Every year we take a little time machine trip – in the form of our newspaper archives, not a 1980s DeLorean, unfortunately – to see what was reported in the community 50 years ago. In this week’s edition of the newspaper you can take a peek at some of the headlines and news items that took place in the first half of 1969. The second half of the feature will be included in an upcoming edition.

The special feature is the first half of a two-part feature that I like to do every year at the beginning of the year as a way to “reset” the clock of the year, see what was going on way before I was born, and have a bit of fun during a sometimes slow news time.

It’s pretty startling to see that some of the headlines that we have in the paper nowadays mimic what was going on 50 years ago, and just how some things were entirely different in the late 1960s than they are today.

One of the things I always harp on the community in my columns is keeping Iosco County, northern Michigan and planet earth as clean as possible for future generations. And just like today, back in 1969 people were dumping their trash where it shouldn’t be dumped.

For example, back in those days the Blue Horizons program, made up of a bunch of area youth, took it upon themselves to work over a few days on the weekend to clean trash from the AuSable River thrown in by canoes, fisherman and lazy people who didn’t want to haul their trash off the river or pay to have it taken away..

In 1969 those kids collected about seven truckloads of trash from the river, everything from old tires to, ironically, another body truck. The one thing that they collected the most of, however, were empty pop and beer cans that were in the river. Most of those seven truckloads of trash were the empties.

Today a lot of enterprising young people would probably love to have nearly seven truckloads of empty cans because they could turn them in and make a  pretty decent amount of money, but not so in 1969. Those kids would have to wait another seven years until voters in Michigan passed the Michigan Beverage Container Act, nicknamed “The Bottle Bill,” which put a 10 cent deposit on pop and beer bottles and cans.

Another item that mirrors what is going on 50 years ago is destruction along the Lake Huron shoreline. In one of the 1969 papers there was discussion about increased lake levels causing damage to property owners’ homes and land along Lake Huron.

There is even a photograph of an eroded bank of the lake being further eroded, with trees falling into the water. It’s the same type of photo that homeowners are taking in 2020 to show what record high lake levels are doing to their property. Hopefully the levels will recede soon and property damage on the lake will be a thing for the history books as well.

Another item that was interesting to me was the harsh winter of 1969 and what it was doing to the deer population in Michigan. It was so bad that year that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources were able to obtain bulk corn from the government to give to area residents to feed deer so the deer herd wouldn’t expire in the cold winter.

It’s pretty wild to think that a government agency was not only promoting deer feeding back 50 years ago, but was providing the food, so residents could feed deer.

As of 2020, feeding deer and using bait for hunting has been banned in the State of Michigan, after a bill to enacting feeding again was vetoed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in late December. It’s as complete of a 180 degree turn as possible on a local issue.

There are some interesting things in the old newspapers, and it’s a pleasure to go through them and pull out tidbits and news items to share. For those looking for more in-depth information on the stories, they can drop into our Oscoda Press or Iosco County News-Herald offices and take a peek at our archives. 

There is no cost for this and we are always happy to have people drop in to do research on stories, whether they are trying to find something for their family tree, a local issue, or just curious about what it was like in Iosco County back in the “old days.”