Sparrow Family
Genealogy Pages

Home Page  |  What's New  |  Photos  |  Histories  |  Headstones  |  Reports  |  Surnames
First Name:

Last Name:

Thomas Henry Sparrow

Thomas Henry Sparrow

Male 1908 - 1976  (68 years)

Personal Information    |    Media    |    Notes    |    All    |    PDF

  • Name Thomas Henry Sparrow 
    Born 25 Mar 1908  Ishpeming, MI Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Male 
    Died 4 Oct 1976  Wyandotte, MI Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I8  My Genealogy
    Last Modified 4 Oct 2016 

    Father William Thomas Sparrow,   b. 6 Mar 1864, Plymouth, Devon, England Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 10 Sep 1920, Iron Mountain, MI Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years) 
    Mother Sophia Tremewan,   b. 20 Feb 1879, Ron's Shaft on Michigan's Keeweenaw Penninusla Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 7 Dec 1958, Wyandotte, MI Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 25 Oct 1904  Upper Penninsula of Michigan Find all individuals with events at this location 
    • They were married in Ishpeming. The got their marriage license on October 21, 1904. They were married by Frank P. Cowles, Clergyman. The witnesses were Thomas Moyle and Anna Tremewan. She showed her place of residence as Iron Mountain, Michigan. He showed Ishpeming as his place of residence. He lists Richard Sparrow and Anna Pike as his parents. She lists William Henry Tremewan and Lilly Tremewan.
    Family ID F15  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Maude Pauline Blair,   b. 5 Mar 1907, Boyne City, MI Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 3 Mar 1989, Scottsdale, AZ Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 81 years) 
    Married 25 Jun 1932  Detroit, MI Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Living
     2. Living
    Last Modified 1 Dec 2015 
    Family ID F4  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Photos At least one living or private individual is linked to this item - Details withheld.

  • Notes 
    • This reflection was written on March 25, 1995 by Thomas Henry Sparrow's son, Thomas Richard Sparrow.

      This is my father's birthday. Had he lived he would have been 87. He was born on March 25, 1908 at Ishpeming, Michigan. His father was Thomas William Sparrow, the chief mechanic for the Cleveland Cliffs Iron Company. His mother was Sophia Tremewan Sparrow. He had an older sister, Marjorie, who was born in 1905.

      He graduated from Iron Mountain High School in 1926. His mother wanted him to go to the university so he went to the University of Michigan, graduating from there with a Bachelor's Degree in education in 1930. He told me that he had really wanted to study law but that he couldn't afford that. Using the GI Bill, he earned a Master's Degree in counseling from U of M in 1952.

      He was a teacher, counselor, and elementary school principal with the Wyandotte Public Schools in Wyandotte, Michigan. He taught secondary school mathematics (algebra, geometry, general math). Prior to WW II he taught at Labadie Junior High School.

      Wyandotte is located on the Detroit River - an international border between the US and Canada. He talked about arriving in Wyandotte and at Labadie during the height of prohibition. The Mafia operated in Wyandotte and gang members would run booze across the river in speedboats. The houses on Antoine Street (Machine Gun Boulevard) were all connected with underground passageways. Someone trying to escape the police could disappear in those tunnels. Dad talked about the kids in his junior high math classes who would be so tired from "rum running" the night before that they would fall asleep in class. There was a "gang war" killing in front of the school one day! The victim was machine-gunned.

      The J.B. Ford Elementary School was in that section of town. The principal there was a woman named Marge McCoy. Whenever she had problems with one of the Italian children she would call the neighborhood "Godfather." And, sounding much like Marlon Brando in The Godfather, he would say, "Don't worry 'bout it Miss McCoy. We take care of it for you. Italian boys need to go to school. Dey need to behave." The Godfather would talk to the boy's parents and that would be the end of the problem.

      Dad served in the United States Air Force during World War II (1942-1945). He didn't see any overseas service and spent most of time teaching aircraft identification to flying personnel.

