Wednesday, February 16, 2011
Winter Wednesday Postcard Promenade #2
First, as promised, a couple postcards for Gerry Sell, who wanted to see Spike Horn Meyers of Harrison, Michigan. We are told on the front of one postcard that the man in the photograph is 84 years old. The back of the other card is simply titled “Bear Den.” What is the man feeding that bear cub, and what is the Spike Horn story? Gerry, do you know?
Our second stop on week’s promenade is the “Old Club” on the Ste. Claire [sic] Flats.
Detroiters know all the suburbs beginning with St. Clair (Shores, etc.), but David graduated from high school in the little town of St. Clair, up toward Port Huron, and at least once, on a trip to visit his mother, we explored the Flats, including Harsen’s Island. (Take the tour yourself. You’ll be glad you did.) The St. Clair is a magical, mysterious river, and the architecture of this old shingled building has a lot of romance, to my eye. I remember buildings like this along the river, where now it’s all condos.
Dear little Paw Paw! Down in southeast Michigan, in Van Buren County, this sweet town was the object of many pleasant weekend “country cruises” when we lived in nearby Kalamazoo. From spring through autumn the chief enticements (besides friends who lived there) were a couple of flea markets west of Paw Paw. Once I took my son and a friend of his to the flea market, and we came home with a kitten; luckily for the kitten, the other boy’s mother said he could keep it, and the cat had a happy home for many years. There was always something wonderful waiting at the flea market. Once it was the world's ugliest boat, which turned out to be the most-used boat of our lives--another story for another time. But downtown Paw Paw was interesting, too. The Dyckman House on the left in this photograph was an old hotel featuring an incredibly cheap dining room. How could they serve meals that cheap? Well, yes, it was pretty shabby in those days, too.... A smaller cafe down the street to the west (behind the photographer), went through many incarnations and was briefly called the Gnomes Inn. A friend worked there as a waitress in the Gnomes Inn phase. I seem to remember a “Smiling G” (Goodwill) store, and there was a wonderful, old-style Ben Franklin, back when BF still had all manner of merchandise, not just craft stuff. Paw Paw is memorable for David and me, also, in what no one else can see, either in this postcard or right there in person: it was the home of one of our first imaginary bookstores! Which building would you choose to house a bookstore?
Have you visited Harbor Springs lately? Pretty chichi, isn’t it? No one looking at the present-day marina would picture the waterfront looking like this.
Small, simple boats, an obviously much-used railroad, horse-drawn buggies and carriages, but I don’t see any traffic jams, although judging from the green leaves on the trees, this must be the height of the season.
I’m including the Kellogg postcard below for my Australian friends because--look! On this card the cereal company’s Sydney, Australia, plant is featured front and center! Snap, crackle, pop!
Now back to the “Sunrise Side” (as people on Lake Huron and the St. Clair River call the eastern Michigan shore) to visit Port Huron as shown in four different cards. The first is the oldest, obviously, and I don't know the locale. The other three, from only about half a century ago, judging by the cars, are downtown scenes. View #2 is looking south, views #3 and #4 (see the same large building on the right in both?) looking north. I strain my eyes in that night scene for Diana’s, the fabulous dreamlike sweetshop, on the left-hand side of the street but can’t make it out. Oh, those polished wood booths! The tiled floor! The jukeboxes and the mechanical instruments in glass cases! The hot fudge sundae with gobs of real whipped cream! Can you believe what I'm going to tell you next? Diana’s was bought, disassembled, moved and reassembled in Nashville, Tennessee! “You can still go there,” my informant told me. “You just have to go to Nashville.” Nothing against Nashville, but oh, I wish Diana’s were still in Port Huron! The Eiffel Tower belongs in Paris, and London Bridge belongs in London! Too late, too late!
It’s a little late for Christmas and New Year’s greetings, too, but a winter scene on my last card for today is not inappropriate for February Up North, even though we're having a stretch of warm, sunny days that feel like spring, and snow and ice are melting fast!
Next week, back to Leelanau--and what other surprises might I unearth?