Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 2 11/16/2011

Hello from H.O.T. Georgia.  85 degrees here today at Lake Blackshear, and nothing but 70’s and 80’s in the forecast for the next two weeks.  As I’ve said before, there have been many turkeys eaten in shorts, t-shirts and sandals at our Thanksgiving table in Georgia over the years, and I have a feeling this might be another one. But that’s ok – Ted and I are so looking forward to seeing children and grandchildren gather around for the holiday – who cares what anyone has on!

Two big news items on the island this week:  1)  Hunting Season began Nov. 15; and 2)  the Christmas Bazaar is right around the corner (Dec. 2 – Dec. 5).

A large number of the male (and some female) year-round residents are deer hunters who will try to come home with venison for the freezer over the next two weeks.  Hunting Season in Michigan is marked on calendars as a holiday, and a lot of businesses will close for a few days, knowing that their male employees will call in sick if they don’t.  Michigan hunters take deer season very seriously!  Most of the Mackinac Island men hunt on Bois Blanc Island and have had hunting camps there for years.  Jeannette Doud reported in her column in The St. Ignace News last week that “many small boats have been leaving for Bois Blanc, carrying men and hunting camp provisions and equipment”.  Snow would help with deer tracking, and around an inch is expected on Wednesday evening.  Here’s wishing lots of good luck to the hunters, and prayers are going up for everyone’s safe return home.

My friend, Liz, who teaches at the Island school, recently captured this beautiful scene. Liz's blog is all about arts & crafts and living on Mackinac Island.

Ah, the Christmas Bazaar!  One of these days I’m going to be on the island for this spectacular event . . . but not this year.  If you’re nearby and can attend, it would be a great way to do your Christmas shopping – there are wonderful items to purchase (a lot of them home-made).  Before the Bazaar begins on Dec. 2, there will be a rummage sale on Friday, Dec. 1st, in the fire hall, following the lighting of the Mackinac Island Christmas tree at 5 p.m. downtown on Main Street.  There will also be a book sale at the Mackinac Island Public Library following the Christmas Tree lighting.

One of the best give-aways at the Christmas Bazaar will be a brand-new snowmobile. Ted and I bought our tickets before we left the Island, and I'm thinking SURELY if we won, Ted will take me back up there because we'd have to find somewhere to store it for the winter (after we rode around on it for a few days, of course). The snowmobile is on display in Doud's Market until the winner is announced during the Christmas Bazaar weekend.

By the way, if you’re not on the Island, and you’d like to purchase chances to win the snowmobile, you can call Doud’s at 906.847.3444.  They’re open 7:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday.  You DO NOT have to be present to win.  The proceeds from the Christmas Bazaar benefit Little Stone Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, Mackinac Island Bible Church, Ste. Anne’s Catholic Church, and the Mackinac Island Medical Center.

Other items reported by Jeannette Doud include:

  • A film crew arrived on the Island Oct. 28 to film at Fort Mackinac in preparation for the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812. (It will also be the 125th anniversary of the opening of the Grand Hotel!  Next summer promises to be full of special events to celebrate these two anniversaries.)
  • The Cottage Inn will reopen Dec. 1, after being closed for a month of renovations.  Just in time for Christmas Bazaar!
  • Pink roses are still blooming in the Grand Hotel’s Tea Garden.
  • Many Island business people are attending the gift show in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, purchasing merchandise for the 2012 season.

This next story is about a friend of Jill’s, who I met at the Grand Hotel a couple of years ago – Dan Dewey.  He worked on the island in the 70’s, and leads tours from the Grand Hotel during the Somewhere in Time Weekend each year.  This is the story from USA Today, penned by Andre J. Jackson.

“Dan Dewey’s dad, Edgar Dewey, sat in a chair with tubes pumping chemotherapy into his veins in the cancer treatment center of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland hospital.  But one Thursday morning in 2007, he told his son he’d like a cup of coffee. Before Dan Dewey left for a Starbucks down the street, they asked other patients in the room whether they’d like a cup, too.

“He’s treating. I’ve got his wallet, and the nurse is holding him down,” Dewey recalled saying at the time.

One cup became several. And now, Dewey’s weekly order consists of 20 or more drinks, depending on how many patients are at the cancer center when he arrives.  He is there every Thursday morning, even though his dad died in 2008.

