Thursday, September 16, 7PM at the
"A Passion for Painting: Rediscovering 100 Years of Art in
Saugatuck- Douglas" presented by Ken Kutzel and Jim Schmiechen.
Wednesday, October13, 7PM at the
OSH Annual Heritage Preservation Awards.
SDHS HERITAGE FESTIVAL 2010
SAVE THE DATE
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 18
Featuring a 100th anniversary guided tour of the Ox-Bow School of
Please join us for an unforgettable
day at Ox-Bow, a century after Frederick Fursman and Walter Marshall
Clute, artists from the Art Institute of Chicago, gazed across the
Kalamazoo River and envisioned a natural artist’s respite from the
noise and havoc of a newly industrialized America.
With field guide in hand, we invite
you to feel the muse of the woods that inspired so many; to see
secluded artists’ cabins; to tour the campus studios; to observe
artists at work; to fully experience the spirit of a place called
Ox-Bow. Tour tickets ($20 in advance/$25 day of the event) will
include bus transpiration and access to buildings normally closed to
Additional Heritage Festival events
guided hikes through
Tallmadge Woods to the scenic Crow's Nest overlook
a chance to win a
dinner for eight at the historic Park House Inn
the Saugatuck-Douglas Art Club’s
annual Clothesline Art Show
and more ---
How do you think the Society
should celebrate Ox-Bow's 100th birthday? Send your ideas to Sally
or call (269) 857-4181
Join the party! Sponsor a
Heritage Festival 2010 event! Connect with a diverse crowd of
art, history, and nature lovers. Contact Sally at
or call (269) 857-4181for the
As always, the Heritage Festival needs
volunteers from now until September 18. To lend your talents to this
festival, contact Sally at
or call (269) 857-4181
HUNTINGHOUSE'S NON-SINKABLE SWIM SUIT
FA biographical sketch of dance master and Saugatuck resident R.G.
Huntinghouse was presented in the June SDHS Newsletter. Here, his
granddaughter Marion, shares a few Saugatuck Memories. Her full
story can be found on the SDHS web pages by clicking
R.G. and Marion, About 1924, Note His Dancing Shoes
I don't know if any of you had grandfathers that were inventors or
appeared in Ripley's Believe It or Not column - but these are a few
stories about my grandfather R. G. Huntinghouse. He was born in 1861
in Milwaukee at the time of the Civil War and was named Rudolph, but
he liked to be called R. G. because it had a nice ring to it. No one
ever questioned what his second name was until one time in filling
out an application, the full second name was required. He said he
drew a complete blank and the only name beginning with a G that he
could think of was his sister's, so he became Rudolph Gertrude.
R. G. had a summer retreat - a 10 acre farm just outside of
Saugatuck, Michigan. I spent my summers there until I finished high
school. At that time Chicago had three Sunday papers and R. G. saved
the comic sections from these all winter, taking them to the farm
when he went up there for the summer. He would stack them on a
couple chairs in the summer kitchen so that my sister and I had
reading on rainy days. I don't think I fully appreciated the effort
that he made to do this for us. His knack for doing things in a big
way carried over to the garden. He liked raspberries, so planted a
large area of them. I was the chief picker - my sister was too
small. It was hot; there were bees and stickers; the berries if over
ripe squished; and I hated it. And the worst part was that the
nicest berries were always given away and we ate the ones that were
mushy. He was always climbing ladders to paint and repair things.
Every few years he would paint the trim on the farm house and loved
to try new color combinations - one time it was pink and baby blue;
another apple green and pink; once Chinese red and black, and then
there was the time he decided to mix up all of his left over paints
and we were pea green. And he used to let me help paint - a mess
didn't disturb him one bit.
