Snapshots of Roseville, Michigan 1942

Roseville 1942-14 document1942 was a difficult year throughout the world.  The US was on the defensive in the Pacific, giving up the Philippines and retreating from Burma.  Russia was about to defend Stalingrad against the Germans.  On the home front, the US  was about to begin mandatory rationing of gas, cigarettes, meat and many other domestic items.

The Ellsworth Thompson family also was feeling the stress of the war, but our war concerned serious family matters.  By 1942, mother and dad had increased their family to include Herb., born in 1936, John, born in 1938 and me, David, born in 1940.  Our second brother, John, had serious mental issues  making it impossible for him to develop normally.  My mother said that he seemed to be normal when he was born, but  never really developed at a normal rate.  She and my dad spent much of their early lives together taking John from one doctor to another, from one hospital to another, always looking for some sign of progress and hope.  My earliest memories included hearing John crying in the back bedroom.  My mother said that my first sentence was: “Why is Johnny always crying?”

In 1942, with my mother pregnant with her fourth child – soon to be Jim – it became clear that something had to change concerning the care, and ultimately the housing, of John. On February 18, 1942, my mom and dad petitioned the State of Michigan to have their son, John Ellsworth Thompson, committed to the Lapeer State Home & Training School as a “feebleminded” patient.

Thanksgiving 1942 was held at our home in Roseville, Michigan, then a remote suburb of Detroit. Someone, probably Aunt Hazel, snapped some photos of the event, along with other snapshots of our home.  The first snapshot you will see is of cousin Ed and brother Herb looking gleefully at the turkey on the dining room table. Just in front of the turkey is grandma’s fig cake, which was always a centerpiece at the Thanksgiving dinners.  In front of the cake is a shimmering electric stainless steel coffee percolator.

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Thanksgiving 1942 Herbert and Edward

The next snapshot shows dad carving the turkey. To his immediate left is Aunt Ruth, looking happy and beautiful.  Ed is next with a smile on his face. Next, Uncle Goodenow with a full  head of hair, looking at the camera.  My mother is next, still looking like a schoolgirl with a ribbon in her hair and showing a figure not much different from when she was first married.  She has just turned thirty.  She has borne three children and is pregnant with her fourth.

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Ellsworth carving the turkey, Aunt Ruth, Ed and Uncle Goodenow, Mabel

The next snapshot shows my dad and granddad fixing an inner tube that must have gone flat.  Dad is wearing slippers and grandpa has his ever-present cigar sticking out of his mouth. In front of them is the hood of Aunt Hazel’s Ford.  Behind them is the Jeffery’s home and in the distant left is the Sovey’s home.

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Grandpa Walter helping Ellsworth with a tire repair

The next photo is of brother Herb, looking proud and happy, about to play something on his new trumpet with grandma and mom looking on adorringly.

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Herbert with his trumpet, between Grandma Blanche and Mabel

The rest of the snapshots will be labeled with comments that may help to clarify who or what you are looking at.

1942 was a dreadful year. My hat comes off as I salute the adults shown in these snapshots – Grandma Blanche, Grandpa Walter, Mother, Dad, Aunt Ruth, Uncle Goodenow, Aunt Hazel – coming together to support one another and to help make possible a joyous environment for their children.


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Our flag pole, looking towards Charlie Black’s house

From our home looking past the US flag to the one new house on the block, that of Thelma and Charlie Black.  Shorthly after they built it, Charlie, who worked with my Dad at US Rubber Co. was drafted into the Army and went to war in Europe.  The next time I saw him was when he appeared at our new home in Detroit in 1945, looking much older and sporting a mustache.  He scarred me.

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Herbert and David 1942

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Herbert 1942

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Grandpa Walter and Grandma Blanche 1942

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Grandpa Walter, Grandma Blanche and Aunt Hazel

Roseville 1942-14 document

Petition to Commit John Ellsworth Thompson

Petition to commit John to Lapeer State Home & Training School.

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Ruth & Ed, Grandma Blanche, Mabel & John, Herbert, Great Grandma Bucher and David

This photo was taken in 1940.  It is the only photo I have with John included. From left to right, Aunt Ruth with Ed, Aunt Hazel, Grandma, Mom holding John, Great Grandma Bucher holding me. Herb is standing above .


  1. joseph Muscat says

    i found this so very interesting, my family has a lot of history in Roseville my grandfather Joseph Frank Muscat SR FOUNDED THE ROSEVILLE CLOCK SHOP IN THE EARLY 1920’s and it was sold to a Korean family who still owns it to this day … My uncle Mike Muscat was Asst. Fire chief of Roseville for 30 years …

    • David Thompson says

      Thanks for your comment regarding Roseville. y family moved away from Roseville 70 years ago, so your information is much more current than mine. I remember our street (Waldorf) as a gravel road with very few houses on it. Across the street was Mr. Peterson’s chicken farm where we would go for eggs. There was an open ditch in front of our home and the neighbor boy and I would play around their pond which contained pollywogs, something very interesting to a four year old boy.

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