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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame: Danielís Den Ė Premier 60ís Rock and Roll Teen Club

By Gary (Dr. J) Johnson

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During the middle of the 1960’s, Michigan produced a great number of rock and roll bands.  Inspired by the guitar-driven British Invasion groups and irresistible dance beats of Motown, these young bands played a circuit of newly emerged teen clubs in the state.  These included, to name just a few, The Hideout in Harper Woods, Band Canyon in Bay City, Mt. Holly in Flint, The Scene in St. Ignace, The Fifth Dimension in Ann Arbor, Sherwood Forest in Davidson, Club Ponytail in Harbor Springs, The Sceen in Lansing, and the Tanz Haus in Traverse City. 

Among all of these popular venues, Daniel’s Den located at 2525 State Street in Saginaw stood out as one of the most elegant and well-kept teen night clubs in the state, every bit the equal of the more famous Grande Ballroom in Detroit.

 

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The original Daniel Theatre building was located in northwest Saginaw.  Constructed with an art deco design during the golden age of movies, it had become a victim of television during the 1950s like so many neighborhood theatres around the state and nation.   By the early 1960s, The Daniel Theatre survived by targeting younger audiences with offerings of double features comprised of second and third-run action or comedy movies augmented with cartoons - all for the princely sum of 25 cents.  In addition, musician Kenny Roberts often appeared at the theatre during matinees to sing his local hits: “Choc’late Ice Cream Cone” and “Cheer Up, Things Could Be Worse”. 

Roberts, billed as “The Jumpin’ Cowboy”, had his own daily children’s television show on WNEM-TV starting in 1961 that featured cartoons and Roberts’ trademark yodeling.  The Kenny Roberts Show was popular with Saginaw Valley youngsters, many of whom would become guests in the studio and jump up and down on camera with Kenny while he performed his songs.

DanielDendancecard.jpgBy 1964 the Daniel Theatre had three new owners and an idea that would transform the structure.  The triumvirate included Saginaw attorney Allan Schmid, local businessman Frank Patrick, and a teacher at Arthur Hill Tech named Bob Parsons.  The idea for a non-alcoholic “club” where teens could meet and dance actually came out of a discussion in one of Parsons’ classes.  His students complained, “There was nothing to do in Saginaw,” and suggested a place where they could regularly meet and dance.   Parsons then took the idea to Patrick and Schmid. 

Despite the concern of some community members over the potential for juvenile delinquency, the trio transformed the old Daniel Theatre into a non-alcoholic ‘key club’ called Daniel’s Den.  Based loosely on the concept adopted by the adults-only Playboy Clubs across the country, teens would pay a membership fee and receive an actual key for entry into the club. 

Patrick calmed the fears of skeptical members of the Saginaw community by claiming he was attempting to teach young adults the social graces – how to properly engage with the opposite sex.  In this spirit, Patrick and his wife Viola concocted non-alcoholic ‘virgin’ cocktails, sold at the snack bar at Daniel’s Den, and provided area teens with a safe environment in which to learn how to better socialize with each other.

Daniel’s Den opened for business in 1964. The initial idea of a key club only lasted for a couple of months, however, as the owners found that it was easier and more profitable to simply open the club up to all interested teens.

The music was non-stop at the Den.  Club deejays John Coughlin, Bill Eberline, and Gary Major would spin the Top 40 hits on the nights when no bands were scheduled to play.  They would also fill the gaps before each band took the stage and during intermissions with the latest 45s, but the biggest attraction was always the live music. 

Frank Patrick presented an interesting combination of national, regional, and local acts at Daniel’s Den, and people who dealt with Patrick remember him for his iron-clad performance contracts at the club. Ron Cunningham, the current owner of Prime Brothers Furniture, was the drummer for The Del Raes, a popular Bay City band that played many times at Daniel’s Den.  Cunningham has in his possession a cancelled check written by Frank Patrick for $70, the amount the Del Raes were paid for playing one night at the club. 

SonnyCher.jpgCunningham recently told me that his biggest thrill during those days occurred in 1965 on the night that his band was hired to back Sonny & Cher who were touring behind their # 1 hit “I Got You Babe”.  Cunningham fondly remembered the difficulty he had keeping the beat while Cher was singing and shaking her long hair and shapely hips in front of him on the Den’s stage.

Read the entire the story at: https://michiganrockandrolllegends.com/index.php/blog/210-daniel-s-den-60-s-teen-club

Enjoy more great Michigan rock and roll history by visiting the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame exhibit at the Historical Museum of Bay County, located in Bay City, Michigan.

**Gary is a retired history teacher and the currator of the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame exhibit. 

