You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 5:58 a.m.

Who's a townie? Facebook group started by Trevor Staples may have the answer

By Lucy Ann Lance

What makes someone an Ann Arbor townie? With nearly 2,500 members and a matched amount of online posts, the Facebook group Ann Arbor Townies ONLY! has become the gathering spot for old Ann Arbor memories like these:

“Did anyone shop with their parents at Goodyear's Department Store at Main and Washington? I was fascinated as a young lad with their airtube and canister system to shuffle paper records around the store.” - Geoff Baker

“I remember when my grandmother’s phone number started with Normandy and not 662....and the play area upstairs Goodyear’s!!”- Mary Conlin

“Quality Bakery on Main Street had the best frosting on their cakes”! - Teresa Babcock


Trevor Staples started the Facebook group Ann Arbor Townies ONLY! in 2008.

The man behind the site is Burns Park Elementary School third grade teacher, Trevor Staples, who joined me on 1290 WLBY this past week.

Staples: I was born at the old St. Joe (St. Joseph Mercy Hospital) back in ’67. There’s lots of discussion in the city about what makes a townie, so I thought I’d throw something up there on Facebook and see what everybody thought.

Lucy Ann: This site goes back to 2008. How did you conceive the idea?

Staples: The first post I did to start this discussion was, “OK, smarty pants, what makes you a townie?” Friends of mine were on there and it was a discussion of people in my age group and from the high schools I went to, Pioneer and Community. There were a few hundred people on the page. About two weeks ago I got a message from Facebook saying there’s not much action on the group, so we are going to archive it, which means they are going to end it. So, I sent an e-mail to the group and said if you want it to stay here, start posting things. That was two weeks ago and now there are almost 2,500 people on it. For some reason it just blew up then. What makes this group is that anyone can get on and anyone can add people, and it’s just this sort of community mess where people are posting and posting.

“In the 60's, we danced at 'Fifth Dimension' and saw the Shangri-las at 'Mother's' - which was in the old Armory building. “- Kathie Lucas Kennedy

Lucy Ann: After reading what people are posting on there, I start wondering if I really grew up in this town. I thought I knew everything about it, but I’ve learned a lot from this site through other people’s memories.

Staples: My favorite part is the photos people are posting. There was one recently posted of Falsetta’s on Washtenaw, and the party store is still there. It used to have a little window where you could go up and get ice cream.

Lucy Ann: Dago Dip. Remember? That was the name. They got in a bit of trouble for using a slang word, even though they were Italian.

Staples: My parents use to play softball at Buhr Park, and we would go there afterwards and get slushies. Seeing that picture was like, “Oh, wow, I do remember that.” And there are mysteries, too. Next to the old St. Joe’s there was a parking structure made out of iron, and it was almost like a Ferris wheel. You’d park your car in there, you’d get out and the attendant would send your car up into the parking structure and into a slot.

“I'm thinking about when Cobblestone Farm was derelict. I got CR credit from Community High for participating in an archaeological dig one summer. It was fascinating.” - Marci Woolson

Lucy Ann: There is a photo on the site of the old Betsy Ross restaurant in Nickels Arcade and a picture of the menu.

“Do you remember the soap box derby races in front of Pioneer when they would close down the road?” - Paul Gronvall

“Roller Skating at World of Wheels...” - Teri Hagen-Cranson

Lucy Ann: Your father is Ken Staples, a builder here in town. Did he grow up here?

Staples: He moved here in fifth grade.

Lucy Ann: Is he a townie then?

Staples: ... I consider him a townie. His parents, my grandparents, lived on the corner of Washington and Seventh, and my aunt still lives there and that’s been 60 years. You get on (the site) and think of yourself as a townie and then someone like Michael Jewett (WEMU radio host) gets on and says, “I’m fifth generation born here.” Oh, I guess he’s even more townie-ish!

“Anyone remember going to the Wilson Immel Meat Packing Co. in Ann Arbor? It was owned by my uncles”. - Teri Hagen-Cranson

“Weird Ann Arbor fact: My sister, Sally, dated Iggy Pop back when they both attended Tappan Junior High School.” - Geoff Larcom

“Sylvia's Studio of Dance on E. Liberty. Who took ballet or tap there? And was Mrs. Hamer your teacher?” - Lynn Parker

Lucy Ann: Someone on the site wondered if because times are so tough now - the stock market with its wild gyrations, the economy, everything going on politically - that many of us are wishing for the old days. In our minds we’ve created a sense that it was a beautiful time, and you want to go back to that. That’s how I feel when I read these posts. It makes me long for the old days.

