Questions, Anyone?

Spools of orange cable

Q. Several readers at lunch wondered what the big wood spools are that we see along the roadsides with huge orange cable on them.

A. Stephen Shultz, assistant engineer for the city of Alpena, explains, “The wood spools have orange conduit on them. Conduit is a small pipe normally used to carry wire or fiber optic cable under ground. In this case it is being used to carry fiber optic cable.

“Merit Networks, who has a large American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant, is currently installing fiber throughout Michigan to expand its network which serves educational, medical, governmental, and other not-for-profit institutions. Alpena is one of northern Michigan’s hub communities for this fiber. For more information, check ?

Alpena County population

Q. “What was the highest number of people living in Alpena County?” is a follow-up question to the previous column on the population of the City of Alpena.

A. Alpena County’s highest population was 32,315 in 1980, according to U.S. Census figures compiled by Carol Shafto, planning and evaluation director of Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency. This figure compares to the county’s population of 29,598 in 2010, the most recent U.S. Census. Population was 18,254 in 1900, 19,965 in 1910; 20,766 in 1940, and 30,605 in 1990. County population was 31,314 in the year 2000, and 29,598 in 2010.

Early Alpena County population figures from Wikipedia show a dramatic increase during the lumbering era. The 290 early settlers in 1860 (Alpena’s first census) grew to 2,756 in 1870 and 8,789 in 1880. Then, in 1890, the population leaped to 15,581.

Goody two shoes

Q. Reader Jennie Kerr asks, “Where does the phrase “Goody Two-Shoes” come from?”?

A. Brewer’s “Dictionary of Phrase and Fable”(16th edition), gives this description of the phrase “Goody Two-Shoes”: “This nursery tale first appeared in 1765 under the full title “The History of Little Goody Two-Shoes; Otherwise Called Mrs. Margery Two-Shoes, With the Means by Which She Acquired Her Learning and Wisdom, and in Consequence of Her Estate.” It was written for John Newberry (1713-67), a notable publisher of children’s books, probably by Oliver Goldsmith. Its heroine owned only one shoe and when given a pair she was so pleased that she showed them to everyone, saying ‘Two shoes!'”

Please send questions and comments to or to “Questions, Anyone?” The Alpena News, 130 Park Place, Alpena, MI 49707.