Letters

Letters 06-20-2016

More About Kachadurian Columnist Tom Kachadurian’s recent fit to slash out at the world of science and scientists is just another example of his profound ignorance and shallowness...

Love Wins Wow! Donald Trump scares me! He is a nasty individual who has the one thing that makes him dangerous…money! If he becomes president, the U.S. will be completely destroyed. It is already in serious trouble...

The New Normal Fifty more gunned down. They say it was a gay bar. Remember “saloons” had a connotation of a specific “type” of entertainment. Today, bars are simply social meeting places for all walks of life...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Before the Mighty Mac
. . . .

Before the Mighty Mac

Len Barnes - August 30th, 2007
As we enter Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern near Northport, our eyes are drawn to the large picture showing the Straits of Mackinac, with a line of cars in the foreground snaking around to get on the ferry to the Upper Peninsula.
The picture is titled “The Deer Hunters’ Lineup,” describing the three-mile long traffic jam in the days before the Mackinac Bridge opened 50 years ago in 1957.
Back then, the only way to and from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula was by auto ferry, including the long-gone ship, City of Petoskey.
In the 1930s and ‘40s, my family rode up from Cadillac in a large Reo automobile, with plenty of room for five of us and a large trunk for the spare tire and other essentials. There was no air conditioning and waiting in line could be very hot, but with the windows cranked down, the breeze from the water was nice. We inched forward for five hours or so before getting on the boat, and it wasn’t unusual for Dad to have to walk to get some extra gas. Once we got on the boat we could walk out on deck and watch the waves.
Once in St. Ignace, we would go to the home of Auntie Erick’s and her son Oscar to stay a few days, with my dad taking me to an area near Lake Michigan where we could shoot off some fireworks on the Fourth of July. I shot off a rocket, which backfired and hit my left hand, that still bears the mark.
Oscar went to the bank one day and withdrew all of his mother’s savings. He got on the ferry and went downstate. My father sued the bank for Auntie Erick’s money, but the U.S. senator from that region interfered and she didn’t get anything back, despite my dad’s efforts on her behalf.
Even though they had to cross the Straits by ferry, many people went to the U.P. for recreation and to see the beautiful Copper Harbor and Eagle Harbor areas. My wife, Ellen, remembers a trip with her family in 1948 to see the Tahquamenon Falls and the Brockway Mountain Drive, but doesn’t have a memory of the ferry ride at all.
My late friend John Voelker hated the bridge and the loss of the isolation he so enjoyed, and there are undoubtedly others who also feel that way, but the bridge opened up scenic wonders for many who didn’t have the leisure time that we experienced in the ‘30s and ‘40s, when travel was at a much slower pace.

The annual Mackinac Bridge Walk takes place Monday, Sept. 3, starting at 7 p.m. in St. Ignace. This is the 50th anniversary of the bridge. For complete info on the walk, see www.mackinacbridge.org
 
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