SCHOOL PICNICS ON BALDHEAD
At least fourgenerations of my family have come to know Baldhead. My 87-year-old mother,Ruth Galbreath always went to Baldhead on her schoolpicnic when she attended
Probably earlyin April we had a meeting before school started. Possible sites for the annualschool picnic were suggested and then we voted by ballot. The result was alwaysthe same, Baldhead by a unanimous vote. Then we began to make plans. Usuallythe picnic was held on the third Friday in May. School got out earlier then.
I'm sure thekids volunteered what their mothers would bring for the bounteous lunch. Ourmother always brought potato salad decorated with egg slices on the top,deviled eggs and lemonade. And she probably brought fried children too, itseems as though Mother didn't go to any dinner without taking her famous friedchicken. I can remember helping to make the lemonade on the site. We rolled thelemons to loosen the juice, sliced them, added sugar and water and it wasready.
Mr. Koning was always on hand with his teamof horses and hay wagon, lined with sweet-smelling hay. He met us at the schooland we all climbed aboard and rode the seven miles to our destination. Therewas much laughter and singing on the way. As we left the main road at
When we gotthere everyone climbed off and headed in all directions. Some of the biggerboys climbed Baldhead a couple of times before lunch. I guess the parents wentahead because dinner was usually almost ready for us when we got there, a huge,huge lunch.
At that timethere were no steps to the top of the hill. We went straight up where the stepsare now, but coming down we took a more diagonal route, less likely to end upwith broken bones. There were a lot of grapevines which made great swings. Manyof the boys would claim to climb the hill ten, twelve, even thirteen times. Thegirls were more prone to wander around the paths.
There was asmall building on the Baldhead side of the
Across theriver was Saugatuck and a ferry boat ride would get us there for a dime(probably round trip). We would enjoy going into Saugatuck. For several years
After climbing and meandering wemade our way back to the picnic spot, climbed aboard the hay wagon, tired buthappy, for the ride home.
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Eachgeneration sees changes and yet some things don't change very much at all. Inmy generation we went by car. I think everyone had a Ford of some kind. We wouldall gather at base of Baldhead and before the cars had rolled to a stop thechildren were pouring out and headed for the stairs that led to the top.
While all of this adventurous climbing was going on,the mothers were busily laying out the picnic dinner they had brought along. Itdidn't take too many trips to the top and down again before everyone was redfaced and panting for breath and ready to sit down and enjoy the lunch.Pitchers of lemonade quenched our thirst, I can remember a lot of baked beansbeing there, that must have been the easiest to fix and take along and JELL-0that always had bananas in it in those days; it was quite a treat but thebananas always turned brown before we got ready to eat it. There were alwayslots of pies and cakes for dessert.
Very few fathers ever went along on these picnicsbecause the end of May was the time when they were busy getting the crops
My particular school was the McDowell School in CascoTownship, but I know that all of the rural schools in the surrounding townshipscelebrated the end to their school year by going to Mt. Baldhead for a picnicduring those last weeks in May. I can't recall there ever being another schoolgroup there on the same day that we went, but there probably was. (Maybe theteachers worked out a schedule for use of the park.) It was always a wonderfulday of good food and good fun with all of our good friends.
In the early 1960smy husband and I moved to Saugatuck and our children grew up there. Theirassociation with
As the kidsgrew older they would take the chain ferry over and climb to the
We lived onthe north end of
Now there is a great-granddaughter inour lives and we are certain that one of these days in the not too distantfuture she will be the next generation of our family to be introduced toBaldhead. I hope she enjoys it as much as all of us have.
The arrival of theFrench-registered cruise vessel Le Levant (the sunrise) in Saugatuck June 21,1999, has been hailed as the "return" of "cruise liners" toSaugatuck, but this may be misleading.
In earlierdays there were many boats that carried passengers and stopped at Saugatuck.The first were sailing vessels that would carry passengers when asked. In 1859the 165 foot steamship Huron under charter to Albert E. Goodrich and George C.Drew, planned a regular route on the east
On August 1,I868, the Ira Chaffee, a 127-foot steamer built in Allegan began regular tripsto
By 1900 thesummer resort trade was booming and there was an effort to get the Graham & Morton line, thathad been calling at
In 1922 Graham& Morton finally succumbed to public demand and began calling at Saugatuckand Douglas during the summer and into fruit season. In honor of the occasionthey named one of their boats the City of
The only realcruise boats (boats that did not just go from destination to destination, butcalled at several ports) that visited the area would have been the NorthAmerican and the South American which wintered in Saugatuck harbor 1914 to1924. Although the first cruise sometimes originated from Saugatuck it was nota regular port of call.
And then theLe Levant arrived in June. -- Kit Lane