Wasepi and light bulbs
written by Joe Ganger, 20 Nov 2000

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Ever wonder where the idea of those barber shop red and white poles came from? Some versions of them have been around since the Middle Ages.

There was a time when barbers did tooth-pulling and surgery, as well as cutting hair and shaving. Customers knew where to find them by the white towels stained red that the barbers set to flapping in the wind.

There is only one manufacturer of barber poles left in the world. It is the Marvy Company of St. Paul, Minnesota.

On the local scene, the population of villages seems to rise and fall dramatically, depending on when. There is Wasepi, for instance, located about six and a half miles due west of Colon. It was laid out in 1874 at the intersection of the Michigan Air Line and the Grand Rapids & Indiana railways. The Michigan Air Line is the one that went through Colon. Wasepi was started with visions of a real city. In 1910 the population had grown to 300. By comparison, the population of Portage in 1910 was only 100! At this point Wasepi could brag that they had two hotels and a fruit drying factory. The railroads, Palmer's General store, the hotels and factory are gone and the school is now a church. Wasepi joins the ranks of other "almost forgotten" villages of the area such as Factoryville, Fairfax, and Findley. Yes, I know. If you live in one of these towns, you haven't "almost forgotten" it!

Then there is the original Livermore, California firehouse light bulb. You see, this light bulb was first turned on in 1901. That is something out of the record books because it is the longest burning light bulb in the world. It has been turned off, but only once. That was back in 1978 when they took it from the old firehouse over to the new one.

Don't wonder where you buy a bulb that will last this long. It was made by the Shelby Electric Company. They went out of business a long time ago. Maybe they went out of business because they couldn't sell replacement light bulbs!

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Special 'thanks' to Joe Ganger who generously submitted this historical review for inclusion on the St Joseph Co., MI USGenWeb website