“We love Dan,” said Kathy Courtney, oncology nurse and unit manager. “He’s here rain or shine; blizzard or tornado. No matter what’s going on out there, we know at 10 o’clock, he’s going to be here.”

Everyone knows to expect him: the staff and patients at the hospital, as well as the folks at Starbucks, where workers have come to fill Dewey’s orders so efficiently, they rarely get complaints from customers anymore.

But every now and then, someone wonders why that guy in white shorts and a gray sweatshirt is holding up the line buying so many cups of lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, strawberry smoothies, and, oh yeah, somebody wanted hot chocolate. When the complainers find out, well, they fall silent. And some put money down to help cover the costs.

Dan Dewey, 65, used to pay for the drinks — averaging about $50 a trip — out of his own pocket before a Starbucks staffer stepped in.

One of the baristas, Valerie Edgington, 46, of Waterford, Mich., decided last year to create a special debit-like card through which people can donate money for coffee runs. People can put money on the card in person via or a Facebook page she set up. She also made T-shirts that sell for $20 and stickers ($5) to help spread the word and encourage contributions.

“He never asked for anything special,” Edgington said. “He just came in every Thursday ordering all these different drinks. Finally, I asked him what he was doing, and I wanted to help.”

The doctors and nurses say there may be something therapeutic about Dewey’s visits.  “It’s definitely a mood-lifter, and a positive attitude is beneficial for any patient going through cancer treatment,” said Kathy Courtney, oncology nurse and unit manager.

Oncologist Rajan Krishnan, the doctor who treated Dewey’s dad, said the visits remind him of times gone by in his native India when people stopped by simply to share a cup of tea or coffee. Doing so showed people they mattered.  Patients such as Mechelle Burdette, 45, an Eastpointe, Mich., resident with five brain tumors and a spot on her lung, appreciate that.  “It’s so special it brings tears to your eyes,” Burdette said of the coffee visits. ” It gives you to the strength to make it through, just knowing the kind of people who are out there. “

Her aunt, a cancer survivor, said she offered to tip or pay Dewey, but he refused. “He said, ‘Oh no. No money touches my hands.’ I don’t think he’s a man. I think he’s an angel.”

Dewey said bringing coffee isn’t just about honoring his dad’s wishes. It makes him feel good, too.

“If anyone doubts why anybody would do something like this, all you have to do is see these people smile,” he said.

Dan’s story touched my heart so much I emailed Brian Williams of NBC News and suggested Dan’s story be featured on their nightly “Making a Difference” segment.  No word back yet, but it certainly would make a great addition to those stories.  One person – doing a relatively small act of kindness – what a difference he is making!


A full moon hovers over the Community Stable before the last horses left the Island. Photo by Leanne Brodeur.

A beautiful fall day on the Island. Photo by Heather May.

Out for a buggy ride with Blaze, before he left the Island for the winter. Photo by Leanne Brodeur.

Frankie and Hershey - the morning they and Jill were leaving the Island.

Photo by Smi Horn: The newly reconstructed Mackinac Island Airport was officially opened for daytime only air traffic on Nov. 15.

Barbara Metting caught this great shot of a freighter passing by the deserted Mackinac Island Marina from the Island House webcam on Nov. 15.


One of the beautiful Victorian cottages along the Boardwalk on the west end of Main Street.

Ste. Anne's Catholic Church in the moonlight.

One of my favorites of all time from Steve. At first I thought it was a painting, but it's real! The romantic gazebo at Mission Point Resort - the site of many, many summer weddings.

Another of Steve's beautiful night shots.

Steve’s photo of Trinity church featured last week will be used on the church’s web site soon.  The church requested permission, and Steve graciously said yes.  Thanks, Steve, for all you do to capture the Island’s beauty and magic!

That’s all for this week!  I know you’re all busy preparing Thanksgiving day menus and starting to get your shopping done.  That’s what we’re doing too!  See you next week on the Wednesday BEFORE the big day – Thanksgiving Eve!  God bless.


44 thoughts on “Mackinac Island Winter Update – Vol. 2 11/16/2011

  1. I would so love the Georgia weather right now. I’m trying to hold off Winter for as long as I can. Would love to attend the Christmas bazaar, but since that is not possible, I’m working on the week of Christmas and New Years. Ok , so that might not be possible this year but one of these years it will be! Can’t wait to hear about all the special events next summer. Love the story of Dan Dewey. I read it before but it was just as special the second time. They definitly need to do a “Making A Difference” on this special man! I hope they follow up on your email Brenda. He really deserves this. Love the rest of the pictures, especially the one of Frankie and Hersey.

