Our daughter had a wedding shower given for her this past week-end in St.Louis, which should explain why there has been no posts forth-coming on this blog site for awhile. And we want to apologize to our many friends in St.Louis for not getting in touch with them while we were there. It was too short of a time to do any visiting. The shower was this past Saturday, and all went well. Each guest was assigned a time of the day for which their gift would be relevant. Melissa consequently received many creative gifts, the majority of which either kept her in the kitchen baking, or out picnicking and spending special moments with Spencer. It made for a lot of laughter and fun. Spencer's Aunt Sue gave the shower and it was wonderful meeting her, his mother Cheryl and other members of his family. The happy bride-to-be is pictured below.
Monday, July 23, 2012
For some reason my expectations of this historic village to provide us with any interesting entertainment were fairly low. The cost for a tour of the village, as well as a 40 minute railroad ride and a 40 minute paddlewheel riverboat ride, was less than twenty dollars per person. Crossroads Village is under the auspices of the Genesee County Parks Department, which also raised a red flag in my mind (can any government agency be successful in such an endeavor?). Surprisingly, we had a wonderful afternoon at the village Sunday, and have every intention on returning some time soon to complete our tour of the village. After purchasing our tickets we boarded a 1903 steam locomotive. As it was a very warm day we chose to ride in one of its last cars which had open sides. The 1920 year-old train car had been used as a fruit wagon to transport oranges in California. Before the train left the track the conductor pointed out a large tank which supplied the water for the steam engine. He commented that if any water is near wood it will not freeze. Every winter a few railroad ties are thrown into the tank to keep the water from freezing.
Our train ride took us through forest, meadows and along Mott Lake. In a tributary off the lake we saw a great blue heron sitting in the water. After the train ride we had a small amount of time to check out some of the historic homes of the village, many of them were built in the late 1800s and came from various surrounding localities in Michigan. At the Masters' Cider Mill we watched thirstily as apples were pressed by machine and the resulting cider flow into waiting buckets. Unfortunately the juice was not pasteurized or filtered and had to be thrown out. At the Horton-Colwell Building is a second floor opera house where we were entertained by Richard Paul the ventriloquist. That building was air conditioned and gave us a break from the heat. Before boarding the paddlewheeler Genesee Belle we stopped at the carousel building. The carousel was built in 1912 in Leavenworth Kansas and came to the village in 1983. A rare antique organ built in 1925 provides music for the carousel. The boat ride provided us a cool and relaxing trip around Mott Lake before we headed for home. We certainly plan on returning to Crossroads Village!
Saturday, July 21, 2012
Thursday, July 19, 2012
Wednesday my sister-in-law Mary Jo had a scheduled procedure at a hospital in downtown Saginaw. While she was recovering after that procedure John and I, as well as Wayne my brother, decided to tour the downtown area. It was quite a trip down memory lane for Wayne who had worked at a bank in Saginaw for 30 years in Saginaw. Wednesday was his natal day, so it seemed a great way for him to spend his birthday and he was eager to show the town to us. Saginaw has changed much over the past 100 years, and even in the past 15 years or so since Wayne retired. The town, as Flint, was once a busy lumber center. Once the pine forests were depleted Saginaw moved into an economy dependent on agricultural crops as beans and sugar beets. My mother grew up in such an agricultural community. When she became a young adult she worked in Saginaw at the Lufkin Rule Company (now gone as well as the bank where my brother worked). So it was also a fascinating tour of the downtown area for me as it brought back recollections of my mom's stories of her life in Saginaw. A lot of the downtown buildings of the past are now gone. However, Saginaw has held unto two of her gems. One such building is the Hoyt Library. A business man who had lumber and real estate interests in the Saginaw Valley, Jesse Hoyt, funded the building which was erected in 1890 in the Romanesque style. It had additions built onto it in 1921 and 1960 and still serves as a library today. We went into the library and I felt like I was back at our downtown library in St.Louis, which also is an older building with a similar interior.
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Saturday, July 14, 2012
I asked a staff member at the museum where the name Buick came from. She informed me that David Buick was an inventor- his first invention was applying vitreous enamel to cast iron bathtubs. After that his interest turned to engines and making spark plugs. He founded the Buick Company in 1906, which later became part of General Motors. With the auto industry up and running, Flint became a boom town in the early 1900s. Its population was 150,000 in 1925. In 1929 30 % of its population was foreign born- many people came from around the world to work in the auto plants. At this time also many homes were razed to make room for auto factories, parking lots and garages. Places to live became hard to find in Flint. Of course all that changed for Flint when the depression years arrived, and shortly after that World War 11. With the war women were then recruited to work in the factories of Flint. The city has not since seen the boom years of the early 1900s.
