March 20, 2020         Your News source for All Livonia. All the time. All ways positive. 
Musings masthead website

"I live in that solitude which is painful in youth, but delicious in the years of maturity."-- Albert Einstein

"Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Four Corners History: Volney, the Square Dance King
While we are hunkering down and to a large extent staying indoors without the socialization we are all accustomed to this typewriter throught it would be a change of pace to outline some of local hometown history. When history calls the person #1 on my rolodex  is Kathy Bilger. In addition to the history she loves to share she has been known to share some wonderful cakes. The typewriter loves being the recipient. Todat she offers up this article which I hope you find it of interest:

Did you learn square dancing in school? If you did, blame Henry Ford.  You think cars, not dancing, when you think of Henry, but he loved square dancing to the point of obsession. He learned to square dance to become more social and conquer his shyness.  From there, it was one short Virginia reel to making it a requirement for every executive at Ford to dance. Henry Ford saw square dancing as the All-American dance. Henry and Clara went to many dances at the Botsford Inn before they were married.  It meant so much to him that in later years he bought and restored the inn as a gift to his wife. One friend of Henry's found out exactly how much square dancing meant. Henry had the floors sanded down in Lewis Hutton's house because the heavy oak floors were not springy enough to dance on.  Life outside work was all about the dance. 

Henry Ford was a super fan of Will Harmon's Full Orchestra which played at the Botsford Inn.  In addition to their regular appearances at the Botsford Inn, they also performed at the Princess Roller Rink in Northville (which stood on land now occupied by the Marquis Theatre), the Livonia Grange Hall, the Farmington Town Hall, and many homes and schools.   They even travelled as far as Saginaw. The money wasn't great, but the orchestra was welcome in the cold weather when there was little farming to be done and people wanted music to occupy the cold winter nights.  

Will Harmon was from Canton, and he was a farmer first like all his band-mates. Every man in the 1876 Wayne County Atlas proudly recorded his occupation as Farmer.  The band members came from Livonia, Plymouth, Northville and Canton. The group listed in Will Harmon's Full Orchestra included Volney Gunning, John Tinham and Lewis Cable.  Other men and a few women performed with the group over many years. H. A. Drake, E. Whipple, Mr. Hesinger on banjo, L.G. Botsford, Elmer Briggs and William Brace all performed in the Harmon orchestra.  The ladies in the group included Sarah Durfee, Jen Gunning and Gena Gunning. 

Horse-racing and violin-playing John Tinham was a great friend of Henry Ford.  John played with the group but also had his own orchestra in Northville. He was a very busy musician when he wasn't training or racing horses for the Starkweather stables.   John's brother and fellow musician, Alex, was a member of the Northville Eclipse Base Ball team. They say that Henry Ford only gave cars for life to two people. One was his wife's cousin Marvin Bogart and the other was John Tinham.  

Livonia's contribution to the band and star of the show was Volney Gunning.  Volney played the big double bass and did the square dance calling. Henry was particularly fond of Volney.  He was quite upset when he found out that Volney had sold his bass and taken up the accordion. Most people would have accepted it, but not Henry Ford.  As a rich man accustomed to getting his own way, Henry made it his mission to find the bass. He had to acquire the bass that Volney sold, not just any good bass.  With the full power of Ford Motor Company behind him, Henry did the obvious thing. He shut the company down and sent everyone to search for the missing instrument. Thankfully after a week of searching they found it in Kansas City and brought it back to Michigan.   When Volney had tooth troubles, Henry took Volney to the dentist in his car.  

Volney was a son of Livonia through and through.  His grandfather James had a general store at 8 Mile and Grand River.  His father Charles owned a farm just west of Stevenson High School. Charles was also musically inclined and joined Volney on occasion.   Grandfather James and dad Charles were, however, more devoted to the workings of the Democratic Party. 

Volney attended school at Clarenceville and at Briggs School at 6 Mile and Newburgh. He married a Livonia girl, Jennie Chilson, and they took over the Gunning farm.  In his spare time, Volney served a few terms as the Livonia Township treasurer. You could pay your taxes on the appointed day or Volney would visit your farm to collect. He might also stay for supper and a chat. Jennie scolded Volney more than a few times about his attention to music and treasurer duties to the neglect of the farm. 

