Letters

Letters 07-06-2015

Safety on the “Bridge to Nowhere” Grant Parsons wrote an articulate column in opposition to the proposed Traverse City pier at the mouth of the Boardman River. He cites issues such as limited access, lack of parking, increased congestion, environmental degradation, and pork barrel spending of tax dollars. I would add another to this list: public safety...

Vote Carefully A recent poll showed 84% of Michiganders support increasing Michigan’s renewable energy standard to at least 20% from the current 10%. Yet Representative Ray Franz has sponsored legislation to eliminate the standard. This out of touch position is reminiscent of Franz’s opposition to the Pure Michigan campaign and support for increased taxes on retirees....

Credit Where Credit Is Due I think you should do another article about the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund giving proper credit to all involved, not just Tom Washington. Many others were just as involved...

I’ve Changed My Mind The Supreme Court has determined that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. This has happened with breathtaking suddenness. It took 246 years for Americans to decide that slavery was wrong and abolish it, but it’s been only a couple of decades since any successful attempt was made to legalize same-sex marriage, and four years since a majority of the American public supported legalization...


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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