Edward “Ed” James D’Arcy was born October 13, 1924 in Saginaw, Saginaw, Michigan to Joseph Melvin Miller D’Arcy (1901-1973) and Irene Jesse Francis D’Arcy (1903-1986). He was the third of four children – sister, Evelyn Irene (1921-1921), brother, J. D. Francis (1923-1945) who was killed in action during World War II, and sister, Frances L. (1932-1975).
In the early 1940s, Joseph was farming near Almont. Ed graduated from Almont High School in 1942 – with my mother (Jane Hoyt Wade). On several occasions, Mom commented, “If there was ‘mischief afoot’, then Ed would be nearby.”
On November 11, 1944 Ed enlisted in the Army and he was discharged from the service on July 17, 1945.
On September 13, 1947, Ed married Dorothy Mae Perlberg. Dorothy was born November 14, 1927 in Attica, Lapeer, Michigan to Walter William Perlberg (1900-1965) and Mildred Duckert Perlberg (1902-1973). Dorothy’s father, Walter Perlberg, operated the Gulf gas station at the curve on Van Dyke at the intersection with Howland Road. It was one of the first gas stations in Almont (Almont Car Wash location). It opened prior to 1930.
Ed and Dorothy would have two daughters; Arlene Kay (1949-2008) and Sharlene Ann who graduated in the Class of 1970 from Almont High School.
In early 1952, Lewis “Lew” Henry Ward had been the part-time village marshal for over twenty years. For much of that time, the village had experienced parking problems with the employees at Hurd Lock. Hurd Lock often operated three shifts and employed up to 1,300 employees. With the village population only being 800 and limited parking around the Hurd Lock facility, Hurd Lock employees came from all of the nearby communities. As a result, cars were illegally parked on the street and in driveways.
Because of the three shift operation and Lew only working part-time, it had become impossible to address the parking issue. Complicating the situation, after World War II more of the Hurd Lock employees were driving themselves and not carpooling, which meant there were even more cars parked around the facility.
Additionally, many of the employees were young and liked high-powered cars. Cars speeding while leaving town was becoming a problem.
Lew did not want to work full-time and was looking to retire. So about April 1, 1952, the Almont Village Council hired Ed D’Arcy to be the full-time village marshal.
Ed initially issued warning tickets for a couple of weeks before beginning to actually issue parking tickets on April 18, 1952. The parking issue began to improve, but without a village police car it was impossible for Ed to address the speeding issue.
The village council ordered a police car which was delivered at the beginning of July. Village residents and travelers through Almont were surprised by being stopped while going through town. As with the parking tickets, Ed issued warnings before he began writing actual speeding tickets.
Growing up in a small town, Ed knew everyone and they knew him. When he received a call about a teenager driving recklessly, Ed only needed a description of the car to know who was involved. On many occasions he would go to the teenager’s parents’ home and get there before the son or daughter got home. Ed would go in, sit down to a cup of coffee, discuss the situation with the parents, and then leave when the child got home. As long as no one got hurt and there wasn’t destruction of property, Ed let the parents hand out the punishment.
The village police car didn’t last long. On January 31, 1953, Dr. Paul Swayze’s office received a frantic call from Mr. and Mrs. William Ebeling, who lived on Hollow Corners Road. Their three-month old baby, Wilma, was having trouble breathing and desperately needed oxygen. Miss Clark, Dr. Swayze’s nurse, called Fire Chief Al Stanlake looking for the village’s oxygen equipment and then called Ed D’Arcy because the equipment was in the village patrol car.
Ed was at his home on Howland Road. He jumped into the patrol car and headed to Ebeling’s at a high rate of speed. As he was traveling west on Hollow Corners, he approached Pete Spencer’s farm. Pete was starting out of his driveway, which caused Ed to swerve to miss him. One of the farm’s barns sat close to the road and usually cast a shadow on the road. As a result, in the winter, that section of road would remain snow covered and icy when the rest of the road was clear. After missing Pete’s car, Ed hit this patch of ice and lost control of the vehicle. The car slid and spun for about a hundred feet and then rolled over. Back on its wheels, the patrol car went into the ditch backward and ran over tree stumps and rocks further damaging the car.
Pete pulled his car back into the driveway and with son Tom, ran to check on Ed. Ed was out of the car and seemingly unhurt. He was searching for his gun.
Following behind and also going at a high rate of speed, Dr. Swayze hit the ice and lost control of his car. He slid into the ditch on the other side of the road and ran over a mail box.
Neither man was seriously hurt but their cars could not be driven. Pete loaded the oxygen equipment in his car and took Dr. Swayze to the Ebeling’s. Shortly thereafter, Al Stanlake arrived and picked up Ed and they went to the Ebeling’s.
The baby was saved and at the time the news article about the patrol car being wrecked was published the baby was still in Mount Clemens Hospital and getting along fairly well.
After looking at his demolished police car – roof crushed, all windows blown out, and both sides dented and broken – Ed said, “I guess I believe in miracles. Yep, I’ll argue anyone about miracles.”
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.