WEBMASTER'S NOTE: This blog entry takes the place of the former page dedicated to the Looney Rooney legend. For three years, we have been trying to get the true story about this legend, without much success. When we are able to get the definitive story, we will post a new page about it. In the meantime, these are some of the recollections gathered for the site in 2014.
- KEVIN HARRISON
"On Grosse Ile, there was a hermit who lived in an old house without electricity. People would go to his house, park in the driveway and he would come out and tell stories about 'The Old Days.' His name was Looney Rooney. The house was hidden down a dark, unlit road and he was supposed to have always fired several shots into the air, to show that he did not want any troublemakers, as your car approached."
- JAMES T. CALLOW
"The old eccentric... was Din Rooney, and I hope we will hear a lot about him. I knew him fairly well, and he was a remarkable, intelligent man, especially interesting if you were keen on local Indian history as I was. I think there was a time when a lot of young people on GI (Grosse Ile) spent time with him. I have a photograph of him taken by Pat O'Connor, not all that long ago, when Din must have been at the end of his days, maybe 100 years old. He lived in a 19th century derelict house, no heat, water or plumbing, was kind of a health nut, drank out of the Detroit River all his life.
- TOM MCGUANE
Grosse Ile Memories Blog
"Yes, a lot of young people spent time at his house. He was eccentric, to say the least. A little nutty--hence his nickname in the 60s: 'Looney Rooney'. He would welcome us in for a tour of the old big house at night, in the dark, walking with a flashlight. The highlight was the skeleton of his wife, which was an old bra and girdle resting in a rocking chair. I still remember being scared but I suspect he had the last laugh."
- BARBARA PACIEJEWSKI
"I lived on Grosse Isle from 1945 to 1951, so I was a little kid when I would “run away from home” on my bike down Parke Lane towards Den's incredible Victorian (as I remember it) many, many a time.
Den was a kind and wise man. During the winters, he'd sweep the snow off the river for the kids to ice skate on. There would be a little fire crackling, and he'd give us hot cocoa to warm ourselves up. In finer weather, when I was upset, what I needed to do, he'd say, was climb the huge cherry tree and pick (and eat) as many as I could gather. That's what I needed to do to feel better: pick the fruit off the trees, the cherry, mulberry, maybe peaches too and sure enough, it worked. Other times, he'd pass me notes from the ground floor up the dumbwaiter instructing me to go find some knick-knack or other, and send it back down. He'd also ask us to write our names down on slips of paper, and tuck them under any of the wonderful curios and antiques we would like to have after he dies. Only years later, when I lived in New York and first stepped into Tiffany's on 5th Avenue, did I realize how some of those lamp shades, vases, and other items could well have been a Tiffany or Lalique or the like.
I loved Den. I'm 81 and I think of him often. He was a gift in my life. Calling this incredible man, this wonderful character “Looney” is just another sad example of how people treat the memory of someone who doesn't conform to a narrow-minded norm.
- SCARLET COLSEN (aka Charlotte Kar)