Welcome to SCHOCK MCCOY PRODUCTIONS by J.H.McCoy. This website will give you information about a variety of topics: nature, literature, history, and astronomy, as well as additional details about my articles in THE MINDEN CITY HERALD (989-864-3630). The last two pages are a tribute to my mother, Gloria (Schock) McCoy (1923-2013). The journal she wrote on our trip West (1977) can be found in "Writing/GSM."  It is my hope that you will always find something interesting and informative on this website and that 
you will visit often.  Please sign the guest book, and thank you for stopping by.       
        J.H. (John Herbert) McCoy           
 THE MINDEN CITY HERALD          SAND BEACH TWP.
              THE THUMB
                       &
                 BEYOND

       FOUNDED
JANUARY 30, 2015
johnhb79@yahoo.com
9636 Roberts Rd.
Harbor Beach, MI 48441
cell: 989-551-9487
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​          AUGUST 26

     FULL STURGEON
               MOON

        (7:56 a.m. EDT)

HOMENEWS & VIEWSPHOTOSARCHIVESWRITING/G.S.M.ALBUM

***CLICK ON THE NAME FOR A SHORT VIDEO***
  ​ 
      
 AUGUST 
    SKY
RECOMMENDED READING
SKY CALENDAR
ABRAMS PLANETARIUM
SUBSCRIPTION/ $12
START ANYTIME
REMEMBERING HOW IT WAS
THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK **
** With apologies to Washington Irving and THE SKETCH BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT. (1819-1820).
    (Click on small "pics" to enlarge)
Canada geese fly by.
Mourning doves
TODAY
YESTERDAY
THE "BURN BOSS"  IN THE WHITE HELMET
J.H.MCCOY
MERCURY
       (E)
​MORNING 
PLANETS
1621

AUGUST TRIVIA
@
 AROUND THE THUMB
AUG. 15  SIR WALTER SCOTT, 1771, POET, NOVELIST
AUG. 17  DAVY CROCKETT, 1786, FRONTIERSMAN, AT ALAMO
AUG. 18  MERIWETHER LEWIS, 1774, LEWIS & CLARK EXPLORER
AUG. 19  ORVILLE WRIGHT, 1871, FIRST AIRPLANE FLIGHT
AUG. 19  BILL CLINTON, 1946, 42ND U.S. PRESIDENT  VIDEO
AUG. 20  BENJAMIN HARRISON, 1833, 23RD U.S. PRESIDENT VID.
AUG. 22  RAY BRADBURY, 1920, SCIENCE FICTION WRITER
AUG. 27  LYNDON BAINES JOHNSON, 1908, 36 U.S. PRESIDENT V.
AUG. 28  LEO TOLSTOY, 1828, RUSSIAN, "WAR AND PEACE"

from THE OLD TEACHER'S ALMANAC
PERSEID METEOR SHOWERS PEAK OVERNIGHT ON 12TH & 13TH.  VENUS GROWING IN APPARENT SIZE, MARS FADES. 
4 PLANETS IN 95 DEGREE SPAN ON THE 31ST (VE-JU-SA-MA).
MARS
​ (SE)
SNAPPERS
++  all photos in THE CAMERA SKETCH BOOK are unedited  ++
SUMMER MIGRANTS
            THIS WEEK IN
THE MINDEN CITY HERALD
 THE MINDEN CITY HERALD
           AUGUST 2, 2018
Kevin Roggenbuck explains how stone tools were made and used by early inhabitants of the Thumb.
EVENING PLANETS
from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD - JUNE 18, 2015
   CEREMONY AT THE PETROGLYPHS
AVAILABLE ON
AMAZON.COM
JUPITER
    (SW)

"The question is not what you look at but what you see."
                           HENRY DAVID THOREAU
VENUS
 (WSW)

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Sigurd Olson's second book, LISTENING POINT.  It was published in 1958. Like his first volume, THE SINGING WILDERNESS (1956), it too became a best seller.  The title refers to property Olson bought on Burntside Lake near his home in Ely, Minnesota.  He called it the "Listening Point." This book is a series of short essays on his experiences at the lake/cabin in the Quetico-Superior canoe country.  
SNAPPERS
from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD (8/2/18)
LAC STE. CLAIRE VOYAGEURS AT AN ENCAMPMENT IN PORT SANILAC
BABY MOURNING DOVES
REDESIGNED MEMORIAL IN MINDEN CITY - 50TH ANNIVERSARY - 1968-2018
    NATIVE AMERICAN ARTIFACTS AT 
THE HURON COUNTY NATURE CENTER

Last week, the newly constructed outdoor amphitheater at the Huron County Nature Center was the setting for the first Saturday Program of 2015, “Native American Artifacts.”   Kevin Roggenbuck from Harbor Beach displayed his impressive collection of primitive arrowheads, hand axes, scrapers, and grinding stones.  His enthusiasm and his lively commentary about his career as a self-taught amateur arrowhead hunter fascinated the audience and keep them in their seats for almost two hours.

