Sunday Morning TLV – Up North in Michigan

Posted on December 18, 2011


A busy week, with too much to do, too little time to do it, even with Real Broadband.  There were international cultural exchanges, the long-awaited publication of a book, and a visit to yet another new business in the Township.  We have highlights. (Alas, Real Broadband has done absolutely nothing for my photographic skills.)

Cultural life in the Township is humming along. I stopped off at Betty Beeby’s and found the living room full of historians from Peterborough Ontario.

You may recall that the “Peterboro letters” reposed in Betty’s family’s barn for the better part of a century before becoming the inspiration for a series of lithographs, a symphonic piece, assorted newspaper stories, and a ballet.  (Last summer Babs and Betty Jo and I took you to the premiere of the Peterboro Letters Ballet in Bay View.) The letters reveal the true story of the encounter between a dressmaker from Peterborough and a young man from Michigan who journeys to Ontario to meet her – the mother who had given him up for adoption at birth.

All of this is catnip to the local history buffs in contemporary Peterborough, where Elwood Jones is an archivist, author and newspaper columnist. He knew parts of the story, puzzled over gaps. Finally, with the help of genealogy researcher Ruth Kuchinad, he concluded that although the names had been changed, the people were real. He wrote a story for the Peterborough Examiner, in which he mentioned that a trip to the Traverse City area might be in order.  Now here he he was in Eastport, going through boxes of photos and ephemera of all kinds while Ruth painstakingly transcribed a 1904 diary. I love this stuff. You can be sure you’ll hear more about it in due course.

Terry Wooten dropped by, too, and brought Betty a copy of Water Under the Bridge, the book that came out of the Elk Rapids Elders Project.  Here is an excerpt from the story I sent to the Elk Rapids News:

Here’s a holiday recipe from poet Terry Wooten. Gather 25 Elders from the Elk Rapids community. Add 41 middle school and high school students filled with questions. Stir gently. Stories will emerge. Simmer with dollops of laughter and tears. Listen for the poetry in everyday speech. With patience you can make a whole book. It will be delicious.

Horses flounder in ice-covered Elk Lake, an armada steams into Tokyo Bay for the Emperor’s surrender, a sand dune towers where the industrial park is today, a cattle truck careens into a school bus. The vivid images in this book will stay with you a long time.

Water Under the Bridge: Poems from the Elk Rapids Elders Project, by Terry Wooten and Elk Rapids School Students is available now at the Nature Connection in Elk Rapids and at Horizon Books in Traverse City. Sales of the book benefit the Elk Rapids Area Historical Society, which sponsored the Elk Rapids Elders Project and published the final work.

(You will find one of the poems from the book on this page of the Ourstory tab.)

Being out and about isn’t all ballet and books, especially when you get out and about in an Older Car. It was busy up at Eastport Service, but Brent LaCount topped off my tires for me.


One of these days I’m going to have to break down and get new rims for that car. It’s always a conundrum, isn’t it? How much money do you put into an older car? How much longer can you drive it? Well, in this case I sincerely hope to be able to drive it through the winter, as it has an unimaginable luxury: heated seats. I know, I know, that sounds so wussy. Who, me? Heated seats? I confess I love them. So later in the week I brought the car back for the usual Winter Readiness service. For the moment all is well. And there is Brent’s new service, Torch Lake Towing, just in case.

A thriving business on the corner of US-31 and M-88 is a happy sight. It would be a fine thing to have several more blooming there too, wouldn’t it?  A Center for the Study of Community History would be nice, particularly if it included classes in Real Survival Skills for Everyday Use.