J. RUSSELL HUGHES
J. RUSSELL HUGHES
Alcona Renaissance Man
Born: 22 September, 1907 A.D. Detroit, MI
Died: 8 November 1992 A.D. after fall in Alcona
Lived in Alcona County 1945-1992 (47 years)
Internment: Springport Cemetery, Alcona County
"JUDGE HUGHES Dead At 85" said the headline in the Alcona County paper in November 1992, but was it true? Maybe, I am ahead of myself. Allow me to explain who was this renaissance man? How did he impact Alcona County? What follows is a view of an Alcona County renaissance man, J. (James) Russell (Rip) Hughes and those exciting times when Alcona County was ‘on fire’ with possibility and promise ! It could happen again!
This long time Alcona resident, who so dramatically impacted life in Alcona County in the middle of the 20th century and beyond was not born in Alcona. In fact, Russell or Rip Hughes was a third generation born Detroiter, who had been involved in WJR and WXYZ radio as an actor, graduated from Detroit College of Law School and served as prosecuting attorney in another county. All this made him the "man in preparation" for coming to Alcona County. He arrived in Alcona County upon the end of hostilities after World War II. Russell had been wounded landing troops at Iowa Jima in the Pacific. He recovered soon enough to again land troops on Okinawa. Immediately after that war, he moved to Alcona County at the request of the two editors of the Alcona papers, Bub Chapple of Alcona Review and Rusty Weber of the Alcona Herald (later Wayne Jack). Russell was elected prosecutor in 1946 and served in that post twelve years, as Alcona began a renaissance of which J. Russell was a key figure. He was later selected Probate Judge of Alcona. Then the Judge surprised everyone as he resigned the Judgeship to serve as an Episcopal priest in this northeastern area and always from his beloved Alcona County.
Beginnings: J. (James) Russell Hughes was born the third (3rd) generation in Detroit, Michigan, on 22 September 1907. He was the eldest of four (4) children born to Albert Jay and Lena (Meilstrup) Hughes.
His father, Albert, was a semi-professional athlete. Albert's mother would not allow him to sign a formal contract with the Detroit professional baseball team. It would have led to his going on road trips (and playing with Ty Cobb). His mother said Albert was too young. J. Russell's mother Lena (Meilstrup) was a second generation Danish immigrant. Her father James Meilstrup was a lumberman (Timber Looker) who is supposed to be the inspiration for (if not the actual model for) the center figure on Lumberman's Monument, west of East Tawas and Oscoda near the mighty AuSable River. Russell’s parent's family suffered some financial reverses. Then the grandmother of Russell died. The family left Detroit to go to farm near Vassar, Michigan. They lived with and helped his widower grandfather, Charles Hughes. In the Vassar area high school, the left handed Russell played first base on the baseball team, guard/forward on the basketball team. Although he also ran track, his hard nosed play as a lineman for Vassar earned him his nickname of RIP as he "ripped" through opposing lines and earned All State 3rd team. This was back when all the schools (large and small) were lumped together to select the best athletes.
In 1925 Russell graduated from Vassar High School and was accepted at colleges. In the days before grants and with few athletic scholarships, he selected Michigan State Normal (EASTERN) Ypsilanti, Michigan, as it was necessary to work his way through college. Russell continued his athletics (track and football) dramatic reading and stage acting at college where he studied pre-law.
Early Devastation: Russell also met and had a youthful, passionate relationship with Grace Hemstreet at MSN (Michigan State Normal). The young college students married and had three children in a short and stormy relationship and marriage: John Robert (Bob) Barbara Jean (Barb) and Gerome (Jerry). He was a proud father. Russell's mother Lena (Meilstrup)Hughes died a sad untimely death.(1929) Then his marriage ended in divorce in 1935, after he found his wife with another man in 1932. Russell was devastated. Life seemed unimportant to him. He began to doubt God.
1932 & God: J. Russell (Rip) Hughes drifted into agnosticism. The future minister and priest began to doubt God's existence. Rip was sitting near the Episcopal church in Birmingham (the church his in-laws -Hemstreets, attended). The church warden came and said "Rip, Reverend Forsythe wants to see you, right now." Canon Warner L. Forsythe was able to convince Russell that the despair he was feeling and its cause had nothing to do with God, Who loved him. Russell turned back to God and the church. In 1932 he purchased a New Testament at J.L. Hudson company and wrote in it, "Purchased the day I made Jesus my Savior and Lord." A journey for God started in 1932.
James Russell (Rip) Hughes had spent three years in college in Ypsilanti, but did not complete a fourth year, since he was accepted to attend Detroit College of Law. In Detroit, having to work his way through and support his children, he took a day job at Detroit Edison as a statistician. He had been in high school plays and forensics and acted at Michigan State Normal (Eastern) so he continued that at Edison, where they performed plays. (Steve McNamee, a life time friend and Edison co-worker reported that Rip was always given significant parts or the lead). Rip also worked as a radio actor primarily at WJR where Russell became the third man to play the Hermit on "The Theater of the Air," which had come to be known affectionately by the radio audience as "The Hermits Cave."
Theater of The Air: As the announcer opened the program, a door, on squeaking hinges, slowly opened. This was followed by Russell's slow, breathy, baritone voice saying:
"It is ten o'clock. Time for the Theater of the Air.
Then after a pause, his clear voice became, breathy, nasal and eerie. He commanded:
"Turn out your lights." "Turn them out." "Turn THEM ALL OUT!"
"Hear of Mystery, Mayhem and MURDER too." said the sadistic laughing voice.
"Listen as the Hermit tells you the story of the Man... WHO was, But, . . .was Not" . . . (silence)
Then a Cackling laugh pierced the airways.
Prelude To War: During these early 1930s, in Europe Adolph Hitler (Nazi Germany) and Benito Mussolini (Fascist Italy) were rising to power. Italian Enrique Fermi was experimenting with nuclear reaction and spitting the atom. A civil war had started in Spain. Japan had invaded Manchuria then China. The United States was a nation unaware of the mortal storm gathering in Europe and Asia. They were more concerned with Babe Ruth, who was hitting the last of 714 career home runs. (The record stood until Henry Aaron’s 755 decades later). Rip Hughes was finishing his legal studies at Detroit College of Law. Russell had become an avowed bachelor. Despite his jet black hair, blue eyes, athletic build and movie star looks, serious female relationships did not interest him.