Roggenbuck said his interest in Native American artifacts dated back to the spring of 1965 when he was two years old.   His older brother Chris, only four at the time, found a well-made arrowhead on the family farm just north of Harbor Beach.  In the following years, this unique object became the focal point of family discussions and a venerated souvenir from the farm’s prehistoric past.  No doubt, the Roggenbuck boys often wondered about the identity of the primitive hunter who once stalked wild game in the very fields which they now called home.

Perhaps trying to equal his brother’s accomplishment, Kevin Roggenbuck also began looking for arrowheads, but he was not successful, at least in the beginning.   It wasn’t until he was thirteen that he actually uncovered his first authentic artifact, and it was not an arrowhead.  Rather, it was a hand ax, a stone carefully shaped to fit a man’s grip and used for chopping, cutting, or perhaps self-defense.

As the years went by, Roggenbuck’s interest in Indian artifacts continued, but it did not develop into a full-blown hobby.   Then about twenty-five years ago, he visited an old friend in Florida, and everything changed.  Suddenly, he refocused on his earlier interest, and the “hunt” was on.

Dave Cass, a former classmate at Harbor Beach High School, then living in Florida, showed him his extensive collection of Indian artifacts and gave him a few tips on how to find them.   Together, they hiked through places in the state where primitive objects were much easier to find than they were in Michigan, and Cass added several more items to his Florida collection.

Returning to the Thumb, Roggenbuck began applying some of his friend’s techniques to an area which he had known all his life.  He spent long days and countless hours walking the fields of Huron County and other parts of the Thumb, scanning the ground for any items left behind by the primitive tribesmen who once lived here.  Eventually, his efforts resulted in the collection which he brought to the Nature Center - actually only a small part of the many items which he has found in nearly a quarter century of looking.

Roggenbuck not only displayed the artifacts which he unearthed over the years, but he also gave his audience some tips on how and where to find them.   He said that almost ninety percent of his collection had been discovered in farm fields and that spring was the best time to look.   The melting winter snow and early spring rains often reveal objects which have been buried for centuries.   He added that erosion may be the farmer’s enemy, but to anyone who hunts for prehistoric artifacts, it is an important “benefactor” and “friend.”

Ironically, Roggenbuck advised potential arrowhead hunters “not to look for arrowheads” when they are in the field.   He said they should watch for a sharp edge or a small chip in a stone, something that does not look natural.   Most of the time, an edge is all that is visible because the rest of the object is still buried. It is not often that you find an arrowhead or spear point lying on the ground in plain sight. 

He also told his audience to pick up anything that looks out of place and to examine it carefully.   Prehistoric artifacts are made of stone and basically will last forever.   To find them, all that is needed is the right set of circumstances and a trained eye.

Roggenbuck said that digging for artifacts is another strategy that he has employed from time to time.   While archaeologists disapprove of this method because it destroys the historical context associated with the find, often it is the only way that valuable items can be recovered and preserved.   He indicated that he found his first large spear point while sifting through a pile of sand in a quarry near Bay Port.   The sand was scheduled to be moved to another location and used as fill.   Had he not dug through it, the artifacts he found probably would have disappeared forever. 

During his presentation, Roggenbuck gave his audience a short tutorial on the types of stone used by native people to make arrowheads and other useful implements.   He said one of the stones they most prized was chert, a type of sedimentary rock found as a nodule or layered deposit inside other rocks.  Chert breaks with a kind of fracture which produces a sharp edge.   Indian workmen simply took advantage of its flaking action and used it to make cutting tools, scrapers, and even weapons.  “Flint” is a common name for a type of chert used by early toolmakers.

Roggenbuck also mentioned in passing that the bow and arrow was probably not the weapon of choice for most of the prehistoric hunters who first stalked game in the Thumb.  He said that more typically they would have used an atlatl, a type of throwing stick attached to a leather thong and used to hurl a spear or a long dart at the intended prey.  His conclusion is partially based on the thickness and weight of the “projectile points” found in the area – many were too heavy to be shot from a bow.

Roggenbuck’s enthusiasm for his subject was definitely contagious, and several members of the audience stayed behind after the presentation to talk about their finds and to show him some of their “treasures.”

