Letters 11-23-2015

Cheering From Petoskey While red-eyed rats boil fanatically up from the ancient sewers of Paris to feast on pools of French blood, at the G20 meeting the farcical pied piper of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue thrusts a bony finger at the president of the Russian Federation and yells: “liberté, égalité, fraternité, Clinton, Kerry--Obamaism!”

The Other Mothers And Fathers Regarding the very nice recent article on “The First Lady of Yoga,” I have taken many classes with Sandy Carden, and I consider her to be a great teacher. However, I feel the article is remiss to not even give acknowledgement to other very important yoga influences in northern Michigan...

Drop The Blue Angels The last time I went to the National Cherry Festival, I picked the wrong day. The Blue Angels were forcing everyone to duck and cover from the earsplitting cacophony overhead...

Real Advice For The Sick In the Nov. 16 article “Flu Fighters,” author Kristi Kates fails to mention the most basic tool in our arsenal during Influenza season... the flu vaccine! I understand you might be afraid of being the victim of Jenny McCarthyism, but the science is there...

Keeping Traverse City in the Dark Our environment is our greatest asset. It sustains our lives; it drives our economy. We ignore it at our peril. Northern Michigan Environmental Action Council (NMEAC) has submitted letters of concern to both the city commission and planning commission regarding the proposed 9-story buildings on Pine Street. We have requested an independent environmental assessment with clear answers before a land use permit is granted...

All About Them Another cartoon by Jen Sorensen that brings out the truth! Most of her cartoons are too slanted in a Socialist manner, but when she gets it correct, she hits the nail on the target! “Arizona is the first state to put a 12-month lifetime limit on welfare benefits.” That quote is in the opening panel... 

Unfair To County Employees It appears that the commissioners of Grand Traverse County will seek to remedy a shortfall in the 2016 budget by instituting cuts in expenditures, the most notable the reduction of contributions to various insurance benefits in place for county employees. As one example, the county’s contributions to health insurance premiums will decrease from ten to six percent in 2016. What this means, of course, is that if a county employee wishes to maintain coverage at the current level next year, the employee will have to come up with the difference...

Up, Not Out I would like to congratulate the Traverse City Planning Commission on their decision to approve the River West development. Traverse City will either grow up or grow out. For countless reasons, up is better than out. Or do we enjoy such things as traffic congestion and replacing wooded hillsides with hideous spectacles like the one behind Tom’s West Bay. At least that one is on the edge of town as opposed to in the formerly beautiful rolling meadows of Acme Township...

Lessons In Winning War I am saddened to hear the response of so many of legislators tasked with keeping our country safe. I listen and wonder if they know what “winning” this kind of conflict requires or even means? Did we win in Korea? Did we win in Vietnam? Are we winning in Afghanistan? How is Israel winning against the Palestinians? Will they “take out” Hezbollah...

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Historic Cottages of Glen Lake by Barabara Siepker

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli - February 23rd, 2009
Historic Cottages of Glen Lake
Text: Barbara Siepker.
Photographs: Dietrich Floeter
Leelanau Press; $50

It is a bit like entering a dream, to open Historic Cottages of Glen Lake, and come across comfortable old places; meet the visionary families who built their residences along the shores of a lovely Northern Michigan lake so long ago. What struck me first was that the photographs, by Dietrich Floeter of Traverse City, were in black and white, not the sepia tones I was seeing. It was my imagination—the sepia. My own warming addition of memory and soft summer days to a book that allows for nostalgia.
But nothing is frozen in time here. These are Glen Lake cottages where people still live, or visit, on long summer vacations. Six of the 50 cottages pictured are owned by the original families, down to the fourth generation.
None of these are museum pieces, recreated for an audience. The fireplaces are smudged with soot; the tables await big breakfasts; family photographs and children’s artwork sit on tables, hang on walls; and folded afghans wait for a cool evening, for the stillness of dusk, when one can sit on a porch curled up with a book.
It isn’t hard to visualize the families of these homes. The William and Elizabeth Walker house has two stories and is built of wood, with narrow lap-siding. Inside, the stucco plastered walls are trimmed with thick rope moldings. The living room has a fieldstone chimney. There is a dining room, kitchen, office, and four bedrooms—room for a lot of people. The house was built in the 1870s, when Walker established a cranberry business based on the cranberry bog along the east side of M-22, between Glen Arbor and Glen Lake.

Robert Worthington, who grew up in Birchworth, the Worthington’s cottage, later said of his life there, “The apogee of life is sitting on the dock in the sunshine at Glen Lake. Everything else declines from there, other life experiences are not important.”
For many years the Worthington’s ran Tonawathya, a resort on the west shore of the lake.
One of the most charming of the pictured homes is Bray Cottage. The family, from Chicago, built the house in 1914. Today, floral upholstery and drapes brighten the living room. Oriental carpets, garlands and wreaths, round mirrors and period lamps add personality. Family photos fill the mantle while candles, small chests and a copper tub filled with wood give the home its sense of warmth. The photos, even in black and white, come to life. Love of place is evident, as if a family member waited behind the photographer, arms crossed, critical of a slumping pillow or an uneven picture frame. There is nothing of calculated shabby chic here. The home is real, welcoming, and doesn’t fear showing its pedigree.
In the Fralick-Lehmann cottage, there has been no effort to change the bare wood walls, nor clean the soot from the stone fireplace. The room seen is filled with pianos and a large round table for gatherings. It isn’t difficult to hear the music, nor the laughter.
What I love best about these cottages is the well-used look of them. Not decay, certainly, and not neglect—but use. Bare fixtures hang above ornate beds placed against bare wood walls with exposed studs. There are baskets of wood and simple cases for books. There are squat andirons, paintings, photographs, simply framed drawings, and original pieces left from the first days, when the cottages were new.

Barbara Siepker’s comments give context to the homes and the people. In one family photo, women, in long-sleeved white blouses and long black skirts, pose leaning amiably together. In another photo a boy sits in a rowboat waiting to go fishing. In another, a four-year-old rides a log. And there is the snapshot of Margaret Mercer, a slim and decorous young woman in long, white pants, posing on the porch of Mercer Cottage with her floppy hat, full make-up, and a shotgun cradled in one arm.
In the Weese Cottage, bare walls set a mood of life stripped to the bone. There is no fuss here, only impeccable bare surfaces, bare floors, woven rugs. There seems to be an emphasis on a woman’s time—to be with her family, enjoy the out of doors, and be free of chores seen to elsewhere; in the months before the freedom of a Michigan cottage.
Time, as the ephemeral background to life, isn’t caught, as if in amber, on these pages. It seems more that layer upon layer of years, more paint, new design, and new inventions, don’t even matter. It is the families. It is the living well enough. We are lucky to be given access to these cottages, small glimpses into our shared past and present, with their spun-sugar Victorian wicker, and rows of rocking chairs along a wide porch. All the parts are here: a table for food, a chair for rest, fire for warmth, a bed for sleep, and hints of story. People have changed here, loved, lost, and mourned. It is this inherent life, not the historic or monetary values, which appeals most in this book, chosen one of the Michigan Library’s Notable Books of 2008.
Because not all of the homes pictured still exist, Barbara Siepker sounds a note of warning, “These once vibrant dwellings are now endangered and disappearing from our landscape as lakefront prices, property taxes, and renovation costs increase, especially when ownership is transferred.”
Dietrich Floeter used a wide-view camera, hoping to reproduce photographs such as would have been taken when the cottages were first built. It worked. They are as alive today as when first built, maybe even better.

Elizabeth Kane Buzzelli’s novel, Dead Floating Lovers, will be in bookstores in July.

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