William A. Comstock – Michigan’s 33rd Governor
SEE THE CLIMB
William Alfred Comstock was born just shy of a full blown patriotic birthday on 7-2-1877; perhaps he was destined to be in politics. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1899 with a Liberal Arts degree, then returned to his hometown of Alpena where he worked and eventually entered local politics. He was elected Alderman of Alpena from 1911-1912; Mayor of Alpena 1913-1914 – – term length was short back in the day.
His political pursuits continued serving as a University of MI Regent from 1914-1916; as chairman of the Democratic State Committee from 1920-1924. Comstock worked his way to the national level becoming a member of the National Democratic Party and a delegate, a post he held for six years.
THE FOURTH TIME IS THE CHARM
“I became a Democrat because it was a minority party and offered opportunity for genuine political activity..”
Comstock ran as a Democrat for Governor of the State of Michigan (and finally won on his 4thattempt). He served during the years of 1933-1935; the first Democrat Governor of Michigan in 15 years. Although Comstock had been wealthy, he was close to financial devestation at the time of his election. He had made his fortune through inheritance, but also from an electric-railway he built to the lumbering camps in Alpena. The Depression hit and it nearly ruined him.
During his tenure, the State of Michigan was also suffering financially. Under his watch, Michigan’s first sales tax law was authorized; an eight day bank holiday was enacted to give legislators time to solve Michigan’s fiscal problems; as well, a trust commission was established. On the controversial side, Comstock pardoned a former mayor of Hamtramck who was imprisoned for bribery. His later political life included terms on the Detroit Common Council and the Michigan Civil Service Commission. He was active in fraternal organizations – Zeta Psi, the Elks, the Eagles and the Freemasons. In 1949, Comstock died from a stroke while vacationing in his hometown of Alpena where his legacy began. His son William A. Comstock III joined his father in eternal rest in 2008.
Comstock Playground is a huge and well-kept playfield located just south of Eight Mile bordered by M-10 [The Lodge Freeway], Trojan and Hubbell Streets. For True TV fans.. it’s located behind the pawn shop featured in Hard Core Pawn. It surrounds the Jalen Rose Leadership Academy whose sign often reads “Life doesn’t get better by chance, it gets better by change.”
It’s hard to say where the school property ends and the park begins; however features include: a meandering walking path; updated playground equipment, tennis courts, baseball diamond with backstop and extensive fields for practice of any sport. It’s actually a perfect place for kite flying. Back in 1955, the City of Detroit Parks and Recreation Department constructed a water reservoir underneath 10 tennis courts to enable the use of sprinklers during a water shortage. It’s hard to say if the huge tank is still there or if anyone in Detroit city government actually remembers that is exists.