It was in Saugatuck that he started to work on his non-sink swim
suit.* I was under the impression that he had a patent on it, but
when I researched this in Boston, I could find nothing. Patents are
listed by category and I went through every possible listing -
safety devices, outdoor equipment, beach, clothing, boating, and I
couldn't find his name. But I was able to check back and learned
that there had been a ship that went down in Lake Michigan near
Saugatuck at about this time with the loss of 30 lives. R. G.'s idea
was that if his swim suit had been worn by everyone on the boat as
an under garment, they would have been saved. The suit had four 1 to
1-1/2" wide rubber tubes from the hips to the top of the suit (two
in front and two in back) and these were connected by another rubber
tube that circled the hips. There was a small valve on one of the
front strips - when needed, you inflated the tubes by blowing into
the valve and closing it. The tubes were covered with a flannel
fabric so they wouldn't irritate the skin. You can imagine how I
looked. I was his chief tester as he worked up his idea. I can
remember going to a small lake near the house (by now I refused to
go to the big beach at Lake Michigan) and with R. G.'s directions,
inflate the tubes and jump in the water, floating like a big bubble.
I don't think R. G. could find anyone interested enough to develop
this further and as he used to say - the bathing suits started to
get so skimpy that it was impossible to put enough rubber tubing in
them to keep a person afloat.
Now about the Ripley column** - it was in the mid 30's that he
appeared in it as having danced more than 1,000,000 miles. R. G.
owned a dancing school in Chicago that taught everything from ballet
to ballroom dancing. He theorized that every waltz consisted of so
many steps and he had waltzed a certain number of times every day
for a certain number of years - thus the over 1,000,000 miles of
dancing - and every mile with his arm around a girl he used to say.
R. G. is buried in the small old cemetery in Saugatuck. A year after
he died, I was there to plant flowers on his grave and had our son
who was about six with me. Steve was having a great time hiding
behind tombstones and shrubs. I wasn't making much progress while
trying to keep an eye on him. I finally got him to stay near and he
asked if he could say a prayer and sing a song, but mainly I thought
at least I'll know where he is and I might get finished. I was so
busy trying to get done that I didn't pay too much attention to what
Steve was singing and all of a sudden the song he was singing
registered - it was "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer". R. G. would
have loved it.
submitted by Marion Britz, granddaughter of R. G. Huntinghouse
*In her diary entry of Aug 1, 1933, Elizabeth Pamperien, whose
family summer cottage was two blocks south of the Huntinghouse home
on Maple St., wrote "Went to see Huntinghouse and he gave all of us
Huntinghouse Non-sinkable Swim Suits. It is so funny". Elizabeth has
passed on now, but local girlfriend Vivian Powers Chambers, recalls
"They had tubes of air in them to hold you up. We never took them to
the beach, but tried them out in the Kalamazoo River between
Saugatuck and Douglas, under the bridge. The suits were not very
flattering with all the tubes in them so we did not want to wear
them anywhere else. They did work though." Vivian and sister Betty
had taken dance lessons from R. G. when they lived for a time in
Chicago. One possible inspiration for R.G. may have been the 1932
Joe E. Brown movie, "You Said A Mouthful" in which the "broke
inventor of a non-sinkable bathing suit is mistaken for a champion
swimmer by an attractive woman".
**In the Ripley's cartoon of Dec 5, 1933, they wrote: "DANCED OVER
1,200,000 MILES - Mr. R. G. Huntinghouse of 4616 North Clark St.,
Chicago, estimates that during the 54 years he has conducted his
dancing academy he has danced a total of over 1,200,000 miles.
During his daily grind of 14 hours, he has averaged 66 miles on week
days and 15 miles on Sundays - a total of almost 32,000 miles a
Have you seen the Art Poles at the 2010
Historical Society Museum Exhibit?
HERE for details.
MAY FRANCIS HEATH MEMORIAL IS DEDICATED
Peg Sanford calls things to order as John Pahl waits his turn.
A large crowd braved uncertain weather early afternoon Saturday,
August 14th, to honor Saugatuck historian, May Francis Heath
(1873-1961), with the dedication of a memorial plaque in the public
square. Peg Sanford orchestrated the program which included an
official welcome by Saugatuck Mayor Barry Johnson, who remarked that
the house he lives in was built by May's grandfather, S. A.
