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Your Royal Oak Stories

We're looking for longtime residents to help tell the story of Royal Oak. 

Do you have a favorite Royal Oak tradition, place or person you would like to share with us?

Share your memories here.

Aug 30

Royal Oak, Born and Raised

Posted on August 30, 2021 at 9:35 PM by Judy Davids

Kurt Petersen grew up in the north part of Royal Oak near Clawson and Troy and has many warm, fond memories of Royal Oak. He attended Churchill and Kimball and recalls taking the family Oldsmobile, with torpedo lights, to visit Dr. Wake in Downtown Royal Oak. The good doctor had a 200-gallon aquarium and passed out candy.

Interested in making home movies, Kurt was a fan of the former Dunns Camera (319 S Washington) and also frequented the former Dobie Jewelers (500 S Washington)  for watches and clocks.

Kurt sent the following photos/text:

Having been born and raised in this Town of Royal Oak, I am attaching a few photos of Royal Oak memories, mainly having to do with (historical) Royal Oak edifices or facilities and structures:

Kurt Peterson 1 My biological family and me during my Royal Oak Kimball High School graduation.

Kurt Peterson 2Me at home, in my family's Royal Oak backyard near 14 Mile and Campbell Roads.

Kurt Peterson 3 Me in my bedroom at same RO home, when I came home from the War.

Kurt Peterson 5

With a couple of old buddies I met through ROSES at RO Senior Center on Marias.

I couldn't pick just one photo, so I'm e-mailing you at least a couple for the Royal Oak time capsule project.

 - Kurt Petersen, Lifetime Royal Oak Resident
Aug 01

Lamb's Story

Posted on August 1, 2021 at 12:01 PM by Judy Davids

Sister with Lamb

The little lamb at the northeast corner (12 Mile and Rochester) has caught the attention of Royal Oak residents for decades. The following account is from the Daily Tribune in 1992. 

"He was a little lamb on earth, that's why we placed the lamb on his grave," said Katherine Zabor.

She's the sister of the boy who is buried under the lamb gravemarker at Royal Oak Cemetery. A story about the nameless marker in Sunday's Daily Tribune said that because of spotty city cemetery records, it was unknown who was buried there even though a lot of passers by wonder.

Mrs. Zabor and her sisters. Pauline Smith and Ruthie King, came to Royal Oak from Flint as the result of the story about the little lamb gravemarker in the potter's field section near 12 Mlle Road and Rochester.

Daniel Harry Litzenberger was only three when he died in 1926.

Zabor tells this story about his death.

“He took sick in the night and died by morning. We had just come to Royal Oak from Milwaukee. My Dad was injured driving a horse team, building a race track in Hazel Park. 

“There were six of us girls and another boy. My oldest sister. Pauline was 14 and she got on the streetcar to find a doctor for my sick brother.  . .  father couldn't move and my mother, Katherine, had to stay with my baby brother.

"We had no money and nobody had telephones. It took calls to 15 doctors to get one to come but it was too late, and we never knew what happened to Danny. People simply didn’t allow autopsies in those days.”

Zabor said her parents had been German transplant farmers along the Volga river in Russia. They immigrated to Milwaukee and then, inspired by Henry Ford paying $5 a day at his Highland Park factory, came to Royal Oak. Her father was unable to get work at Ford so he took the job with the team.

“The house we had in Royal Oak on Brentwood was very small but it had a pear tree in the yard, and I remember thinking it was so nice we'd have pears,” said Zabor.

“The people at Saint Paul's Lutheran Church buried my brother. Pastor Otto Frinke was so good to us. He and the church people paid for the funeral. We had it at our house as people did in those days.”

“My little brother always wanted a sailor suit and we were too poor to get it for him but Pastor Frinke saw to it he had one, a white one, to be buried in. Those were hard days for us.”

Zabor’s father got a job finally “with the Dodge Brothers and we moved to Detroit. When times got really hard, we moved to Chesaning to a 40-acre farm. My dad had farmed along the Volga and he knew how to farm. With the farm you could eat.”

The sisters all live in Flint.

“About 25 or 30 years ago, we decided our little brother should have a marker so we got the lamb for him because he was a lamb. We come back and paint it and put ribbons and flowers on it,” said Zabor. 

Zabor has a friend in Owosso who sister lives in Royal Oak the sister and read the article and called Zabor. All three family members decided to drive to the cemetery, where they painted the lamb and put out flowers.

Then, not being sure where the Daily Tribune office was, they sought the assistance of Oakview Cemetery manager Sherry burns, and thus were able to tell the real story of the little lamb.

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Jun 22

Hot Time in the City

Posted on June 22, 2021 at 1:00 PM by Judy Davids

This was kick-off ad for summer in the city Wednesdays in Royal Oak.

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