The Nurse & the Bachelor: Russell and good friend, Steve McNamee worked together at Edison, went to law school together and socialized. Steve was from Canada. Steve was sad because the woman he thought would be his wife, Jessie Ryan, had done him wrong. But, Steve wanted to reconcile. He turned to his buddy Rip (the bachelor-again) to go with him to see if Steve could patch things up with Jessie in Midland, Ontario, Canada. Steve knew a girl that was a friend of Jessie who was willing to help him try to reconcile. Her name was Margaret (Marg) Wood. A plan was devised. Marg said she wanted to go out with Steve's American friend, would Jessie go along on a double date? Steve and Jessie never reconciled, but when Russell (Rip) Hughes met Nurse Margaret Wood, his heart was captured in that summer of 1936. His bachelorhood would soon be history.
Life Mate: J. Russell Hughes had already heard his name called by the Dean 2 years earlier, as a member of the graduating class of 1934. Young Mr. Hughes was admitted to the practice of law in 1935. So, on October 31, 1936, the young lawyer, Hughes, married registered nurse Margaret Wood and she proudly became Mrs. J. Russell Hughes. Despite the gossips’ belief,(I bet she’s pregnant) their first child was born three years later. The gossips also did not think a mixed marriage (Canadian Catholic-US Protestant) would last. This marriage continued from 1936 until 1992 and was temporarily ended fifty-six (56) years later with the untimely accidental physical departure of J. Russell Hughes on November 8,1992 when he fell down some cement steps onto a concrete sidewalk. What an eventful half century plus were their lives together.
Eventful Years: 1936 - 1940 Within two (2) years of the marriage, J. Russell Hughes had helped his friend Clark Seely draft the first health care insurance contract for a fledgling company named Blue Cross of Michigan. Also, Russell had been singled out, by a northern Michigan judge, sitting in Detroit, as a visiting judge. The judge from northeastern Michigan asked him to come to Standish, Michigan and run for Prosecuting Attorney. He went and ran against a popular incumbent and won that first election by a scant 8 votes. However, on the recount, they claimed that Hughes had lost to the incumbent. (Welcome to the world of politics). Two (2) years later, (1940) as War raged in Europe and the Pacific, Hughes soundly defeated his opponent at the polls and was elected Prosecuting Attorney at age 32. He was also a lay reader at Grace Episcopal church in Standish, Michigan. He served as Vice Chancellor (a legal officer) for the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan.
1941-1945 World War ii: Into this setting came a sneak attack, thousands of miles away, that shook every resident of Arenac and Alcona counties. After a peaceful Sunday morning, America came home from church to learn of "a sudden and intentional; dastardly and unprovoked attack" on Pearl Harbor, near Honolulu, Hawaii on December 7, 1941: "a date that will live in infamy."
Young Mr. Hughes was a husband, a father and had served in the Michigan Cavalry. He was serving Arenac county as the Prosecuting Attorney (an occupation deemed "critical"). He was safely exempted from being called upon to serve his nation. So, in 1942, J. Russell (Rip) Hughes volunteered. Not only did he join the Navy, when offered a position as a legal officer, he asked for active combat duty in the Pacific against the Japanese. Next, the young Naval officer trained to be a Boat Group Commander landing assault troops. In this naval occupation (much like the River Boats of Vietnam) the life of the officer in charge was calculated to only last a few landings (several hours). Naval Lieutenant (which is two bars and equal to Captain in the Army) Hughes, with God's Divine protection, defied the odds and spent 22 months in the Pacific campaign against the Japanese and did not die. Alcona County also sent her finest young men to the battle against the axis nations in Europe and in the Pacific. Everyone in America from the farmhand, the house wife to actors (Jimmy Stewart=pilot; Clark Gable=gunner; Mickey Rooney= enlisted man) pro athletes (heavyweight champ Joe Louis; champion Barney Ross; baseball star Ted Williams was only one of scores of top baseball stars) even the Bank president did his part. It was the greatest hour for these United States of America, the greatest coming together, since the Revolutionary War.
Iwo Jima Landing: Although prayers surrounded Rip, the Japanese almost ended his life on 20 February, 1945 A.D. Japan scored a hit on his landing craft. The shell did not explode on impact. (Some were on timers, some just did not explode). The Lieutenant could have "abandoned ship." (Jumped over to save himself) Instead, worried about the men in his charge, Commander Hughes picked up the live shell and threw it over the side. As he released it and turned his back, the shell exploded! Hughes' back and legs were penetrated with shell fragments as he was propelled though the air the full diagonal length of his landing craft and crashed into the other end of the landing craft. No one else was injured by that shell.
Boat Group Commander J. Russell was taken by his crew back to the USS DARKE (APA159). Many thought this was a war ending wound as Boat Group Commander Hughes had shrapnel in his legs and back. However, when Hughes received advance news of his impending transfer to the hospital ship for transport to a state side hospital, he called for his crew. Crew members, Petty Officers Ross and "Pappy" Snyder (he more than 35 years of age, so they called him Pappy) saw to it that their heavily bandaged commander, with a support brace (or wide belt) on his back, was lowered into the lead Landing Craft three (3) days after the wounds at Iowa Jima. As Russell boarded his craft, the smell of death from the sands of Iwo Jima two (2) miles away permeated the salt air. Lieutenant (two bars) Hughes pulled away from the Attack Transport USS DARKE on the day he was supposed to be transferred to the hospital ship. As his landing craft pulled away, a stunned executive officer returned a salute. Shaking his head in disbelief he turned away as if he had not seen that it was the wounded but smiling Hughes leading the landing. Several weeks later these men (including Rip Hughes) also landed troops at Okinawa.
The three bloodiest battles for Naval personnel losses in World War II were (in order of the number of Navy personnel lost): 1) Okinawa; 2) Iowa Jima; and 3) Pearl Harbor (where the Pacific navy fleet of ships had been badly disabled). The worst for loss of life was Okinawa followed by Iowa Jima. The devastation at Pearl Harbor, where thousands were killed in two hours, was third. Hughes was at the two bloodiest. Yet, God protected him and all under his command. Not one lost his life off the USS DARKE at Iowa Jima or Okinawa. (That’s a miracle. Thank You, Lord)
Atomic War Ushered-in: Russell continued to fight until after he had seen the two (2) separate mushroom clouds over the islands of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Then after VJ (Victory over Japan) Day, 15 August 1945 the USS DARKE was among the armada of ships that entered Tokyo Bay on 2 September 1945 to witness the formal unconditional surrender of the Japanese to the allies led by General Douglas Mac Arthur.
