Childhood Memories of the TeePee Resort - Marquette, Michigan
A Year-around Playground
Now that my children are older, they will have lots of childhood memories to share with their friends and family. As they were growing up, I shared a few small things about my own childhood, but I didn't think it was that important for them to know my history. As time goes by, I want them to be able to pass down a little family history and give them stories to share about their parents.
Some of my fondest memories were in my earliest years living in Harvey, Michigan on Lake Superior. It is located in a separate part of Michigan called the Upper Peninsula. People who live there are called yoopers. Like Canadians, they say "hey" after every sentence. My parents owned a small resort called The Teepee Resort. It was a great place to stay for the hunting and fishing enthusiast. Year around there was always some kind of outdoor recreation whether you were a sportsman or nature lover. There was hunting, snowmobiling, ice fishing and ice skating on the bayou in the winter. The summer was full of fishing, canoeing, hiking in the day and campfires at night. Many guests would return year after year. I had a few of my favorites who I would get so excited to see as they would pull up the driveway. One guest had nicknames for my sister and I because we usually dressed a little rugged and followed my older brothers around most of the time. She was Frank and I was Ralph. I loved my nickname because it made me feel special. He always brought little gifts for me, my sister, and my two brothers.
Along with six lodging Teepee's, there was also one at the front of the road that acted as a gift shop, office and workshop. Our souvenir shop was filled with little canoes, drums and rattles made with birch bark, plastic tomahawks and Indian head dresses. In front of the shop sat a landmark sign of a wooden Indian statue. Since we were able to wander freely on the property, my sister and I would sneak up the road and do what we called, "play statues". We would stand close to the wooden Indian, wait for cars to get closer than stand very still in various positions to make people think we were statues. If anyone actually stopped, we would panic and run down the drive and hide behind the trees.
As the youngest of two older brothers and a sister, I spent most of my time dressed in boys hand-me-down clothes. Getting dirty everyday was a way of life. I loved being outside as much as possible before the long cold winters would hit home. When Sunday came around, it was the perfect opportunity to wear my favorite dresses and little black shiny shoes. It was the best of both worlds.
For the Love of Animals
One year my sister and I were given a hat and mitten set given by my grandparents. It was a hat, mittens and hand muff made of white rabbit fur. I loved them until I started wearing them to school. As I walked down the driveway after getting off the school bus, I would hear the sound of branches breaking and something quickly running towards me. Suddenly, out of the woods came the neighbor's dog. Swoosh! He grabbed a mitten off my hand and darted back into the woods. You would think it would be enough to traumatize me. Nope! I still had a hat and muff I could show off to my class mates. Well, sure enough it happened again and again. By the time my sister and I gave up on wearing our fun furry winter wear, we were left with 1 hat, 1 mitten, and a mangled muff.
Family pets were a big part of my life growing up. We had a Beagle named Floppy and a St. Bernard named Brutus. Floppy followed us everywhere and always came to our defense when it came to any neighborhood bullying. Brutus appeared to be a big, slobbery, furry and intimidating brute. He was a quiet ball of fluff who loved to sit on my dads' lap. Since Brutus played so well with us, my dad came up with this brilliant idea he thought we would love. He decided to get the 4 of us kids seated on a long wooden toboggan, harness Brutus to the front and have him pull us down a snow embankment into a field. It may have worked until a pair of snowmobiles came zooming through the field. Brutus took off, tumbling little tikes following, jumped onto a snowmobile and began licking the terrified driver.
Waters of Lake Superior
Lake Superior is one of the largest and coldest inland lakes in the US. Its' clean clear water is so cold you can't really swim in it. We could get in as far as our knees and that was it. Most of the time we built sand castles along the shore, chased each other with mud pies, and jumped off the sand banks into the warm, soft sand. Out in the distance, large shipping barges came into dock blowing their horns like the sound of a deep base wind instrument. The long cold winters created ice burgs that pushed into shore that reminded me of frozen islands. When we stood out on the frozen mounds of ice dusted with sand from the harsh cold blowing winds, we looked like baby penguins bundled up in our warmest snow clothes.
During the winter season we didn't spend much time by the lake. It was only a short walk alone a footpath to get to the shores of Lake Superior from our cabin. It first took us down a hill and past a fishing bayou and suddenly to a sandy dune opening to the vast body of water. Whether it was winter, spring, summer, or fall, the sounds and smells of life on the lake have forever been imprinted in mind. The swampy smell of the bayou, the crisp breezy smell of Lake Superior shoreline water and sand bring back little childhood memories that I will always cherish.