Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani: Skull Crushing February 14th, 1922

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

Skull Crushing February 14th, 1922

Louis Salamon was an employee for Buick Motors. He and his wife were trying to save up some extra cash to purchase a home of their own. The Salamon’s were renting a large apartment on Industrial Avenue. To earn extra cash they decided to rent out their spare room to Mike Dobrowski, a coworker at Buick Motors. After about six months, rumors of an affair between Mrs. Salamon and the boarder started to arise. Louis confronted his wife about the affair and she confessed that something did happen… once. Louis became very upset and confronted Mike Dobrowski at work. He told Mike that he needed to move out immediately.

Shortly after Mike moved out, strange things started to happen. One day Louis found two tires on his car slashed. The Friday before Valentine’s Day someone threw a brick through his bedroom window. The police report stated that Louis said he saw Mike running away from the building both times.

The feud escalated Monday at work. By Tuesday morning people at the factory were claiming that Louis was jealous of Mike.

Tuesday after work, Louis went to the grocery store on Industrial Avenue around 6 PM. He needed to settle his bill and pick up a couple items. After that Louis went home to unwind for the day with his wife. Shortly after, the police received a call that Louis had been found dead at the bottom of the stairs of the apartment.

When the police showed up the body had been moved upstairs into the apartment by a doctor that lived next door. The doctor reported that Louis had died in the transportation and Mrs. Salamon had removed all the personal belongings including his wedding ring, pocket watch, and thirty nine dollars in cash.

At first the death looked like an accident, that Louis had simply lost his balance while carrying groceries to the apartment and fallen down the stairs.

But the autopsy revealed a different story. The coroner also stated that the location and angle of the fracture would almost be impossible to achieve from a fall. The coroner also concluded that the object used was a heavy padded object.

Mike Dobrowski was detained and questioned for several days and finally released. The police never recovered the murder weapon and never had enough evidence to convict Mike for the murder.   

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

Halloween Collectibles

There is something about items from a bygone time that invoke feelings of nostalgia, whimsy, and a connection to those who came before.

Some people collect things that remind them of their childhood. Some collect items that catch their eye or represent something they love (like Halloween), while others feel a deep connection to certain time periods and they collect items from that era.

I love shopping for antiques, vintage and retro items. I love the connection to the past and revel at the history. It is awe inspiring to see how some things survived. I like to imagine who used to own and love the simple treasures.

The popularity of Halloween collectibles is growing. The colorful, whimsical, and sometimes frightening decorations make great display items.

Halloween decorations and collectibles are rarer than Christmas collectibles. Christmas items were usually packed away every year to be used again while Halloween items were often used once for parties then tossed in the trash.

Before purchasing any collectibles do your research. Today’s Halloween market is flooded with reproductions as nostalgia takes hold and people want décor that reminds them of Halloweens gone by.

You can learn how to date Halloween collectibles by studying imagery used during certain times periods and becoming familiar with maker marks, logos, and date stamps.

Americans began decorating for Halloween with pieces made in Germany until the German imports stopped during World War I.

Postcards from the Victorian and Late Art Nouveau eras showcased rosy cheeked children bobbing for apples and pretty young women using fortune telling and superstition to determine who they were going to marry.

The Art Deco era showcased flapper-style décor featuring elves and fairies from European Folklore.

1900-1918 was a very popular time period for postcards with 1910 being recognized as the height of the era. Millions of postcards were produced every year making them one of the easiest collectibles as many still exist today. Some of the rarest cards can be quite expensive but you can create a low cost collection of Halloween postcards if you don’t mind ones that were actually used, mailed, and show a little age.

You can see some of the most beautiful examples of Halloween postcard art in the book Halloween Romantic Art and Customs of Yesteryear by Diane C Arkins. The book is also filled with vintage party games and customs from the early twentieth century.

In the 30’s and 40’s American artists created an American style of Halloween decorating characterized by America’s love of movies and comic books.

The "Golden Years" of Halloween production are considered to be 1920-1949.

In the late 40’s and into the 50’s plastics became more popular. Items were being made of paper, metal and bisque less and less as plastic was cheaper and easier to produce.

The Golden Age of plastics, the Hard Plastic Era, began after World War II and ended in the early 1960’s when hard plastic gave way to vinyl.

