An annual open house at the Wurtsmith Air Force Base in Oscoda drew in crowds in excess of 14,000 people to check out the military aircraft and other features of the base.

by Jason Ogden

OSCODA – With 2017 in the books now seems as good a time as ever to take a look at the archives of the Oscoda Press and Iosco County News-Herald. 

There were many things that occurred in the county 50 years ago during 1967, everything from telephone repairmen saving the lives of children on the Wurtsmith Air Force Base (WAFB), to students from Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) pitching in to help clean up the community, and even the age-old question of whether East Tawas and Tawas City should merge. There were also a very high number of vehicle crash fatalities compared to today as well as quite a few hunting accidents.

The information taken from the archives offers only a glimpse of what occurred that year in the county month to month.

Those interested in looking through the archives are always welcome to visit the Oscoda Press or Iosco County News Herald offices to take a look at the archives for themselves. 



Oscoda Area Schools was trying to figure out how to bridge the gap of a nearly $125,000 school deficit, which was noted as being mostly due to teacher salary increases.

It was reported by Michigan Department of Natural Resources (DNR) conservation Officer Arthur Leitz that there were 174 deer killed on Iosco County highways due to vehicle crashes during 1966.

A bid for an Oscoda sewer project to build a sewer treatment plant hit a snag due to the Michigan Department of Health not liking the location on Van Etten Creek.

A $12,3000 federal grant was awarded to Hale Area Schools to conduct a summer program for children.

AuSable residents were protesting the township’s assessments on new homes in the township, which were reportedly going for more than double the 1965 rate.

The Iosco County Board of Supervisors scrapped plans to set a limit hours for boating on inland lakes in the county.

The WAFB 26th Weather Squadron was presented with the Second Air Force Outstanding Weather Unit award.

Weekend dog sled races that were held on Van Etten Lake were deemed a huge success. The races had begun three years prior. According to a report the Midwest Championship Sled Dog Derby had 32 teams from Michigan and some from as far away as New York and New Hampshire.

Trading stamps were collected to help secure a citizen’s band radio for a disabled resident of the Oscoda area. Larry Hansford, president of the local AuSable River CB Club, said the club had collected 22 books of stamps and was looking for someone who needed a radio in the community.

Sonia Allevato, a foreign exchange student from Rio de Janeiro was staying with a Tawas family and was the second exchange student in the area. 

Robert Elliot, Jr. was named as the Tawas Area Outstanding citizen for 1966 by the chamber of commerce.



In early February it was reported that a blizzard hit northern Michigan, impacting a lot of community. According to the report Oscoda residents were busy digging out of more than 15 inches of snow in some areas.

Many other areas of the county reported heavy snowfall, with at least 11 inches in parts of Tawas City and East Tawas.

Cars abandoned in traffic lanes created serious problems for county snow removal agencies trying to dig the county out of the snowy mess.

Hospital room prices increased for isolated hospital rooms $5 a day, from $35 to $40.

Harsh February weather hampered a second annual snowmobile rally for both participants and spectators during the meet on Van Etten Lake. The event featured 22 machines with 44 riders. It was reported that it was simply too cold outside for the event.

It was reported in East Tawas that there were mounting snow removal costs for season and a snow removal budget was exceeded by nearly $3,000. East Tawas Superintendent Paul Ropert said there was $5,200 budgeted for snow removal but $8,600 had already been expended for the year.

Carl R. Sams of Oscoda patented a new building technique, which used urethane plastic with a fiberglass coating to build structures that required no nails. He thought of the idea after working as bricklayer’s assistant in his youth.

Bruce McLeod was honored by members of the Oscoda-AuSable Volunteer Fire Department for his 25 years of service with the group.

Oscoda resident Esther MacIntyre was named the 1967 Perchville Queen and received her crown at the Holland Hotel in East Tawas.

Due to bad weather some aspects of the 1967 Perchville had to be canceled. Strong winds blew ice off Tawas Bay and snowmobile and ice boat races that were to take place on the ice were canceled, as well as skydiving events. The traditional dip in the icy bay, however, took place as scheduled.



Members of the East Tawas Boy Scout Troop 111 Eagle Patrol took first place in the Klondike Derby that was held near Rose City. The boys participated in map reading, fire building, cooking and snowshoe racing, all outdoors.

An aerial survey of area deer herds was made over Iosco County from WAFB. The trip was made with newspaper representatives and area conservation officers in an attempt to gauge deer herd numbers.

An annual report of police activities was issued by the Oscoda Township Police Department Chief Robert Foster who said the department handled more than 14,000 complaints ranging from wild dogs to domestic complaints during the prior year.

In conjunction with the Golden Anniversary of World War I the names of widows and veterans who fought in the Great Was was were sought to be included in a national registry.

The Tawas Area High School student council took steps to “adopt” a six year old Vietnamese boy, Van Sao Nguyen, sponsoring the child financially for a year and providing $120 for his care.

Twenty-two volunteers went to Tuttle Marsh to take part in a deer browsing project, which included cutting the young branches of trees to supply deer with food for the cold weather in the area.