In very late 1945 (perhaps early 1946) Russell came marching home. When James Russell Hughes (Rip) had enlisted, he had jet black hair, perfect hearing and 20/20 vision. His body was then without wounds. He came home about 24 months later with graying hair, industrial deafness from the sounds of constant naval bombardment and in need of glasses to read because of eye strain from months of watch duty where he strained to see what was there and often what wasn't there. He carried the remnants of shrapnel in his back and leg for more than a decade. Neither Hughes nor any other man from Alcona County was ever heard to complain that they had risked their lives in that great cause or complained of the wounds they suffered. They would gladly have gone again to defend their wives, their families and this One Nation, Under God.
Alcona County: Here we Come! In the meantime back in Michigan, Rip's assistant prosecutor, Dennis O'Keef had been elected Arenac Prosecuting Attorney. There was no willingness on O'Keef's part to surrender the job or help his opponent find office space in Arenac county. At that point in time, two editors from Alcona County, Rusty Weber of the Alcona County Herald and "Bub" Chapple of the Alcona County Review, traveled the seventy-five miles south on US-23 to Standish, Michigan. They talked with the recently returned war hero, attorney and his wife (Margaret). They convinced them to move to Alcona County to run in the next Republican Primary for Prosecuting Attorney. Rip, Marge and children moved (in late 1945 or early 1946) to Alcona County. He was elected, and there he lived for the next almost half century. (about 47 years -very early 1946 to November 1992)
ALCONA ADVENTURE: The Hughes lived for a year north of Harrisville on a small farm across from Alcona Beach (later known as Muehlbachs and then Field Stone). Rip had his first law office in Lincoln, Michigan in the then abandoned bank building. It later was Alpena Savings Bank for decades. (Remember long time manager Martin Shea in Lincoln? His father Emmet Shea was named Bank Manager in Harrisville upon his return from active naval duty in World War II). Russell had campaigned together with his wife, Marg. Though somewhat shy, she felt at home with the French speaking and Catholic area of the county of Alcona (primarily Black River) as she was a French-Irish Canadian. Mr. Hughes was reelected four or five times for the next twelve years as Prosecuting Attorney.
1946 - 1953 ALCONA (The Renaissance begins) A golden era of Alcona County was ushered into existence around 1946. The Hughes together with many returning Alcona veterans (Deller, (and Dellar) Apsey, Anderson, Somers, Reibow, Gabrielson, Klein, Sterling, Shultz, Wilson, Sysak, Ferguson, Carnahan, Kahn, Gunderson, Noyes, Steadman, Shea, Zuber, LaFave, LeClair, Foster, Gauthier, Matuzak, Moore, Cook, Potvin, McCoy, Cramer, Teeple, George, Burgoyne, Mador, Belford, McGregor, Ross, Potts, et cetera) and some new comers to the area were the prime movers in this rebirth.
As the area came alive, there were plays at the town hall. The adult attendance at high school basketball and baseball shot up. School and civic programs were fun and exciting. Hughes helped form the Alcona Baseball League and Russell was named the first (only?) Alcona County Baseball Commissioner. Teams were established in Lincoln, Harrisville, Black River, Spruce, Barton City. Mikado, Curran and Glennie. Play was spirited. The players were far better than average.
Hammy Hughes: Also, when there were other civic gatherings, Rip Hughes was often called upon to imitate his radio acting days as the Hermit and other roles. Minstrel shows were reinstated. Circuit Judge Herman Dehnke and Rip always had prominent roles. There we saw Babe Wilson play his banjo, Herbie Holmes his fiddle and other assorted Alcona "stars" played instruments and sang (Baritone ‘Duke’ [S. Russell] Sterling) or gave lines, at the town hall and at the new (1948) Alco Theater. The town was alive.
Dr. Constantine. In Alcona County, Margaret and Rip had met a young physician named Aeneas Constantine, MD. He had arrived about five or six years before them. Although Doc had another office nurse, Pearl Henderson, Doc would often call on the younger "Margaret Hughes, RN" to help him deliver babies at one of the maternity homes or "at home" in Alcona County. Rip and "Connie" (as he called Dr. Constantine) formed a lifetime friendship.
Main Street Harrisville (1950): Main street in the county seat of five hundred (500) housed many businesses. At the base of main street over the hill and down on Lake Huron shore was the Hungerford's Fishery with Mr. Dore and Mr. LeClair having big parts in the commercial herring fishing business. (A cinder block house built by Wendell Shine replaced the Fishery) They had a large ice house. Up the hill on Main street sat the Alpena Savings Bank across the from the artesian well which sat on the east side of the "turn around" (at the base of Main at Lake Street-Huron Ave, now Miller property). Just south on Huron was Harrisville Fire Department. The Bank was on the northeast corner on Main at Lake.
Next to the Bank was (Sam) Pizer's Five and Ten Variety Store. Ann King had her beauty shop across from the bank on the southwest. She was mother of five, married to Bob King, a traveling Youngstown Kitchens salesman. Her shop was next to Ross Sanitary Market. It was just west of her on the same side of Main (much later the parking lot for the Harrisville Apartments). Above Ross Market, the Eastern Star met. Ross’ was across from the small post office building next to Pizers. (Sam Pizer was postmaster). The post office had been moved to the north side of Main Street, by Mr. Pizer. Adjacent and to the west across the driveway was (Sandy) Ferguson's Market (later the location of Hank's IGA). There was a large empty lot next to Ferguson’s. Across from that lot on the south side of Main was the Alco Theater. It sat next to the(Fritz’s) Harrisville Freeze Plant. Local people could put meat and other things in lockers that were at or near 32 degrees F.
Just up from them on the south side of Main was Lyle Jack's Barber Shop. He was across from Katona Electric (later Gauthier Electric) on the north side of Main Street. Next to the barber was the local telephone company (Union Bell?) with Mrs. Graham and Mrs. Conklin being two of the operators. Back on the north side of Main, Katona Electric and the Harrisville Hotel were separated by a business that had apartments upstairs and the down stairs served for awhile as the Harrisville outlet of Kohler's Flowers. Maud (grandmother to Emersons and Stones and the adopted grandmother of many others) ran the hotel where you could buy hamburgers for 25 cents and a piece of homemade pie for 20 cents. (Best prices in the county). Farther up Main street (north side) was Jack Haley's Lumber shop. He was across from Herb's Fix-It Shop on the south side. These two businesses were south down the street from the Westminster Presbyterian Church and Manse.
