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 Michigans 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 wasnt 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 Ericks 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 mothers savings. He got on the ferry and went downstate. My father sued the bank for Auntie Ericks money, but the U.S. senator from that region interfered and she didnt get anything back, despite my dads 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 doesnt 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 didnt 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