Monday, August 3, 2015

South Haven

“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.”  Like Saugatuck, South Haven was first inhabited by the Potawatomi and went from being a logging town to being foremost a resort city dependent on tourism.
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 struggled to keep their swimsuits on.  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 beside 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 can participate.
dinner with Jon and Steve and at Red Dock Cafe

One highlight was dinner in Saugatuck with Steve Mottram and Jon Helmrich, who had worked with Phil on the documentary “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 closed for the day.  We visited Red Dock anyway and then went back to Steve and Jon’s fantastic house in the woods for homemade raspberry cream pie.  

One afternoon a guy was attempting to launch a huge kite from the water, and twice it crashed on the beach near kids.  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 ran 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 gals visited a shop where Alissa tried on wedding dresses for next summer’s nuptials.
Alissa and Josh on the beach
My reading at South Haven started 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 coed Lara. Miles, the protagonist, is a bit of a nerd, interested in famous people’s last words such as “It’s obvious” ( JFK referring to his welcome in Dallas) and Simon Bolivar’s “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.”  To save Gilbert Stuart’s portrait of George Washington she ordered that it be stripped of its heavy frame as the British during the War of 1812 were about to overrun D.C. and burn the Executive Mansion. 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 “Merry 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 assuaged his melancholia with a succession of mistresses that he treated with respect and decency.  By all accounts well-endowed, the robust king played ennis, rode horseback, and went on long hikes up until his fatal illness at age 54.  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.
Ed Erb
Jeff Manes wrote a SALT column about Hammond Tech grad Ed Erb, who recalled South Hammond neighbors not liking his father’s African-American friend Granville Love and his family swimming in the Erb’s backyard 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.”

Among the accumulation of mail was the Ayers Realtors Newsletter. Gene Ayers shared childhood memories of Miller stores along Lake Street, 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 10 p.m. closing time.  Gene 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.”

University of Michigan History professor Matthew Countryman visited the Archives to research Richard Hatcher’s activities on the national stage.  He had read my chapter in David Colburn and Jeffrey Adler’s “African-American Mayors” and was familiar with Hatcher’s leadership role in Trans-Africa and Jesse Jackson’s 1984 and 1988 Presidential campaigns.  I filled him in on Hatcher’s campaigning for Obama in Iowa and his daughter’s continuing political career in Gary.

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