Famous American author Clarence Budington Kelland was born in Portland, Michigan, on July 11, 1881. The actual birthplace on the southwest corner of the plat known as Powers Park has been destroyed, but the family home for most of the ten years that Clarence lived in Portland is now a private residence on Lincoln Street.
In October of 1987, a memorial stone was dedicated to Kelland's birthplace. The stone is located beyond the left field fence at Powers Park. It was purchased and donated to the city by Donald and Elmere Wright, former owners of the land. The stone commemorates his most famous fictional character, Scattergood Baines.
CLARENCE'S BOYHOOD IN PORTLAND
(We can call him Clarence, since that is what he was called when he lived here!)
“My home town has a river running through the middle, as all towns where boys are born should have… Some persons had preferences as to which side of the river they lived on and rather fancied themselves for living there but I had to be neutral because I was born on one side in a small and under painted house just across from the church, and came to the maturity of ten years on the opposite shore.”
Thus opens an article titled “My Home Town” written for Liberty Magazine, December 15, 1928, by Clarence Budington Kelland. The article was describing Clarence's boyhood years spent in Portland on the Grand River. Many of the characters and locations captured in the Mark Tidd series were thinly veiled rememberances of his formative years in Portland. For exameple, in Mark Tidd, Manufacturer, pg. 182, he wrote "The bayou was a kind of an elbow of the Looking-glass river that flows into the main river just below town"; (that would be the Grand River.)
“Portland was just the town for a boy to be born in if he proposed to grow up and be the kind of author I am. I had everything an author needs to equip him for his pofession, and I doubt if I have written a novel which would have been possible without those years of boyhood contact with people and manners and customs, and splendid, healthy point of view which flourished in our midst.”
THE GOLDEN AGE
“In my tenth year, mother, ambitious for me, reached the conclusion that I could have no great future in Portland. I must have wider fields in which to flourish. Detroit would give me scope, she decided, and a more nourishing environment. So she lifted up the family by the scruff of the neck and transplanted us to the city. This was for my sake exclusively…
"A period of almost perfect happiness and contentment had ended for me… As the train moved out of the railroad yard, I was elated. … But this I do know: that the years between my birth and the year 1914 were the happiest and fullest of my life, and I believe they were for most people who lived through them. I doubt if in all the world’s history there ever existed so favorable a period in which to grow up.
"Maybe I failed to look beneath the surface. Maybe even now, in my love for those days, I still refuse to permit myself to look beneath that gracious, self-respecting, kindly serenity. But to me, until the day I die, those years will be the golden age.”
From a full length article titled "The Happiest Days of my Life", describing his boyhood in Portland, Michigan, which appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, October 14, 1950.
The KELLAND hometown walking tour \withMAP
Take a walking tour of Kelland's boyhood home town. .