Staples: It does seem like a really different place when you look at the pictures. There are a lot of people in town who believe that things should slow down, development or whatever it is. My attitude is Ann Arbor is always going to be whatever Ann Arbor is. The cool thing is that it does change. It’s nice being able to see how it was when my parents and grandparents were teenagers growing up here.

“I took my Mother to see Ricky Nelson at The Second Chance in the mid ‘70s and thought it would be boring but had a blast.” - Steven Hornback

Lucy Ann: I tell young people, just cherish the moment you are in right now. It is so fleeting. I can’t believe I’m not that young girl from the 1970s anymore. Especially after reading on your site about all of the fun things we used to do. It was just such a lovely childhood growing up here in Ann Arbor. Just enjoy it and cherish it. We want to hurry when we are young to grow older. I think if you can somehow just enjoy the moment, you’ll be far better off.

“Who learned to dance at the Women's City Club on Washtenaw?” - Alex Ware

“Oh, yes. Miss Young and Mr. Dove. Do you remember skipping out to Miller's Ice Cream? - Jill Miller

Lucy Ann: So, who is an Ann Arbor townie?

Staples: There’s this guy around town who sits on a corner with a typewriter, and he has a sign that says: I’ll write you a poem, you name the price, you name the topic. So, I named the price, and I said, “I’m going on the radio and I need a poem about townies.”

Lucy Ann: What’s his name?

Staples: David Julius Caesar Salad. This is the debut of the first … townie poem.

Students move to A2
Eager to bleed maize and blue
In student ghettos they do grow
Sorority sisters, fraternity bros
Buried in books, they never look
At quirky characters and funky nooks
Way over on the Old West Side
Where most locals do reside
They ring the bells in Kerrytown
And drink Bells beer all year round
When football traffic creates a fuss
They flock in numbers to Kiwanis
Crazy Wisdom, doors for fairies
Fleetwood Diner, Washtenaw Dairy
These are places townies go
If you’ve been there, then you know
To be a true Ann Arborite
There is no need for a birthright
The longer you linger, the more you will find
Being a townie is a state of mind.
- David Julius Caesar Salad

Lucy Ann: I love it! That sums it up for anyone who debates the issue that if you weren’t born here you couldn’t possibly be a townie. Of course you can!

Staples: The funny thing is that he performed this on my porch, and I pointed down to the Fairy Door we have on the porch, and the mailbox is an Oberon cap. It was hilarious!

Lucy Ann: I think this is a book. Have you thought about turning all of these Facebook posts generated from the Ann Arbor Townies ONLY! group into a book?

Staples: It’s just blasted so fast and exploded, I haven’t really thought about it. One problem with the site - and it’s a Facebook problem - is that it’s not organized at all and now that there are thousands of posts being posted all of the time, people are starting to get frustrated being able to find posts. So we are trying to figure out a way to better organize it.

Lucy Ann: What are your cherished memories of Ann Arbor? Trevor Staples invites you to join the conversation online at

"In 1964 Jean Conlin and I spotted Bob Dylan and Joan Baez coming out of the Baskin Robbins on Stadium. We talked with them and he invited us backstage after his concert that night. We were too shy, and lost our chance to be groupies forever!" - Kathy Marks

"I miss the "Whiffletree" and "La Pinata" and "Stadium Tavern" - Steven Hornback

"Arlen’s in Westgate, Winkleman’s in Arborland, Stein & Goetz on Main … and I still think Bimbo’s had the best pizza ever!" - Elizabeth Donnelly


Author’s note: There are still a few places you can get Matt “Bimbo” Chutich’s square cut pizza: Side Lake, Minnesota; Marietta, Georgia; and Kalamazoo. Not sure how far they deliver; because as much as I crave a Bimbo’s Pizza, this townie is never leaving A2.

Lucy Ann Lance & Dean Erskine own Lance & Erskine Communications, which produces “The Lucy Ann Lance Business Insider” (M-F, 8 a.m.-11 a.m.) and “The Lucy Ann Lance Show” (Saturdays, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.) on 1290 WLBY. The programs are live streamed at, and podcast on The above interview is a condensed version of a longer conversation that is edited for clarity. The complete audio interview is posted online at



Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 11:30 p.m.