Hard plastics were thought to be longer lasting than metal, but they aren’t and that’s why the older pieces are so highly collectible today. Halloween plastics from the Art Deco era are the most valuable plastic Halloween collectibles. Look for items made by these companies: Renwal, Knickerbocker, Ideal, Plasco, E. Rosen/Rosbro Plastics, Acme, Irwin Plastics, Tico Toys Inc., and Marx.

If you are considering collecting Halloween plastics a great reference guide is Halloween Favorites in Plastic by Charlene Pinkerton.

If you are considering collecting early Halloween ephemera made by the Beistle Company the book you want is Timeless Halloween Collectibles 1920-1949 by Claire M. Lavin.

Beistle is an American company that has been in business since 1900. They started making Halloween paper party goods and decorations in 1917. Lately they’ve been digging into their archives and pulling out some designs from the past to create gorgeous new Halloween decorations with vintage flair. The only problem with that is newbie collectors can mistake new reproductions for vintage pieces. Always do your research before investing. A true collectible piece can go for hundreds of dollars while a new reproduction piece retails for less than $10.

Another American company that produced Halloween products was the Dennison Paper Company. In addition to paper products and party decorations they issued a yearly Bogie Book which featured their decorations, tips for decorating, party ideas, costumes, recipes, and Halloween stories. The first Bogie Book came out in 1909 but officially began in 1912 as an annual publication. In 1927 the Bogie Book became Party Magazine.

Types of Collectibles


Paper Goods- Treat Bags, Tally Cards, Invitations, Etc.

Party Supplies- Napkins, Plates, Cups, Tableclothes


Lanterns, Lamp Shades, and Transparencies

Party Pennant Banners and Other Party Decorations



Plastic Blow Molds



Candy Containers

Bobble Heads, Nodders


Fortune Telling Games and Accessories

Folk Art


Books, Magazines, and Catalogs

Tips for Collecting

Halloween collecting became popular in the early to mid-1990’s when magazines dedicated to holiday collecting emerged.

Valuing collectibles can be difficult. Prices fluctuate constantly as markets change. The main pricing components are based on rarity, whether or not it has all its original parts and pieces, and condition but what it really boils down to is how much someone is willing to pay for it.

If a collector is searching for something specific then they’ll pay more for it than someone who is just browsing or someone who already owns a similar piece.

Rare pieces are usually going to fetch more money because there are not very many pieces still in existence, but there still has to be a demand for that item. If no one is collecting it doesn’t matter how rare something is.

Good condition collectibles should have original parts and pieces. If a piece is in mint condition it will fetch more. Highest dollar often goes to NIB (new in box pieces) and NOS (new old stock) pieces that have never been used or displayed. New in box and new old stock are often found in storage, closed down stores, warehouses, or in private collections.

Flea markets, yard sales, garage sales, and resale shops are excellent places to search for Halloween collectibles and not pay a fortune for them. These types of sales are often full of things people just want to get rid of and they are not priced at collectible value. I can’t tell you how many antiques and collectibles I have found for pennies over the years.

Antique stores and antique/collectible shows price items at retail collectible value and then some but you can usually be assured that the item is real and worth what you pay.

Collecting Halloween items is a great hobby but don’t use it as an investment tool. Collect what you love, not what is popular or valuable. Purchase the items that you personally connect with.

The Halloween Collector is a great blog for those serious about collecting vintage Halloween items. Mark B. Ledenbach is the author of Vintage Halloween Collectibles and runs the site Halloween Collector. You can find loads of info on both his site and in the book. And if you have any doubts be sure to check out his page of fakes that he finds for sale  online

Books About Halloween Collectibles

Halloween Favorites in Plastic by Charlene Pinkerton

Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - No Permit April 17th, 1921

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

Mrs. Root, the owner and operator of an unlicensed maternity hospital in Flint, was well known for helping young unmarried girls with their problems.

On this Sunday, a young girl came to the hospital to see Mrs. Root and have her problem taken care of. Later, Mrs. Root gave a package to Dr. Howe and asked him to dispose of it. The package contained the remains of a fetus.

Later that evening, Dr. Howe took the remains and disposed of them in the Flint River by throwing them over Hamilton Avenue Bridge.  A patrol officer noticed Dr. Howe and quickly took him in for questioning.

Dr. Howe confessed and was charged with illegally disposing of a dead body in the river without a permit.  He plead guilty and was forced to serve 10 days for his crime.

The police were not able to prove if the fetus was dead before delivery or if Mrs. Root had caused the death.