“Native American Artifacts” was the first Saturday Program held in the new outdoor amphitheater at the Huron County Nature Center. It was not, however, Kevin Roggenbuck’s first appearance as a presenter; nor is it likely to be his last. He has become a perennial favorite at the weekly summer series, not only because of his unique collection of prehistoric objects, but also because of his great reverence and respect for the indigenous people who made them.   This year’s audience is already looking forward to his return engagement in 2016. 

J.H. McCoy

Notes: In the interest of full disclosure, Kevin Roggenbuck was one of my students at Harbor Beach High School when I taught English there. He graduated in 1981.
THE DOWNBOUND "JOSEPH H. THOMPSON" PASSES BY SAND BEACH TOWNSHIP
from THE MINDEN CITY HERALD - JUNE 28, 2018
Seated around the historic rock, young and old alike watched the ceremonies and listened attentively to the speakers.

Last Saturday, the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site on Germania Road was the setting for a ritual observance which dates back to pre-settlement times.  Members
of the Saginaw Band of Chippewa gathered at the large sandstone outcropping in the state park to feast, recite prayers, and to honor the traditions of their ancestors, the Anishinabek (“Original People”).

There was a ceremonial fire, a cleansing rite, a water blessing, and a native feast for all in attendance - buffalo meat, wild rice, and strawberries.   The annual event is held at the historic site on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice.   According to the lunar calendar used by the Anishinabek, the longest day of the year occurred during the month of the Full Strawberry Moon, so-named because it was the season when the tribes gathered the ripening fruit.   For this reason, strawberries were on the menu at the yearly celebration. 

Judy Pamp, a member of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe and assistant director of the Ziibiwing Center (ZC) in Mount Pleasant, conducted the ceremonies and explained the rituals and traditions of her ancestors.   She was assisted by Bonnie Ekdahl, a member of the Bear Clan and the first director of the ZC, which opened its doors in 2004.

Both spoke of the “Grandfather,” the large piece of Marshall sandstone, which was the focal point of the ceremonies.  Considered sacred by the Anishinabek, the rock is marked with symbols and images dating back from 400 to 1,000 years ago.  Pamp recalled coming to the area as a child to visit the “Grandfather.”   She said her family would camp nearby and perform a ritual cleansing of the rock with cedar boughs and water from the nearby Cass River.

Pamp believes that the carvings on the “Grandfather” were left there by her ancestors to instruct future generations.   She said they still speak to us today about the sacredness of life and interconnected nature of all things, animate and inanimate alike.

Bonnie Ekdahl described the long struggle of the Anishinabek to preserve their heritage in the face of systematic efforts to eliminate their culture.   She said it was not easy to make their voices heard, even on the banks of the Cass River, where the State of Michigan did not involve the tribe in the preservation of the sacred rock until the late 1990s.

Ekdahl also believes that the symbols etched into the sandstone outcropping have something to say to the current generation.  According to her, the most famous carving on the rock, the “Bowman,” represents knowledge and teaching, which must be shot into the future like an arrow from a bow.   She added that in many cases the lessons of the past have been forgotten and must be relearned.

The ceremonial highlight of the afternoon was the blessing of the water.   The Anishinabek believed that it was sacred and must be honored and protected.  During the ritual, water in copper pitchers was blessed with sweet grass and ancient songs. Then a small amount was shared with the “Grandfather” and with all the spectators, who sipped the newly blessed water from paper cups.   No photographs were allowed during the water ceremony.

After this ritual, Stacy Tchorzynski, an archaeologist from the Historic Preservation Office, spoke on behalf of the state.  Her topic was: Collaborative Park Management and Exciting Future Projects.   She described the recent history of the sandstone outcropping beginning with its discovery after the Great Fire of 1881.  She explained the efforts to map the site and protect it from vandalism and erosion.  Originally in private ownership, the land around the rock was eventually purchased by the Michigan Archaeological Society in the 1960s and donated to the state.     During the early 1970s as the park began to take shape, many ancient artifacts were found in the area, some dating back 8,000 years.

In her speech, Tchorzynski explained the pros and cons of the wooden pavilion, which was added in the 1970s to protect the rock from the elements.  She also mentioned that the high fencing topped with barbwire is not always successful in preventing vandalism.   Last year, someone scaled the fence and carved some small mushrooms on the edge of the stone.

On a happier note, Tchorzynski also discussed the state’s upcoming plans to improve the park, including the restoration of two collapsed hiking trail bridges over the Cass River.   Currently, hikers are not able to complete the circular trail through the park unless they are willing to wade across the river.

