In Memory

William Whisman

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06/13/15 02:27 PM #1    

Nancy Bono (Randall)

There was a time, after school, that we chummed together, not as boyfriend/girlfriend, just as friends.  So enjoyed Bill's company, a caring persons.

06/14/15 01:31 AM #2    

Robert Ambrite


     William “Billy” Whisman was born September 4th, 1946 and died September 10, 2012. He left this world six days after his 66thbirthday while residing in Washington, Michigan. He had an older brother, Wayne and a wife named Rita.

     It is a shame, but that is all I know about Billy Whisman who had been my friend from the time we attended kindergarten at Mrs. Head’s Wayne School until the eighth grade when I left Detroit Public Schools. Billy was the epitome of a tough eastside Detroit kid. He was brought up on the “other side” of Hayes, the side where you wore your Levis low, your belt fastened to the side, your white t-shirt backward with the sleeves rolled up and very pointed black leather shoes we called “Piatos.” And if your dad worked at “the plant,” you might have received a pair of black motorcycle boots or a black studded leather jacket for your birthday.

     Billy had a smart mouth and was a fighter, but, when you got to know him, you could not help but love his easy smile, his expressive eyes, his corny jokes and his penchant for mischief. I will always remember when our 4th grade homeroom teacher, Miss Lawson, told Billy to cease with his smart-aleck comments. He looked at her with a earnest expression and said, “Are you insinuating I should tolerate this diabolical insolence while me, a supreme being, and you, a low piece of humanity?” The entire class erupted in laughter. Later, Billy told me he had learned that while watching an episode of the Three Stooges on The Johnny Ginger Show. I insisted he teach it to me and I have not forgotten it to this day.

     Billy was part of the Alpine crowd. This was a loose group of Wayne School and Guardian Angel kids that hung at Al’s Corner Market on Hayes and Outer Drive. The name Alpine originated from the proprietors name, “Al,” and the introduction of Alpine Cigarettes which were given away in a promotional three-cigarette package. Billy Whisman, Dennis Zuk, Bob Rice, Ronnie Engle, Craig Opal, Frankie Hart, Butch Mertz and many others would all sit on the beer cases inside the store during the winter or on the stoop outside sipping RC Cola in the summer. We ate penny Mary Janes and dipped our long two-cent pretzels into our pop for an extra flavor kick. In the evenings, we would go to the back alley and climb the gutter pipe of the Esquire Cleaners to the roof where we flipped baseball cards for nickels, played mumbley peg with our pocket knives, and smoked Kools or Winstons as we maintained our watch over the Hayes and Outer Drive intersection.  Carole King wrote On the Roof for the Drifters to teach us… “When this old world starts getting me down and people are just too much for me to face, I  climb way up to the top of the stairs and all my cares just drift right into space.”

     When I returned to Denby for the 11th grade, I'm sorry that I never looked up Billy. At Wayne, his goal was to be transferred to Trombley Trade or another automotive trade school and someday own a badass ‘53 Mercury. He wanted to chop the top, shackle it and add stylish spinner hubcaps, bubble skirts and pin-striping. You were a true eastside rebel, Billy, and a very cool guy. I hope during your life’s journey your dreams were fulfilled.  And that you “Found a paradise that’s trouble-proof, up on the roof.” Rest in peace, my friend.


10/04/15 11:29 PM #3    

Barbara ("b C") Wilson (Cotter)

Billy sat in front of me in a number of classes, you get the idea Whisman- Wilson.  Yes, he sat in front of me but I never saw his back, he was always turned around and facing me while talking non stop. Sometimes he would even have his book on my desk and he would read his textbook to me if he, by chance, did not have any more current news to share.   He talked so much that I am not even sure he ever took a breath of air during the whole class period.  Then, it was onto the next class and he would continue talking to me. Often I had no idea what was going on in the class since we were always in the last row, the last two seats.  He was nice,always soft spoken and polite to me.  I felt rather sorry for him because I was not aware of him having any friends.

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