A-tisket, a-tasket, a tiny treasure basket

Posted on March 29, 2010


Nora Metz and I had breakfast at Sonny’s on Sunday, where we admired the finished mural and discovered two new puzzles—but this post is not about that.  We took a little Sunday drive through Banks Township, Nora pointing out where the Evans farm, the Maple Hill School, and Bobby Woolverton’s house used to be—but this post is not about that.  Then we went back to Nora’s cottage overlooking Torch Lake to share a cup of tea and some memories. 

This post is about that.  Someday I am going to write much, much more about Nora.  It’s going to take some time.  She is 92 years old and has had many adventures.  All of them are documented because, as she says, “no one in this family ever threw anything away.”  On the other hand, as you can see, no one ever tolerated any clutter and mess, either.  Like most of us, Nora has Petoskey stones and agates in water, the better to show off their beauty.  Nora washes hers regularly to keep them sparkling.

There are stories to tell you about the agates and the view and you’ll just have to wait, because on Sunday we had other fish to fry. We were going to paw through this little basket:

It is filled with calling cards of every description, along with the sorts of mementoes women have saved forever.  They saved these in the 1880s and 1890s, when Eastport and Torch Lake were “woodsy” sorts of places, devoted to lumbering and boarding houses and general stores. Who knew that the hearts of young ladies—and young gentlemen, too—could yearn toward elegance and culture?

Many of the cards featured elaborate designs, but Miss Janie Blakely and her brother Henry favored a more tailored appearance.

Those Guyer boys (Nora has taught me to pronounce it “Gweer” as is proper) were always chasing Powers girls. Eventually Thomas caught Lucinda, or maybe it was the other way around, and in due course Grace was born and grew up to write newspaper columns and the stories that became Grace Hooper’s Pioneer Notes, but that’s another post.  Lucinda was quite a catch, a young lady with intellectual ambitions.

Some of the cards seemed designed purely for flirtation. Neither of these is signed, but I expect they were handed over with sparkling eyes.  To whom?  By whom?  Ah, there are some secrets in Torch Lake Township.

Miss, The Moon and Stars / Give a brilliant light / If I meet with no debars / I'll spark you Sunday night

CAUTION. Dear Miss: The accompanying Chromo is a good illustration "dons in ile" of the gent who escorted you home last Sunday evening as he appeared at three in the morning while ascending to his room. The Society for the "Invention of Cruelty to Animals" wishes me to caution you against keeping him up so late again!