But back to Main Street and west across the side street from Herb's Fix-It. There a local boy (who was to become a Hall of Fame Chicago Cubs baseball player) Hazen (Ki Ki) Cuyler, had established Alcona Motor Sales on the south side of Main (Later a realty company and Nancy Cook's Alcona Abstract sat there). Hazen (Ki Ki) Cuyler sold Dodge, Plymouth, Desoto (a Chrysler dealership). (Many remember his son Ki Cuyler who also had a run at the majors and his grandson Butch who was a fabulous High School baseball player who served with honor and distinction in Vietnam.) North across Main Street from the Alcona Motors lot was Reibow's Hardware. (Carl then Wayne Reibow, proprietors)
Next to Reibows (west toward US-23) was the old Harrisville Hospital of Drs. Miller and his young assistant Aeneas Constantine. ("Doc" Constantine served Harrisville from the early 1940s until his death in an auto accident in about 1998. (That night "Saving Private Ryan", a World War II movie with Tom Hanks, was showing at the Alco Theater.) Next to Reibows' and the Hospital was an alley and across the alley was the old Yockey store which later became the Hughes Law Office before Jim Cook purchased it from Rip Hughes. Then on up the street west past a home and an large empty lot (later the Dental Office then the State Farm Insurance Agency) was Frank Shetterly's Rexall Drug Store (later Lang's and much later Richard's). That drug store had a soda fountain. You could buy an ice cream sundae, soda, milkshake or malted milk. (Though I've had no report they probably cost about 25 cents). Two older ladies and Mickey McDonald ran a Patent Medicine Store that sat west next to the current Drug store parking lot. It sat there in the 1940s-1950s. Only their residence sat between them and the Detroit and Mackinaw Railroad tracks. The patent medicine store also served frozen ice cream bars and "popcycles" They also sat across Main Street from a place that was then a basement bar, on the south side of Main that was known as 'The Snake Pit.' (Later it was given a large first story and became known as Captain’s Corner at the end of the 20th century). Quite a busy Main street, eh? Could Alcona County and Harrisville support all these businesses? But, Harrisville did not know that it could not have possibly supported more business, so on US 23 (State Street) there were many more businesses.
Okay let’s go north of the stop light on Main and State Street (US-23) about one half mile past the Mill Creek and the Old Mill Pond. On that north end of town on US-23 (State Street) about one half mile from the intersection of M-72 on US-23 on the east side of US-23 was Doc Carter, the Chiropractic physician (former Alcona High School teacher Ken Bundy and his talented wife Mary Bundy lived there at the close of the 20th century). South of Doc Carter, toward town, there was one home and a double lot. Next to that was Babe Wilson's Body Shop . Babe was on the east side of the north-south running US-23 across from the Old Mill Pond. The mill pond was always crowded in the spring with the opening of Trout season. Next to the Old Mill Pond (must have been an old mill there???) was Noyes Shell Service at the corner of Church Street on US-23. There you could buy gas and oil and there was light mechanical work. (It was later Keerl's Korner). Across on the east side of US-23 was Brown's Market on the corner of Church Street. South of Church Street, again on the east side, Doc Marshall, the dentist, built his office and home.(Doc Marshall sold to Otis Goodwin Insurance). Doc (and Otis) were across from the Methodist-Episcopal Church (later United Methodist Church). The parsonage and other residential homes were farther south on the west side of US-23. Then about a city block in length and over on the east side of US-23 was Steadman Ford and Mobile Gas (that became Coseo Ford Dealership, then LaMont Ford). They were next to the Harrisville Town Hall which sat across from the playground of Harrisville High School. (Housing grades Kindergarten through 12). The High School played all their home basketball games and performed all their school plays at the Harrisville Town Hall. Next to the town hall to the south on the east side of US-23 was Conklin's Standard Service. They had a restaurant and a large three stall brick service garage with living quarters above. At the end of the 20th century, Top Stop Restaurant at the extreme north end and Top Stop (Harbor) Pizza at the south end of the Conklin building. South on US-23 and across Main Street was Kearly's Market and their parking lot. Later the Dyna Café (Hazel Smith) took over the parking lot on the corner of Main and built a small one story wooden restaurant, painted red and white. There was a vacant store and a parking lot next to Kearlys market and these two were eventually combined (much later) and converted into a bakery-restaurant called The Bavarian Inn and Bakery and then The Flour Garden. South of that (still on the east side) of US-23 was a log building store named Northern Sportswear.
A Detroit Times (-yes there was a Detroit Times-) reporter and his wife had enough of the big city life. So, after World War II they built Northern Sportswear. They sold clothing and hunting gear. They were located just north of and next to the Alcona Seed Growers who milled wheat, sold coal, building supplies, seeds, fertilizer and all a farmer would need. (Except he went to Cuyler's (later Krutlin's) Alcona Motors for his tractors). Seed Growers had quite a few lots. Seed Growers was across from St. Anne’s Catholic Church and parsonage. Father Norlock was priest there in 1950. Father Mulka was the most controversial, since he was a great baseball player. He was, however, pastor, not just of Harrisville, but his parish responsibilities included Black River and some responsibility over Mikado. When it was learned that he would pitch for the Harrisville Chiefs, the members of the Black River and Mikado churches reported to the main State diocesan office, at how shocked they were to see their priest playing baseball on Sunday. Next to the Seed Growers, back on the east side of US-23, Gordon Jensen and Milford Healy built the Jensen- Healy Buick Dealership and for a short time sold tractors also (Case?). (At the end of the 20th century the Jensen Buick area was operated by another Gordon, Gordon’s, as a repair facility) Gene Lindow had a Mobile station next to Jensen Buick (a Shell Station at 20th century end). Mr. Lindow built the Mobile station, as Coseo Ford, did not buy the Mobile franchise of Steadman. Next to Mr. Lindow, there was a wooded lot to the south owned by Dr. Aeneas Constantine whose office and home were built south of the wooded lot also on the east side of South US-23 (South State).
One could write ‘books’ about Dr. Constantine and his treasury of collections: first editions as diverse as original works of Isaac Newton (1600s), first editions of Darwin (1859, 1871) and a long shelf containing old, old English, Latin and foreign language Bibles. His office had in its uppermost floor, his observatory. His basement (below the office suite) housed his gun collection, his stamps, movies, et cetera, et cetera. He had two examining rooms plus two rooms for patient emergencies, as well as x-rays and a laboratory. In 1950 his office call rate was a whopping $3.00 to $5.00 without x-rays. He and his wife, Anne, had two sons, John and Peter. John was an altar boy at St. Anne's Catholic before attending Notre Dame. John lost his life in his college years. But, Dr. Constantine continued to serve Harrisville.
