Broadway Park
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Shelby Township Historical Committee

Adolph Skula, Born May 11,1885 in Poland and Anna Petryna, born in Romania October 12, 1894, were married on May 17th, 1915, in New York after a two week courtship. They had just immigrated from Poland and Romania the previous month and had settled in Detroit to be near some friends.

Adolph found a job as a tool and die maker. A daughter Jean was born on May 2nd, 1917. Steve was born on June 19th, 1919. Soon Adolph learned that city life was not too good for the health of his family. It was in the summer of 1923 that Adolph and Anna Skula purchased twenty acres on the corner of Jewell Road and 24 Mile Road. A son Walter was born there on May 22nd, 1926.

The family had grown to three and now he could provide the wholesome quality of life that he longed for, even though he was still working at a tool and die plant in Detroit. One of the things he wanted to do was have a garden; he wanted to pick the vegetables, especially the cash crop of potatoes, from his own garden.

It was in the Prohibition era and Adolph could use some extra money, so he started to buy some Canadian whiskey smuggled across the Detroit River and opened a "blind pig" at his house. As the whiskey was distilled it was white in color and had to be colored. Depending upon the proof, it had to be cut so it was drinkable. All this was done in the basement of the house.

In the center of the potatoe patch he dug a cellar or pit to store the excess whiskey putting boards on top of the cellar. A five gallon jug was kept under the back porch. He had a huge St.Bernard dog, named Fritz, tied to the back porch with his dog under the porch. When Adolph ran out of whiskey in the basement he would tap the jug under the porch and did not have to go into the potatoe patch.

In the front of the house Adolph had a duckpond which made their blind pig easy to identify.

Later, as Prohibition was repealed, Adolph rented a gas station and store at the corner of 24 Mile Road and Van Dyke Roads. Adolph quit his job as a tool and die maker to manage his gas station and store he just purchased. His son Steve ran the gas station and he converted the store into a beer garden which his wife Anna ran as the manager. So Adolph had some additional time on his hands.

It was in the summer of 1935-36 that he got an offer from the Danoskys to purchase their home on 25 Mile Road. Steve Skula became a member of the Danosky family when he married Gertie Danosky.

Adolph had just purchased 13 acres bordering the north side of the Clinton River, located east of Ryan Road between Hamlin Road and 22 Mile Roads. He sold his home to the Danosky's and started to build a house on north part of the 13 acres on Ryan Road. The land was in the flat part of the Clinton River. He would call it Broadway Park.

Adolph built a beer garden about 30'x 30' to start the operation. Next came the pavilion to house dance floor which was about 15'x 20'. It was a closed dance floor with window covers opening to the outside and held open by hooks. After each dance night the window covers were unhooked and closed to keep out the elements. Next came the 20'x 30' building to sell pop, ice cream and chips. The house was made from used lumber that Adolph got when he purchased old houses and tore them down. After Prohibition was repealed, adolph was awarded one of the first bar licenses from Shelby Township.

The floor of the bar was 1"x6" white pine with a 1/4" spacing in between the boards. This made it easier to clean as the floors were washed and scrubbed each day. On Mondays Walt would crawl under the floor to find money that had been dropped between the cracks the previous week. He could usually count on $2.50 to $3.00 for spending money.

There were 100-150 picnic tables and benches made. Barrels were painted for trash. A baseball diamond was made for the adults and the older kids for their baseball games.

The charge was 50 cents per car during the week. As the cars came into the park, rather than park in a lot, they would drive to a table to hold their picnic.

Sunday the park was rented to churches, political rallies and reunions that were located in Detroit and Hamtramck. They paid $200. for the use of the park. Manpower, such as employees to take in receipts for the cars, were usually paid $1; bartenders and bands were secured by the people who rented the park. The bands were a 6 or 7 piece band from the Detroit area. It seems each group would have their favorite band.

Adolph would order the beer, pop chips and sell it to the park tenants and they would in turn would charge their people to create profit for their venture.

Adolph was also a deputy sheriff, so he would keep peace at the picnics. Each group that rented the park would provide their own entertainment. Many of the picnicers were bussed to the park. There was fishing in the Clinton, swimming, baseball games, and various games for the kids. It should be noted that the waters of the Clinton were cool and clear. A great time was had by all.

Adolph made an apartment in the basement of his house where the groundskeeper would live. He and Walt helped build and maintain the park grounds.

It would take Walt and Joe all day on Monday to clean up the park, burn the papers in wire baskets, and bury the garbage on the far end of the park. They also had to scrub the floors in the bar and pop stand and sweep and wax the dance floor.

Saturday night was moonlight dancing to a 6-7 piece band. This was Adolph's baby. He enjoyed seeing people having a great time.

Walt recalls that one Saturday night in the spring of 1940 he looked out of the window and saw car lights coming down Ryan Road going north. They kept coming so he told his dad and mother. All of a sudden they turned into the park. It was relatives and friends and the party lasted until Sunday night. They came to the house and gave Adolph and Anna a surprise 25 year wedding anniversary party. They slept in thier cars and sleeping bags. What a time they had!

The Skula's always had lots of company in the winter. One big meal Mrs.Skula would cook would be fresh fish. With ice on the Clinton, 6-8 men would break open an area about 12'x 12' in the Clinton. They had a net about 10 foot square. They would put the net in a tilted position in the open space and two of the men would hold the net and the others would run up the river on the ice. They would have large sticks and would start beating the ice toward the net. The fish would swim into the net. What a catch!

After World War II, the popularity of the Saturday and Sunday picnics began to wane. With the better cars to travel and the coming of TV, the Sunday picnics were on the way out. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed into law legislation that would create a giant interstate highway system. Distant points now became accessible. Suburban sprawl, promoted by this new network of highways, eliminated the need to travel to the country. You were already there and the Clinton River could practically be in your backyard.

Around May of 1946 Adolph sold the park to Stanley and Harriet Kureaewski. Anna passed away on Nov.21, 1957, Adolph lived to almost 93 years of age, passing away on March 6,1978.

The Kureaewski's ran the park from 1946 to 1964. They enlarged the building to its present day size, approximately 75'x 75', by enclosing the building. Harriet ran the park for three years after Stan died.

When bands were needed, her friend Ziggy Perkowski would book the bands for her.

She sold the park on Dec.1st,1964 to the Perkowski's, Ziggy and Phyllis. Ziggy was working as a supervisor at a tool and die shop, 12 hours a day, 7 days a week. He thought it would be much better for his family and would be an easir job. He soon found out that it was hard work and took to many long hours to manage the bar and park. The Perkowski's ran the park for the next 16 years.

The park was rented out on Weekends. Ziggy would provide the band if needed. The renters would be charged by the person as they entered the park. Sometimes they would bring their own beer. He did not fight it, but certainly did not encourage it. He would sell beer in the pavilion. Usually, when the beer ran out, the picnicers would come into the pavilion and dance and buy beer.

Ziggy and his son, Ziggy Jr. would do the clean up. Jr. the outside and Sr. the inside. It did work out well. Jr. would cut the grass of the park. There are two port-a-john toilets and they were serviced each week.

When the park was not rented, Ziggy would use a tape for his music. He would tape the songs from radio shoes and replay them at the pavilion.

In 1982, after 16 years the Perkowski's sold the park to Norman and Rick Jocques. They ran the park for two years, from 82-84, as a night club. They named it " The River Shack ". It was not proftable, and they were behind on their payments.

The park was sold to Alan Trainer who renamed it the Hayloft and runs it today as a night club.

(From Summer Along The Clinton by Wally Doebler-1996)