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March/April 2010

A Little Fun Michigan History
Did you know that….?

-   Jiffy Mix, made in Chelsea, Michigan came about because one widowed father could not make good biscuits!  One day in 1930, Horace and Dudley Holmes brought home two friends for lunch.  Their mother, Mabel White Holmes, was shocked by the biscuits the boys had in their sack lunches.  The boys’ father had made the biscuits, which looked more like hockey pucks.  She decided to sell ready-made baking packages with everything in them but the liquid.  “She wanted to save the homemakers time in the kitchen and made a mix that even a man could prepare,”  recalls her grandson Howdy Holmes.

-   A policeman in Detroit, named William Potts, designed the world's first three-color, four-direction, electric traffic light.  It was installed at the intersection of Woodward Ave. and Fort Street, in Detroit, in October 1920. and the basic design remains practically unchanged today. The signal remained in use until 1924 and became a part of the world's first synchronized signal system.  This system extended from Jefferson to Adams on Woodward Avenue and was controlled manually from a tower at Woodward and Michigan.

-   Logging companies, owning over 12 million acres of forested land in Michigan today plant more trees than they cut.  Michigan now has over 19 million acres of trees on both peninsulas.

-   In 1923, the nation's first intercity superhighway, "an eight-lane divided marvel," was built on an 18-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue between Detroit and Pontiac.  It had a 40-foot median for public transit service.


-   Detroit became the leading producer of stoves in the 1890s, not only in Michigan, but the world.

-   Pearl Kendrick, a Grand Rapids native developed the first vaccine against whooping cough.

-   The small town of Belding, Michigan in 1925, produced 95 percent of all the silk thread sold in the United States.

-   The world’s first stop sign was a hand held sign used by a traffic policeman in Detroit.

-   J. L. Hudson's in Detroit became the first air-conditioned department store in 1924.

-   The Detroit Zoo was the first zoo in America to feature cage-less, open-exhibits that allowed the animals more freedom to roam.

-   Michigan was the first state to develop roadside parks with picnic tables.

-   Before the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution, Michigan amended its own constitution in 1918 to give women the right to vote.


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