In May I wrote the story, “From Sails to Horseshoes”, about Mary bringing her Friesian Teddie to the Island and received this comment from a reader:
Hi Bree – I found your blog about 6 months ago and have been following regularly. I live in Savannah, Georgia, but am actually from Michigan and grew up on the Island every summer. My grandparents owned a home on the West Bluff. When they owned it, it was called the Petunia Palace. I keep hoping for a glimpse of the house – now owned by the Manoogians. My grandparents are buried on the island. I love this story about Mary and Teddie – absolutely beautiful! Thanks for sharing the island with us all – makes me a little less homesick to see and hear of it regularly. Leeann
I remember thinking, “Yeah! A Georgia connection!” I immediately emailed Leeann, thanking her for commenting, and saying I’d be happy to search my camera cards for photos of her grandparents’ home – or I could run by and take some new ones.
“My problem,” I wrote that day, “is that the Manoogians now own two homes on the West Bluff – the one they live in and one called the ‘Foundation House’, which is used for many social events on the Island.” I also noted, “The Foundation House was once the home of G. Mennen Williams, former Governor of Michigan.”
Imagine my delight and surprise when Leeann emailed back and gave me her full name – Leeann Williams Aldridge – Governor Williams’ granddaughter!
We chatted back and forth through a few more emails, and Leeann mentioned her family’s efforts to have the date of her grandmother’s death engraved on the Williams’ tombstone. Coincidentally, a couple of weeks before we met online, I’d heard talk downtown that a stone cutter was on the Island and was taking care of a backlog of engraving at the cemeteries. I mentioned all this to Leeann, thinking to myself that I’d walk up there soon to see if the Williams headstone had been engraved.
A couple of weeks later, Ted and I were coming back from Ft. Holmes, and I cut through the cemetery to check on the headstone. And there it was.
That night I sent the best of the photos to Leeann, promising to go back later and take another shot when the light was better.
Leeann also has a blog – called Willingness to Grow (http://willingnesstogrow.com) – which I subscribed to and now happily follow. A couple of weeks ago I received a notice that Leeann had added a post, and I eagerly clicked on the link. Her story was entitled “My Special Place” and told of her childhood and spending her summers on Mackinac Island. There were also wonderful family photographs of her and her brother with their grandparents. And there, at the very end, she told about the two of us meeting online and about the photograph I’d emailed.
The photographs below of the home where Leeann spent her childhood summers were taken this afternoon, and I’ve already sent them to Leeann.
I know you want to read Leeann’s post! It’s a beautiful story, and you can read it here: http://willingnesstogrow.com/my-special-place/. And if you’d like to read more about Leeann’s grandparents, she wrote a wonderful piece for Father’s Day here: http://willingnesstogrow.com/in-anticipation-of-fathers-day/.
In between all the daily routine posts you read of Ted, Maddie, Bear and I on the Island, there will occasionally be what I call a “gem of a story” like this one. If we weren’t here, I wouldn’t find them (or they wouldn’t find me), and if I didn’t write, I wouldn’t have the joy of sharing them with you.
A special “thank you” to Leeann for putting her blessing on the sharing of this story!
P.S. Special note for my friend Lowell, who submitted a photo last week of the Curio Shop at Arch Rock and talked about Gov. Williams and his family riding by. Lowell, if you’ll go back and read the comments on that story, you’ll find one from Leeann!