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Friday, July 18, 2008

The World Famous Whoopee Bowl

I was out in Independence Township the other day, close to Clarkston on Dixie Highway, looking at a house that I might list. While I was there I got to thinking nostalgically about the long gone World Famous Whoopee Bowl. When I first move to Michigan in 1978 a neighbor turned me on to the Whoopee Bowl, a great junk store. I'm relatively sure that they called themselves a salvage store or a discount surplus store, but they were a classic junk store in the good sense of that name.

If you needed something really obscure - a nut or bolt, a spring, a piece of upholstery leather, whatever; you might be able to find it at the Whoopee Bowl out on Dixie Highway, just beyond I-75. You never knew exactly what would be there, but half of the fun was searching through the aisles of piled up stuff, in hopes of finding whatever it was that you needed. My wife never really got in to going to the Whoopee Bowl, but my daughter and I spent many a fun weekend day there, searching for the stuff that she used at the time to make unique jewelery - leather bits, springs, beads whatever.

When the City of Pontiac replaced all of their old street lights, the Whoopee Bowl bought all of the old lights and put them on sale. Of course, both of my kids had one in their rooms. An when I needed a place to buy the switches that I used to make them operational, where do you think I turned - the Whoopee Bowl. when I decided to make small crafts items that featured a mirror as a part of the item, where did I find bins of old car mirrors that fit the bill - the Whoopee Bowl. And who else locally featured the mounted heads of the Jackalope - a cross between a Jack Rabbit and an Antelope - of course it was the Whoopee Bowl.

The Whoopee Bowl closed in 2005; the owners content to sell off the 23 acres of land that they had to developers, after three decades of operation. I miss the place. I'm sure that you can probably find everything that was there on the Internet somewhere, but that doesn't take the place of dusty aisles and bins of physical stuff to sort through. We've lost too many Whoopee Bowls in life - victims of a faster pace and shorter attention spans, I suspect. That's a pity. Now my grand daughter and grandsons will never have the experience of wandering through mounds of stuff or the excitement of finding a treasure amidst the junk. I miss the World Famous Whoopee Bowl. So should we all.


NickIn Detroit said...

I remember going there in the 1960s. Great place to find obscure treasures. Sad that it is no longer here.

Victoria Davis said...

Went to the Whoopee Bowl many times with my grandpa - this was in the early 60's, so it had to have been in business for more than 3 decades! Loved that place - and learned a lot from asking what things were! Thanks for your posting! Brought back good memories!

Christina Wood said...

I grew up in that place!! My grandmother Betty Wood worked there forever and my dad Bill Wood also worked there before he went into the Army. Dale the owner and my grandmother taught me to swim in the in-ground pool that was on the side of the building. No one really knew it was there. There was also an apartment in the Whoppe Bowl that Dale and his wife lived in until he had the house built next door.
I have so many good memories of that place.
Dale helped my grandmother start a Whoppee Bowl in Port Huron. It is still open and ran by my Uncle and cousin. You could take your granchildren there :)
Christina Wood

Poppy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Poppy said...

Today as I was watching a video in commemorative to the Gibratlar Traded Center closing, it brought to mind the same nostalgia I felt when the Whoopee Bowl closed. I loved going there, spending the better part of the day there... all the things, to look through, all the treasures I took home with me.
It was the place where I first found the furniture and cabinets for my first house... It was where I found the perfect pieces for artwork I was creating... Things that today are called steampunk... =)
Oh how I miss places like that... Things found that spurred the imagination to their use or what to make out of them...
My grandkids today don't have any interest in places like this, or garage sales, or flea markets, or even a good estate sale.
They just want to go into a store and buy something off the shelf. There's no imagination anymore from the youth of today... At least not in the ones I have contact with.... What a shame the world will be without the magic of imaginations. I can't imagine a world without magic, can you??!?!?!?

Tim Shay said...

That's where my dad bought be my first set of golf clubs when I was 5...bought em from the barrels of them in the store, took em home, used a hacksaw to make them the perfect height for a 5-year old duffer, re-gripped em and they worked well when we would go play the Mott Park golf course together. A perfect set of clubs for a little kid for around $30. I hope I can find a similar place when my sons reach that age...

Chris Shannon said...

I hadn't heard they had closed. How sad! Just goes to show what can happen one one moves from an area for 20 years... The coolest/weirdest thing I ever saw there was several barrels full of Jabba the Hutt action figure heads! Just the heads!