      I remember going with my dad when he bought his Air Force uniforms. Actually, I believe he was in the Army Air Corps as it didn't become the Air Force until later. I think we went to the J.L. Hudson Company, but it may have been someplace else. The tinted photograph (above) of Dad in his dress uniform was my mother's favorite picture of him.

      When dad returned from the service I went with him when he talked with Fred Frostic, the Wyandotte Superintendent of Schools, about returning to teaching. I was particularly impressed with Frostic's office which was paneled in walnut and had big large-leafed plants growing in pots in most of the corners of the room. Frostic told dad that he wanted him to teach math at the high school.

      He was also a high school counselor. Sometime in the 1950's - it was while I was stationed in Germany with the Army so it must have been 1956 or 1957 - he was appointed principal of the Labadie Elementary School. It became an elementary school after the Wilson and Lincoln Junior High Schools were built.

      He lived in various places in Wyandotte: the Etinger Apartments on Oak Street (a rented apartment); 87 Mulberry (a rented apartment); 3435 Twenty-first Street (a rented house); 2482 Twenty-second Street (a rented house); 603 Highland Street (a rented house); and, 349 Sixth Street (a house he owned).

      Most of what I remember about my father are later memories - things I remember from my adult years. I don't remember much about him and my childhood at all. I wonder why? Hilde has said that my mom said I was "hyper" as a kid. If I was, maybe I had some sort of disorder that got in the way of my remembering events. I have almost no recollection of my childhood.

      I know dad wasn't a very demonstrative person. I don't ever recall him being angry with me to the point where he raised his voice or hit me. I don't recall him hugging me or kissing me. I don't remember much interaction with him at all. His own father died when dad was 12 years old. Perhaps he never learned how to be a father. And perhaps we create our children in our own image.

      I don't remember him being "close" with my mother either. I would see them "kiss," but it never was spontaneously. It was usually during fairly formal times such as photography sessions, and then it was done "kiddingly."

      Here are some "flashes" of memory from childhood. I can see my dad ... sitting at the dinning room table after supper correcting a pile of math papers at least a foot high ... working in the garage or with his tools, a cigarette between his lips and the ash growing longer and longer until it curls under its own weight and finally falls to the ground ... making some of his home movies, carefully winding the drive spring on his Kodak 8mm movie camera ... playing solitaire bridge or solitaire poker using a chair as a card table ... dealing hand after hand ... playing bridge with the "guys" and poker with the "poker gang" ... and drinking. In his later years he was an alcoholic. He put away a fifth of whiskey almost every day.

      One summer vacation we were at a cottage in Michigan's Upper Pennisula - I think we were on "Big" or "Little" Manistique Lake. The cottage was owned by a man named Doney. I remember that because there was a teacher at the high school named Doney. I don't think there was any electricity because I remember kerosene lanterns. One night dad was outside. Suddenly, he let out a scream and came running back into the cottage saying he had seen a bear. It scared me half to death. He laughed and laughed. It was one of the few times I ever heard him make a practical joke.

      He was my geometry teacher in high school. He never called me "Tom." He always called me "Sparrow." I was out of my seat one day and he said, "OK, Sparrow. Your move!" I barely passed. He "gave" me a C.

      He was also my counselor for a while. But he thought it wouldn't be a good idea for him to counsel me so he "traded" me to another counselor - "Doc" Lyon - who was his own son's counselor. While he was my counselor he made me take typing because, "You have to learn at least one skill in high school." Although I hated it at the time, I'm forever grateful for him insisting that I learn to type.

      I remember how he "puffed himself up" when someone was taking his picture. In many of the photographs I have of dad, he has pulled in his stomach and stuck out his chest.

      He was one hell of a bridge player - probably the best I have ever known. He was particulary good at "end play" and he could squeeze the daylights out of a hand. I played with him occasionally when his group needed a fourth. In his later years he suffered from a palsey of some kind and his hands shook. He didn't like people to see that his hands were shaking and he almost stopped playing bridge because of it. Finally, one of his foursome - Marc Betwee - said to him, "Tom. You can't stop playing bridge just because your hands shake. You can hold the cards with your feet if you want to. You must keep playing." He did.

