Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places

by Dr. Jessie Voigts / Jun 19, 2014 /
Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Born and raised in Michigan, I've always known our state is special. But I didn't know Quite How Special until I read Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places, by Jerome Pohlen. This guide is both hilarious and surprising. Reading through the book, I laughed at some wacky locations, marveled at the creativity of the human spirit, and recognized many locations in west Michigan, where I grew up and now live. Truly, this book isn't just for perusing; it's a perfect glovebox companion to liven up your drives through Michigan. Each entry has a photo and plenty of details. For truly, utilizing this book first-hand will not only make your travels more memorable, but also bring to life the creative people of Michigan!

We were lucky enough to catch up with Jerome and ask him about the backstory of Oddball Michigan, researching the book, and more. Here's what he had to say...

 

Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places

 

Please tell us about your book, Oddball Michigan...

Oddball Michigan is the 12th title in a series of books cataloging all the weird roadside attractions and strange history along America's highways. There are plenty of guidebooks to quaint B&Bs and picturesque hikes, but who writes about the Dinosaur Gardens Prehistoric Zoo, the World's Largest Cherry Pie Pan, or a doughnut shop owned by the town's police department...all fun places to visit? I do!

 

What inspired you to write this book?

I have family who live in Michigan, so I travel there often. They've been hounding me to do this book, and with 11 other titles in the Oddball series, I couldn't refuse. Plus, Michigan is very strange.

 

Doing research must have been fun! What was your most unique experience in researching this book?

I always like finding something, a physical marker or item, when I didn't expect to, like the birthplace of Stevie Wonder in Saginaw. I'd uncovered information on the location of his parents' home on the northeast side of town, but read that it had been torn down. There must be some kind of marker, I thought. Sure enough, there's a beat-up stone on a pedestal that looks like it's been rammed by a car marking the famous site.

 

You've written several Oddball guides to various states - what is different about the oddball places in Michigan?

For some reason Michigan has a large number of strange and unique bridges. There's the "siphon" bridge in Manistique, the Be-Good-to-Your-Mother-in-Law swinging bridge in Croswell, the Little Mac (a replica of the Might Mac) in St. Louis, 17 concrete trabajo rustico bridges in Somerset Center, Historic Bridge Park in Battle Creek, and TWO tridges-three-arm bridges-one in Midland and the other in Ypsilanti.

 

Port Austin's Kooky Golf Pinball. From Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places

Port Austin's Kooky Golf Pinball

 

A visitor has 2 days in Michigan - what not to miss?

I would start in Grand Rapids and end in Detroit, or vice versa. Though it's a popular tourist destination, the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids has plenty of funky artifacts, like the Watergate burglars' break-in tools, one of Nixon's tape recorders, and the back-up/spare head of the San Diego Chicken. While in town (and the surrounding communities) you can find a half-size replica of Stonehenge in Nunica, a monument to water fluoridation in Grand Rapids, the Blueberry Store in South Haven, and the Hot Dog Hall of Fame in Rockford where you can earn the right to have your name put on a tiny wall plaque (alongside 5,000 others) by downing 12 chili dogs in 4 hours or less.
    
The next day, in Detroit (and suburbs), you can see "Disneyland North" in Hamtramck, the World's Largest Tire in Allen Park, the original Kmart in Garden City, and Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum, with hundreds of fun coin-operated devices to play with, in Farmington Hills, among many other sites in the Motor City.

 

Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?

In writing the books, my goal has always been to get people out on the road-that's why I include detailed directions, contact info, and hours. Armchair travel is nice enough, but it doesn't beat seeing the Teenie Weenie Pickle Barrel Cottage, the Nun Doll Museum, or the World's Largest Chainsaw with your own eyes.

 

Teenie Weenie Pickle Barrel Cottage in Grand Marais. From Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much, Jerome! We highly recommend Oddball Michigan: A Guide to 450 Really Strange Places to our wandering educators!

Learn more at www.chicagoreviewpress.com

 

 

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Jerome Pohlen

 

 

 

Michigan has some crazy things to see! This book is the perfect glovebox companion to liven up your drives through Michigan.What I love about Aileen Clarke's art are the vibrancy, colors, and the immediate, almost subconscious knowledge that THIS is the essence of Scotland.

Posted by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Share