Before closing, I want to mention the logo of Chevrolet, which is referred to as a bow tie. It is not certain where Durant got the idea. He second wife claims that he saw the design in an advertisement for small coal briquets ( "CoalEttes") when they were vacationing in Virginia.
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
We met up with my brother Wayne and his wife Mary Jo last Wednesday at a trailer park in Frankenmuth, Michigan. My sister Linda drove in from Missouri on Friday. John and I have been busy visiting with them and catching up with their latest news. We have also experienced the heat which the rest of the country has been suffering under for some time now. Friday was our worse day when the temperature came close to one hundred degrees. That day we could only occasionally venture outside, the rest of the time we stayed inside our motor home with the air conditioning running constantly. Saturday we spent canoeing on the Rifle River with our nephew Andy and his family. The skies were a bit overcast then, which kept the temperature down. It would have been very pleasant on the water had it not been for the large groups of rafters on the water. In all of our canoe trips in Missouri we had never experienced anything like it. Many of the people on the river were young adults who were partying hardy with alcohol and loud music. At one spot in the river there was even a live band playing high up on a river bluff. However, that day we did stay cool. On Sunday we attended the Hensler Family Reunion, which was the main reason we are staying in the area. The site of the reunion is at the church grounds of Amelith Lutheran Church. It has a parochial school where my grandfather, Waldemar Lohrmann, taught for 38 years. He and his wife Anna are buried in the church cemetery. I always enjoy attending the Hensler reunion, not only to see aunts, uncles and cousins again, but also to see sites related to family history. After the reunion my sister and brother, as well as myself, continued our usual tradition of visiting the Hensler family home and farm. The home has had many changes to it since my mother lived in it about 100 years ago
Monday, July 2, 2012
The town is popular because of the presence of the Petoskey stone on its beaches. It is important to clarify at this point that the town was named after Chief Petoskey and the stone is named after the town because it has been more commonly found here. The stone has a distinctive hexagonal pattern. Its origins were in the salt sea that once covered Michigan 350 million years ago. It is the petrified remains of prehistoric coral colonies. We found examples of the stone at the Little Traverse History Museum.
We also learned at the museum that the author Ernest Hemingway had a connection to Northern Michigan. During his childhood he came yearly to Walloon Lake (it flows into Traverse Bay). His parents had a summer cottage there which they called Windemere. Hemingway wrote a series of short stories based in Northern Michigan featuring a character named Nick Adams. His book The Torrents of Spring was set in Petoskey. The book also features other areas around here as Cross Village and Harbor Springs. The latter two towns we visited Sunday when we took a drive around Traverse Bay. In Cross Village we stopped to look at Legs Inn. It is named for the stove legs which trim the roof line. In the 1930s a man, Stanley Smolaks, with the assistance of the Ottawa Indians, built the inn. He also used tree roots, limbs and driftwood to carve fantastical creatures. The decorative items can still be found in the inn today.
We enjoyed our time in Petoskey but it was marred by a run-in we had with a deer Sunday morning. After church John decided to drive down the road which ran from the church into the countryside. It was quite the scenic drive through rolling hills of farmland and forests. Just as John was thinking of turning around and heading back towards home, we saw that a car on the other side of the road coming towards us which narrowly missed a deer. A few seconds later WHAM another deer flew from our side of the road across our windshield. He ended up dead in a ditch across the road. Fortunately our windshield remained intact but the hood and a side panel got dented up pretty badly. Well, were going to replace the hood anyway because of hail damage to it last spring. I must admit that I could never be a hunter, I felt worse for the deer than the car! That image of him flying in front of me haunted me for quite awhile.
Sunday, July 1, 2012
One thing about traveling, it sure has improved my geography! Until this past week I did not know that Sault Ste.Marie had a sister city by the same name across the St.Marys River in Ontario, Canada. They each have different locks but are connected to each other with the International Friendship Bridge and a railway system which also goes across the river. On our boat ride we crossed the river on one of the U.S. locks, and on our return trip home we passed through a Canadian lock. On the United States side there are a total of four locks. Currently larger boats (which are generally 1000 feet long and carry more than 72,000 tons of freight in a single load) can only get through one of the locks. Plans are in the works for two of the smaller locks to be reconstructed to meet the same size specifications as the larger lock. Pictured below is the International Friendship Bridge, on our river cruise we passed under it. During the course of the day, whenever we glanced at the bridge, we usually noticed long lines of cars queuing to go through customs. We were informed by locals that on an average day it takes 2.5 hours to go across the bridge and through United States customs from Canada.