Throw Back Thursday – The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/26 17

Personal Note:  I loved reading back over this blog, first published October 31, 2009.  Some of the businesses listed in this post are no longer open, and restaurants open all winter have changed since 2009.  So please remember, if you’re planning a winter trip to Mackinac THIS (2017-18) winter, you need to check what’s open and what’s not!

Header Photo by Jill Sawatzki. 

The Islanders Get Their Home Back

In Amy McVeigh’s book, Mackinac Connection, she quotes Jessie Doud, owner of Jesse’s Chuck Wagon Restaurant until this past year, who was asked about winter on Mackinac Island.  Ms. Doud said, “The words I would use about winter are ‘quiet’ and ‘peaceful’.  We get our home back. I don’t mean that as a slur on the tourists, because come spring we are ready for everyone to come back and for all the activity to begin again.  I guess you’d say I can’t wait for it (the summer season) to end and can’t wait for it to begin.”

Today I want to share with you some pictures I’ve been taking this week as the “town” of Mackinac Island slowly closes its doors to all but the winter residents (around 500) and the few hundred tourists who come over during the winter to snowmobile and cross-country ski.

Yes, there are a few businesses still open.  The city offices are here and working all year – the island still has to have lights and water and garbage pickup.  The public school is open year-round, as is Doud’s Market and Alford’s Drug Store.  The Village Inn will be open all winter, except for two weeks at the end of November (hunting season!).  The Mustang never closes, nor does Sinclair’s Irish Pub.  St. Anne’s Catholic Church becomes the social hub of the entire community now, regardless of church affiliation.

I noticed, even before the last Grand employee had left the island, businesses had begun maintenance work for next spring.  One of the fudge shops was getting a new tile floor, another was getting new paint.  The islanders stay as busy as possible with outdoor work right up until that first heavy snowfall stops all the activity in its tracks.  Maintenance will continue indoors on some businesses until the cost of heating shuts everything down until spring.

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La Galerie’s display windows, completely bare. The doors have special slanted mats in front of them to prevent melting snow from getting into the shop.

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The sign on Goodfellow’s door.

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Two empty shops on Main Street.

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Shepler’s Ferry Dock – no boats, no people.

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These workers were carrying the awnings from the Mackinac Island Bike Shop somewhere to put in storage. All the stores with awnings do the same thing. That’s easier that having to replace all those awnings that heavy snow would have broken during the winter.

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Luggage carts from the ferry docks going to storage.

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Decked Out, a very nice clothing store, empty and locked.

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Murdick’s Fudge, getting a new coat of paint before the snow falls.

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The lobby of the Chippewa Hotel.

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The Pink Pony – two nights before this photo was taken, it was full of costume-clad goblins.

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Sweet Anna. I finally got to photograph her somewhere besides in front of the Grand shoveling up horse poop. She was leaving the island, on her way back to college.

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Jill took this shot early one morning this week, before she left. It’s boxes and boxes of empty beer bottles, waiting to be picked up for recycling.

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Empty Main Street – Wednesday morning.

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The other end of Main Street.

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A new shop – opening in the spring!

It’s now Friday night – around 10:45 p.m.  Ted and I have just gotten back from our date night.  About an hour before we started to town, the rain started again.  There are no taxis running after five o’clock now unless you have reserved one in advance.  We didn’t.  So we put on all our rain gear and started down the hill.  We laughted as we walked, saying that back home in Georgia, we probably wouldn’t even venture out in our car on a night like tonight – we certainly wouldn’t think of putting on rain gear and walking somewhere.  Yet, here we were, splashing through puddles with rain blowing in our face- and laughing about it!

We ate dinner at the Village Inn, and about 10 minutes before we were leaving, the wind started blowing like crazy.  We walked up the hill with Ted holding on to me so I wouldn’t be blown away.  That stretch of Cadotte behind the school where there are no trees to block the winds off Lake Huron is the worst, but we got home ok.  So the last Friday in the month played itself out as the other Fridays in October did – with crazy weather.

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Downtown tonight – just as we got into town, the rain stopped.

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The Village Inn tonight. They have placed a pool table in the middle of the floor where about 10 dinner tables were this summer.

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On the way up the hill tonight, we stepped into the little entrance gazebo of the Jockey Club to get a little protection from the wind for a minute. Behind Ted you can see a snow fence. It has been placed all along Cadotte bordering the Grand’s property. It will prevent snowmobiles from crossing onto the golf course.

Time to go to bed.  We got a lot of packing done today – tomorrow we clean.  Sunday we leave.  Sometime tomorrow I will sit down and write the last blog of the season.  I can’t believe that day is finally here.  I   just   can’t   believe   it.

 

6 thoughts on “Throw Back Thursday – The Islanders Get Their Home Back 10/26 17

  1. Love the pool table being moved into the center of the Village Inn. I’ve done some personality testing recently so this strikes me. It’s like the residents have to be extroverted with all the tourists all summer, but eventually most of us need some down time to recharge. I would thing the Island residents look forward to being able to rest and play pool with friends.
    How did you feel about staying until the end of October? I’ve had a chance on different occasions to stay a day or two after an event (not on Mackinac, just in general). I’ve sometimes felt more like I stayed too long after the party that has moved on. Did you feel like that or was it a peaceful time to peek behind the scenes.

    • We rarely stayed past the Grand closing, and if we did it was only for a day or two, as in this 2009 post. Since we lived on the island for six months a year for seven years up in the Village, where most the year-round residents live, we felt we were a part of that community. We never felt as though we weren’t welcome. I’ve flown up during the winter and have always felt welcomed back. The true “islanders” are a warm and friendly group and what I call “salt of the earth” people. I love them.

  2. This looks more like the Mackinac I knew all those years ago. Wasn’t there for the big season and all the tourists. So, I remember lots of quiet (no snowmobiles back then, so truly quiet!), and Northern Lights, and how stinkin’ cold it was to walk past the marina to get into town! We were recently asked the standard ‘What would you do if you won the lottery’ question, and Roger immediately said, ‘Buy a house on Mackinac’. Guess we’re as hooked as you two are!
    Once again, thanks for the memories.

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