Old Mission History: Rob Manigold & Debbie Christopher, Cherry Royalty, 1958

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Since the National Cherry Festival is taking place this week in Traverse City, let’s take a look back at our very own Old Mission Peninsula School float in the 1950s. Representing OMPS as the Prince and Princess that year were Rob Manigold (our current Peninsula Township Supervisor, who looks basically the same, only now has a beard) and Debbie Christopher, both pictured in the back seat of the car.

The year I have for this photo is 1956, but we’ve determined, with help from Craig Elhart, that this photo was likely taken in the summer of 1958. Craig says he started kindergarten at Maple Grove School in 1956 (current location of Peninsula Cellars, 11480 Center Road), and his class moved to the new school for kindergarten a few days into the school year (Fall of 1956). As the prince and princess were chosen from the first grade, and Craig is on the float, that puts this photo in the summer of 1958.

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Craig notes that all the kids from Maple Grove School moved to the new school at the same time, and he then continued kindergarten with Mrs. Cook in the room on the south end of the new OMPS building (the same room that’s been the kindergarten classroom through the years). I note this because my husband, Tim Boursaw, recalls starting kindergarten a year later, in 1957, in the lobby of the gym. He thinks there was some construction taking place down the hall, so we’re still trying to track down more info on this.

As for the Cherry Festival float, I’m waiting on more info from a few sources, but here are the kids we think are riding on the float:

Craig Elhart is the boy in the middle of the front row on the float. He believes that the boy to the right is Tom Mathison and the boy to the left might be Mike Gore.

Back row, left to right, possibly: Marc Hooper, Cindy Slater and Debbie Bee. Craig believes the girl on the right is Holly Haven (newscaster Ken Haven’s daughter).

Craig also thinks the woman riding in the car might be Mrs. Manigold (I have a note out to Rob and am waiting to hear back; also sent a note to my cousin, Phyllis Johnson Cooley).

We could use some help! If you know who’s who in the photo, leave a comment in the comments section at the bottom of this story – or on the post on Facebook. We’ll make sure the story gets updated with new info.

Below is the full photo, taken on Front Street in Downtown Traverse City, near the intersection of Union Street. Note that Poppycock’s is located in the space once occupied by Stacey’s Restaurant.

rob manigold, debbie christopher, omps, old mission peninsula school, national cherry festival, cherry prince, cherry princess, debbie bee, cindy slater, old mission peninsula
Old Mission Peninsula School Float, circa 1956: Rob Manigold and Debbie Christopher, Cherry Prince and Princess | Photographer Unknown

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper. Because the Gazette is mainly reader-supported, I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks my way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. Check out the donation page here. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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  1. I was in this class. My recollection is that the kindergarten teacher was first Mrs. Thompson for a couple of months, then Mrs. DeWitt. I recall that Mrs. Thompson was pregnant and that’s why she left, however, I could be wrong about that–especially when I read that women were often not allowed to teach if pregnant. Mrs. Cook taught 1st grade, as did Mrs. Robinette. Perhaps Mrs. Cook taught the afternoon kindergarten class as I was in the a.m. I don’t remember the transition from Maple Grove that Craig does. However, I DO remember an orientation at Maple Grove where we sat in a circle and learned the song “Where is Thumbkin?”, complete with hand movements. I have vivid memories of kindergarten, the challenge of remaining quiet and still during nap time on a small rug/hard floor, the big, fat crayons in boxes and construction paper. Barbara (Johnson) Barron

  2. […] Anyway, I found this newspaper clipping in Mom’s stuff. As mentioned, it’s from the Record-Eagle dated August 28, 1957. I believe at this time, they were still in the process of building the new Old Mission Peninsula School. Tim recalls starting kindergarten in the fall of 1957, in the lobby of the gym at the new school, because the kindergarten classroom wasn’t ready yet. Read more about that here. […]


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