Oscoda Area Schools (OAS) bus driver Betty Tregear was honored for her fast action in putting out a fire during her school bus run in Mikado, when she discovered a vehicle on fire in the area.

She used the fire extinguisher on her bus to put out the truck fire and was recognized for her efforts by Larry O’Neil, transportation director for the school.

The AuSable Homes Project, which placed more than 70 homes in the area from the early 1950s to 1967 was finally finished.

An interim report on Tawas Bay by the Army Corps of Engineers recommended nearly $1 million be spent to make the bay a harbor of refuge.

Action by the Iosco County Board of Supervisors was done to create a nine-person county board of commissioners.

Anglers were hitting perch hard on Tawas Bay, with reports that the warmer March weather was causing more bites and more successful catches for those fishing. 



Industrial arts students from OAS qualified for the state show to be held at Cobo Hall in Detroit.

Rosaland Guest, the two-year-old daughter of Sgt. and Mrs. Joe Guest, was saved by Michigan Bell Telephone Co. repairman Boyd K. Kennel, who revived her during an episode the child incurred while Kennel was installing a phone.

Firewood was collected to create bonfires for use by smelt fishermen at “Smelt City,” also known as the mouth of the AuSable River.

OAS students worked to clean up the Oscoda Beach Park for the upcoming summer tourist season.

The Bay View Restaurant, built in the 1930s, was razed in East Tawas. The building was originally constructed by Nick Papas. The site was slated to have a clothing and shoe store built in the location.

The search for two airmen, feared drowned in the waters of Lake Huron continued. The search was for Michael Bodi and Russel Blank, who were feared dead after their capsized canoe was found along the lake shore.

East Tawas City Police Chief Donald Docking gave stern warning to motorbike and motorcycle riders in the city and said that the riders had to follow Michigan traffic laws like other drivers. He also said that it was state law that the riders had to wear a crash helmet.



A branch of the Farmers and Merchants state bank in Whittemore was hit with a night burglary where the bandits went away with more than $37,000.

Bank employees discovered a ransacked building and oxyacetylene gas tanks, used by the crew to cut into the safe, left at the scene.

Parking meters were to be installed in Oscoda and were to be enforced by action of the Oscoda Township Board of Trustees.

In compliance with the Department of Defense a survey of rental housing in Oscoda and surrounding communities was conducted to determine whether housing was available in the area without racial discrimination. The survey was not prompted by an incident, said WAFB officials, but was done to bring the area into compliance.

In other base news an open house to the facility drew more than 13,000 individuals curious about the facility.

It was reported on the last day in May there had already been six vehicle crash fatalities in the area since the beginning of the year, five of which happened in the prior week to the May 31 report.

The second annual Tawas Bay Memorial Sailboat race was scheduled. Boats would go on an 85-mile circuit during the event, according to organizers.

Plans for Michigan Week activities were scheduled in the Tawases and included free coffee and donuts, a mayors’ exchange and flag presentation as part of the festivities.



OAS announced that there would be 135 students in the Class of 1967. W. Lowell Treaster, head of the department of information services at Michigan State University, was the guest speaker.

Three OAS teachers, Myrtle Smith, Lydia Stoup Argue and Ruth Kleehammer, announced their retirement that spring.

Tawas Area Schools was slated to have 129 students participate in commencement. Austin J. Buchanan, the director of administration for Central Michigan University (CMU) was scheduled to speak.

CMU announced 14 graduates from the college all with Iosco County roots.

Lakewood Shores, known as the largest all-electric subdivision in northern Michigan, was slated to celebrate its first anniversary after being established.

Tours of the WAFB, organized through the air force and the Oscoda-AuSable Chamber of Commerce began, by reservation, to the public.

Organizers planned for the 14th annual Tawas River Canoe race to take place.

Members of the Michigan Deer Hunters Association worked on a petition drive, with more than 14,000 signatures, in an effort to halt the antler-less deer season in Michigan.




Although the weather was deemed “chilly” by residents, the July 4 celebrations in Oscoda went off without a hitch. According to reports there were more than 30 “units” in the annual parade, which was deemed one of the largest since it started.

OAS and the teachers union reached an agreement for a contract for the 1967-68 school year.

Skin divers from around the Midwest were expected to converge in Oscoda for a two-day “aquathon” event sponsored by the AuSable Divers Club and the chamber of commerce.

Another activity schedule by the chamber were drag boat races that were to take place on the AuSable River, according to a report. Officials expected anywhere from 20 to 40 boats to participate in the races. Both events were deemed successful and well attended in later newspaper editions.

Ralph Sawyer and Stan Hall, a veteran Oscoda canoe race team, posted their 22nd win at the Canada-United States International Canoe Derby.

The pair were favorites for the 21s AuSable Canoe Race, known now as the AuSable River International Canoe Marathon.

Tawas residents geared up for the fifth annual Tourist Festival, which featured a parade, crowning of a queen as well as a water ski show on Tawas Bay.