Mrs. Root did not keep any records about the girls that came to her for help. Mrs. Root plead guilty to operating a maternity hospital without a license and was fined fifty dollars or five days in jail. The fine was paid.   

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

Halloween How-To: Transforming Old Clothes Into New Costumes

Costuming is the Halloween DIY I have the most fun with.  My love of creating my own costumes was born of necessity combined with my natural creativity.

When I was growing up,  we were poor. Not dirt poor, more like we could not go out and buy whatever we wanted. Extras had to be budgeted in and planned for and if they weren't necessary they weren't happening. My mom worked 2 and 3 jobs to keep us afloat. But to make ends meet and dollars stretch many things were often DIY projects. 

Halloween costumes were one of those things. Which was fine by me. I hated the cheap plastic crap the stores sold. The costumes were hot, itchy, and usually fell apart before trick or treating was half way over and they never had what I wanted anyway.  

My imagination is big- especially when it comes to my things. I envision what I want my costumes to look like. So, of course, no one ever has something on the rack ready to go that even comes close to my vision.

I remember the first costume my mom made for me was a ghost. Basic white sheet and pillow case but somehow she made it look classy and thank goodness not like I was headed to a clansman meeting (yikes).

My next DIY was a witch costume. We found an old black dress, purchased a basic witch hat, and she made me a black cape with orange and yellow fringe, candy corn colors.

In middle school I made my own witch/sorceress costume from an old back dress. I cut the bottom into spiky strips and used silver fabric paint and glitter to glam and ghoul it up a bit.

In high school my mom made me the most gorgeous belly dancer/harem girl costume. Red pants, red and gold vest and gold bikini style top. I found gold sandals at Goodwill and accessories here and there. It was incredible. I still have it tucked away in my closet.

Unfortunately I do not have my mom's sewing skills and with her arthritis and two surgeries for carpal tunnel she's not sewing anything these days either. 

But I am clever and I improvise. Many of my costume creations are no sew. Some don't even require revamping. I just search resale stores, Etsy, eBay and online marketplaces for pieces that I can put together to make my "vision" a reality.

I have learned to remake old clothes into costumes with minimal sewing skills and a ton of creativity.

For the Witches Ball 2018 I reworked a skirt and an old dress into a ruffled bustle overskirt similar to my steampunk creation.

I started with a skirt I found on eBay and a dress I found at the Salvation Army.

The dress was perfect with it's asymmetrical hemline because when I turned it sideways I had a perfect ruffle bustle with a waterfall pointed shape. I cut it down the side seam, removed the zipper, cut the bust portion off the top, turned the fabric down to create a wide band and glued it with fabric glue.

I cut the red skirt down the seam, removed the zipper and glued on black hemline fabric to keep the fabric from fraying and falling apart. Then I glued black lace all along the edge.

I attached the two pieces together with buttons. I cut button holes and stitched on buttons. This was the only sewing I did on this costume. On my steampunk one I sewed everything- the lace trim, the bustle, all of it. Sewed by hand. But my hands were hurting and stiff from my Fibromyalgia and I just didn't have the time to even try sewing it all. So I used fabric glue which I had used on another skirt and it came out great. However I purchased a different brand this time and was not happy with the results.

Do not use any fabric glue other than Liquid Stitch. Everything else is crap. This garbage I used on this costume made everything hard as a rock and left white residue on everything. Dries clear, my ass. Liquid Stitch actually does dry clear. From now on I will make sure to keep Liquid Stitch on hand.

I sprayed the entire costume down with silver fabric glitter to try to hide some of the reside the glue left behind. 

This bustle/overskirt combo was worn over a black skirt I found at a local resale shop for $4. Score. I added buttons to the black skirt- two in front and one in the back, to attach the heavy overskirt. It worked beautifully.

I was a bit upset that the bustle/overskirt wasn't "perfect".

But when I put it on with all the other costume items it was absolutely stunning. I loved it.  All my effort paid off.

DIY Costume - Fortnite Skull Trooper

My youngest child waited until the last minute to decide he wanted to be Fortnite's Skull Trooper this past Halloween.

Skull Trooper Character in Fortnite

Of course Spirit Halloween was sold out and there was no way I was going to pay upwards of $100 for a cheaply made polyester and plastic costume on eBay that may or may not have been the actual licensed one that Spirit had been selling.

Spirit Halloween Costume

So I scrounged around to see what I could come up with for making a DIY Skull Trooper. 

