Bob Davis said he was told by several people that his long series of online videos relating the history of Port Huron had been “like a trip back in time.”
The Port Huron native had already lived in Indiana to be close to his family for over a decade before he began using his father’s collection of postcards – images of the area from the 1800s through to the 1960 – for use in YouTube posts in 2012.
“I enjoyed making the videos because the images are so important to the story,” Davis said. “You remember things when you see pictures, and when your audience is a certain age – say, my age or a little younger – they remember things. “
“Because they would remember this, or they would remember that and they liked to see it,” he added. “And then there’s the other part of my audience that’s passionate about history, and they like to see things early.”
Despite his own change of geography, Davis produced 234 videos and 48 DVDs and garnered over 300,000 profile views on his YouTube page.
Now, however, he said he was ready to hang his hat on the project with the completion of a topic guide for his videos.
“I’m almost 82 and not getting any younger,” Davis said. “So I was scared at one point if I wasn’t there the guide would never be done. Even though I really have more story to share, I just thought it was time to go ahead and put this into a guidebook form. “
The guide itself has about 100 categories, Davis said, and is something he compares to “old city directories.”
Those interested can contact Davis at [email protected] He said PDF versions of the guide are available for $ 10 and in booklet form for $ 30. Further details were shared on his Facebook page “Port Huron History DVDs”.
History buffs on the value of Davis’ work
Andrew Kercher, director of community engagement at Port Huron Museums, often does his own research on the history of Port Huron, sharing information on live walking tours and in posts on the museum’s Facebook page.
He said he watched all of Davis’ videos and created his own “homebrew guide” first to find topics later.
“It’s a huge source of beneficial information for sure,” Kercher said. “The five easiest (in terms) of people to interact with or write about the history of Port Huron. … He’s definitely there for me, ”he added.
Mike Connell, who has often covered the local past in his Times Herald column, also ranked Davis among the region’s top historians.
“I followed his videos from the start and often comment on them on Facebook. In my opinion, today he is for local history what WL Jenks was a century ago, ”Connell said by email Friday.
It was referring to Jenks, a prominent lawyer whose historical volume for 1912 detailed the history of the founding of St. Clair County and its people. Referring to Davis, he said: “His work will outlive us all.”
Todd Carmody, who runs “The Thumb (Michigan)” Facebook group, said he shared all of Davis’s videos on social media, adding that he thought it was cool to see how the area has changed. over the years.
“I think Bob’s style is such that it’s very easy to follow for people who may not be interested in history very easily,” said TJ Gaffney, another local history buff. . “… He does a very, very good job of explaining complex things in a simple way. It is still interesting for people. Because it’s still a problem – people are interested, but they want to see it in bits and pieces.
And after? “I’m sure I’ll be bored,” said Davis
Davis’ videos began with what he called a series of “four corners” images examining what once occupied the intersection of Huron and Grand River avenues in downtown Port Huron.
“I learned from the people who watched my videos,” he said. “At first I was just trying to show footage of how things have changed, but after about the first 30 or 40 videos I decided that the story was important as well.”
The videos were well received, Davis said, so he continued, heading north along the St. Clair River, along Pine Grove and 24th Avenue, south to South Park and Marysville, and westward near Port Huron Township and to Goodells.
Once “a few more turned into a few hundred,” he said he shifted gears, producing dozens more with “random” videos from all over town.
Davis said he was thinking of other things to do now that he had finished the historic series, but admitted there was “nothing really going on.”
“I’m sure I’ll be bored. It’s been such a big part of my life. I sometimes work 30 hours a week on a video – somewhere between researching and editing the video. It’s long, “he said.” And my to-do list suffered for a while. “
For now, Davis has said he plans to relax.
Contact Jackie Smith (810) 989-6270 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @ Jackie20Smith.