Letters

Letters 08-29-2016

Religious Bigotry President Obama has been roundly criticized for his apparent unwillingness to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.” His critics seem to suggest that through the mere use of that terminology, the defeat of ISIS would be assured...

TC DDA: Focus On Your Mission What on earth is the Traverse City DDA thinking? Purchasing land around (not within) its TIF boundaries and then offering it at a discount to developers? That is not its mission. Sadly enough, it is already falling down on the job regarding what is its mission. Crosswalks are deteriorating all around downtown, trees aren’t trimmed, sidewalks are uneven. Why can’t the DDA do a better job of maintaining what it already has? And still no public restrooms downtown, despite all the tax dollars captured since 1997. What a joke...

European-Americans Are Boring “20 Fascinating People” in northern Michigan -- and every single one is European-American? Sorry, but this is journalistically incorrect. It’s easy for editors to assign and reporters to write stories about people who are already within their personal and professional networks. It’s harder to dig up stuff about people you don’t know and have never met. Harder is better...

Be Aware Of Lawsuit While most non-Indians were sleep walking, local Odawa leaders filed a lawsuit seeking to potentially have most of Emmet County and part of Charlevoix County declared within their reservation and thus under their jurisdiction. This assertion of jurisdiction is embedded in their recently constructed constitution as documentation of their intent...

More Parking Headaches I have another comment to make about downtown TC parking following Pat Sullivan’s recent article. My hubby and I parked in a handicap spot (with a meter) behind Mackinaw Brew Pub for lunch. The handicap spot happens to be 8-10 spaces away from the payment center. Now isn’t that interesting...

Demand Change At Women’s Resource Center Change is needed for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area (WRCGT). As Patrick Sullivan pointed out in his article, former employees and supporters don’t like the direction WRCGT has taken. As former employees, we are downright terrified at the direction Juliette Schultz and Ralph Soffredine have led the organization...

Home · Articles · News · Books · Couple makes Torch Lake History
. . . .

Couple makes Torch Lake History

Anne Stanton - December 21st, 2009
Couple Makes
Torch Lake History
By Anne Stanton
Torch Lake is known for its beauty, as well as its summer flotilla of floating parties thanks to an endless sand bar. The vast emerald blue lake is reputed to be the inspiration for Kid Rock’s hit song, “All Summer Long.”
But, ever wonder how Torch Lake got its name?
The early settlers in the area saw Native American Indians waving birch bark torches along the shoreline in order to attract fish for supper.
You’ll find that fact along with all kinds of history about the Torch Lake area in Torch Lake, The History of Was-Wah-Go-Ning, a 436-page book with stories that trace the lake’s evolution from a frozen tundra to a resort that inspires rock song lyrics of catching “walleye off a dock and watching waves roll off the rock.” The book, priced at $60, features no less than 673 maps, drawings and photographs.
The book reflects the combined efforts of Mary Kay and Edward McDuffie, a wife and husband team. Ed (known as Eb to his close friends) focused on the area’s ancient history, glaciers and maps, while Mary Kay compiled the more recent information and wrote most of the text.

ANCIENT SHORELINES
“It’s interesting topography. Once you’re aware of it, you’ll find yourself looking at the lake in a different way,” Ed said. “The glaciers, for example, left ancient beaches at different heights, and the cottages are built on one or more of these ancient shorelines.”
The book is the product of pure determination on the part of Mary Kay, who was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease four years ago, and went onto finish the project despite the added handicap of having to rely on a voice synthesizer and tube feeding. But she never gave up.
“She’d been in the middle of writing it when she was diagnosed with ALS and she continued writing it for three years,” Ed said. “She was still going after it, up to the point, where we said, we need to finish it.
Jeanne Hannah, who designed the book’s website, said this book was the “miracle that gave Mary Kay daily purpose and inner strength.”
“This is a book filled to the brim with photographs and history that have nothing to do with illness and everything to do with the unique beauty, ecology, geology and history of Torch Lake. I can only imagine how it felt for Mary Kay to hold the published book in her hands a few weeks ago. She has given us a gift that will last forever.”
Said Mary Kay through a voice synthesizer: “Writing it was out of love for the lake.”
After the text was mostly finished in 2008, Mary Kay and Ed had to work with the book designer, Margaret Wagner for the next year. “There were a lot of things we had to change or amend,” Ed said.

COMPREHSIVE
The book covers the history of Torch Lake from the retreat of the last glacier 10,000 years ago to the end of World War II. Ed said the book offers the most comprehensive history of Torch Lake ever published. Yet the “work” to research the book was actually a lot of fun for the most part.
“I remember once, we went to a house across the lake from us. We went to the door and told them what we wanted,” he said. “We’d been to church so we were reasonably dressed up. Anyway, they didn’t want to let us in because they thought we were Jehovah’s Witnesses. But once we were there, we stayed for three or four hours. They let me take their photo albums home, and I was up all night scanning them because I told them I’d return them the next day. It was really neat, and then they steered us to other people.”
Ed said that as a boy, he lived in Cincinnati, but spent every summer on Torch Lake. “Only once did we miss it and it was World War II. We didn’t have enough gas.” He met and married Mary Kay Unger, whose father owned a lumberyard in Bellaire. Ed said his wife began writing the book after taking a Michigan history class in the early ‘60s at an MSU extension course offered through Northern Central Michigan College.
“She knew a lot about the area. We had a lot of relatives that were part of the history; one thing led to another, and she decided to write this book.”
Over a span of 20 years, Mary Kay compiled and wrote the text. Although her health condition has deteriorated in the last month, she was able to see the book in printed form, Ed said.
“It’s been a long process, but it was my aim to get it into Mary Kay’s hands while she was still here because it’s been her life’s work. And we made it,” he said.

To order Torch Lake, go to torchlake-history.com.

 
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