My Story
Grand Marais

My Grandmother's Michigan Plate

The Michigan PlateThe Michigan Plate This is the plate that I received from my grandmother after she died. From research, I have determined that it is from a series of souvenir plates for the various states, made in Japan during the 1950s. There is no marking of the manufacturer on the back. Somewhat coincidentally, the top of the plate shows a full moon over Soo Locks. In Major Keyhoe's version of the Kinross Incident, it was the incursion of unidentified traffic over Soo Locks that prompted the alert that Moncla and Wilson responded to.

About a year or so after my grandmother died, my mother and father were visiting me in North Vancouver on a trip to the west coast. My mother gave me a box saying that it was from grandma and would be something for me to remember her. In the box was an old souvenir plate from Michigan. I didn't immediately recognize the plate, but I was very pleased with the gift and I felt it was something very nice to remind me of my grandmother.

When I moved to my new townhouse in Surrey in 1997, I placed the plate on the mantel piece in my living room. My brother Michael stopped by for a visit in September 1999, just a few weeks after I saw the UFO out my back balcony. My brother was himself quite fascinated with the plate and I told him I had received it from my grandmother. I mentioned that I had always wondered how it was that she had received the plate. He looked at it and said to me "I can see this as one of those family mysteries. Someone went to Michigan in the 1950s and bought this plate as a gift for grandmother." We talked about the possibility that it might have been either Helen or Pauline. They are two of my mother's sisters who lived in eastern Ontario. I thought it most likely that they had bought the gift as they lived closest to Michigan. We never stopped to even consider the possibility it may have originated with us. One thing I have thought about since this time is that it would make most logical sense for grandmother to have returned it to the person who bought it for her if this person was still alive.

Polly OsolinskiPolly Osolinski - My Grandmother on My Mother's Side

In the weeks before my first regression session, I started to have memories relating to the plate. I could remember myself as a very young boy with my mother in this small souvenir shop. We were looking for a gift for my grandmother. We were on holidays, and for some reason, my dad and brothers were not in the shop with us. I remember that we were comparing two souvenir plates. The one on the right had many little scenes arranged in a circle. The other one was a single scene with a big rock or a castle in the middle. My mom asked which one I thought was better. I said I liked the one on the right because it had nicer colors. The colors in the one on the right were much brighter yellows and reds and light blues whereas the one on the left was dominated by dark blues and greys. I think the one on the left was a night scene of "Castle Rock" because I can remember some conversation about this with the lady who managed the store. One thing I remember is that the store was one room with shelves. The front had a picture window and the owner or manager sat behind a register in the right hand corner at the back of the store. My mother asked if she could post it to her mother in Saskatchewan and the lady agreed that she could do this.

One more thing I can remember about this event was that when I left the store, I suddenly encountered my dad and brothers. My parents were very angry with me for disappearing again. My mother said something like "you're really getting to be quite a problem". They thought I was making up the story about buying the gift for grandma in the store. I was totally confused by the incident and couldn't figure out how my mother would be so nice one moment and so cross with me the next.

From what I can remember about this incident, I think that it happened the day after the Grand Marais incident. My recollection is that we had risen very early in the morning to begin our long drive home. We got to Munising about mid-morning and it was already beginning to get quite hot out. The store was on the main street of a small town. The street scene was reminiscent of the main street in Munising, Michigan.

Polly's House in WakawPolly Osolinski's House in Wakaw, Saskatchewan - This is the house my grandmother lived after she moved off the farm. It was in this house I recall seeing the plate on the wall.

It was somewhat later that I recalled that I had actually seen the plate once before, on a visit to grandmother's house in Wakaw. After the youngest sons grew up, they decided to sell the farm because it was clearly too much for grandma to look after. She moved into a small house in Wakaw. I think that I only visited her once in this house, after she had her first stroke. I had driven to Wakaw with my sister Carolyn. One day, while we were sitting on the couch in grandma's living room, I noticed a bright and colorful plate that was hanging on the wall between the living room and the kitchen. I got up and walked over to have a closer look. While I was standing there, looking at the plate, my grandma came over and asked me if I liked the plate. She was smiling and seemed very pleased that I was so enthralled with appreciating its design and colors. I told her I liked it very much and she told me to take it. I was quite surprised at this, and thought told her, no, I can't possibly take your plate, thinking it would leave a blank space on the wall and it wasn't nice to take things like that. She really tried to convince me it was okay to take it but I insisted that I couldn't do this.

