Dexter icon Louie Ceriani is doing his best to help keep memories of Dexter’s roaring past from being forgotten
By Truman Stovall
People remember Dexter for the tornado and maybe its involvement in the Civil War, but with time turning every recollection of the past hazier every day, it’s important to keep strong memories alive before they’re lost forever.
In the 1940s, Dexter had a population of around 800 people. Despite the downtown area being nearly the same size as it is today, filled with various shops and manufacturing facilities, it still felt cramped. From high school kids walking to the confectionary store to eat burgers, drink Cherry Coke, and listen to jukebox music, to having difficulty finding a parking spot on the weekends as the whole town went bar-hopping between each of the four-or-five locations, it was easy to run into a familiar face.
It’s no wonder news travelled fast back then. When the Dexter football team started having an unbelievable season in 1946, it didn’t take long for the village to rally behind it. The biggest win that year was against Pinckney, a rival on par at the time with Chelsea. With little time left, Pinckney was able to reach a first and goal set of downs. They were kept out of the endzone on the first three downs, much to the delight of the Dexter fans who had held a pep rally complete with music and a bonfire the night before. However, with one play remaining, Pinckney was determined to score from the one-yard line.
As Louie Ceriani, the team’s manager at the time, remembered it, “They thought they were going to put in their best back and score… That didn’t happen.”
Dexter celebrated the game that kept their winning streak alive, but more importantly, they celebrated yet another game in which they weren’t scored on.
Dexter would later finish their final game that season against Brighton in a 0-0 tie to complete the infamously unblemished season. No tournament existed at the time to determine a decisive state champion, but Dexter’s claim to that title was indisputable.
Ceriani remembers many great nights like these as a teenager back in the ‘40s, “For prom, we didn’t go to Detroit or somewhere exotic like that. I don’t even think we knew what a tuxedo was. We just had a guy come in and play records for us… We would run downtown, grab a burger and a coke, and then run back to dance some more. We would just have fun.”
Not many people still remember these moments, like playing softball in the park downtown before there was a gazebo or watching the weekly free movie down by the railroad tracks. Ceriani is hoping these memories of Dexter’s past will continue to be passed on. Those memories and people, he said, are what molded the city we live in today.