicians. With creative means, he built up recreation programs in schools, libraries, settlements and museums instead of trying to fund building construction and purchase land. The Detroit City Council refused to give Jayne money toward existing playground development, so he roped off streets for boys and girls to play in. Fierce yet justified behavior.
Recreation work was a good fit; however Jayne aspired to a higher public service. An attorney by trade, he ran for a Wayne County Circuit court judge post and lost by recount to Harry Dingeman [his park is west side behind Chadsey HS] . A few years later he would be appointed to the Court Circuit bench by Governor Albert Sleeper and Ira Jayne’s recreation career was over.
FRIEND OF THE UNDERDOG
Some accounts of Judge Ira Jayne describe him as stern faced and domineering; however those who knew him best saw this facade as a tactic to keep lawyers from owning his courtroom. In a nutshell, Judge Jayne was a friend of children, labor, the poor and those seeking divorce.
As a Detroit attorney, he represented the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. In 1910, he organized the Children’s Aid Society and continuing as its main attorney until 1915. Ultimately, Jayne helped to establish the Friend of the Court system. He approved of liberal divorce laws that elevated women from lives of ‘indignity’ while still discouraging divorce.
Ira Jayne became Chief Judge in Detroit Circuit Court in 1929 where he made national news by streamlining a four year backlog on the docket with the use of visiting judges. He served in this position for 27 years. In 1951, he ended a 59 day strike by Detroit streetcar and bus drivers. He upheld a law that made the strike illegal, next he held the City of Detroit responsible for the strike noting that the mayor’s representatives ignored an early willingness by labor to meet and work out bargaining issues.
Ira Waite Jayne was active on his farm in Fenton, MI until his death in 1961. Jayne Road in Fenton is named for his family. He was married and had three children.
Judge Jayne is memorialized with a substantial 47 acre park/field south of the Davison off Conant and Luce Streets. It features a walking path, several baseball diamonds, fields for soccer / football and a windy 9 hole disc golf course that according to disc golfers in 2015 could use some love. Lots of parking and a concessions stand. Jayne Field sides to the Bernard Lasky Playground / Recreation Center which is still in great shape but now closed. The grounds offer basketball courts and ample parking. Overall, these park areas are well groomed. We’ll discuss Bernard Lasky shortly.
I have attempted at all times, where even the slightest reason for doing what was present, to put defendants on probation. Where a man is a habitual criminal then, of course, probation is impossible, but wherever probation would improve a man’s prospects for the future, he has been thus placed…it can save many from the lives of misery and crime.“ Judge Harry Keidan (1882-1943)
TRUSTED AS A ONE MAN GRAND JURY
A great debater at Eastern High school, Keidan’s peers found his calm and logical approach as a clear sign he would eventually wear judge’s robes. And so, it would be. By 1904, Harry was admitted to the bar and started a private law practice. In 1912, he became Wayne County Assistant prosecutor; 1920 marked his appointment as a judge.
Locally, Keidan was known for his genuine concern for the defendants that appeared before him. Having a keen sense of humor and the utmost patience, Judge Keidan once gave a unsatisfied litigant a half glass of water and two ‘common sense’ pills when he refused to accept a court recommended monetary settlement. The litigant was instructed to sit at the rear of the courtroom for 40 minutes for ‘the pills to kick in’ while the next case was heard.
Keidan helped draft the bill creating Detroit’s first Recorder’s Court stressing the probation department as an important attachment. In 1927, Governor Fred W. Green appointed him to Detroit Circuit Court where he won praise for resolving labor and civic disputes. He was re-elected to this position three times. Keidan was nationally known for being selected as a one-man Grand Jury during the Detroit Bank scandal of 1929.
In his personal life, Harry Keidan was a member of Shaarey Zedek Synagogue in Detroit. He was a deeply religious man who observed the Sabbath. He walked to the courthouse if a Saturday morning session was required. Harry was an active steward to the Boy Scouts, the Jewish Welfare Federation and Goodwill Industries. He was married to Kate and had 2 children.
At the time of his death in 1943, the Detroit City Council passed a resolution stating, “A judge who never condemned; a counselor who never berated; a critic who never scorned – that was Judge Keidan.” He was interned at Clover Hill Cemetery in Birmingham, MI.
Harry Keidan was honored with a Detroit elementary school [on Collingwood near Petoskey]; a Hillel Chapter, A B’nai Brith Lodge and a city playground as a memorial to his legacy. The small park is behind the Clinton Street Greater Bethlehem Temple on Chicago Boulevard. It is fenced and stocked with older functioning playground equipment.
All rights reserved. Copyright, Andrea Gallucci, 2015.