Dog Guy, in spite of my comment above, in reply to Tom Swift, Jr., I agree with you. However, when I moved to AA after 20 plus years in absentia, my new friends and neighbors quickly determined that I was a "townie." This was the first time in my life that I had been labeled as such and I admit that I was not repelled by this designation. I am sure that I have been called worse!

Dog Guy

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 11:11 p.m.

I've lived in Ann Arbor for fifty years. I am not a AAT. AAT's have Ann Arbor streets named after their families.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:27 p.m.

Henderson Ford used to be where Sloan Plaza on Huron is now. Reeds store at the corner of Miller & Maple in the 50's where Fox's Marathon was in the 80's? Carnivals at Vets Park? Outdoor Ice rink on the softball diamond at vets? National food store Stadium & Liberty? Remember when Pauline did not go through to Maple? When Scio Church was dirt? Arlan's Dept store, Sims mens wear, Marianne and Cunningham drugs store in Westgate? I remember when Kroger was where the roadhouse is.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:18 p.m.

Did not a see the mention of the Armory dances until after I posted mine.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:16 p.m.

In the 50's Dr Schumacher sic? used to have an office upstairs at the corner of Washington and Main I think. Someone would take you up in an old elevator and the operator would have to make adjustments to meet the floor. Hoovers. Remember when they were on Hoover street? They used to have Christmas parties at the State theater. Remember the parties at the old Armory at the corner of Ann & 5th? Remember the Saline Dances?

Jill Mueller

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

When I was growing up in A2, my 2 sisters & I took tap/ballet with Sylvia Hamer in the Michigan theatre--up stairs. We all 3 went to Slauson Jr. High. along with our brother. I was wondering if Trevor Staples is related to Ken Staples? I graduated with him. Also, my Mom used to take me to "Goodyear's" for lunch in their restaurant. When I lived in A2, it was on West Hoover. Loved that neighborhood! As someone else mentioned--dances held at the "Armory"...those really were the days. also the "Y" held dances also. Keep kids a place to go and have fun!! There's more, but I'll quit here. I think of myself as an Ann Arborite. boring?maybe, but no a townie. How about "Yates" drug store and fountain? There's a pizza plqaqce there now. Corner of Main & I think Madison. Real vanilla cokes? "nuff said.

Macabre Sunset

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 6:59 p.m.

I remember having this discussion in high school back in the '70s (before Breaking Away). We thought the word meant someone who lived in Ann Arbor but had no affiliation with the University.

Elizabeth Donnelly

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 5:47 p.m.

Thanks for posting my quote. i LOVE this town and am proud to be a 'townie"!

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

Somehow this great divide is all Governor Snyder's fault. As soon as I connect the dots I'll let you all know.

Murphy's dad

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 3:03 p.m.

Cinnamon rolls at Lunsford's Bakery.....mmmmmmm


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:53 p.m.

How do you know someone is an Ann Arbor Townie? They tell you.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:49 p.m.

Way to go Trevor!


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:44 p.m.

I don't do Facebook so can't get on the site, but I remember Everett's Drive-in and the delicious California Burger. And I went to the movies at the place that is now Gratzi. I'm proud to be a townie. -Peace, Kitty

tom swift jr.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 3:36 p.m.

You can still get that California Burger at the A and W in Dexter.....

Jack Gladney

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:16 p.m.

LOL. Who is a Townie? Someone who believes that Ann Arbor is not over rated, and that they somehow have some role in that fact. Ann Arbor is a far-west suburb of Detroit and nothing more.

Jack Gladney

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

KJMClark You may want to get in touch with the United States Census and have them remove Ann Arbor from the Detroit Combined Statistical Area


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 1:54 a.m.

Don't know about the townie argument, but a suburb is a place that wasn't a city before the automobile (or commuter rail) age. Calling Ann Arbor a suburb is just being ignorant of the history. Ann Arbor and Detroit were both native american settlements before Europeans came along. Detroit was taken over by the French, but that doesn't mean people weren't living here long before that. Ann Arbor was incorporated long before anyone from Ann Arbor could commute to Detroit. Geez, if you want to play that game, you could call Lansing and Toledo suburbs of Detroit. Does that make sense to you? In 50 years, when Detroit will nothing but Grand Circus Park to the waterfront, with a dying shell of former "metro area", but Ann Arbor is still a city, will you call Detroit a far eastern suburb of Ann Arbor?

