2018-05-10 / Columns

Derby stories, and U-M history

Cousins ‘‘Rule’ in Omena
By LESLIE DISCH
Phone/fax 386-5686


HAROLD AND Kanda McKee at the Kentucky Derby. HAROLD AND Kanda McKee at the Kentucky Derby. Lots of Omena folks enjoyed last Saturday’s Kentucky Derby in different ways — in front of their own TV, at a Derby party, or at a local establishment. Congratulations to Julie DeWitt who won the Best Derby Hat award at Knot Just a Bar’s annual Derby event.

* * *

Harold and Kanda McKee just returned from Louisville after attending Kentucky Derby weekend. They checked off one of the items on their bucket list. On Friday they attended the 144th running of The Kentucky Oaks, a race for fillies (female horses). Since 2009 it has also been a race to recognize breast and ovarian cancer survivors and co-survivors. Pink is the color of the day for both men and women to help raise awareness. Harold wore pink suspenders, a pink shirt and bow tie. Kanda had a pink hat and necklace. Prior to the race there was a parade on the dirt race track of current breast and ovarian cancer survivors and co-survivors. It is was very moving.

* * *

Saturday was the 144th Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses. The day was the rainiest in Derby history, but the McKee’s were lucky to be under cover. Great people watching! Hats were phenomenal, both men’s and women’s. Even though they didn’t come out ahead on betting, they had a fantastic time. They did bet on Justify, the Derby winner! They were guests of a friend of Harold’s, Mike Hulett, who was attending his 64th Derby weekend.

As they headed home on I-71 in Kentucky, a car with Michigan plates waved at them. They’re not sure who it was or if someone else from Omena might have been at the Derby.

* * *

Next weekend, May 18-20, is a big one at NMC. The Dennos Museum Center is holding a World Art Sale to help support artists from around the world. There will be a wide variety of Free Trade items on sale in the Museum Store.

Then on Sunday, May 20, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will be the annual NMC BBQ. During the BBQ, the Dennos Museum will be open to the public free of charge. One if the exhibits is the NMC Sudent Art Show that runs from May 16 - 27. The show also includes works by some area high school students.

* * *

The Rule cousins have all returned home after a week of very nice spring weather. Last week’s column omitted the arrival of Logan Robinson and his son Landon from the Detroit area. That made a total of 10 first cousins and two second cousins who were in Omena last week. As always, there were some small world stories that came to light.

* * *

When Debby and I returned from Cincinnati, we had to spend the night in Frankenmuth instead of the ‘halfway’ point of Ann Arbor because of the UM graduation. It turned out that Ed Hessel and his wife, Wendy Wright, from San Diego were also in the area, but neither knew it, so they missed seeing each other. Ed came straight to Omena, but Wendy returned to San Diego.

* * *

This next part is a story for all of the UM fans.

Ed and Wendy were in Omena for the graduation of Wendy’s nephew Ben Bergkamp. They stayed near Northville at the home of Alvin Wistert, “Legend of Michigan football” that is rented out by Kristen Nesser, his granddaughter. They went to a graduation dinner for Ben and his girlfriend Abby Palison and were talking to Abby’s grandmother about where they were staying. It turned out that Wendy Wistert was a sorority sister and longtime friend of Abby’s grandmother, Barbara Chadwick. And Wendy is Kristen’s cousin. Small world.

Ed got very interested in Alvin Wistert. Alvin is one of three brothers who were all All American tackles at Michigan and all inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The other two are Albert (Al) and Francis “Whitey.” All three wore number 11, which was retired. They are among just seven UM players whose numbers were retired.

Alvin has the distinction of being the oldest player ever Selected as a College Football All American, having been selected in 1948 and 1949 at the ages of 32 and 33. He had worked in a factory and served in the US Marine Corps during WW II before going to college at age 30.

Al “Ox” played pro ball for the Eagles for nine years, and was team captain for some of them. In the era before the Pro Bowl, he was named to the All Pro team eight times, and played in the NFL’s first Pro Bowl. His Eagles number 70 was also retired.

Whitey was All American Football and Baseball at UM and played very briefly for the Cincinnati Reds.

* * *

Happy Birthday to Bruce Balas, Dan Duffiney, John Ray, Nicholas Bronke, Harold McKee, and Charlotte Murphy, who turns 5. Happy Anniversary to Ralph and Nancy Kalchik and to Greg and Marcia McMorrow.

Return to top