More than 125 spectators attended the annual event, some arriving on a chartered bus sponsored by the Port Huron Library.   Surrounded by the greenery of the summer woods, they sat on lawn chairs or stood quietly around the “Grandfather” during the ceremonies and speeches.

Once again next year, on the Saturday closest to the summer solstice in the month 
of the Full Strawberry Moon, the Saginaw Chippewa will return to the Sanilac Petroglyphs.  They will repeat the ritual water blessing and share their communal feast with all who attend.   As in other years, the public will be invited to participate in this ceremonial remembrance of their ancestors, the “ancient ones” who canoed the river long ago and carved their pictures in the large sandstone rock on its bank.

J.H.McCoy

Notes: The petroglyphs are located in the 240 acre Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park on Germania Road (south of Bay City-Forestville Road).   From now through Labor Day, the fenced site is open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. An interpreter from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources is on hand to explain the history of the rock and the significance of the carvings.   

The state park is always open for hiking, bird watching, and other activities, but the fenced area around the petroglyphs is accessible only during the summer season.  Admission to the park is free.

The new interpretive signs at the state park were designed by the Ziibiwing Center of Culture and Literature in Mount Pleasant.   They reflect the influence of the Chippewa and include many Anishinabek terms like Ezhibiigaadek asin (“written in stone”), their words for what we call the “Petroglyphs.”

[from an interpretative sign in the park]

Ezhibiigaadek asin represents the collective memory of the Great Lakes Anishinabek (Original People) ancestors. Throughout the Anishinabek aboriginal territory, certain areas were used for ceremony.  These areas were sought out for their spiritual power and significance. Ceremonies and teachings were conducted at these sacred sites, and many ceremonies still exist today.”

[from another interpretative sign in the park]

“Archaeologists have studied the Sanilac Petroglyphs site since the 1920s. They have recorded these carvings through drawings, photographs and plaster casts, and excavated in the area around the rock outcrop.

Stone tools and pottery found during investigations show that native people occupied the area intermittently over roughly the last 8,000 years and help date the creation of the petroglyphs to within the last 1,500 years.   A prominent carving featuring a bow and arrow also suggest this time period, which followed the introduction of this technology to the region.”

The Ziibiwing Center is located in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, just south of the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort.  It features exhibits on the history and lifestyle of the Chippewa and other Great Lakes tribes.  General admission for adults is $6.50. The web address is: www.sagchip.org

“Ziibiwing” is an Anishinabek word which means “by or near the water,” the home ground for the Great Lakes tribes.
After the events at the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic Site, Judy Pamp, a member of the Saginaw Chippewa tribe, answered questions about the historic rock and the Anishinabek culture.
AUGUST is the eighth month of the year in the Gregorian calendar and its predecessor, the Julian calendar.  It became the eighth month when January and February were added to the monthly lineup.  In the original ten-month  Roman calendar of Romulus (753), the month of August was named SEXTILIS since it was the sixth month in the calendar year when Mars was the first month.  It was renamed AUGUST in 8 BCE (Augustus mensis - "month of Augustus") in honor of Octavius Caesar aka Caesar Augustus (the majestic/great Caesar).
 SATURN
      (S)

Octavius Caesar was the great-nephew of the assassinated dictator, Julius Caesar (44 B.C.).
Named "Augustus," he ruled Rome from 27 B.C. to 14 A.D., a 40 year period known as the PAX ROMANA (an extended period of peace after years of warfare in the empire). 
SCROLL DOWN  
 "SNAPPERS"           (8/2/18)

The common snapping turtle is not so common anymore, especially in the Thumb.  
Like turtles everywhere, “snappers” are in decline largely due to habitat loss.   As 
more and more land is converted to farm fields or building sites and swales and potholes disappear, their numbers have decreased.   But there are still some old “snapper survivors” lurking about, like the one I saw recently near my home in Sand Beach Township.

The large turtle was motionless on the road edge near a swampy woods in the subdivision.  It seemed unconcerned as I pulled up and got out of my car.  It did not even move when I walked over and took a few close-up pictures with my iPhone.

Undoubtedly, it was the biggest snapping turtle I have ever seen near my house.   It 
had a large head, pointed beak, and powerful-looking jaws.  The claws on the snapper’s warty legs were thick and curved.  Its long tail, covered with rows of tooth-like dorsal scales, gave it a prehistoric look.

The dark brown carapace was shiny and more or less clean, evidence that the waters it recently left behind were not muddy and slow-moving like typical snapping turtle habitat.  On land, the shell of a snapper that size would usually be covered with algae and dried mud.