Quite a bit of what we know about Livonia history comes from Volney Gunning.  Our treasurer/musician/ farmer kept a series of diaries for 50 years. Each year he would purchase a small journal about the size of a modern cell phone.  Volney wrote daily. He did not miss a day in 50 years which is pretty impressive, and he wrote about everything from the price of pigs to the weather. Just a couple of sentences: 

"I went to Luther Briggs this afternoon.  I played at the Cheese Factory last night with JB and Tinham. Bought Jen a pair of slippers $1.40. Ed, Father and I played the Grange Hall in Livonia last night.

 In 1928, Volney noted that Mr. and Mrs. Lovett of Dearborn paid a call.  Henry Ford recruited Benjamin Lovett, the famous dance master, to come to Dearborn and teach dance. Lovett Hall at the Henry Ford Museum complex is named in his honor. Dominic Paris, Livonia history teacher and 2019 inductee into the 1835 Livonia Hall of Fame, used the diaries for his master's thesis.  (The diaries are not public; only a few people have seen them. I was able to photograph them a few years ago.)

Volney and all his friends are long gone.  Volney died in 1945 in Eloise, the poor house.  He and Jennie had no children but are remembered fondly by family. They are buried in Clarenceville Cemetery.  Henry Ford pushed to require schools to teach square dancing. He lobbied to have square dancing named as the national dance and almost succeeded. What is the American Dance?  Jazz, Swing, Charleston, Square? The subject still comes up in Congress now and then and maybe in a few stories of the good old school days. 

1,500 students received three days worth of breakfast and lunch meals
Musings is borrowing this note and pictures from the Livonia Public Schools Facebook page. So many doing their part and when you have 14,000 to educate and in some cases care for outside the classroom the community should join in a huge shout out -- Thank you":

It was our privilege to distribute three days worth of breakfast and lunch meals for 1,500 students today during our first curbside pick-up and home delivery program! That's 9,000 meals!

We would like to thank our amazing LPS staff members who volunteered and a special shout-out to volunteers from Faith Bible Church, Life Church and Ward Church, who made more than 100 home deliveries. Thanks also to Jimmy Johns for pitching in!

We have an incredible community!

We will do it all again on the next two Tuesdays.

Our #LivoniaPride is shining brightly through this uncertain time!

Follow Musings on his ten days of gift cards from Livonia restaurants

For ten days the typewriter will be going on line or calling a restaurant to purchase a $20.00 gift card. When the virus is vanquished I will have 20 dinners to treat myself to. Pent up party time. Meanwhile patience is the virtue.

Day One
Corsi's on Seven Mile
Called it in. Agreed to mail or pick up.

Day Two
Thomas' on Plymouth Road
Obtained on company website. Mailed.
OHM thomas's 

Day Three 
Musings follows our government on the Livonia City Council
Livonia City Council Study Meeting - March 11, 2020
Livonia City Council Study Meeting -
March 11, 2020
Livonia City Council Regular Meeting - March 11, 2020
Livonia City Council Regular Meeting -
March 11, 2020

Musings follows these three 
healthy, giving and fun events
in hope that the virus is defeated
May 17 @ 1 Under Craft Beer/Eats @ 12
    The 10th Annual 
St. Baldrick's Shave-A-Thon
Benefits: Kids with Cancer, 
Cancellation under consideration
Decision by end of week

Red Wings Alumni v Livonia All Stars
Tentative rescheduled date
August 16

Starting at Bicentennial Park
Benefiting Livonia Kids and Families
Postponed. Tentative new date to be announced as soon as rescheduled.

