Mt. Holly – Once a Summer Haven for Rock & Roll

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Now that the holidays are over, cabin fever is likely starting to set in. Some people choose to spend the winter days catching up on their reading, going to see the latest movies or participating in other fun indoor activities. Others choose to take to the hills for the thrill of skiing and snowboarding.

We have just the place to do that right here in our own backyard! Mt. Holly Ski & Snowboard Resort on Dixie Highway is just minutes away for those who enjoy the sporting opportunities offered there.

When my sons were in their early teens and too young to drive, I took them to Mt. Holly on the weekends in the winter. Although I don’t ski, my sons were (and still are) avid snowboarders. Once we arrived, my boys would take off for the slopes and I would head to the lounge. Once I found a comfy spot by the large windows overlooking the hills, I ordered a coffee and fired up my laptop. I was a newspaper editor/writer at the time and am not kidding when I say that I got more work done in five hours in that lounge than I did in an entire week at the office.

Later during the summer months, I would take breaks outdoors and chat with some of the newspaper’s advertisers. One of those nice ladies was Mary Jane (Hanks) Glenn. We were talking about Mt. Holly, and she told me an amazing story.

Mary Jane’s father, John “Grant” Hanks, partnered with Mort Graddis, a man he met when they worked together at the lumber yards in East Detroit. They opened, owned and operated the Mt. Holly resort. Enter a man named Bob Dell, who was the program director at Grand Blanc AM radio station, WTAC. Dell thought Mt. Holly would be the perfect venue for summertime record hops. A few radio announcements and plugs about the venue were all he needed to make it a reality. From the mid-1960s to 1970, a host of bands made their way to the Mt. Holly Ski Resort to perform for crowds of between 350 and 1,000 teenagers every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday night.

Mary Jane and her siblings hung out with them. She said she and a friend took turns working as a “soda jerk” at the soda fountain. One would work at the soda fountain and the other would go out on the dance floor, and then they would switch.

Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Ted Nugent (The Amboy Dukes), Grand Funk Railroad, Chuck Berry, The Lettermen and many more acts made their way to the popular Dixie Highway venue – long before they went on to greater fame and become part of rock and roll history.

Sadly, it all ended when the music and the times changed. Mary Jane is gone now, but I will never forget her for sharing these remarkable memories of Mt. Holly.

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