Notes From A Complete Stranger, Part 7

Name changed, but same restaurant I used to frequent as a high school student.
Name changed, but same restaurant I used to frequent as a high school student.

David Foster Wallace, suicide, Gordon Lish, NYC, poetry, Perchville, Barack Obama, Louisville architecture, 2009 ice storm, Joaquin Phoenix, fish, The Wrestler

Friday 30 January 2009
5:40 AM
A winter storm has wreaked havoc on my town. Louisville has been gripped by power outages and a half-inch of ice everywhere causing school to be out since Tuesday and finally being canceled for the rest of the week. I haven't been able to do my morning walk downtown because Louisville doesn't have the equipment to clean up the streets, and few residents own a snow shovel. Another tree has fallen in the backyard of my old home that I just closed the sale on, and that means more clean-up for me as I agreed to it at closing. But my spirits are high. I am eagerly awaiting the arrival of my next Iosco County News.

Louisville Winter Storm January 2009

While waiting for my ICN I did a little research on the naming of Tawas, and the local celebrity newsman Neil Thornton provided it via Google and the Tawas Chamber of Commerce.

Tawas City was founded in 1854 as the first city to be located on the shores of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron north of Bay City. Tawas City celebrated its centennial in June of 1954 with appropriate ceremonies to commemorate its founding. Tawas City was established as the county seat of Iosco County and the first post office was established on January 6, 1856, with James O. Whittemore appointed Postmaster.

Since Tawas City's founding, the community's economy has been a major factor influencing land use and development patterns in the city. The rich natural resource base of the area (forest lands, Lake Huron, wildlife) combined with the protection offered by Tawas Bay provided the basis for the original founding of the city and caused the lumber industry to flourish. Tawas Bay continues to serve as a harbor of refuge that large freighter use to escape the adverse effects of storms on Lake Huron. The shoreline, as the transition zone between land and water, became the focus of the community with the city developing in a linear fashion along the bay shore.

Statements often made that "Tawas" is a contraction of the word "Ottawas" and that the Ottawa Indians once inhabited this region, are false. The Indians, who, in early days, camped along the shore of Tawas Bay, and near the mouth of Tawas River, were a tribe from the Saginaw band of Chippewas. Their leader was Chief O-ta-was. What we know as Tawas Bay, was in reality O-ta-was' Bay, for on its shore the old chief had his camp. Early map makers dropped in an extra "t" as can be easily verified; then later map makers dropped off the "s" for the name of the point of land that divided the bay from Lake Huron was known as Ottawa Point until comparatively recent spelling and pronunciation for the name of our earliest residents, have given us the name Tawas.

The Whittemores gave the name Tawas City to the town they founded in 1854. Eight years later when the lumbering firm of Smith, Van Valkenburg and Company built a mill on the bay shore a mile or so east of the Whittemore mill and holding, and a community spring up around this latter mill, the cluster of homes was, by common consent, named East Tawas, for many years residents of both towns, and the farming community surrounding, often referred to Tawas City as "old town" and to East Tawas as "east town".

So you see, the Ottawas Indians never even lived here. They camped out. They were campers. Just following through, as the hippies were back in the sixties. And the white man of the Tawases ran both tribes out of town and built some commercial campgrounds for visiting RV's.

The Muskegon River Band of Ottawa Indians

Doing further research I found this unrelated comment on a food blog about the fine cuisine up there. Note that Oscoda is about thirteen miles north of Tawas and I found this comment looking for any information on the bar, Barnacle Bill's, on the main drag of downtown called Newman Street about two blocks this side of the pier. Some dude from out-of-town was bragging on the perch dinner he had there, but mentioned all the cigarette smoke he had to put up with. I saw on another comment below his that just a few miles further north you could get some real "authentic" cooking up there at a place called Taits. The spelling errors are the person's who commented, not mine. I left them in for authenticity's sake.

Don't go to Taits unless money is no object for you, they are way to expensive for what they offer. Wiltse is ok but there are way better places out there like Desi's Mexican Resteraunt, they have the best nacho's and burgers around. If your into chinesse go to the one right in Oscoda by the Gilberts drugstore, they're seriously the best chinesse place you will ever go to. If you like real italian its worth going about a 1/2 hour north on US 23 to Rosa's Lookout Inn, they have a dish called chicken alla rosa...yummm, I gaurantee u will not be disappointed.

They like to eat up north, there is no doubt about it. But I wouldn't say there are many good places to eat. I can't think of one great place, but there are plenty of OK to mediocre restaurants. The best perch I have ever had did come out of Lake Huron, but I cooked them. Or my pals did. The best hamburgers and steaks I have ever eaten in my life have been purchased from a little meat market in Hale, which is a farming/inland lake community about fifteen miles west of Tawas. The place is called Alward's Market. And those great beef meals came off my barbeque grill. I wouldn't know where to get a decent burger or steak in a restaurant up there. Especially if you've had Alward's beef prepared off my charcoal-fired Weber. A few years ago I asked my dad where the best restaurant was in Tawas because I wanted to treat my wife to something special up there on one of our visits. My dad has lived in Tawas or Alabaster his whole life , and growing up I would hear of The Wabun or other places my dad would take my mother for lobster, drinks, and dancing, but the Wabun had burned down years ago and certainly, I expected, he had found another great place to take my mom. He told me to go to the local Big Boy.

To be continued...


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