Dr. Constantine owned the land on the east side of US-23 almost all the way down to the State Park entrance, a mile south of town. So, we cross over to the west side of south US-23. On the western outskirts was later built Schroeder's Service (Marathon- later Harrisville Sports Center). They were next to (and built after) the bowling alley (Kirby Lanes, later Village Lanes). Mr. Kirby built after World War II about the time of the Alco Theater construction.
When it was Kirby's Lanes, it was a gathering spot for high schoolers. (like Al's on the old TV show of Happy Days). They had a 'jukebox' with the latest and greatest hits (ten cents each or three plays for a quarter). The records were supplied by and changed by Jack Kell, who owned a radio, TV and record outlet on M-72 a block and one half west of US-23. Kirby had a dance floor and a restaurant with booths around the dance floor and an area of tables. Although they did not serve beer in the restaurant area, a bowler could buy beer for all in the "beer frame" back in the bowling area. The bowling alley had a north and south parking lot. South of the south parking lot on the west side of US-23 across the graveled road was McNeil's Gulf Station. Roy and Sissy operated it and Sissy did hair, also. McNeil's was adjacent to Cuyler's Dugout (bar) (much later it was renamed and stood there until the end of the 20th century). Across US-23 , a little to the south was the Harrisville State Park entrance road. While back on the same side as Cuylers on the west side of US-23 was the State Park Market.. Herb and Rose Krumbach came from Detroit to take it over. Herb had been a Twin Pines Farm Dairy owner operator in Detroit. (This was some time before the State Park Motel was built.)
We have almost completed the business enterprises of Harrisville, yet, we could not fail to mention one of the most famous business about one mile south. It had stood during both World Wars. It was in the area that may well have started Harrisville, the area known as Springport. Thus a mile farther south of the State Park Market and it was on both sided of US-23, it was known as (Vigo Klein's) Springport Dairy with Red Dane cows that produced rich, creamy milk that was delivered to your door in glass quart bottles in Harrisville. This business was one of the most famous of Harrisville’s enterprises. All these businesses prospered in a county seat town of five hundred, in a county with a population of less than Ten Thousand.
Carnivals-Circuses-Parades: Although most of the carnival action at the end of the 20th century was near Lincoln (6 miles west of Harrisville) and north of the High School on Barlow Road. They are held at the facility for 4-H fairs, Snow Mobile races, mud bogs and demolition derbies (thanks to Ralph Mills, Big Al, Rusty Weber, Wayne Jack, Mr. Josephson and friends). Yet in 1950, carnivals regularly visited Harrisville, sometimes two a year in the summers following World War II. The carnivals were held on the joint school and courthouse front yards at the corner of US-23 and M-72. There were greased pigs to catch greased poles to climb to get the five dollars at the top. There was a one ring circus at the baseball grounds and horse race track area. But, for a real (three ring) circus, we had to go north to Alpena or south to Tawas City. But, when the Wurtsmith Air Force Base was full of airmen, they were circuses also in Oscoda.
Parades and celebrations were held on Memorial Day (May 30th); Flag Day (June 14th); Independence Day (July 4th); Labor Day (First Monday in September) and Armistice Day (November 11th). There were also big events on Halloween (a high school sponsored carnival at the town hall, apple bobbing, fishing booths, horror house all inside the town hall). Thanksgiving: Although a family affair, many made sure that everyone had a place to eat turkey and thank the Lord for His bountiful harvest. Christmas found us not ashamed of the Birthday of Christ Jesus. The churches, Odd Fellows, Veterans, Lions and others banded together to see that everyone had a Christmas. New Years Eve was different. There was usually a community dance for the adults. Every teenage girl, whose parents allowed her to work, had a ‘baby sitting’ job. Not all drank at these dances and parties, but when someone had too much to drink, his friends took him/her home. And in those days, it was not unusual to hear some guns discharge at midnight. Sometimes the veterans of the various posts in Harrisville, Lincoln, Barton City and Mikado would march together in one town and then drive and hold a parade in the next town.
We also celebrated Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday and St. Patrick's Day with observances at the school that spilled over into the community, especially when there was an all school program held in the Harrisville Town Hall. Also, Mother's Day and Father's Day were big events at the churches and in the community. Sometimes joint celebrations were held.
Kids Klubs: There were Boy Scouts, Explorer Scouts, little league softball and later little league baseball. 4-H was big in the county with chapters in several communities. Boys were doing farming or gardening things and the girls learned cooking, sewing and knitting. (Rip’s wife, Marg Hughes was the knitting instructor for the Harrisville 4-H club.) There were talent shows more than once a year at the Vets Club or town hall.
Vets' Club: The returning WW2 Veterans and those from World War I bought the old State Fish Hatchery buildings and made it into a meeting place for themselves and the community. Out went the fish tanks on the first floor and the first floor became a big meeting, wedding reception, dinner hall. They even later allowed the Episcopal Church to begin St. Andrews By-the-Lake Episcopal in the upstairs for a few years. It was during the era 1946-1953 and after the centennial (100 year) celebration of Harrisville (1853-1953) when the Harrisville harbor became a reality. Then later a small harbor was put in at Black River in Alcona County. Rip Hughes and others used what influence they had with Federal Congressmen and the Army Corps of Engineers were dispatched for both projects.
Master of Ceremonies: Rip Hughes was "master of ceremonies" for many of these events including the 1953 centennial, the talent shows, Father's Day events and for his favorite, the horse shows. They also brought in Donkey baseball and Donkey basketball. He had parts in the carnivals every summer. If an idea sounded good for the community, take it to Rip and you had a certain ally and if asked, he might act as your master of ceremonies.
Huron Avenue Tradition: Russell, Margaret and children had moved to 116 Huron Avenue, Harrisville, Michigan in the later 1940s and lived there in all of the 1950s & 1960s. In Alcona County that part of Harrisville was called: French town. A great place for trick or treaters, as the wives could really bake and seldom gave out 'store bought' stuff. (Remember Hazel Green's Donuts, Marg Hughes' tarts?)
