You asked for it, you have patiently waited for it, and now it’s here – Lowell & Faye’s own story of their trip to Mackinac Island! In Lowell’s own words – and they are mighty descriptive, well-written, and exuberant words – you can follow along with every step, carriage ride, visit, thought and memory. This is will be a two-part post, so don’t forget to come back on Thursday for “the rest of the story”!
Accompanying the story are Faye’s great photos, with captions by Faye & Lowell.
And now . . .
Lowell & Faye’s Amazing Trip to Mackinac Island
Of first importance, while we were on the Island I asked Brenda how long it took her to prepare a blog. She answered by saying that selecting and uploading the pictures took the most time, but when she got to the words, they just flowed. Well, I’m no Brenda. As easy as it is for me to talk, when it comes to writing, the words do not “just flow.” They are written, rewritten and rewritten again. With that in mind, here goes:
Sunday, June 2, 2012
We left home (rural Olivet, Michigan) at 7:11 am in order to get to the Church of Christ at Houghton Lake, where I preached from 1979 until 1990. What a wonderful time of worship it was, as well as being able to visit with some of those whom we had known so many years past. The drive to Houghton Lake is about 150 miles and was uneventful, except tor a little rain a few times. We arrived just as the worship hour was beginning and immediately, we saw Frank Swan near the back, who turned to welcome us. That sure made us feel good. Then he interrupted the man who was making the opening announcements and announced that Lowell and Faye Greene had just walked in the door. It was a little embarrassing to be singled out like that. Nevertheless, it was very nice to be recognized. The sermon by Don Wray was about the fact that Jesus has prepared a place for His people that will be revealed when He returns. What a blessing.
After worship we visited with some of those who were there when we were, including Bess Gibbard, Debbie Davis, Rod & Carol Lafraugh, Frank Swan and his wife Chris, who came to Houghton Lake after we left. I didn’t get to visit with the Simpsons and the Tostiges and I’m sure sorry about that. We then went to a restaurant with a group from the church and by 1:00 pm we were on our way north to Mackinaw City, where we arrived about two hours later. Mackinaw City bears no resemblance to what it was back in the 1950s and I couldn’t find the Shepler’s Ferry Dock. We stopped at a state information building to get directions and found the dock with no problem. As we drove onto the dock, Faye saw Brenda & Ted talking to someone. They didn’t see us until we drove right up in front of them, so I guess you could say the first surprise was on them. However, from then on we were the ones to be surprised. We parked the car and went to the ticket booth to get the proper documentation so we could get the car back. Then we were given our VIP ferry tickets. As we walked across the dock to the ferry, we saw our names on the reader board, just as though we were “somebodies.” With Brenda & Ted, we boarded the ferry for the 15-20 minute trip to the Island. Nothing like the 45 minutes it took back in the 1950s. Faye thought the ride was a little rough, but I enjoyed it.
When we arrived on the Island, there was Jill with her camera. Let me tell you, that girl is magic. I think she knows the secret of space travel. She took pictures of us as we walked by and then the next thing we knew, she was in front of us again. That happened often while we were on the Island. Magic! We walked to the head of the dock and made arrangements with Archie Horn to take our luggage to the Chippewa Hotel.
Our first order of business when we got to the street was to wave at the Main Street Webcam that’s on the Lakeview Hotel. Later we learned that people actually saw us and knew who we were. As a matter of fact, some of them waved back. (In case you don’t know, it’s http://www.mackinaclive.us/index.asp?cam=0 .) Then (Brenda & Ted, Jill, Faye & I) started walking up the street toward the Chippewa Hotel. Of course, my mouth was running a mile a minute and I was pointing at this, that and everything. Many times while we were on the Island, people asked me how it had changed. All I can say is that it has changed a lot and yet it’s the same. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but it’s true. There are some new buildings and some buildings have been replaced (the building in which I first rented a room had burned and been replaced). However, I think the biggest change is the use of so much more color in painting the buildings. Back in the 1950s almost everything was painted white. All of the old hotels are still there, but of course, there are also some new ones and I don’t remember that there were any bed and breakfasts. I think I figured out the location of the two restaurants I worked in the first summer I was on the Island. Is it really possible that was 1954?
Finally, we arrived at the Chippewa Hotel where we saw an elevator door that was painted with lilacs. Later, when we entered the elevator through those we saw a sign unique to Mackinac Island, “No Bicycles In Rooms.” I checked Faye & me into the hotel and all of us went up to the second floor suite that had been reserved for us. It overlooked the harbor, but we could also see part of Marquette Park, some of the homes and other buildings to the east, Round Island and Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island, the Round Island Channel, and Lake Huron to the east. It was, without a doubt, a spectacular view.
We visited for awhile. That is, we visited when Brenda and Jill weren’t taking pictures or maybe it was also while they were taking pictures. Let me mention right here that I had expected Ted to be very quiet and reserved. That was not the case. He is outgoing and a gold mine of historical information. We sure enjoyed being with him while were on the Island.
After awhile Brenda, Ted and Jill left us to relax, which by then we were glad to do. A little later Faye & I decided to go across the street to Doud’s Market, where we bought a few items from the deli for our supper. By the way, Doud’s is a wonderful little grocery, the oldest family owned grocery in the United States, and it’s on Facebook. Check it out. We were still very tired and went to bed early, but not before we heard a knock at the door. I was handed a box which contained a very nice gift from another of Brenda’s blog readers, Lora. That was a very nice extra and one that was certainly not expected.
