Too often, as soon as something has a little history behind it, we attach unflattering labels such as “dated,” “past its prime,” or just plain “old.” Despite the unavoidable truth that many objects cease to be useful over time, plenty of others will never lose value such as a recipe passed down through generations and for Grosse Ile residents, the Grosse Ile Directory.
In 1959, The Grosse Ile Rotary Club Rotarians compiled a handy booklet filled with contact information for nearly all island residents as well as advertisements from local businesses. The funds procured through ad sales directly benefited the club.
The Rotary Club of Grosse Ile, chartered in 1947, has long been interwoven within the culture of the island. Rotarians are well known in the community and embody their motto “Service Above Self,” by volunteering time to various charitable endeavors such as mentoring youth, organizing blood drives, and cleaning public spaces.
The Rotarians passed the torch to Grosse Ile resident June Van Os in 1999. For over 20 years, June took on this grand endeavor as a labor of love. And over time, she made improvements like printing the booklet in color and adding letter tabs – each change made after thoughtful research and an effort to improve its effectiveness.
Because information is at our fingertips in the form of smartphones, a printed directory can feel like a relic. However, we often forget there is still a significant portion of people for whom the wonders of the internet are out of reach. The directory is an asset to senior citizens and others who find it easier and more accessible than more recent technology.
Besides being practically useful, the directory also serves as a historical timeline for Grosse Ile. When you hold an index in your hands, you’re holding a piece of history that spans 60 years. There are even several residents listed in the original directory who will be in 2020’s.
The Grosse Ile Directory is full of useful information. Can’t find the phone number for a nearby pizza place online? Check the directory. Don’t remember your neighbors’ wife’s (or husband’s) name? It’s probably in the directory. Like family photo albums and high school yearbooks, the Grosse Ile Directory is more than just an organization of addresses and advertisements; it’s a time capsule of an entire community, faithfully recorded by a small, hardworking team.
This year, June passes the directory responsibility to The Grosse Ile Profile. It will remain largely the same index with which community members are familiar. The Profile team looks forward to many years of providing this service to islanders and keeping faithful to the effort put in by those who have worked so hard before us.