A Very Merry Christmas! 1948-1965 Every Christmas Eve there was the distribution of Christmas packages to the less fortunate children (Churches, Odd Fellows, No Child Without A Christmas, aided by the Veterans, Lions, etc.) Then a Christmas party was held at the Hughes home, 116 Huron Avenue, Harrisville. Any and all Alcona citizens were invited to stop and partake of shrimp, oysters, snacks, fruit punch, Christmas cookies, fruit cakes and shepherd pie. They came from Harrisville, Lincoln, Barton City, Black River, Spruce and even a few from Hubbard Lake and Curran. There were two 'kinds' of punch served. Drinking and driving from the Prosecutor's house? I think not (smile). But on the rare occasions where someone appeared who had already made a stop at a local tavern,they were always given a ride home by a former war buddy or neighbor. Also if the sheriff (Raymond Adair, Ken Deller or Marty Gehres) stopped in, it was not to arrest but to join the Christmas celebration. If they saw one who had been drinking, they would offer them a ride. The festival began before and continued into the time following the traditional midnight mass at St Anne's Roman Catholic church. This Episcopal couple (The Hughes)had an open house. When their children were in their teenage years, it was not unusual for them to leave the party and go to midnight mass (you did not have to be Catholic) then return and be ushered off to bed about 1 AM as the Christmas party was ending. That was life in Alcona County in the middle of the 20th century. (1940-1960s) Before Neil Armstrong took "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" onto the moon in the summer of 1969.
Time and space do not allow to tell all the details and things that happened in Alcona County. Russell executed more ideas. Horse shows were revived with horse races, tug of wars, Indian wrestling, pop races, barrel races and many other things. Donkey softball and donkey basket ball games occurred as did Lumber jack log rolling contests at some of the old Fish Hatchery ponds that the Veterans did not fill in. Also the kids would skate on them in the winter. And a few of us would swim in them in the summer (mucky bottom, slimy sea weed grass and all). Sometimes the Vets planted fish and allowed the kids to fish.
Politics: Although all were friendly there were political parties. And Rip was chosen and elected Chairman of the Alcona Republican Party. Then the State Central Committee and in 1956 was an member of the electoral college. The Harrisville Harbor went from dream to reality with Russell as Harbor Committee Chairman (later Harbor Master). In 1953 his shadow stretched across the State. His fellows elected him President of the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Association. The year before Hughes was in the office leading to the presidency of the Prosecutor's Association. He was named head over all the chief law enforcement officers of the 83 counties including the counties that housed Detroit, Pontiac, Flint, Grand Rapids, Lansing and so forth.
Politics or Honesty? Had Russell wanted to play politics, Russell had the chance to become a big man in National Republican politics. Russell was Mr. Northern Michigan Republican and State leader of all the chief law enforcement officers. Senator Robert Taft of Ohio was seeking the Republican nomination for President of the United States. Senator Taft's people asked Rip to be Taft For President, State Chairman. Russell replied, "I am waiting for my candidate to enter the race."
General Eisenhower's forces, shortly after confirming the General would be a candidate for President, asked Rip to head up Northern Michigan for them. Saginaw Bay to Mt. Pleasant to Muskegon and all north of that line.
Rip replied, "I am waiting for my candidate to enter the race."
General Douglas Mac Arthur had accepted the Japanese unconditional surrender in Tokyo Bay on 2 September, 1945 A.D. on the battleship, USS Missouri as the men of the USS DRAKE (APA159) and thousands of others proudly witnessed. The General had been mentioned as a presidential candidate in 1948 and 1952, but never formally announced his candidacy. Had Rip wanted to play politics, he could have accepted Taft's offer, switched to Eisenhower after the Convention and then been in line for high State or Federal office or judicial appointment. However, he stayed true to his upbringing and honesty. In November 1952 Dwight David Eisenhower was elected president, beating his democrat rival Adali Stevenson.
A short time after that election Sam Pizer, County Chairman of the Democratic party, mayor of Harrisville and local US postmaster, brought the keys to the post office and dropped them on Rip's desk. The post office positions were the largest local plumb controlled by Washington national politics.
"What are these Sam?" Russell asked.
Sam Pizer said, "You won, we lost."
Rip replied, "Sam don't you have a few more years to work to earn a pension?"
Sam said, "That is true, but . . .
Rip handed the keys back and said, "Go work out your retirement."
And so ended an earlier way of politics in Alcona County. Now they would do what was right.
Harrisville Is 100. Harrisville had its Centennial in 1953. Guess who was a most prominent planner, organizer and the master of ceremonies in the summer long celebration? (YEP - Rip Hughes). The men all grew beards and wore old hats and vintage clothes, rode horses or drove them into town often. There was the Beards Softball Team. One of the coaches and the only left handed third baseman ever (?), was, uh-huh (J. Russell Hughes). And of course we had to have a Horse Show with Rip as the MC.
After this celebration, summer and winter tourism was promoted. Partridge, pheasant, duck, and deer hunting were advertised as fall activities. There were winter bobcat and other hunts. The Alcona Sportsman's Club was started. New business was encouraged. J. Russell Hughes was known in the area as one who would help anyone who wanted to start a legitimate business anywhere in Alcona County.
Alcona Sheriffs: Russell served as Prosecutor with Sheriff Raymond Adair (who saved the Prosecutor from harm or death as Adair and his shotgun apprehended a man with a gun going up the back fire escape steps that led to the prosecutor's office). Later Rip served with Kenny Deller (is the feller fer the job) who took his job seriously and the two men were considered "Crime Stoppers." They would often go out together to a crime scene. Sheriff Deller was later featured in True Detective magazine. Finally, the popular Martin Gehres was sheriff when Rip was judge and worked with him in Juvenile matters. (Rip was judge? -Yes but first let me tell you what he did before that selection.)
1954-1972 Prosecutor. Judge. Priest. Russell continued as Prosecutor until 1958. He had opened his own private practice that year and purchased the old Yockey store building, 207 Main Street, Harrisville, Michigan. Rip was then Circuit Court Commissioner and county Public Estates Administrator. Russell was called upon to teach young Prosecutors. Also, he continued with the Episcopal church bringing the idea of an Alcona County mission church building to a reality. They built north of Harrisville on five acres given by Cap and Amanda Pearson of Alcona Beach. Rip was a lay reader, then deacon, finally he studied and became an episcopal priest.