One field guide describes the snapping turtle as “ugly in appearance and disposition,” but the appearance part is “in the eye of the beholder,” and this old specimen seemed to be in good humor.  It did not move a muscle at any time during our encounter, and 
of course, I did nothing to harass or harm it.  After a few pictures, I left the snapper in peace and headed home.

Later, I began to think that I should have measured its shell, so I grabbed a tape and headed back to the spot.  But, the snapper was nowhere to be found.   It had continued on its way and was now somewhere in the wet, low-lying woods.

I can only speculate on its age, but with snappers, “big” means “old" - they keep growing all their lives.   This snapper was probably a young turtle when I bought my house thirty years ago.  No one knows for sure how long a snapping turtle can live in the wild, but one source suggests that 100 years would not be outside the realm of possibility.   An adult snapper can weigh from 10 to 35 pounds; however, fattened up 
in captivity, it could tip the scales at over 75 pounds.

The common snapping turtle is the second largest fresh-water species in North America.   The alligator snapping turtle is larger, but it is found in the Southeast and 
in the Mississippi River system.

Snappers are at home in small lakes, shallow ponds, and slow-moving streams.   
They prefer a muddy bottom, often burying themselves in mud while waiting for prey.  
A snapper will suddenly grab its victim from ambush, striking like a snake with its long neck and beak-like jaws.   This quick-as-lightening “snap” is the basis for its Latin name Chelydra serpentina - “serpent-like tortoise."

Snappers prey on anything they can catch: fish, frogs, clams, worms, snails, crayfish, ducklings, and other unwary young animals. They will also consume plants and other vegetable matter.   Snapping turtles are regarded as important aquatic scavengers and will eat carrion when they can find it.

Unlike other turtles, the snapper is too big to fit under its own shell.   Its carapace is on the small side and does not provide protection for its entire body.   Even its plastron is undersized - the narrow bottom plate does not cover its legs and underside.  However, the snapping turtle makes up for these deficiencies with an aggressive attitude and a powerful bite.   Its long flexible neck can reach its back feet, and its dangerous jaws 
and lightning-fast strike are enough to protect its exposed body parts.

For this reason, it is never wise to handle or pick up a snapping turtle. Even its sharp claws can be dangerous.

For its own safety, a snapper should never be picked up by the tail, especially a heavier one. It is a common misconception that grabbing a turtle by the tail is the best way to handle it, but that method can actually injure the turtle’s spinal column or damage and dislocate its tail.  Of course, if turtle soup is on the menu, then the tail makes a good handhold!

Snapping turtles are ancient cold-blooded reptiles.   Their ancestors inhabited the 
earth during the Age of the Dinosaurs and continued to evolve when the “thunder lizards” became extinct 65 million years ago.

Snappers may be declining in the Thumb, but they are survivors. After all, their ancestral relatives outlived the dinosaurs, and the common snapping turtle will probably outlast us too!

J.H.McCoy

Notes: A fishing license is required to hunt or possess snapping turtles in Michigan - only a turtle with a 13 inch carapace is legal.  The season for snappers runs from 
July 15 to September 15 (Daily possession limit: 1; total possession limit: 2).  These regulations indicate that snapping turtles need protection.   In Canada, they are considered a species of “Special Concern.”

Other turtles like the painted turtle, musk turtle, map turtle, and red slider can be taken year around.  However, there are bag limits.

The Blanding’s turtle, spotted turtle, wood turtle, and Eastern box turtle may not be taken or possessed except as authorized by the Director of the DNR.   All turtle eggs  are also protected.

When I was growing up in the 1940s and 1950s, I could only identify two turtles: the “snapper” and the “paint.”   Both were common in the area.  The painted turtle was more numerous and more familiar, and the snapper was the turtle most likely to end up in the soup pot.  In fact, when I posted a picture of my snapper on Facebook, the first comment I received was: “We will call him “Soup”!

At the annual church picnic in Ruth in the 1950’s, painted turtles were used in the 
so-called “turtle races.”   They were grouped together under a tin cylinder in the middle of a large circular platform with the numbers 1 through 6 painted around the edge. Spectators placed bets on where the first turtle would drop off the platform and cheered on any “racer” crawling toward their chosen number.

Before the picnic, volunteers caught a large number of painted turtles so there would always be a fresh supply.   Today, finding and catching that many “paints” would not  be so easy.  Needless to say, snapping turtles were not used for the turtle races!

Besides the old snapper, I have not seen any other turtles in the subdivision this year, even though many of the small ponds had more water in them than usual.   In places where I saw turtles in the past, there were none to be found; moreover, I didn’t see any last year either.


The snapper had a large head, pointed beak, and powerful-looking jaws.  The claws on its warty legs 
were thick and curved.
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