Monday, June 3, 2013
We were awake at our usual time of 6:00 am. We made coffee, ate our cereal and took a walk through downtown. On the way down the street, as we were getting ready to cross Astor Street, around the corner from behind us came a penny-farthing (one of those bicycles with a very big wheel in the front and a tiny wheel in the back). We continued down the street and went to the Bicycle Inn where we tried to contact Lora, but she and her niece had already left for the day. We walked a little farther and Faye took my picture walking on the beach with the Mackinac Straits Bridge in the background. It was here that she also took a picture of me in front of the Windermere Hotel in the same location where she had taken my picture in 1987. Of course, I had a full head of dark brown wavy hair back then.
We walked back to the Chippewa where Brenda met us. Together with her we walked about one block to where the carriage tour starts. As we got into the carriage, we met our driver, Sam, who was very personable and knowledgeable about the history of Mackinac. The two horse carriage turned up Fort Street to Market Street and to Cadotte Avenue. On the way we passed the Dr. William Beaumont House where he did some of the earliest experiments of the human digestive system in the early 1800s, the Stuart House where Brenda volunteers, the Biddle house which was built about 1780 and is the oldest home on the Island, the new medical center, the Ella Chambers’ house where I lived for three summers and the Grand Hotel which was built in less than four months and opened in July, 1887. The price of rooms at that time was 3-5 dollars. I think the price may be a little more now. Did you know the Grand has hosted five U. S. presidents, one Russian prime minister, one Russian president, inventor Thomas Edison and author Mark Twain?
We rode on up Cadotte Avenue to the Surrey Hill Carriage Museum where we saw Ted coming across from the condo. Faye & I assumed Maddie and Bear were coming to meet us. Forget that! Their first priority was the treats that they expected to get from Denise Beaudoin at the museum. After they got their treats they were willing to show some interest in us.
From the Museum we walked the short distance to Ted & Brenda’s condo, through which Brenda showed us. We visited for about a half hour, but I was surprised to learn that Maddie and Bear didn’t talk. After all, they have written some very interesting and entertaining blogs. Maybe they were just shy.
Then it was back to the museum where we saw, among other things, the old horse drawn fire wagon and the horse drawn hearse. Later we learned the hearse is taken out of the museum and used for every funeral on the Island.
We exited the museum and boarded a three horse, thirty-five passenger carriage for the remainder of the carriage tour. Our wonderful driver and guide was Ryan. He gave us a continuous narration during the whole ride (I promise, I only interrupted him a few times. Of course, I was the only person mouthy enough to do that). If the two drivers we had are any indication of the quality of Carriage Tour employees, someone sure knows how to hire the right people. We rode through the woods, past the Island cemeteries and Skull Cave to Arch Rock where I worked at the Arch Rock Curio Shop in the mid 1950s. After the Rock, with the crystal clear lake water below, we continued the tour back to Fort Mackinac, with Ryan continuing to regale us with his stories, excellent information and comments about everything we passed.
When we arrived at Fort Mackinac, we left the carriage to go inside to the Tea Room for lunch. If I remember correctly, we had cream of broccoli soup, chicken noodle soup and a sub. All were very good. I believe Ted told me that the Tea Room is now operated by the Grand Hotel. I don’t remember his name, but the manager of the Tea Room couldn’t have been nicer to us.
After we ate lunch, with Ted & Brenda as our guides, we toured some of the buildings of the fort which had been completely restored beginning in 1960. We liked everything, but we especially enjoyed the one room Post Schoolhouse. I’m sure that was because of the one room schoolhouses Faye & I attended as children. While we were in the fort, Charlie McMichael called all the way from New Orleans. I’ll flatter myself and say it was just so he could talk to me, but I’m sure that’s not true. Charlie is the cousin/brother in law of Ted and a really nice man. He and his wife, Cathie, had hoped to be on the Island at the same time we were, but, sadly, it was not to be. My very best to you, Charlie & Cathie. Hopefully, someday we’ll be able to visit one another.
It was at the fort that Faye & I bought a little book entitled, “Mackinac, An Island Famous In These Regions” by Phil Porter. It’s a great little history book of the Island, claiming to be from furs to fudge, and it certainly is that. Let me mention just here that later in the evening we walked into our room and laying on the bed was a book, wrapped in very nice light blue paper. Of course, when I called Brenda, she knew nothing about it. As it turned out, it was from Charlie & Cathie and Brenda had wrapped it and had it delivered. The book is “Mackinac Island, It’s History In Pictures” by Eugene T. Peterson. Someone knew what I like because it sure complements the little book I picked out.
Then we left the fort and returned to the Chippewa Hotel, Brenda told us to be in the lobby at 10:15 on Tuesday morning where I would be interviewed by a reporter from the Mackinac Island Town Crier. Later, on the phone, she informed me that plans had changed and we should be in the hotel lobby at 9:45 am. Then we would take a taxi out to Arch Rock where the interview would take place.
I think that’s a good place to end Part I.
I don’t know about you, but I’m crazy about the way Lowell writes! Hurry back on Thursday for Part II of Lowell & Faye’s adventure. There’s lots more good stuff to come!