 


 

10:47 am est 

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

In the Stacks with Jamie Kramer: Pratt Family

 

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Image: The Tropical Trio: Elsie, Chancy, & Lucille Pratt (Bay County Historical Society Collections)[xv]

Elsie Caroline Butterfield was born on November 9, 1879 in Bay City, Michigan to parents Charles Butterfield and Mary Butterfield (née Madden). [i]  She married Chancy Pratt in 1901, while she was living in Omer, Michigan with her sister, working as a hotel domestic.[ii]  Together, Elsie and Chancy had daughter, Lucille Pratt, in 1902, and son, Clyde Pratt, in 1904.  The family moved throughout the United States with a travel trailer, landing in Wisconsin, Washington, California, Indiana, Illinois, and back to Michigan; entertaining numerous communities.

Lucille Pratt showed musical inclination at a young age.   Whether it was a musical instrument or dance, she excelled.  She began attending Michigan Conservatory of Music in Detroit, Michigan around 1904 [iii].  She was a well-known pianist and regularly played concerts.  By age eight she had played Ludwig van Beethoven’s Concerto Op. 58 at Grinnell Hall on Woodward Avenue. [iv] She went on to the Leib School of Music and Dramatic Arts that was located in the Grand Circus Park. In 1912 and 1913, she studied under Josef Lhévinne from Berlin, Germany.

From 1910 to 1918, the family lived in Seattle, Washington [v]  However, tragedy struck when Clyde Pratt died on April 21st, at the age of 14.[vi]

In the early 1920s, Lucille Pratt married August Lochte from Hammond, Indiana.  He was also an entertainer and was well-known for his whistling and mimics. [vii] Together they had a son, Ollie Lochte, in 1925.[viii] 

During this time, Elsie and Chancy Pratt moved back to Bay City.  They moved in with her parents at 1008 14th Street.[ix]  They entertained many parties throughout Michigan, playing Hawaiian music.  Chancy and Elsie had a trio, together with Lucille, called the “Tropical Trio.”[x]
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Image: Lucille Pratt Lochte (Bay County Historical Society collections)[xvi]

While they continued to entertain locally, daughter Lucille was making a name for herself throughout the country.  August and Lucille began traveling with the Jennings tent show in 1936.  August’s career ended abruptly in March of 1938, when he took sick.[xi]  He died a few weeks later.  However, Lucille continued traveling with the show—performing shows in a new city each week.  It was said that her son Ollie attended a new school in a new city each week, never attending the same school twice. [xii]

Elsie Pratt, nee Butterfield, died in Bay City’s Mercy Hospital on May 30, 1944. Chancy Pratt continued on in Bay City and eventually remarried.  He travelled between Bay City and Tawas until his death on August 18, 1947.[xiii]  

After the death of her husband, Lucille settled in California with her son, Ollie. She remained there until her death in 1987.[xiv]



References:

iAncestry.com, "Michigan, U.S., Births and Christenings Index, 1867-1911," database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Elsie C. Butterfield, (1879).

iiAncestry.com, "Michigan, U.S., Marriage Records, 1867-1952," database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Elsie C. Butterfield and Chancy Pratt, (1901).

iii Detroit Free Press (Detroit, MI), 29 Jan 1904, p. 12, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

ivThe Detroit Times (Detroit, MI), 27 Feb 1909, p. 5, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

v1910 U.S. census, King County, Washington, population schedule, Seattle, Enumeration District 0113, p. 1A, dwelling 6016, family 1, Pratt: digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023); from National Archives microfilm publication T624, roll 1659, image 1.

viAncestry.com, "Washington, U.S., Death Records, 1883-1960," database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Clyde Pratt, (1918).

viiNewsport News (Newsport News, Virginia), 12 Oct 1924, p. 7, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

viiiAncestry.com, "Indiana, U.S., Birth Certificates, 1907-1944," database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Ollie Romain Lochtee, (1925).

ixAncestry.com, "U.S., City Directories, 1822-1995,” database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Chancy and Elsie Pratt, (1940).

x Information from Bay County Historical Museum Files

xiThe Times (Hammond, Indiana), 24 Mar 1938, p. 28, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

xiiIndian Valley Record (Greenville, CA), 11 May 1939, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

xiiiThe Bay City Times (Bay City, MI), 19 Aug 1947, p. 4, digital images, Newspapers.com by Ancestry (http://www.newspapers.com: accessed Jan 2023).

xivAncestry.com, "California, U.S., Death Index, 1940-1997," database on-line, (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed Jan 2023), entry for Lucelia Luella Frazer, (1987).

xvClancy Pratt, Elsie Pratt, and Lucille Pratt (photographed), Chicago, c1920s; privately held by Bay County Historical Museum, 321 Washington Ave, Bay City, Michigan.   “Tropical Trio”

xviLucille Pratt (photographed), Chicago, c1920s; privately held by Bay County Historical Museum, 321 Washington Ave, Bay City, Michigan.   “Tropical Trio”


 

 

10:57 am est 


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