Rockford Area Historical Society News and Updates for 4/19/2018

By Terry Konkle – President

On Thursday, April 5, 2018 slightly over fifty people attended the regular Rockford Area Historical Society (RAHS) meeting at the Community Cabin at 7:00 P.M. Kurt Troutman, a history instructor at Muskegon Community College, presented a program about Muskegon’s “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”, Clarence Zylman. Mr. Troutman used his extensive research on Clarence Zylman to put together a thirty five minute sound film featuring many pictures, several newspaper excerpts, lyrics to some songs from the “Boogie Woogie” era, interviews of people who knew Mr. Zylman and items from various events to tell not only the “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” story, but to also educate the audience on the history of the times including the famous song “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrews Sisters.

He also took time after the film to answer questions and the further explain some areas. For instance, with the exception of the Andrews Sisters song, all of the other music was in an abbreviated form lasting about thirty seconds. Why? In order to use the songs, fees had to be paid and the amount owed was significantly more after about thirty seconds. The fee to use the whole Andrews Sisters’ song in its full form was $1.00. That song ended the video, and I am sure brought back memories to many.

Presently, there is a project to erect a statue of Clarence Zylman in Muskegon. The cost is $38,000 with plans to complete the sculpture and have it located along the Muskegon Lake bike path adjacent to the LST 393 Veteran’s Museum. About three quarters of the total needed has been raised with Veteran’s Day, November 11, 2018 as the installation date. Readers, who might want to help the cause, can get information at this website .

I am sure that many in our area are watching with interest the reconstruction of the “Corner Bar” building. The façade of the original building remains and will be a reminder of the past. Recently I came across a Rockford postcard from 1908 showing the west side of Main Street from Courtland Street south to the Hotel Maine. The awning with “The Corner” on it is on the front of the original location, before it expanded into the building next to it much later and probably doubled in size.

Readers might also note that the building near the center of the picture has “Post Office” on its awning. The Rockford Post Office was there in 1908. Actually, the buildings look much the same as they did back over one hundred years ago. The businesses and, of course, those running them have changed many times with lots of history involved, but the look hasn’t changed a lot.

Finally, I want to emphasize again that I welcome your questions, thoughts, comments, suggestions and corrections. Contact me by email at or phone (616-866-0530). Have a great, positive week!