One other thing that I remember about the plate is that my brother Barry and I went to visit our Uncle Maurice in Surrey a few years ago. I think it was during this visit that my Uncle Maurice mentioned that there was something strange about the plate. I am fairly certain that he mentioned that it had arrived at the farm quite mysteriously, in a package without any postage or postmark. When I mentioned the plate to him when I was visiting him this last New Years 2002, he said he could not remember the plate at all. He mentioned it was possible that the plate had been kept in storage while he was living with Grandma.

Abandoned FarmhouseAbandoned HouseThis is the house my mother's family lived in on a farm near Crystal Springs, Saskatchewan

I think it was after I heard this story from Maurice that I recalled that I had one earlier recollection of the plate from a previous trip to my grandma's house. This was from our family's first visit to my grandma's farm in Crystal Springs, Saskatchewan in the fall of 1961. This visit occurred a short time after we moved to Hinton from Fort William.

We had driven to Crystal Springs from Hinton in our new Ford Galaxy. It was night when we got there in the middle of a terrific thunderstorm. Our car got stuck on the road leading to the farmhouse. We walked to the house in the pouring rain. Our grandma made us hot chocolate on her wood stove to warm us up.

I think it was maybe the next day that my mother, dad and grandma showed me this plate that was in a box. They were asking me if I could remember the plate. I couldn't remember the plate but I thought that it looked very beautiful. I think that there was some discussion about the plate between my parents and grandma. I guess she had received the gift in the mail, without postage, but there was a card on it saying it was from us. Perhaps the card mentioned that I had chosen the plate or something like that. I guess my father and mother couldn't remember ever buying the plate, so they asked me in case I knew something more than them. Unfortunately, four years had past since I had seen the plate in Munising, Michigan, and I had long forgotten all about it. Well, I guess I maybe had some memory of it but I couldn't retrieve this memory until another forty years would pass and the plate would come into my procession.

Grave at Yellow CreekPolly and Isadore Osolinski Grave at Yellow Creek, Saskatchewan - taken during reunion celebrating 100 years of Osolinski's in Canada in 2004

There is some coincidence in the design of the plate in relation to the Moncla and Wilson F-89 mystery. At the top of the plate, is a scene showing Soo Locks at Sault Ste. Marie at night. A bright full moon is high in the sky above the locks with its light shining through clouds. The scene reminds me of the fact that the F-89 was dispatched to pursue an unknown aircraft that had appeared in restricted air space over the Soo Locks.

I have confirmed that the plate is from a series of souvenir plates that were manufactured in Japan in the 1950s. Apparently, there were similar souvenir plates manufactured for all the various states, all depicting scenes from various landmarks or other things that were unique to the state.

I am still not certain if the plate actually has a more prosaic origin, from someone else's trip to Michigan in the 1950s. I have recently confirmed (April 2004) that my mother did give me this plate from my grandmother's estate. My mother recorded all of the items which were given at that time to members of our family in a small notebook she has kept.

Update June 5, 2008

DDowntown Marquette, MIDowntown Marquette Michigan

In the summer of 2006, I traveled back to the upper Peninsula of Michigan with David Cherniack and Sara Barnes. David was filming "The Moncla Memories" for Vision TV and "The Politics of Reality", a history of UFOs for the Canadian History Channel. We pulled into Marquette, Michigan for dinner after a day of filming in Grand Marais. It was my first visit to Marquette (at least, my first visit since 1957). It was then I realized that I had possibly been wrong in my conclusion that Munising was the place we had stopped on the way back from Grand Marais. I recall that we were on a downtown street that had some brick buildings. Since my mother and I somehow got separated from my father and two brothers, I am left to conclude that there must have been a fair amount of foot traffic on the street. I don't know for sure whether the town was Munising or Marquette, but both are candidates in terms of their location and proximity to Grand Marais. I am now more tempted to believe the town or city was probably Marquette rather than Munising.