      He had fantastic card sense and - when a hand was done - he could repeat it play by play - telling you what everybody had played on each trick. He used that same card sense when he played poker.

      And he liked to play poker - penny ante poker and if you lost two or three dollars you could play "poverty" and you were covered on every bet until you won a hand. Art and Elsie Benjiman, Gen and Bill Dawson, and Red and Adeline Hallowell would get together almost every week to play cards. They named the games after the places in which they learned them or after the person who taught them the game. So, we played "Tomah," or "Kleinschmidt Red Dog," or "Chicago," or "Little Joe." I liked to watch the games and every once in a while they let me play.

      I remember one night when Marc and Vicki Betwee were playing. Vicki didn't know poker so I was helping her. The game was straight five card draw and she was dealt a royal flush in hearts. I've never seen it since - and I've played a lot of poker.

      There was a two-car garage behind our house on Sixth Street. Attached to the garage was an equally big room that dad always called "the shop." He tiled the floor, and paneled the walls, built some cupboards and closets, and that was where they played poker during the warmer months of the year. I suspect he did it because Grandpa and Grandma Blair lived with us and he wanted to be a little nosier than he could be if they played in the dining room. The work he did on "the shop" was quite good.

      Dad fancied himself as a fisherman. On those summer vacations he had lots of fishing gear and we would fish for the "big one" in Hubbard Lake - a large lake in lower Michigan near Alpena. One summer, we were fishing and he hooked a really big bass. As he was reeling it in, the reel fell off his pole. He then began drawing the line in by hand. I netted the fish - almost tipping the boat over in the process - and he had a nice trophy fish.

      I think it was that same summer that someone - it may have been my mother - caught an even bigger bass fishing off the dock at Uplegger's Resort with a cane pole.

      These are funny memories. It is strange thinking about them now.

      He liked to play golf. He had a very compact swing, but when he hit the ball it went pretty good. We played together ocassionally, but not often. I always beat him.

      There is a funny story about my nephew - his oldest grandchild - John Wareing. John, who was about two, called his pacifier a "do-do." Mom and dad were caring for John and they were going someplace in the car and John threw his pacifier out of the car window. John needed a pacifier, so dad stopped at the next drug store they came to, went in, and asked the clerk if she had a "do-do." He never did tell me what the clerk said.

      We were both members of the Wyandotte Kiwanis Club. The club went on a field trip to the Detroit Salt Mines. Dad and I went. The mines are 1200 feet below the city of Detroit. There is only one elevator. Down in the mines - which are in the salt deposits - are huge rooms, "roads," and lots of machinery - trucks, digging machines, crushers, etc. (Incidentally, the machines all had to be disassembled, taken down the elevator, and then reassembled.) The temperature in the mines is a "constant" 68 degrees - or something like that. Anyway, we had been in the mine for about an hour and a half and had just made the turn to head back - which meant another hour and a half - and dad said, "This is interesting, but I didn't want to know this much about salt mines."

      We were both elementary principals in Wyandotte for several years before he retired. He was principal at the Labadie Elementary School. I was at the Washington. Both of our secretaries were named Cole. Mine was Margaret Cole. His was Olive Cole. They were married to brothers.

      His first teaching contract in Wyandotte had a salary of something like $1,200. The first year I was a principal I made more than he ever made - up until that year. I never thought that was quite right.

      After he retired he built Tom and Rick desks. He built Jenny a model of our Vernon Road house in Trenton. He liked to build things and was proud of his handiwork. I know Rick still has his desk. I wonder if Tom has his and if Jenny has her house?

      Dad died on October 4, 1976. He died a horrible death. He had cancer of the pancreas and it was not diagnosed correctly. It "ate him alive." He had been a robust, healthy man - weighing over 200 pounds. When he died he weighed less than 80 pounds. He just wasted away.

      He was cremated. I spread his ashes around the property at 349 Sixth. Ashes aren't really ashes, you know. They are fragments of bone and they tinkle like little wind chimes when you throw them.