Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook May 24, 2013
CAPTION #1: LOBDELL'S AMERICAN WOOD RIM baseball team 1923. Front row from left, the young boys seated are the
House brothers. Center row from left, Shorty Lennox, Grant Westgate, Fayne Simmons, Edward Lobdell, Harry Voorhees
and Van Dusen. Standing from left, Carl Starr, Johnson, Fred Warner, Pat O'Hara and John Stone.
As we piece the Onaway history, the American Wood Rim Company and Lobdell and Emery Company together each week, I find that we also need to share some of the town's activities.
Onaway had Democrats and Republicans, the east side and the west side. What one wanted the other didn't. Taxes went higher and higher and the mud on State Street got deeper and deeper. Mill owners wanted one thing, townspeople wanted another. They did not get together to pave State Street until 1920. In spite of disagreements, the city built the best fairgrounds and race track in northern Michigan, attracting the best horseflesh in the state. They supported one of the best ball clubs in these parts and staged the best fight exhibitions. They had an opera house that attracted some very good talent.
During the probation days, for a time Presque Isle County was dry and Cheboygan County was wet. The road between Onaway and Tower was one of the muddiest and most traveled thoroughfares in the state.
When the Volstead Act dried up the nation, Onaway made the best moonshine this side of the Kentucky hills.
The Lobdell Family was interested in horse racing. We find in different articles that they owned a couple of Kentucky Thoroughbred horses named Beauty and Star that were the town's favorites.
Other great horsemen in Onaway at this time were Fred Clemens, Harvey Visnaw and Art Wrinkle.
Horse racing and ball games became the center of activities at the fairgrounds. Lobdell's horses won many of the ribbons and trophies.
Lobdell's baseball team was one of the best. Some of his summer help at the plant were semi-pro or college players.
Fred Warner came here looking for work in 1923 and soon joined the Lobdell-Emery plant as an inspector. Fred was also a member of their semi-pro baseball team. Playing first base and catcher for the Onaway Hustlers also increased the size of his paycheck. Fred later played professional baseball for the Saginaw team in the Michigan-Ontario League.
The Onaway Elks also had a ball team for many years.
Before the fairgrounds were built the baseball diamond was in French Town. It was in the area of the South end of the main runway of our present airport.
I can't think of another piece of property in the Onaway area that was a stage for the countless activities that took place over its lifetime.
-From The Onaway Outlook, May 24, 2013, p. 3. Retyped by J. Anderson.