Halmich School
Student Body Group Portrait (circa 1905)


(click to view larger image)

This one-room school house was located on the east side of Mound Rd. between 12 and 13 Mile Roads in Section 9 of Warren Township, Michigan. From family records, we know that in 1905, Clement Grobbel's parents moved from Warren Village to a farm at the northeast corner of Mound and 11 Mile Roads. We also know that Clem's youngest brother, Edward (1900-1982), attended grades 1 to 5 at this school (from about 1906 to 1911).   Edward cannot be found among the 47 students in this photo, so the conclusion is that it most likely was taken in the fall of 1905 or the following spring.

Clement Grobbel (1895-1977) and his younger brother Leo (1898-1962) are each identified by an "x" on this edited version of the photo (Clem is standing behind Leo, who is kneeling).


Threshing Crew and Equipment - Warren Twp., Michigan (ca. 1912)


(click to view larger image)

This photo shows threshing machinery and the men who operated it on the LeFevre farm, which was located on the south side of 11 Mile Road in Section 20, Warren Twp., Michigan (across the road from the farms of Anton and Ferdinand Grobbel). A 1912 Buffalo-Pitts steam traction engine is on the left and it supplied power via drive belts to the threshing machine in the background.

Anthony Grobbel (1865-1942) is standing with his hands on his hips in the right foreground. Ben Wolf is in the cab of the steam traction engine and a local undertaker, Norman Stevens, is sitting on the side step between the wheels.


Parade Cars

For a parade at the 1933-4 Chicago World's Fair, the American Legion Stevens-Meyer Post Number 81 in Center Line, Michigan built a motorized float that was sponsored by Gietzen's Socony-Vacuum Mobilgas Service Station (25445 Van Dyke at the southwest corner of Gronow Ave.). The float was built over top of the trick car shown in the left photo (click to enlarge). The car was made to look like Pegasus, the oil company's flying red horse trademark, by covering it with chicken wire and crepe paper. This car (sans "Pegasus") later appeared in several local 4th of July parades, which is when this photo was taken, probably during the 1933 to 1935 time frame (not 1937 as indicated by the caption). Clem Grobbel (who belonged to the Post and also served as the Post Commander) made the modifications to this car and he is shown driving it while his 10 year old son Vincent rides alongside of him. He reworked it by shortening the wheelbase, adding independent rear handbrakes and adding ballast weight and rotating caster wheels at the rear. By putting the car into reverse and then hitting the foot brake, the front end would rise up and he could then put the car into forward gear and drive with the wheels up in the air. When he applied one of the rear hand brakes, he could also pivot around the locked rear wheel and drive in a circle while the front end was up in the air.

The right photo (click to enlarge) shows a similar car that was built in 1946 by Clem's sons, Vincent and Robert Grobbel. For the next 20 years, this clown car was a fixture in all of the local parades. This photo shows the car in about 1954 or 1955 when it was sponsored by Spence Connell's Texaco Service Station. This photo was taken next to his station at Ritter and Van Dyke (white building at right). The building immediately behind the car is Heck's Barber Shop and the building behind that is Gus Miller's Tavern. Spence Connell later moved his Texaco business to the northeast corner of Van Dyke and Stephens and this became a Kayo gas station.

Click to view a black and white photo of this car taken during a parade on Van Dyke in the mid 1950's. During the 1960's, the car was sponsored by the Center Line Fire Fighters Association. The Detroit Shriners eventually bought the car and it is still used by their Keystone Cops clown unit


4th of July Parade in Van Dyke, Michigan (ca. 1940?)

Here are three different photos (click to enlarge) of a 4th of July Parade (ca. 1940?) that was held in the community of Van Dyke, just south of 9 Mile Road. The building in the background housed the "Van Dyke Music Shop", which was located at 22020 Van Dyke on the east side of the street, just north of Studebaker Avenue. The "Van Dyke Upholstery" shop visible further down the street was on the block midway between Studebaker and Chalmers Avenues. The uniformed marching unit appears to be from the local Fraternal Order of Eagles and the musical group in the wagon being towed by a tractor represented the Warren Recreation Committee. The "Miller's Beer Store" delivery truck advertised the business owned by Harold Godin which was located two blocks further north at 22235 Van Dyke, between Hupp and Packard Avenues.