  2. Brenda,

    I guess I’ll just have to stop reading the Mackinac Island blog and looking at the beautiful pictures. They make me so homesick to go north. On second thought, maybe I’d just rather be homesick.

    I kind of “envy” you your warm weather. It was about 60 degrees here in southern Michigan today, but the weatherman said we probably won’t see that again until next spring. You know, it seems to me that we had snow for the opening of deer season almost every year back in the 1950s-60s and always by Thanksgiving. Is that my imagination?

    I’m also looking forward to Thanksgiving, but we’ll sure miss my mother in law this year.

  3. Brenda,

    Thank you for bringing that wonderful story about Dan Dewey and his wonderful acts of kindness.

    I also have a question for you. The cottage picture you posted this week. . . .is that the cottage that was featured in the old Ester Williams movie filmed on the Island? Everytime I pass that cottage I wonder if it is the one.

    I wish you and your Family a wonderful Thanksgiving!

    • Not sure if it is from that movie but it is owned by the Musser family (Grand Hotel owners/proprietors). It was renovated for a feature in the now defunct Mackinac Living magazine, but since renovation no one lives there. Sad.

    • Good question, Lora, but I don’t have any idea. I’ve watched the movie, but I can’t recall seeing that cottage. But . . . Steve Findley, who took the picture, is a big fan of the movie so he might just chime in with the answer to your question later today.

      • The Musser home is the same house in the movie “This Time for Keeps”. It belonged to the owner of the hotel at that time, Mr. Woodfill. Also, Mr. and Mrs. Musser DO still live there during the season. I know this for sure as I am their neighbor.

      • Looks like Mary took care of the question and I agree. Yes, its ‘The Corner Cottage’ and in the movie. For those that have not seen the movie This Time for Keeps I would highly recommend. Though Somewhere in Time was a good movie This Time for Keeps stayed true to the island way of living.

      • When I saw your picture, I immediately said – Oh , Mr. Woodfill’s cottage! But that was back when… I’m sorry it’s empty now. The Mussers don’t stay there?
        Steve, I LOVE your photos. Can you explain how you get that wonderful lighting affect on the Trinity picture, and again on the Ste. Anne’s picture, too?

      • Irene, If your referring to the clouds it was all Gods set up with the great moon that happened to be out that night and all I had to do was leave the shutter on the camera open longer to get them to show movement. If you wondering about lighting on the buildings it was combination of surrounding light already in the area and flash painting by using my flash to fire off quite a few flashes and “painting” the building with it. I hope I answered your question right. If needing more detail feel free to get my email address from Brenda.

  4. Oh Brenda, please send some of that warm Georgia weather up here to Michigan. I miss the 70 degree weather, but actually I don’t think I would like it that warm on Thanksgiving. To me Thanksgiving needs to be cold with some snow while I’m at home getting the dinner ready, watching our parade and waiting for Santa. I can’t picture Santa coming in 70-80 degree weather, to me it’s unnatural.

    The pictures as always are spectacular. Steve should make and sell a calendar of the island.

    The story of Dan Dewey I read it last week in the Detroit Free Press and in fact back in July Fox 2 News did a story on Dan Dewey as well showing him with his weekly coffee run.

    Here is the link to the story.'s-coffee-run-touches-lives-19072011

    • Hot weather on Thanksgiving isn’t natural to me either, Judi, but that’s what I’m used to. I think I’ve watched too many romantic movies with families gathered around the turkey table while snow falls softly outside.

    • Thank you, Judi. Wonderful, heartwarming video. Just proves there are good people in this world. I’ve sent that site address to many people in my email address book.

  5. Thanks for posting the date of the Christmas tree lighting – I’m sure many of us will be glued to our computer screens so that we can participate, even if only virtually. I really enjoyed watching it last year. Enjoy the warm weather – more seasonal temperatures have moved in up here. It will be interesting to watch the War of 1812 anniversary events coming up; I would have had kin on the island (and probably in the British invading party too) on that day in July 1812 when the first events occurred – wonder what they’d think of the friendship and cooperation between our two countries now? I really hope to get to the island in 2012. Again madame – your column is a welcome sight in the morning’s in-box. Take care.