Jack Gladney

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 8:23 p.m.

a2roots: Haha. I've lived on the East and West coast, in Detroit and now Ann Arbor. The difference between a Townie and a non-Townie, is that a non-Townie has ventured beyond his own backyard.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 7:39 p.m.

Must be awful to be so sour and have nothing to hang your hat on.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:36 p.m.

The in crowd refers to our selves as "cutters". Any old copies of "Local Chaos" laying around Trevor?


Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 4:17 a.m.

Looks like you still need to lose those awkward teenage blues Marvin

Marvin Face

Sun, Aug 14, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.

I didn't realize that you or David were a stone cutters. Interesting. I didn't know that industry existed is SE Michigan as it does in southern Indiana.

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

I loved Breaking Away and I also use the term "cutter" on occasion.

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:13 p.m.

Trevor, your site has really stirred up a lot of activity. It has been fun, frustrating, stimulatiing and addicting! Some have posted about needing a 12 step program to get our lives back! There have been discussions that turn to arguments and hissy fits and that part is unfortunate. Some of that "tone" appeared in the very first posts right here! It has been frustrating to see the same posts over and over again because it is not easy to archive and find the older posts. The same questions are being asked after already having been answered. But some people have connected with or located people from their pasts so it has been rewarding to many. My feeling is that if you love this town then you just might be a townie! But some of us are a little more townie than others. And that is neither good nor bad. It is reality. Thank you Trevor and Lucy Ann.

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

The term is derived from the phrase "town and gown". This wonderful Univ gowns here in town has people coming and going constantly while the town stays here in a much more permanent way. I don't think it is meant to be divisive but rather a statement of our reality. My grandparents were born here and my children were also and my family is proud to consider ourselves townie's. The townie's are the permanency in an ever changing, hustling and bustling Ann Arbor. There is a townie Christmas Party that is a wonderful event hosted by many of us locals that has been going on for more than 30 years.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 3:07 p.m.

Yep, they made me get rid of that picture. Evidently, since Peter was a "living person" they were afraid somebody might think it was him posting or something, so....go figure. I think I like my new one better anyway.

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

Peter Fonda would be invited!!

David Briegel

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

You must not be a townie!! heehee


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:19 p.m.

How come I'm not invited to the townie Chrismas party? First I heard of it.


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:49 p.m.

Love the article. Shame the comments indicate a bit of jealousy. A wonderful idea of sharing. Good job.

Jon Wax

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

it's not townie. it's never been townie. it never will be townie. it has been, is and always will be "locals". the only townies are the people who moved here in the last 5 years or so. ok so YOU guys are townies. the locals have been here forever and are here to stay. no matter how many websites you put up, we will always be locals. Peace

5c0++ H4d13y

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 12:27 p.m.

Sounds like a "trekker" vs "trekkie" debate.

Susan Scott Morales, MSW

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 11:25 a.m.

There's a t-shirt at Elmo's Main St. T-shirts (220 S. Main) that reads "Ann Arbor Townie, here today, here tomorrow."

tom swift jr.

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 10:32 a.m.

"townie" Yep, we need another word that allows those that live in Ann Arbor to believe they are better than the rest of us.

Rod Johnson

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.

Yeah, how dare you people have an identity that doesn't try hard enough to include an anonymous troll on the internet?


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 3:31 p.m.

Get over it Tom...


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 2:15 p.m.

And doesn't every town, and small city, have townies? This is a term I have encountered everywhere I have lived. I think Ann Arborites are some of the most inclusive people I have met, but maybe I feel that way because I am a townie.

Murphy's dad

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:51 p.m.

Wasn't the whole point of the piece that anyone can be a "townie" when they embrace all there is to enjoy in Ann Arbor? Lucy Ann said "you don't have to be born and bred here".


Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

Could you explain the etymology of "townie" and how the history of the word means "better than"? tom, do you have a suggestion for another term these people could use that would not be so gosh darn offensive as "townie"?

Craig Lounsbury

Sat, Aug 13, 2011 : 11:52 a.m.

I moved to Ann Arbor in 1984 as a grown man with 2 little girls. So I guess that makes me a "them" not an "us". Does that make me a "townie wannabe"?