Archived Story

Catching up with Carson Minshall

Published 8:33pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

Way back in August, our local Daily News had an article and a picture of some of the members of the DHS Class of 1943.
Though I was in the Class of 1948, I saw some familiar faces I knew: Virginia Reep Maxey, Natalie Klapchuk Springsteen, Eddie Fisher, Burton Bakeman, Edith Leitke Willis, Harriet Stough Thomas and Carson Minshall Jr.
I told Peg, my gosh, Carson Minshall used to be my neighbor in the early 1930s.
His address was in the article, so I wrote him a letter to ask if he remembered me.
I got an answer right back with a few of his memories of Dowagiac.
He said my mother was celery-eating champ of Cass County. He was right, as she used celery as a snack because she was diabetic.
How Carson would remember this amazed me.
My next move was to write him a few of my memories. It was a short time later and I received a big, brown envelope and a 12-page, typed letter of Cart’s memories of the good old days here in Dowagiac.
He told me he married Nancy Hendryx and they had seven children.
Nancy graduated in 1949, a year after I did.
I wrote another letter to Cart and got back from him 15 pages done on his computer, of course.
Not to be outdone, this computer-illiterate, 82-year-old Charlie sat down and wrote a 16-page letter by hand of some more memories and comments on his last letter to me.
I’ve now talked to Cart several times on the phone and asked him if it would be alright if I used some of his great memories of Dowagiac in some of my columns.
He gave me permission to write anything he mentioned, so here goes.
Carson said his mother Maxine, who was a school teacher, had a bug about moving every summer, three times on Orchard Street and two different houses on Wayne Street (back in the ‘30s, lots of people rented and didn’t own a house).
He said Virginia Reep has been a friend and Max Maxey hung out with Fred Burkey and used to shoot at rats at Burkey’s dump (I never heard of a Burkey dump).
He told of friends Tom Grove, Harland MacDonald and Tom Williams.
He reminded me of old Vint Beller, our old neighbor whom I’ve written about before.
He said he and Richard Dillman and Fred Patchett used to raid the iceman’s truck (didn’t we all?).
He said his old neighbor, Ike Armstrong, offered to sell him his old “Rickenbacker” car for $75, but he couldn’t come up with it, but ended up buying Joan Watson’s grandpa’s 1926 Pontiac, which was the 243rd Pontiac made and he later sold this car to John Schadt.
He mentioned Ted and Ruth Salter and daughter Harriet. He talked of Phil and Huey Langley and Jerry Paul. He said Jerry quarterbacked the 1930 championship football team, beating River Rouge 6-0.
He mentioned Sully Carpenter, Mary Keller and the Larkin boys. He said Jerry MacDonald used to barnstorm with JoJo White, a Niles daredevil parachuting-wing walker. Paul played football at Western and joined Bruce Laing in the insurance business.
“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City. Email him at

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