|NIKE MISSLE BASE
Despite the arrest of the Moonshine King, business continued. In Disco the Yellow Canary served as a popular "blind
pig" in the area. (Today the establishment is McClenaghans.) Anyone who wanted to slake their illegal thirst for alcohol
could come to Disco, known as "Whiskey Center" for a half-barrel of beer for $8.00. Permits were required for anyone
who wanted to even sell soft drinks in the township.
A pall of grief set over Disco in November 1934 as Nancy,
a community horse and favorite with area children , died at age 40.
Lightning struck again on August 28 1936, following
a telephone lead into the Switzer store and igniting papers near the telephone. In the heavy downpour men and women alike
ran a bucket brigade and collected water from the rain to extinguish the fire. Damage was estimated at $2,000.
1939, boxing champ Joe Louis bought the 500-acre Spring Hill Farm, in todays River Bends Park, wher he liked to relax and
do his road work. During the 1940s, Shelby Township began its shift from a rural area to a suburban community. The area between
Shelby Road and Van Dyke south of 21 Mile Road were platted for developement in 1941, and Russel and Messmore streets were
platted in 1942.
During World War II the Packard Proving Grounds was used by Chrysler Corpoation for testing tanks.
By 1948, the township built a new township hall at 49960 Van Dyke, which would later house police and fire personnel. It still
stands today, as a jewelery store on the east side of Van Dyke. Packard constructed a facility at the Proving Grounds in 1951
that would allow the company to manufacture jet engines for the U.S. Air Force. Switzers store lived on thru the 1950s as
George Wellhausen's General Store.
When Packard went out of business later in the decade, aircraft manufacturer
Curtiss-Wright purchased the Proving Grounds in 1958. Curtiss-Wright hoped to turn the facility into a commercial race track
to play host to events like the Indy 500, but was unsuccessful.
Protection services for residents of the township
moved beyond bucket brigades and country policing in the 1950s, with the creation of fire and police departments.
Feb.16 1953, Shelby Township voters approved a millage that created the Shelby Township Volunteer Fire Dept. with an original
contingent of 45 men. The Dept. took possession of its first new truck in 1954. Clyde Schmidt was named the departments first
chief in November 1957 and in May of 1958, the department went full time. " This was the entire department," said
Capt. Richard Meitz, looking at a photo from the late 50s. Meitz is the son of Wilfred Meitz and nephew of Marvin Meitz, two
of the townships original firefighters.
"Around that time, there weren't a whole lot of fires," Meitz
said. "It was usually grass fires, although they did have an occasional house or barn fire."
the Shelby Township Police Dept. was formed May 18,1954. Robert W. Smith was hired as the first officer on Aug.30,1954 and
would later become chief. A second officer was hired later in the year and a third in the fall of 1955. By 1960, however,
the dept. grew to five full time officers and eight special officers.
And then there was protection of another
sort. In 1955, constuction was also completed at a U.S. Army Nike anti-aircraft missle battery in what is today River Bends
Park. Officially designated Battery B-516th AAA Missle Battalion, the Utica Nike Site, the site was designed to shoot down
enemy aircraft in the event the cold war escalated and the U.S. went to war with the Soviet Union.
By Jon Ottman)