Luckily we had an old skull mask in the Halloween boxes. 

I also found a black scarf, white hoodie, skeleton gloves ($1 from Dollar Tree- I buy several pair of their Halloween skeleton gloves every year), a pouch for his side that he put on a belt he had in his drawer.

I also found some dog tags with skulls on them leftover from one of my daughter's birthday parties many years ago. So I spray painted those silver.

I kept checking Spirit Halloween for Skull Trooper items because my son was heart set on having the actual Skull Trooper mask.

Towards the middle of October they finally got more masks in. I ordered one. Then the order was cancelled because they ran out. Then they got in a half costume- mask and muscle shirt. But I didn't trust it would come in since I had already had 3 orders cancelled by Spirit because they ran out of items.

So I kept looking for alternatives.

I found the skeleton suit at Wal-Mart for $5.

Then we borrowed a pair of military boots from a friend.

He was all set to wear the skull mask we had with his skeleton suit and a white hoodie underneath for Halloween ( though he wasn't happy about it) but thank the gods, the Spirit Halloween Skull Trooper mask was finally delivered. Two days before Halloween.

So this was his finished costume. He was super happy. He got to be Skull Trooper and received many high fives and compliments while out trick or treating.

Was mom happy? Eh. Not happy about paying $30+ for that mask.

Remember the old masks from the 80s? Brittle plastic that was easily crushed and broken?

Yeah, that's what this mask is like just with a cloth hood attached instead of painful elastic that usually broke in 2.4 seconds. 

The eye holes were tiny. I had to cut the holes bigger so he could even see out of them before going trick or treating.

But the fact that he was happy made it all worth while.

Freaky Flint History with Joe Schipani - When the Cow’s Come Home December 12th, 1921

Flint is well known for its modern violent crimes but Flint's history is filled with little known stories that read stranger than fiction. Gruesome murders, weird accidents, and violent deaths. Join us every Thursday as Joe Schipani details some of the odd but true deaths he found in Flint's archives.

When the Cow’s Come Home December 12th, 1921

This story starts with an incident that happened just after Thanksgiving Day.

Two young men, Charles Austin and Clifford Thorpe worked for Paul De Lisle, a well-established cattle buyer. De Lisle was accused of shorting the two young men some of the pay they were owed.

A week later the two men, who still worked for Mr. DeLisle, decided to steal the money since the rich cattle buyer did not give them what he promised. After a couple days De Lisle realized the money was missing. He accused the two young men of stealing it.

The arguing and fighting went on for over a week. De Lisle threatened the young men with garnishing it out of their next pay. That only made the situation worse. He then threatened to have them arrested. That scared the Charles and Clifford enough to stop the arguing.
On Saturday December 12th, the two men came to De Lisle’s home on Twelfth Street to pick up their pay. De Lisle made good on his promise and garnished the stolen money. They left angry, but not before stealing De Lisle’s bottle of whiskey.

Charles and Clifford took the bottle of whiskey to the barn where they could enjoy the hooch when they noticed a bottle of carbonic acid. They drank the whiskey and replaced it with the acid. They took the bottle back to De Lisle’s home.

Walking in they found the older man was sitting alone at the kitchen table. They told him they wanted to bury the hatchet.

Charles went to the cupboard, grabbed a glass and poured the man a drink. De Lisle drank it down, got up, thanked the two men and went into the other room and sat on a rocking chair.

They turned to leave when another employee showed up at the house to collect his pay. Charles and Clifford continued on their way but the other employee came running out of the house screaming that their boss is dead.

Charles and Clifford didn’t know what to do so they stayed and pretended to be shocked by what happened. The other employee ran next door to get Paul De Lisle’s brother.

When the police arrived they first thought De Lisle had died from drinking illegal whisky that was bad. Then they found the cup that smelled like acid.

Charles and Clifford were brought down to the station for questioning and finally confessed after hours of interrogation. The men were tried and convicted of murder.

Lloyd Lash, who sold the whisky to De Lisle, was arrested and charged with violation of prohibition laws.

~ Joe Schipani is the Executive Director of the Flint Public Art Project and the FFAR Project Assistant at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  Find him on Facebook at 

Valentine Gifts for Vampire Lovers

Are you looking for Valentine's Day gifts with bite?

Then look no further.

Here a few bloody good gifts your love can really sink their teeth into.

Just click the image and it'll take you to the Amazon listing.