  6. I read the story about Dan in the Sunday paper-great idea sending it to NBC. Hope it makes it to air! Weather wise we’ve been pretty lucky in the Ann Arbor area this past week-I’ve been able to run in shorts up until yesterday. I hear that things are changing though and my various once broken weather indicator bones are agreeing with that. Lovely photos as usual. Hope the rest of your week is wonderful!

  7. I heard Chelsea Clinton was going to head up the “making a difference” segment now. It would be a great one to feature. Loved all the great photos! It would be hard to pick a favorite. We had almost an inch of snow late last week & I know the deer hunters would love to see that now. Our fog was so thick here yesterday, I don’t think they could have seen a deer if they tried. I love the change of seasons, so I can’t imagine having temps in the 70’s or 80’s right now.

  8. Thanks for the great update from Mackinac Island. I am happy you decided to do the updates again this year. Have fun getting ready for Thanksgiving!!

  9. Good job sending Dan’s story to the network! So many of us think about doing something, but don’t follow through. Hope it gets picked up – it’s a good one!

    Heather May’s photo could be called ‘Where Have All theh Fudgies Gone?’ So many beautiful photos this time, but that one was special to me. Thanks! I love seeing the island all year round.

  10. I use to think I was abssessed with “The Island”, but am glad to see that there are alot of us out there that love this special place. Reading and seeing all the pictures gives me that warm feeling I always get seeing it. Thanks Everyone!

  11. Greeting from a new fan, in 1995 I worked on Mackinac Island for the summer (my family has a home on Mullett Lake and every summer we would spend weeks there). I have always thought the Island was magical and there is something so special about it when you live and/or work on the Island. I found your blog and have shared it with family and friends. Not only are your photos amazing, but it makes me want to take off and head back to the Island for months at a time. (I currely live in rainy, cold Ohio). Thank you for all of your stories, photos and info. The Dan Dewey story is so inspiring. I surely hope they feature him on NBC and if so, make sure to let us all know! Happy Thanksgiving to you adn your family!

  12. Isn’t Jeannette Doud a treasure?! I love reading her article in the Mackinac paper. I am flying down to Atlanta in a couple of weeks to visit a sick aunt and hope to have warm weather. Do you have any special restaurants in Atlanta to recommend? I booked my trip to Mackinac in January and can’t wait!

  13. Thanks for the gorgeous pictures everyone!!! They are so very special. My husband (Dave) has cancer again, 2nd time in four years. He could use your prayers. thanks. Happy thanksgiving to all.

  14. I want to thank you individuals who have put my husband/me on your prayer list. Prayer is a powerful thing. Prayers helped us both the last time we both went through cancer. Dave is coming home tomorrow and will go back to the hospital for another 3 days of chemo after he has 3 weeks of rest. He is doing well, eating a lot and has a good attitude!

  15. Dan Dewey truly is a special guy. I first met him several years ago at the Somewhere in Time weekend. He never forgets a face and always has a smile for everyone. It really doesn’t surprise me that he is doing something so special and so meaningful for those who need one of Dan`s smiles. I am also glad to know that there is a way to help him carry out his mission .Thank you for posting the story. I am sure there are many that are thankful for Dan`s huge heart.

  16. The year was 1968. I had just returned from Vietnam and was staying with my parents in a small Ohio Town. I had a couple of good friends (Steve White and Jon Niblick) who had left the small town in Ohio and headed to Sarasota, Florida to spend the winter. I soon packed my bags and joined them. When I arrived there was another guy there by the name of Dan Dewey. We soon became good friends and did all the things young guys do. At the end of the winter I headed back to Ohio.

    About 2-3 years later I was living in an old hospital with a bunch of guys Steve White included. One day Dewey (as we called him) showed up and stayed several months. Dewey always had interesting stories about his travels and the summers when he worked at the Grand Hotel. The coffee story does not surprise me as Dewey always liked to do nice things for people. About 1972 I road a motorcycle around Lake Huron and made a stop at the Grand Hotel to see Dewey. I think that was the last time I saw him.

    I am now planning a trip that will bring me near the Grand Hotel so I googled Dewey and found this link.

    Don Coatney
    Murfreesboro, Tennessee

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