The Detroit Tank Arsenal in Warren Township, Michigan (ca. 1941)

Center Line and Warren Township experienced tremendous growth during the early 1940's as a result of the construction of the Detroit Tank Arsenal Plant at Martin Rd. and Van Dyke.

According to this on-line source:

"This tank arsenal was the first ever built for mass production of American tanks. When World War II erupted in Europe, and Germany began using tanks in its Blitzkrieg offensives, the United States did not have a tank production program. By mid-1940, the U.S. realized it needed an armored force separate from its infantry. In response to this need, the Detroit Tank Arsenal Plant sprang up seemingly overnight in the winter of 1940-1941, on 113 acres of farm land located north of downtown Detroit, in what is now the city of Warren. The mammoth structure measured five city blocks deep and two blocks wide, designed by master industrial architect, Albert Kahn, in the Moderne style."

"Owned by the government and run by Chrysler, the plant received its first contract to build 1,000 M3 tanks in 1940. The government accepted the first M3 on April 24, 1941, while the plant was still under construction. The delivery was marked by a festive occasion, broadcast over a nationwide radio hook-up. VIPs and plant workers cheered as the tank fired its guns, smashed telephone poles, and destroyed a mock-up house. The plant also built M4 Sherman tanks, which have a turret mounted 75-mm gun. The plant set an all-time monthly production record by delivering 896 M4s in December 1942. As the war ended, the government suspended tank production. During World War II, the Detroit Arsenal Tank Plant built a quarter of the 89,568 tanks produced in the U.S. overall."

The three black & white photos of M3 tanks (above, click to enlarge) were taken at the Tank Arsenal sometime between April 1941 and August 1942, when the M3 went out of production and was replaced by the M4. The M3 in the Kodachrome transparency (above, click to enlarge) was taken in June 1942 at Fort Knox, Kentucky by Alfred Palmer for the Office of War Information


Grobbel & Carney Family Military Service

"Local Couple Has Five Sons in the Service - Clement Grobbel Family Contributes Greatly to World War II"

The Nov. 13, 1942 issue of "The Weekly Review" (Warren Twp., Mich.) featured this article with both photos and text about the sons and stepsons of Clem & Roxanna Grobbel who were serving in the military. Vince Grobbel was serving in the US Coast Guard, Barney, and Bob Carney were in the US Navy, Dick Carney was in the US Army and Ray Carney was in the Army Air Corps. By 1945, two more of Clem's sons had enlisted: Alton "Oz" Grobbel (US Army) & Robert Grobbel (US Navy). Here is the remainder of the headline and the full photos and captions for Barney, Ray & Dick Carney. Roxanna belonged to the "Navy Mothers Club" and she saved her membership card as a keepsake.

"Youngest of Nine Sons to Enter Service Dating to World War I - Father in Polar Bear Division"

In November of 1954 a local newspaper published an article which described the US Army enlistment of Sylvester Grobbel, who was the youngest son of Clem Grobbel. At that time, Clem's second youngest son, Mark, was already serving in the US Army and he was also mentioned in this article. Read more here about the World War I "Polar Bears".


Urban Renewal in Center Line

The June 10, 1965 issue of the "Center Line Times" had a front page headline article announcing a $5.9 million project that was to be built on the northwest corner of Van Dyke and 10 Mile Road. This was to become a part of the "urban renewal" of Center Line's commercial district in 1965-1967. The 15 acre development was somewhat modified prior to construction and the tentative 5 acre office high-rise proposal that was mentioned fell through, eventually to be developed as a strip shopping area by another firm. Here is an aerial view of the vicinity of Van Dyke and 10 Mile Road taken around the year 2000.


Return to the Center Line Historical Information page


Webmaster: Mike Grobbel
Created: 15 Dec 2004; Last Revised: 20 May 2008
URL: http://centerline.grobbel.org/misc_photos.htm