A Second Election Loss: In 1959 Judge Herman Dehnke retired from the 23rd Circuit Bench. The race was on between seven attorneys in the then 3 county area of Alcona, Oscoda and Iosco. After the primary it was narrowed down to two men: Allan C. Miller, son of a popular Iosco County sheriff who had been killed on duty and J. Russell Hughes. In a close election, Russell won two of the three counties, but the better financed campaign of Alan Miller piled up votes in the area where his father had been slain. Miller's large majority in Tawas City, East Tawas more then made up for the small majority of Hughes in Oscoda County and the larger majority in Alcona that Rip Hughes had garnered. The 23rd circuit lost the chance to put into office, the best man. Later Judge Dehnke privately apologized to Rip telling him that after the primary he was sure that the people in the three counties would choose Hughes. Had Dehnke had any idea that Hughes would lose Iosco county, he said he would have done more, as Judge Dehnke thought Rip the most qualified and best choice.
Alcona County A New Call to Service: With Rip Hughes settling into his own practice, earning more than he had as Prosecutor in less hours, he and his wife were settling into a routine that they rather enjoyed. Rip and Marg started to look for property out of town (not out of the county) when suddenly the then sitting Probate Judge died. Several people came to Rip and asked him to please consider taking over the post of Probate Judge. Well could the "old fire horse" resist the call back into service for Alcona County? Of course not. Rip served out the term and in the next election he ran and was elected.
Russell also started his ascent up the State ladder in the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) Odd Fellows, Masons and Disabled American Veterans. Rip became State Advocate General for the VFW, Worthy Grand Master of the Odd Fellows and because of his wounds he had joined the Disabled American Veterans. He was later selected as the State Commander for the DAV (Disabled American Veterans) during the Vietnam war. As State Commander he was asked for his comments on the Mai Lai massacre. The older soldier, still respecting authority, told the reporters: "I defer to my Commander-in-Chief." He was loyal to the president whether he was a Republican or a Democrat. That was just the way it was when people understood authority and loyalty.
‘Rip’ Hughes, excuse me, Probate Judge Hughes, also had some loyalty to God and the church at which he worshiped God. The Episcopal Bishop had put out a call for men to come into the Episcopal priesthood and he was approached. He reminded them of his divorce at a young age and his then age. But, after the matters were investigated and he was examined at Ford Hospital, they found no impediment to his study for the priesthood. As to his physical condition, the doctor examining him, told him he also examined for the Detroit Lions Professional Football Team and based upon the results of his physical, he would have okayed him to report to the Lion's Training Camp. Rip began in earnest his study for the priesthood through General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Diocese of Michigan. His study was partly by correspondence, partly with mentors, partly with night classes that were more than one hundred miles one way. He completed his studies while he was the sitting Probate Judge.
Stays Alcona Resident: The Reverend J. Russell Hughes was ordained in the Episcopal church, (St. Andrews By the Lake- Harrisville) with "the" Bishop Richard S. Emrich presiding. Russell could have chosen any place in Michigan in his new priestly duties. His son, who had moved to Detroit, encouraged him to look into a ministry in the inner city, at a beautiful church on Grand River and Trumbull. It had a swimming pool, a basketball floor, and a stage. And it was a community center and gathering area for the neighborhood youths. WOW! What a temptation that must have been for the Detroit born, old actor, athlete, war leader. But, Rip, after prayer, decided he should not leave the place where God had placed him and prospered him. He would not leave his beloved Alcona County and his Lake front home five miles north of Harrisville ( just north of the Sturgeon Point Light House) on TanBark Trail. He would rather serve in Alcona County and perhaps help all of his long time friends find God. So when the Bishop asked him about being his special envoy to Northeastern Michigan as Missoner (not missionary) he gladly accepted. But, to do so, he had to resign his position as Alcona County Probate Judge.
When the Bishop discovered that Judge Rip Hughes was only two years away from a full state retirement and he had already been elected for those two years, the Bishop told the new episcopal priest that he could be an auxiliary priest for two years, while he earned his full retirement. Rip Hughes said to Bishop Emrich, "Bishop, I do not believe that is what God wants. I believe HE wants me full time in the priesthood." So the Bishop agreed and Rip Hughes retired two years before he would have qualified for a full state retirement. Rip was looking to God to meet his needs, not the state. AND God met his needs and prospered him thereafter in almost all to which he put his hand.
During this time, Russell was asked to fill in at Methodist, Presbyterian and Lutheran churches in the area. He always accepted opportunities to speak in Alcona churches. He was welcomed at many different congregations including twice at the Reorganized Church of Latter Day Saints (very unusual) as he was one of the few ‘born again’ priests in the Episcopal church. Soon it seemed Rip had passed retirement age, but he did not retire.
70 Years: PSALMS 90:10 reports: The days of our years [are] threescore years and ten. You should have been at Muehlbach's (Alcona Beach, Field Stone) in September 1977 when the Who's Who of Alcona met at Rip's Seventieth. Marg sat beside her husband at the head table with children not far off. But, looking around the room one saw City Marshall Eddie Green, Sheriff Kenny Deller, S.K. Erickson, Superintendent of schools, Dr. Constantine and others. They all spoke. WW II and Vets Club buddies attended. Steve MacNamee, who had introduced Rip and Marge, was present with Kitty his wife. Herbie (and Geri) Holmes attended. Herbie played his fiddle. And I don't recall if Babe Wilson was there with his banjo. But, a truly remarkable time was had by all of the old friends. Harold Busch, a Baptist deacon, had a short devotional.
Retirement? Although one never retires from service to God, there came a time after "Father Rip" had fallen down some steps at Trinity Episcopal breaking his shoulder (when he was in his mid 70s) that his activities slowed down. He and his "beloved Marge" had begun spending weeks then two months in Florida as "snow birds." He and Margaret met people with whom they shared the love of God. He was called upon to serve in the Episcopal church in Florida. You can take the man out of Alcona but, can you take Alcona County out of the man?
Alcona Picnic: Rip found that many Alcona County residents were in the same parts of Florida that he visited in the winter. So he joined with others (especially the Mikado Kahns) to establish the Annual Alcona County Picnic in Florida. This event, begun in the early 1980s, was still held annually near Zephyrhills, Florida, as the 20th century rolled to a close.
Scorekeeper for Blue Jays: In Florida, Rip and a friend were frequent visitors to the Toronto Blue Jay Spring Training Camp. He started going, at first, to see the Detroit Tigers play. He had been a fan of Detroit sports teams, since his childhood days in Detroit. But, he got to know the people around the Toronto Blue Jays camp and they were decent people. After all, he was married to a lady from Ontario, within 100 miles from Toronto. So, in his mid to late 70s, Russell was named official score keeper for all Toronto Blue Jay home games in Florida. Something he did for two (2) seasons. They even joked (some think it was more serious) about him moving to Toronto. BUT, Toronto wasn't in Alcona County. Late spring, summer and fall were spent in Alcona County, Michigan.