Musings follows Livonia Happenings
March in Livonia
Skip March and go directly to April
April in Livonia
April 7 @ 6:30
Livonia Garden Club
Civic Park Senior Center
Sustainable Food System
April 14
Today's Africa Through American Eyes
Dr. Peggi J. Tabor, PhD
Livonia Citizens for Peace
Livonia Senior Center
  April 25 @ 10:00 - 3:00
Previously Enjoyed Jewelry  Sale 
Greenmead Historic Village
April 27 @ 4:30
Livonia Rotary Charity Reverse Raffle
May in Livonia
May 1 @ 6:00
Paul Seewald's
The Luck of Livonia Dinner Dance
Livonia Junior Athletic League celebrates 60 years
St. Mary's Cultural Center
May 2 @ 9:00 -- 2:00

May 5 @ 6:30
Livonia Garden Club
Civic Park Senior Center
Plant Legends and Stories
May 16 @ 9:00 - 10:00
Livonia Garden Club Plant Sharing Event
Greenmead Historical Park     Rain or Shine
Everyone is encouraged to come and take plants whether or not they have plants to share
May 17 @ 12 noon
St. Baldrick's Shaving for Kids with Cancer
1 Under Craft Beer and Eats

May 17 @ 3:00
Red Wing Alumni v Livonia All Stars
Eddie Edgar Arena
June in Livonia
June 7 @ 3:00
Livonia Civic Chorus Spring Concert
Churchill High School Performing Arts Center
July 25 @ 9:00 -- 2:00
Touch-a-Truck sponsored by Rotary AM Club

Musings follows the 2020 elections
None have been certified by Board of Canvassers

Donald J. Trump (I) (R)

Democratic Candidate has yet to be determined

United States Senate
Gary Peters (D-I)

Bob Carr (R)
John James (R)

United States House of Representatives
Haley Stevens (D-I)
Endorsed by:
Michigan Education Association

Kerry Bentivolio (R)
Whitney Williams (R)
Endorsed by:
Eric Esshaki (R)

Michigan House of Representatives
Laurie Pohutsky (D-I)

Martha Ptashnik (R)
Wayne County Commissioner
Terry Marecki (R-I)
Schoolcraft College Trustee
Brian Broderick (I)
Joan Gebhardt (I)
Terry Gilligan (I)
Livonia Board of Education
Dan Centers
Karen Bradford
Tammy Bonifield
Crystal Frank
Clarenceville Board of Education
Matt Boettcher
Brenda Uren
Shari Krazel
Jeffrey Bunker
We're back. Continuing the tradition started by Bob Hardies we are pleased to announce that Dan MacIver will share some of the former Secrets and add new ones over the next couple of months.

Readers respond to FridayMusings
Jim Jolly:  Thanks Bill for helping keep the Neighborhood grant alive and well! 

Liz Jarvis:  Great edition, Bill. Thanks for taking our minds off the virus for a while.

David Sadows: I'm thinking about working on a gift card/ voucher site for Lionia small businesses where people can purchase online. The idea is to offer this to  Livonia 
small businesses free of charge for all that are interested, less charge fees.   Once it's set up, any small business can request to be added to the  site. Still thinking about logistics. There has been some grumbling in the online marketing world that paypal is waving all processing fees which would make it 100% free.

John Grzebik: Bless Debra for all she does for kids, and her scholarship program in herlate daughters memory. Hope it rebounds even stronger next year! 
I hope Robb will not have to cancel his annual Brave The Shave. I certainly  can 
John Grzebik
understand if it comes to that.  His organization does wonderful things for these brave kids. Knowing Robb as I do; I'm sure if it comes to cancellation he will do all things possible to do something wonderful through technology to raise funds.

Debra BondeThank you, Bill, for your beautiful words about Anna. It truly touches my heart to see that our caring community, even people who didn't get the chance to meet her, remembers her and maybe is even touched by her story.

CND Law's George Remy Appointed to
Friends of Community Living Services Board of Directors

George Remy, senior attorney of CND Law, has been appointed to the Friends of Community Living Services board of directors. 

