Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2004

Naming Lansing streets

December 9, 2004

The first Lansing City Council members were John Kendall, Oscar Lichte, Jake Henchek, Ed Hamler and myself. Originally, not all of the streets had names. In 1959, when the city was incorporated, we decided to make changes. Highway 73 through town had the name of Minnie, and we did not know who Minnie was. We decided Main Street would be more fitting.

We started at the north end of town and decided to go alphabetical with girls' names. Since what is now Eisenhower was originally Abernathy, somehow we decided not to change that. Later it was changed to Eisenhower, which did not fit into the scheme of things alphabetically.

Continuing south, there is Beth, Carol, Connie, Debra, Emile, Fern, Helen, Ida, J, Kay, Lois, Mary, Nina, Olive. Kansas Avenue was an original name, and no one wanted to change that. We had many a humorous discussion over these names. My wife always thought we named them after our old girlfriends. : Not true. The manager of the lumber yard was mad for a long time because we changed his Maple Lane to Ida.

All the numbered streets had names such as Hopkins, Caldwell, etc. Now they are First, Second, Third and Fourth.

At that time, everyone picked up their mail at the Post Office. In order to get mail delivery, we had to have house numbers. The Lions Club formed a committee of Dallas Felt, Walt Linaweaver and Bill Wenzel to number the houses. The club had teams to sell house numbers. Tom McCarthy Jr. and I sold the numbers on North Main. One of our problems was that some of the residents said, "We have lived here 40 years without numbers, and we don't need them now." The money from the house-number sales was used to buy the street signs in 1960.

The City of Lansing had no money in 1960 and was operating on no-fund warrants. The Lions Club was so important at that time with volunteer help until the tax money started coming in. During the third City Council, the budget was only $7,500. The police chief, Jack Potter, drove his own car. When his transmission went out, it was a two-hour discussion whether or not to pay for it. We did.

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