“These memories won’t fade
cause I’ll feel the same
and I won’t go away.”
“South Haven,” Moses Mayfield.
Moses Mayfield was an alternative rock band from Birmingham, Alabama, as well as the name of its lead singer, who later recorded solo albums. There’s also an eight-minute dance mix by Element One entitled “South Haven.”
above, Toni and Jimbo with beach house in background; below, Beth's 50th
Thanks to daughter-in-law Beth Satkoski’s largess, my family of 14 enjoyed a week-long “Michigan Adventure” at the summer resort town of South Haven. The weather was perfect, the sunsets spectacular, and the Lake Michigan waves excellent for body surfing although participants had to struggle to keep their swimsuits on. One day I went to town with Dave’s family for ice cream cones and stopped at an upscale olive oil and balsam shop that offered many free samples. Walking abeside the Black River, I watching boats of all shapes coming in and out of the harbor. We feasted each evening on such delicacies as ham, tacos, lasagna, burgers, and spaghetti and meatballs. At night we played card games (SOB, Pitch, Texas Hold-‘em), the dice game Yahtzee, the tile game Rummikub, and the social game Werewolf – not my favorite but popular because an unlimited number of people can participate. One highlight was having dinner in Saugatuck with Steve and Jon Helmrich, who had worked with Phil on a documentary called “Michigan Hometown Stories.” They had meant to take us to the Red Dock Café, but the hippie owner made so much money the previous weekend he decided to close for the day. We visited the place anyway and then went back to Steve and Jon’s fantastic house in the woods for homemade raspberry cream pie.
dinner with Jon and Steve and at Red Dock Cafe
One afternoon on the beach a guy was attempting to launch a huge kite from the water, and twice it crashed near to where kids were playing. A couple guys yelled for the guy to stop, but as he tried to do so, it once more came down perilously close to people. After one irate father went over and pushed the guy’s head into the sand, Phil’s wife Delia rushed to the scene and told the culprit to stop. Fortunately the fellow’s wife got him to settle down, and the crisis passed. I heard about the incident later and was proud of Delia. On a lighter note: One day the women visited a shop where Alissa tried on wedding dresses for next summer’s nuptials.
I did plenty of reading while at South Haven, starting with a Young Adult novel by John Green that somebody brought entitled “Looking for Alaska,” about a 17 year-old’s year at an Alabama boarding school, during which time he starts smoking and drinking cheap wine and gets a blow job from exotic friend Lara. Miles, the protagonist, is a bit of a nerd, interested in the last words of famous people such as John F. Kennedy (“It’s obvious” – referring to the people of Dallas giving him a nice reception) and Simon Bolivar (“Damn it! How will I ever get out of this labyrinth?”). The rationale Miles gave for wanting to leave home were the last words of French Renaissance scholar Francois Rabelais: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.”
I found a Reader Digest condensation of a sappy biography of Dolley Madison, the outstanding nineteenth century White House hostess for Thomas Jefferson as well as hubby “Jemmy.” After former President Madison died in 1937, Dolley left Montpelier and spent her last 12 years back in Washington, poor but still a society icon, and died at the ripe old age of 81.
More edifying was Antonia Fraser’s “Royal Charles,” about Stuart monarch Charles II. A believer of religious tolerance and peace through friendship with French King Louis XIV, Charles once said, “I would have everyone live under his own vine and fig-tree. Give me my just prerogative and I will never ask for more.” During his reign the theater flowered and scientific inquiry flourished. Scarred by 11 years in exile under the Cromwellian interregnum, he was not really the “Merry Monarch” of myth but had a stable of mistresses that he treated with respect and decency. As Fraser concluded, “Many a monarch has had a worse epitaph than giving back peace to a torn nation.” One source of pleasure in reading about Charles II was the prominent presence of Samuel Pepys, whose diary described the king’s return from exile and coronation, as well as the terrible London plague and fire, both of which occurred in 1666. Pepys also served with distinction as Secretary of the Admiralty but nevertheless spent several months as a prisoner on the Tower of London on phony charges of being a papist.
In his SALT column Jeff Manes wrote about Ed Erb, a Hammond Tech grad who recalled South Hammond neighbors not liking his father’s African-American friend Granville Love and his family swimming in their family pool. Ed once worked for a company called Dombrowski and Holmes. The founder, Mr. Holmes, according to Erb, “was trying to break into the Polish neighborhoods without much luck. He opened up the phone book and noted there were more Dombrowskis than any other name. So he added Dombrowski to his business name and business improved by about 1,000 percent.”
Back home I found among the accumulation of mail the Ayers Realtors Newsletter. In his column Jean Ayers wrote about Miller stores along Lake Street when he was growing up, such as Todd’s Confectionary, where, he recalled, “you could buy comic books, Mad magazines, and cinnamon oil in a tiny jar to dip tooth picks to give them flavor, not to mention a whole display of penny candy.” Among his many teen jobs was dipping ice cream cones and hand packing quart packages at Jack Spratt’s, where on Sundays the waiting line started shortly before noon and continued until near closing 10 p.m. closing time. Jean wrote: “My favorite celebrity visit was when Ted Karras, who played for the Chicago bears, brought in his teammates Mike Ditka and Ed O’Bradovich.”