Way back in the 40s when the Cadillac stood tall,
A strange guest kept a room there and this “guest” sure wasn’t small.
He wore a scary eye patch, no one seemed to know his name;
He was very black and furry with a long and matted mane.
He would rise up early morning, watch the children walk to school,
then do some exercising, seemed to be his daily rule.
Did he come here with the circus and decide that he would stay?
Well he couldn’t beat the room charge, it was just two bucks a day!
Some say he was a bouncer for the Detroit Purple Gang,
when the gamblers grew rambunctious he’d show them his toothy fang.
We don’t know when he got here but we sure know when he left,
It wasn’t hard to see him leave…he had such a lot of heft.
So January twenty, the year nineteen fifty-three,
t’was when this stranger left St. Clair…on this we all agree.
He’d checked out of the Cadillac, this fact we all did know,
And never would return, at least that’s what the records show.
Headed west along Pine River….. thru the ice and snow he went,
Was he leaving from the Cadillac because he owed them rent?
Police reports have stated he was traveling with three others;
One gal with red hair and two guys…..a sister and her brothers?
Not sure this foursome ever made it up to the roadside,
And with that shaggy guest….. t’would have been tough to “hitch” a ride….
So the mystery continues but please do not stop and stare
when I tell you that this stranger was…. the Cadillac Hotel Bear!
Loren Gannon, co-owner of Gannon’s Dairy at the time remembered the day clearly twenty years later:
“The snow was hip-high and the air was cold, my chewing tobacco crunched when I put it in my mouth. As I was getting ready for work, two guys, a tall woman with dark red hair, and a bear walked right down the frozen river in front of my home. To this day, it is the darnest thing I ever saw. “
Reference courtesy of St. Clair on the River.
Arthur C. Smith, 77 of Port Huron, is a 3rd generation funeral director at Smith Family Funeral Home. He graduated from Port Huron High School in 1958, Albion College in 1962, and played varsity tennis at both schools. In 1964 he received his Mortuary Science license. In the early 1980s he became a Little Caesars Pizza franchisee and was involved with stores in South Texas, Northwest Ohio, and Oakland County, MI. His community service over the years has included March of Dimes, Boy Scouts, Salvation Army, Grace Episcopal Church, Port Huron Hospital, Blue Water Hospice, and Kiwanis. In 1972 he was named Jaycees Young Man of the Year. He has played in all 60 Robinson Tennis Tournaments and is an avid runner having completed 18 marathons including 5 Boston Marathons. Because of his Scottish lineage Art has been instrumental in organizing the local Burns Supper held each January. He and his wife, Sue, have been married over 54 years and have three children and 6 grandchildren.