Morrison. SDHS president Harold Thieda, called May a "Renaissance
Woman," who, at a time when "the woman's place was in the home,"
played a leading role in the community. Woman's Club President Karen
Drongowski introduced Allyson Lane, the first recipient of the
$1,000 May Heath Memorial Scholarship for service and academic
achievement. Marsha Kontio outlined May's many contributions. She
founded the Saugatuck High School Alumni Association, the Woman's
Club and the Art Club; headed up the 1930 Centennial; wrote the
first definitive history - Early Memories of Saugatuck, and led or
joined in many other church and civic efforts.
John Pahl remembers
A highlight of the event was the comments by 90- year-old John Pahl,
former president of the Allegan County Historical Society, who knew
and admired Mrs. Heath. He told of approaching May in the late 1950s
for assistance in saving the Civil War Monument at the County
Courthouse from being moved to a place of lesser honor. He told her
they might be in for a fight to stop the move. May's reply was
emphatic as she slammed some papers she had in her hand to a table
top, "I'm always ready to fight for history!" She helped muster
public opinion and won over the county board.
Great Grandchildren Unveil Memorial
May's Great grandchildren, Bill Bleeker, Lisa Diaz Nash, and Jim
Diaz thanked the audience for honoring May, shared some family
memories, and unveiled the memorial plaque. A reception followed
that included refreshments donated by DeMond's and some home baked
goodies from Peg Sanford's kitchen.
WHAT YOU MISSED
SDHS member's favorite summer culinary creations, and a healthy
portion of playful spirit, were on offer at the August 11 picnic at
Mt. Baldhead Park.
Three nine-foot tables were brought in to hold the potluck feast.
Even so, late arriving entrees had more trouble finding suitable
parking spots than the cars across the river in downtown Saugatuck.
Wildflower bouquets in venerable blue mason jars adorned the covered
tables and rock music from the "Music in the Park" wafted in on the
After the banquet was gobbled up, members were challenged to guess
the original purpose of six artifacts. The objects included a bung
hole reamer, a boat chinker, a manual laundry agitator, a quill
sharpener, a house jack and a log hook. Most Saugatuckians a hundred
years ago would have been able to identify these objects, but our
very best picnickers could only identify two out of six.
Blame the heat, not the ability.
Mysteries, Memories & Old Tales
of Saugatuck & Douglas
Tuesday, August 24, Remembering Ox-Bow by Norm Deam
Tuesday, August 31, In the Open Air by Maryjo Lemanski
Wednesday, September 1, Saugatuck & Douglas Area Gay
History: A Preview of the Video by Steve Croley & Bridget McCormack
Company This a repeat and update
of the Tuesday, August 10 Talk
THANKS TO TUESDAY TALK SPONSORS
The Society would like to once
again thank the following companies and individuals for their
sponsorship of this year's Tuesday Talks.
2010 Tuesday Talk Sponsors
Button-Petter Gallery (sponsor of two Tuesday Talks)
Clearbrook Golf Club & Restaurants
Jane & Al Osman, Osman's Flowers & Firs
Brewing Company (sponsor of two Tuesday Talks)
Brandess Studios & Gallery
Final "101" session coming up! After holding two successful
orientations this year, the society will present its final "SDHS
101" meeting on Saturday, September 11, at the Old School House,
beginning at 10:00 a.m.
Old and new members are invited to attend and discover how valuable
our Society and its history are to our community. If you plan to
or call 269-857-5704.
continues to wrestle with overseeing the Society's
projects and financial resources while preserving and nurturing
the passion of its dedicated
volunteers. A set of
Guidelines and a Project Proposal Form
|on the Society’s website. These will be
used for all new projects proposed within the Society.
If you are interested in starting a Society project, please use
Guidelines and Proposal Form and the Board will give it
FACES OF THE SOCIETY
Photos by Marsha Kontio who is practicing her technique.