History of Post 1519

- 1/10/2020

Less than 90 days following the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 - Grand River Post 1519, Veterans of Foreign Wars was instituted.  Much of the recruiting and formation work had been undertaken in the summer of 1929 by the three Schafer brothers, Chris M., Edward and Casimer.
The Oldtimer's gave credit to Chris Schafer for the founding of Grand River Post.  Although he never sought election to the office, the World War II Comrades voted him the title of "Honorary Past Commander" in the early 1950's.
John McLeod, who was the Wayne County Jailer at the time, was elected as the first Commander and served until the election of officers was held that Fall.   At that time he [John] was succeeded by Niles MacGregor who served the first full term as Commander, and served until the election of officers held that Fall when he was succeeded by Niles MacGregor who served the first full term as Commander.
Times were hard, and during the winter cold of 1931-32, Old Post Service Officer records show entries for a ton of coal, and other bare necessities of life of ($3) that were supplied to many needy Comrades. 
Though they were never "raided" the Grand River Post is said to have operated one of the "Best Blind Pigs" on the west side of Detroit for members of the VFW and guests (of course) during the "Noble Experiment" that ended with the victory of the "Wets" in 1932.
Quarters included a variety of store fronts, usually on the side streets between Livernois and Five Points.  One of the more novel locations was a ballroom upstairs in Redford.
Hartwell Avenue figured prominently in those early headquarters.  A decision was made to purchase land and build a "Dugout" on Lesure Avenue that proved popular and gave the Post a permanent address.

Many Grand River Comrades went on to serve at higher levels of the VFW.  Two Comrades were elected Department Commander.  they were G. Edwin "Goldie" slater in 1950-1951 and Richard "Pat" Foley in 1967-1968.
Comrade A. Thomas Wheaton a Past Commander was elected Supreme (National) Commander of the Military Order of the Cootie and served with distinction.  Late in 1953 his eligibility for membership was challenged.  An honest error on the part of the Post
Commander and the Grand River Post was made and he was declared ineligible and dropped from membership by order of the National VFW Headquarters.
"Tommy" as he was known by all his Comrades never lost faith in the VFW National Home, and upon his death a few years later his entire estate was bequeathed to the Christie J. Braun Scholarship fund of the Military Order of the Cootie which provides continuing education for graduates of the VFW National Home.

Two original charter members remain on the roll today.  They are Andrew Golnik who currently resides in California and G. Edwin "Goldie" Slater who is still active in post affairs.
There have been three fathers whose sons also served as Post Commanders.  They are Emmet Morrissey Sr. - Emmet Morrissey Jr.; Harry Doolittle Sr. - Harry Doolittle Jr. and Eugene Sage - Robert E. Sage.
Larry Grunkemeyer who served as Commander in 1967-1968 was the last World War I veteran to serve as Commander and was also the oldest.  Jim Hanks who served as Commander in 1954-1955 at age 28 was the youngest.
Richard Frey, a Civil Engineer, was Commander in 1949-1951 and was the first Commander to serve more than one term.  He supervised the construction of the hall over the "Dugout" during his first term.
John Cashmore served two (split) terms as Commander, and it was during his second term in 1976 that the decision was made to buy the property in Novi and move the Post Home.  The sale of the Lesure property saw the passing of many cherished memories and pleasant associations as Grand River Post became a member of the Fifth District leaving the Second District with the move.

With the move Novi Grand River Post 1519 was for the first time in its history located permanently upon the street for which it was named back in 1930!
Bronko Krivokucha served two terms(1976-1978) as the Commander during the transition from Lesure Ave. to Grand River Ave. in Novi.
Grand River Post has always been a Post that had the respect of the entire State VFW organization thru its leadership in the programs of Buddy Poppy, Service to Veterans, Youth Activities and an unselfish spirit of Comradeship.
During the mid 1930's the Grand River Post Drum and Bugle Corps was very much in evidence.  They were never reported to have won any championships, but they played loud and added color style to many parades and ceremonies.
During the 1960's the Grand River Honor Post Guard was formed, they too never won any championships (never entered any competitive events), but were always a welcome addition to Parades, Ceremonies, Memorial Services and Installations in their smartly tailored uniforms and precision marching. 
There are countless humorous tales that are told of the escapades and adventures of the Grand River Comrades at the State and National Conventions.  Everyone within the Department of Michigan has always found a welcome hand of Comradeship and something to quench a thirst in the grand River Hospitality Room or Post Home.
The greatest achievement of Grand River Post in its 50 year history is the bond of Comradeship that is enjoyed among its members - whether they just joined or have been around since the beginning.
It is rare in this busy world we live in that you can find tried and true friends who have shared in the good and the bad, the hard work and the easy fun for so many years as those who choose to become and remain members of Grand River Post # 1519.
To all those that have labored long and without recognition in the vineyard that others could serve, as Commander and in positions of leadership, and the financial accomplishments and goals achieved though many in number, are relatively insignificant in comparison with the true strength of Grand River Post 1519 - which is its active members.
More to follow regarding the history of Post 1519, and the merger with the "Original" Police/Fire Fighters Post 1278 in Detroit.