Rockford Area Historical Society News and Updates for 3/1/18

By Terry Konkle – President

In last week’s column about Vern Norris, I missed mentioning the fact that each year the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) presents a Vern Norris Award to a deserving official. It is named in his honor because of his work in the rules area. I know from talking to officials over the years that it is considered a major honor to receive the award.

The last “Nugget” of Rockford history asked readers the name of the business that now occupies the building shown near the center of an old postcard. Ten people, Jim Benson, Cliff Hill, Nancy Hill, Geoff Downs, Kerry Jahns, Bill Boyd, Mike Couturier, Lee Paull, Jim Lavelle and Gail Smitter deJong, responded with the correct answer which was “Arnies”. My thanks to them for sharing their knowledge and taking part. Often, I get more than answers from people, and I enjoy many positive discussions.

Here is a new quiz to try. It is a tough one because it will require some research for those who have not been in Rockford for at least forty years. To make it easier, I will ask two questions and only one needs to be done. Here is question one: When cable first came to Rockford, what Detroit Tiger player came to town to promote it? Question two: When a new Rockford business called “Dog and Suds” began, what Cleveland Indian Hall of Fame pitcher came to our town again for promotional purposes? Please contact me by email (tnjkonkle@hotmail.com) or phone at 616-866-0530.

Recently I was asked if I knew what happened to athletic trophies won by teams in our historical past. To be specific in trying to answer is difficult. I do know that most of the many trophies won in our early athletic history were destroyed when the high school burned in February of 1922.

Trophies won during our history at the high school on North Main Street were supposedly moved to the new high school in the fall of 1960 (now Rockford Middle School). Some of those still exist today either in the Rockford High School Athletic Hall of Fame showcase or in displays at the Rockford Area Museum.

Because of the addition of many sports and the expanded opportunities to win medals and trophies, the numbers rose greatly in the thirty some years before the move to our present high school, and I know that athletic director, Dave Price, informed the public that the school was only going to move trophies connected to league or MHSSA championships to the new building. People were encouraged to come and view and take any other awards. I can remember several tables of them and many were picked up. Someone from the museum collected several boxes of small items, and they were stored under a room at the old museum building. Most of them became rusted or broken and were discarded or given away.

What about trophies won by our current teams? I am not sure now, but I know that when I ended my coaching days, the conference and state trophies stayed with the school while trophies won at invitational tournaments etc. were kept by the teams. I still have some softball trophies from various tournaments.

As always, please contact me with your questions, concerns, ideas, suggestions and of course corrections. Have a great, positive week!