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I love it here, bright sun or dreary clouds. When I was a kid, rainy days on Bois Blanc were known as Monopoly Days, because we would hunker down in our rental cottage, near a blazing fireplace and in the light of a nearby kerosene lantern, and play that particular game.
Now, I tend to read by the light of an electric lamp, or watch videos. For the intervening years have brought electricity to Bois Blanc, not to mention running water replacing pumps and indoor toilets replacing outhouses. And yet the place is much the same as it was a half century ago: One is named Chuck Maki.
The library is small: The other half serves as a museum, with mementos from Island years gone by: I was in there at the request of a woman overseeing the place. It is open for four hours a day, three days a week through July and August.
The woman came up empty on workers, and so I received the call, and agreed to work. He reminisced for a while, and we compared notes of people he might have known versus those I have known.
The Pines, as the municipality is known, was where I stayed in the few summers I visited here as a child. Maki had not, for instance, known Earl and Miriam Hoover, the king and queen of the Island -- owners of many acres in and near the Pines.
Hoover, former head of the Hoover Vacuum Co. I was, in fact, perusing a biography of Mr. Hoover when Maki entered the library, which was why I asked if he had known the old gent.
I did; we rented a place from Mr. Hoover for two summers when I was quite young. It was situated right next to the main Hoover cottage, a large structure that is the centerpiece of an Island estate that now includes four residential dwellings and a tennis court on beautifully landscaped acreage.
I remember him well: He seemed to enjoy life. My brother Bob and his wife Gussie and I are always looking for possible rental buildings for future summer visits, and that particular one will soon be coming on the rental market. And so we imposed on a woman who manages the property, and she guided us through it.
I don't recall ever being in the front portion of the structure before. I imagine I might have been invited in the back door -- to the kitchen -- when I was a boy, to beg cookies freshly baked by Ethel, who with husband Maxie worked for the Hoovers for years.
They might have been the lone black couple on the Island back then. I encountered Ethel once again years later, inwhen my wife Susan and I visited Bois Blanc as part of a round-the-country trip we were taking. We stayed a couple of nights in the Pines Hotel -- which was an arson victim four years later -- and visited places and people I remembered from childhood.
One stop was at the Hoovers' place. Susan and I were greeted at the front door by Ethel. I explained that I had hoped to pay my respects to the Hoovers, but she told me Mr. Hoover was napping and Mrs. So I asked that she pass along greetings from Chuck Haeffner -- Chuck being my childhood name.
And she grabbed me and pulled me into her ample bosom, and I entertained the possibility of suffocation. My wife watched from the side, I think both amused and astounded. That was a moment that has lived with me. I never did get to see Mr. And it called to mind years long past, and feelings long suppressed -- warm and embracing and connected, I think, to the sense of adventure that summer used to provide me in childhood.
I got a second chance the afternoon of my Hoover cottage visit.
The three of us headed out on ATVs again, this time visiting different locales, including the site of a tombstone -- a shoulder-high creation -- in the middle of sparse woods in honor of Mary McRae, who died in at the age of They no longer are.
The stone is the only one visible now, although local lore has it that several other people were buried nearby.Just read the Membership Agreement, select the kind of account you want to create, fill out a brief profile, and activate the account via email confirmation.
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