portable radio

Looking Back At The Morrisons

From the JN Foundation Davidson Digital Archive of Jewish Detroit History

Writing history is often like a treasure hunt. You follow the clues wherever they may lie to try to build a complete story, and there are always unexpected discoveries. Now, I would like to think I am like Indiana Jones searching for lost artifacts in exotic places, but, alas, I do my searching in the comfort of an archives, online or with my trusty smart phone. To this point, however, I had an interesting conversation with Esther Morrison, and her daughter, Nancy.

Esther is now living in Florida and is 99 years old. She has a fine memory and also told me: “I still drive at night!” Mazel tov!

Nancy and Esther had read my story on portable radios sold by “Boyer’s Haunted Shacks” in the 1940s. They called me with another clue — Esther’s husband, Justin Morrison, had been a manager at the Downtown Boyer’s Haunted Shack. So, I went into the Davidson Digital Archives to see what I could find.

I did find a few items on Justin Morrison. After working in Detroit, he later moved to Charlotte, Mich., and founded Charlotte Auto Parts. The Morrisons then moved to Lansing when Justin bought Kamin’s Auto Parts there in 1965. He later became a founder of the Michigan Automotive Parts Association. And, along the way, Justin and Esther were instrumental in the establishment of Hillel at Michigan State University.

I still have not learned the origins of the “Haunted Shacks,” but I now have another clue to follow. Esther said the name of the owner of the Haunted Shacks was Mark Raffelson.

I could not find a photo of Justin or Esther in the archives, but I did find a photo of baby Emmett Justin Glass (Emet Shmuel) in the March 22, 2012, issue of the JN. Emmett was named in honor of his great-grandfather Justin Morrison. And, I figured, I can’t go wrong printing a baby picture with my story!

Want to learn more? Go to the DJN Foundation archives, available for free at www.djnfoundation.org.

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