Slowing Around the Last Turn: Russell had some health concerns but was still able to drive and be active up into his 80s. His mind was sharp. His upper body strength remained in tact. Russell's legs were showing signs of age until he began a strenuous daily cycling routine for several months. And at one point he could not read because of sight problems. He had (not too long before) had some eye surgery, but now when physicians would no longer help this elderly gentleman, prayer was offered. Within a few days of the prayers, Russell was found one morning reading. He was reading without his thick prescription glasses. Thank you Lord! (He regretted not having prayed sooner). He never had problems reading thereafter.
1987-1992 The Flame Is Still Aglow ! When Rip was in his early 80s, you would sometimes find Rip and Marge dancing at their beach front home. They danced to the music of Guy Lombardo by long play record or Lawrence Welk on public broadcasting. (Records were the mode of recording music before cassette tapes and CDs from before 1925 to 1985 and beyond records reigned & survived).
The Last Accidental Fall: Although an Episcopalian, Rip often visited other churches. He and Margaret were frequent visitors at the Harrisville Township Church of God (Rock of Ages) near Alcona Community High School. One Wednesday evening, in October 1992, after coming from the Church of God, Rip rushed down the darkened hall to visit the "bath room." The bathroom was a left turn, at night when he came out of his bed room in a hurry. However, he was walking from the opposite direction so he should have gone right. The outside back porch door was across from the bathroom door. Rip turned left instead of right, opening the outside door. As he must have realized his mistake, his foot dangled in the air. He fell forward and to his right and crashed into the cement steps head first. He continued down the steps and his head came to a sudden and violent stop against the cement sidewalk. At first no one knew exactly what had happened. When they rushed to investigate the sound, Margaret, Jacque Smith and Jacque's daughters R. Laine and Danielle found Rip lying in a small pool of his own blood. Alcona EMS (Emergency Medical Services) transported him to Tawas St. Joseph hospital (Boyd Kinee, we belive). He regained consciousness. Russell was released to his son Russ, Jr. and his wife Margaret. He was taken home, but when he continued to sleep and sleep, young Russell called Doc Constantine and Dr. Sharma. Dr. Sharma asked about the CT scan. When told there was no CT scan, Dr. Sharma ordered the immediate return to the Emergency Room. The Dr. arranged for a CT scan and neurological consultation.
Leaving Tanbark Trail in Alcona: J. Russell Hughes left his lake front home, some say for the last time that October afternoon in 1992. After examination at the hospital, Rip took his second to the last trip through the air. Rip Hughes was flown by helicopter to Bay Medical Center, Bay City, Michigan. Russell Jr and Margaret and Jacque Smith (now Mrs. J R Hughes, Jr.) drove the one hundred miles to Bay City that early evening and waited.
Comma and the Fight! At about nine (9) o'clock in the evening the surgeon told us the bleeding had been stopped in the brain. But, the prognosis was poor. Russell was in a coma. For twenty days, his family prayed for his recovery, once again. The Harrisville Church of God pastor, Floyd Henderson was a frequent visitor. He was there on at least seven of the twenty one (21) days. An episcopal priest was dispatched from a local parish and visited twice in those days. His daughter’s pastor from more than one hundred miles to the south visited twice also. Then on the twentieth day, Pastor Henderson asked if it was not time to release Reverend Hughes into the hands of God. We prayed that way and told God although, we wanted him healed, "We release J. Russell Hughes, our husband and Dad to You, Lord."
Residence Transferred. By the next afternoon, on November 8, 1992, Rip Hughes transferred his residence from Alcona County to his permanent paradise home. His marriage relationship was temporarily interrupted.
There was a funeral service at St. Andrews By-the-Lake Episcopal church, with Bishop Gordon flying in from Alaska to do the honors. A Baptist minister held a service at the funeral home the night before the formal episcopal service. Church of God pastor, Floyd Henderson, spoke the eulogy for the family at the Episcopal church. Then, former Purple Heart, Lt. Commander(USNR), was buried with full military honors on the 74th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I (November 11th). On that first Armistice day Rip had been 11 when he heard the soldiers were coming home.
One of his favorite Bible verses was "Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I shall give you rest." - Matthew 11:28. He has now entered into this promise of Jesus. Is he dead? How do you convince the scores of people whose lives were markedly changed by his legal skills? (like the young man accused of stealing for whom Judge Dehnke appointed former Prosecutor Hughes to handle the defense of the young man. After the jury came back with a Not Guilty, Judge Dehnke asked the young man if he had learned his lesson. And would he promise "never to do anything like this again." (And he didn't) What do we say to the beautiful wilderness lake front development north of Sturgeon Point on Lake Huron? That was a joint dream of Ed Killmaster and Rip. Russell helped establish it and then encouraged many of the residents to settle there (the Bob Buntings, the Stanley Dobrys, the Mike Fritzs). And would you convince the generation raised during the renaissance of Alcona County (including Rip and Margaret's two youngest children, the grandchildren and a great grand child) who (like homing pigeons) returned to his beloved Alcona County when it came time for them to help those parents (Rip and Marg) who had helped them?
And would you convince those who in the future find peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ at St Andrews Episcopal Church? How about the weary lake traveler who finds safety in the Harrisville harbor of refuge (or the families of the two drowning men he saved on Lake Huron). Many who may not personally know him, will not forget the memories of an Alcona County established by that generation in Alcona in the middle of the 20th century.
J. Russell Hughes was, perhaps, the single most important man, among many very important men, to this mid century renaissance in Alcona County. That golden era and the generations saw him as the northern Michigan Atticus Finch (lawyer from To Kill A Mocking Bird). Or would you convince those who knew him as a minister who could calm the storms of life through his baritone voice calling out to God on their behalf? These people that he led, that he represents, will never allow Rip to die. Reverend-Judge Hughes and the entire "renaissance generation" lives! And because Alcona County lives and is, as it has now become, it is as the result of those men who came back from World War II, having trusted in God to defeat the greatest military foes then on the face of the earth. They were convinced that, with God's help, they could accomplish anything. Therefore, neither J. Russell (Rip) Hughes, nor his wife Margaret nor any of that generation will ever, nor should they ever be allowed to die. They were first in war, first in peace, first in the hearts of their countrymen. Because they did believe in God the word impossible was not a word that fit into their vocabulary.
THE NEVER ENDING BEGINNING OF THE STORY OF ALCONA COUNTY
AND HER MID TWENTIETH CENTURY RENAISSANCE.