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History Lives Here Text

Saugatuck,My Utopia

 

The years were1943, 1944 and 1945, World War H years. I was a young adult living in Hobart, Indiana, andworking as a secretary/bookkeeper at the Gary Office Equipment Company locatedon west Sixth Avenuein Gary, Indiana.This is an area at the southern tip of Lake Michigan in Lake County.Travel was limited; furthermore, I did not drive; however, buses wenteverywhere.

Each year I went somewhere on my vacation, the first two weeks in July. These places included: Peoria, Illinois;Springfield, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; as a counselor at a girls' camp at theDunes State Park, Chesterton, Indiana; and a summer camp at Kalamazoo. Andthen, out of the blue, after the area was recommended to me by a boss, Erroll Hodge, I found my Utopia -- Saugatuck,Michigan, located on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.

My sister,Frances Perrotta and another friend, Maxine Garr andI roomed together. What fun we had! Days were spent sunning, swimming, andboating. Nights found us dining and dancing, sometimes under the stars.

 

Hotel Butler ca 1945

We stayed atthe Hotel Saugatuck, a large frame building located on the lake. At a lounge onthe main floor of the hotel they served popcorn, yes, popcorn, in small tubswith our cocktails. It was an elderly gray-haired gentleman who taught me thata Whiskey Sour made a fine before-dinner drink.

Across thestreet from the hotel there was a large frame building, a ballroom, wheredances were held nightly. In the building there was an upright piano thatanyone could use during the day if they wished. Sometimes groups of us wouldgather there for songfests.

One night wewere invited to take a late boat ride on a large cabin cruiser. Although mycompanions went I did not for I stayed behind to write a letter to my bestbeau, Sgt. Robert wells, and to retired early. My Robert was in the U. S. Army in the European theater of warstationed in England.

Although I waseight years younger than my roommates, I usually ended up chaperoning them.However, this time I stayed home.

That night mycompanions left for the boat ride about 9:30 p.m. After going to bed early Iawakened about 3:30 am. alarmed to find my roommateshad not returned. I lay awake the rest of the night wondering when might be theproper time to seek help. At 5:30 am. I heard them giggling and laughing asthey climbed the stairs to our room. I was too happy to see them to be upset.Their explanation for the delay was that their boat had become stranded on asand bar.

The first year there I met a new friend,Carol Kelsey, of Dearborn, Michigan. She was a secretary at GeneralMotors.

For threeconsecutive years we had reunions at Saugatuck. Nothing would please me morethan to renew this friendship with Carol after 55 years.

One year weroomed in the home of the then-mayor of Saugatuck who rented tourist rooms. Hisname I do not recall. [It would have been Frank Wicks at the Maplewood]

Once, aftersending a postcard to my office, "Having a good time; wish I couldstay," I received an immediate response. A telegram arrived from a boss,Bob Dering, "Vacation extended two days.Stop." Way to go!

After the warI married Robert, and we raised a family of four children. Vacations werelimited for a number of years. Today's lucky young parents live in a differentworld. They need merely to buy or rent a travel trailer. What choices! They cantake their little darlings with them and see the world in their home away fromhome.

Ann Wells isnow 79 years old and a widow since her husband's death in 1992. They moved to Brownstown, Indianain 1956 and built the Townhouse Complex, with six commercial units. One of theshops is Townhouse Army Surplus, still run by Anne and two children, Carl, now51 and Peggy, 45. Another son, Tom, 38, lives in Las Vegasand a daughter, Hill, 43, is married to attorney David Byers and lives in Indianapolis. Anne'saddress is: 723 K Walnut, Brownstown, IN 47220.

 

 

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The auction handbill below was published in 1964 to liquidatethe holdings of the Harbor Club. This included the large Harbor Hotel buildingin Douglas near the corner of Ferry and Center Streets which was later used bythe River Queen Boatworks for the manufacture ofhouse boats, the Kalamazoo Lake frontage that later became Tower Marine, andthe Terrace Park View Resort which has since been razed and replaced with theTower Harbor condominium development. Note that the resort included a house,lodge, duplex, three cottages and the "Eyeful Tower,"a four-story tower that stood on the bluff overlooking the river and gave thelater marina its name. The hotel was planned to include the longer bar in theworld, but this was never installed.

 

 

The Harding Hotel - center - was located northeast of Centerand Ferry Streets in Douglas. The Terrace Park View Resort is just to the north.