Hall and Sawyer would go on to win the marathon with a finish time of 15 hours, 40 minutes and 29 seconds.

Second place went to Irvin (Buzz) Peterson of Coon Rapids, Minn, who teamed with his son, Steve, with a finish time of 15:46.46. 

Third was Robert Gillings of Lansing, formally of Prescott, and Jack Kent of Atlanta.

With school just weeks away OAS officials advertised for teaching positions. According to the report, the school was short seven postings before the school year was to commence.

Visitors from around the state came to Oscoda to visit the fifth annual Iosco Coin Club Show, held at the Oscoda Township Hall.

Iosco County officials worked to develop land south of the AuSable River into the park. The property, known as the Colbath Property, was purchased for $45,000.

Members of the AuSable Divers salvaged a capstan from a Great Lakes shipwreck located north of Oscoda in Lake Huron.

More than 80 exhibitors were expected to be at the annual Tawas Bay Waterfront Arts and Crafts show to be held in August of that year. 

It was reported that there were increased revenues at the East Tawas Park as more people visited the location to camp during the summer months.



A drag boat event on the AuSable River was deemed a huge success.

An OAS adult education class was drew in 231 people from Tawas and Oscoda. The program was designed to help people finish their high school education.

Oscoda youth Peggy Sue Wooten won first prize at the Saginaw County Fair for her exhibit of more than 100 dolls her and her mother collected over the years.

Hundreds flocked to the East Tawas State Dock, known as the East Tawas Waterways Commission dock, to take advantage of the good weather and water activities in East Tawas. 

The sale of a portion of the old fairgrounds to Tawas Industries expanded the company’s property by 10 acres, though because of public opposition the sale almost did not take place. 

The East Tawas and Tawas City Councils both adopted resolutions calling for the ban of gill net fishing in Tawas Bay.

East Tawas Superintendent Paul Ropert was injured following a cave in of a trench that was being dug to improve the sanitary sewer system. He was hospitalized for burns to his face, which was pressed against a hot pipe, as well as broken bones and a back injury.



An eight-hour wartime practice mission called “Operation Buckskin” was slated to take place at WAFB

The Oscoda-AuSable-Wurtsmith Community Chest kicked off, with a fundraising goal of more than $21,000, which would be distributed to organizations in the community for projects.

Coho salmon were stocked in six streams in the local area. According to a report there was a planting of 700 of the fish by the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

The Welcome Hotel in Oscoda burned to the ground in an early-morning fire, with no loss of life. The loss of the building was estimated at $150,000. No one was hurt, but five guests were evacuated from the structure.

A petition was being circulated to facilitate the merger of East Tawas and Tawas City into the “City of Tawas.”

A request by Tawas City for door-to-door mail delivery was denied by the U.S. Postal Service regional office in Chicago.



It was announced by the Military Affairs Committee that construction projects at WAFB would total nearly $2 million and include the building of a nearly $300,000 dormitory for airmen and work on blast fences on the runway for jets.

The Michigan State Police had just acquired a Breathalyzer testing machine at the East Tawas Post and three troopers were trained on the equipment. For the first time in the county those arrested for drunk driving would have a breath test to gage their level of drunkenness.

An addition to the Iosco County Medical Care Facility started, expanding the facility by 14 beds at a cost of more than $88,000.

By Nov. 22 there were reports of good deer kills in the county for the 1967 hunting season, though there were reports of at least two firearms accidents resulting in wounds for downstate hunters.

At the end of the month a report that there had been 17 highway fatalities in the county for 1967 was published. According to the report, in addition to the 17 highway deaths there were five drownings that took place in the county. By the end of the year there would be 18 recorded vehicle crash fatalities.



The ice boat racing season began on Cedar Lake, but only took place for one day as ice condition deteriorated to the point that the second day of races had to be canceled.

Tawas City resident Daniel Petrowski was the favorite to win the 1967 Big Buck Bonanza contest with his 180 pound buck, until a last minute kill by Twining resident Robert O. Lee took the contest. Lee’s buck was a 12 pointer weighing in at 189 pounds fully dressed.

The flu impacted students at OAS with an estimated 12 percent of students impacted by the flu in all grades. There were reports of at least 15 teachers out sick from the bug.


1967 Prices

A used 1965 two-door hardtop Mustang was listed for $1,645 and included a set of new whitewall tires in the deal.

Philco Automatic refrigerator/freezer combos were going for $249, and were available in copper or white finish.

Ten pounds of clothing to be dry cleaned could be done for just $2 at the Flamingo Cleaners just outside of the main gate of WAFB.

At the Sofspra Car Wash drivers could get a five-minute car wash for just 25 cents.

Some food prices at local grocery stores included pork roast at 39 cents a pound; rib steak, 85 cents a pound; hamburger, $1.59 a pound and applesauce, 27 cents a jar. Pot pies could be had six for $1.

A new Smith-Corona Classic 12 typewriter could be purchased for graduates (think a personal computer for a college student) for $123 from the Oscoda Press.

A box of 16 Crayola crayons from a local drug store was just 17 cents.