"This is a great honor being appointed to the Friends of Community Living Services board of directors", said George Remy. "I'm proud to be associated with an organization that provides support and service for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. I'm dedicated to supporting this important organization to help find employment and volunteer opportunities and work toward a future of independence and freedom for individuals with disabilities."
Friends of Community Living Services is a separate, nonprofit organization that raises funds for people served by Community Living Services (CLS). The money raised at fundraising events held throughout the year is granted to people supported by CLS for opportunities such as community connections, starting or furthering their education, start-up funds for small businesses and much more. The money donated to Friends of Community Living Services allows people supported by CLS to fund different things in their lives that Medicaid dollars do not cover.
George joined CND Law in June 2018. He specializes in corporate, business and commercial law, probate and estate planning law, including all forms of estate administration and litigation, and criminal defense.
About CND Law
CND Law provides taxation services, including tax controversy, corporate, business and commercial law. The firm also provides services such as mergers and acquisitions, probate and estate planning law, including all forms of estate administration and litigation, and elder law.
Time to apply for neighborhood mini-grants from the City of Livonia
Councilman Jim Jolly passes along some valuable information regarding Livonia's Neighborhood Grant program for your hometown neighborhood. "Now is the perfect time to talk to your neighbors (via phone, email, and social networking) to plan your block party or neighborhood enrichment effort to reconnect, celebrate, and engage your friends and neighbors after these challenging times - always hope for and expect better days ahead."

EXAMPLES of t he types of projects or events which can be applied for:
  • Community art programs
  • Community events - e.g., neighborhood parties (eligible only once), Rosedale Gardens Parade
  • Public space landscaping/beautification
  • Stewardship of neighborhood parks and common spaces
  • Youth programs - e.g., Beverly Soccer League, Clements Circle Boy Scouts, etc.
More information can be found at

The reaction has been positive from previous grant recipients such as Michael Camilleri "who as a prior recipient  on Parklane I can say this is an amazing thing. Thanks Jim and Livonia!"

Small town as sung by Jonathon Wennstrom
"Small Town" - John Mellencamp
New date for Livonia Home Show. May 2.
The 10th Livonia Home Improvement Show has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 2.

It will still be taking place at the Livonia Community Recreation Center ! The show includes 50 exhibitor spaces for home improvement experts to connect with the Livonia and surrounding communities.

FREE admission and parking, this show is known for introducing local contractors to serious shoppers. Home owners can get ideas to upgrade their kitchen or bathroom, hire a landscaper, redo their driveway, clean their windows or get new ones and much more!

Interested in being an exhibitor? Contact the Livonia Chamber at 734.427.2122 or

Livonia Councilman named one of the 40 under 40
Livonia is proud of City Councilman  Jim Jolly for being named 
one of Catholic Central's 40 under 40!

Looking for someone to cater your graduation party? Or perhaps that business meeting.

No matter what your catering needs you can count on that familiar face, with that quality service.

Town Hall Moving Forward with 57 Years of tradition
Our Livonia Town Hall has rescheduled  Gioia Diliberto for Sept. 16.  This Town Hall on September 16 is for the 2019-2020 season's series ticket holders.   Check out  for next season's 2020-21 order form.

October 21, 2020                       
Catherine Sanderson  speaking on The Science of Happiness

Catherine Sanderson is the Manwell Family Professor of Life Sciences (Psychology) at Amherst College. Her talk presents information on the science behind positive psychology, as well as, factors that predict happiness. She will also offer practical ways to increase your own psychological well being.

November 18, 2020                                
Joseph Luzzi speaking on Five Books that Changed the World

What books are a must for every lover of literature? Joseph Luzzi, award winning author and Professor of Literature at Bard College will explore this question. He will discuss how five well-known classics help us to understand concerns of today.

January 20, 2021                                   
Jeff Morrison Guardians of Detroit: Architectural Sculpture in the Motor City

Local architectural photographer, Jeff Morrison received a bachelor's degree in history and art from EMU. His discussion features many spectacular pictures of architectural sculpture from throughout the city of Detroit. You will learn about the sculpture's symbolism and hear some untold stories from its construction. Books will be available for purchase.

March 17, 2021                                    
Sean Hartley speaking on  Musicals that Changed Broadway

Sean Hartley is the Theater Wing Director of the Kaufman Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. He is a leading authority on Broadway musical history. His entertaining presentation will focus on four Broadway shows that demonstrate the evolution from light entertainment to integrated works of art.
Proud sponsor of the Detroit Red Wings v Livonia All-stars coming to town May 17, 3:00.