JUNE  2009

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Rumors of a hit exhibit and some excellent weather brought out well over 300 Society members and guests to the museum and its harborside patio on Saturday evening May 23rd. Guests were welcomed to the exhibit, "Summertime - A Century of Leisure on the Lake Michigan Shore" by lifeguard David Lyon positioned alongside one of the City's old life guard stations and JoEllen & Bill Anderson's classy 1938 yellow Oldsmobile Cutlass convertible stuffed with beach balls and flotation devices.

A load of door prizes were given away - and the food and wine was 1950s in full beach picnic style.

If you have not seen the exhibit, make sure you allow plenty of time - it is a stunner and full of great stories, a scale model of the Big Pavilion, hundreds of photographs, two flatscreen shows and more. Many guests were also able to view the museum's new "SuperMap" for the first time (see related news article). Open daily, Noon to 4. Free Admission.


Security Detail
Lifeguard - Dave Lyon

Edible Architecture
Ken Carls & his Big Red cake

Dewey family
Three Generations of the Dewey Family

Rick & Bernice

Powerchat - Kathy Sturm
& Judy Mauger

Hostesses - Dottie Lyon
& Judi Vanderbeck


This year's exhibition and the Super Map are a HUGE hit with our Museum visitors. To date we have had over 1,400 visitors - an 84% increase over last year!

Thanks to the Museum Design Team and all of our Museum Hosts for providing such an engaging experience.

If you haven't been to this year's exhibition, hurry down there soon. Tell your friends and neighbors. A trip to the Museum is a great escape for your summer guests and family. We know they will enjoy it.


A fun time was had by all at the June 4th Bowl-A-Rama held at Lakeview Lanes in Douglas. About $3,500 was raised to support the Society's many programs.


Wed., July 8, 7 PM, Saugatuck Yacht Club, the history of the Saugatuck Yacht Club as they celebrate their 75th anniversary of teaching young and old to sail small boats. John Shack has recruited a group of "Old Salts" to spin some tales about the Club.

Saugatuck Yacht Club

Wed., August 12, 6 PM, Annual Society Picnic at Mt. Baldhead Park


Tuesday 'Til Noon talks to begin on July 7 starting promptly at 11 AM every Tuesday in July and August. The 2009 season will focus on "Summertime - A Century of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore".

July 7 The Many Lives of Saugatuck's Big Pavilion
July 14 My Life With Chris Craft by Chris Smith
July 21 Mary Ann Curtis and Tales of Summertime at Pier Cove
July 28 [to be announced]
August 4 Ox-Bow: Summer Fun - the Inside Story
August 11 James Cook: A Photographic Study of Dunes, Lake and River
August 18 Lake Michigan Commercial and Sport Fishing
August 25 Hot Summers, Food and Fun at the Oval Beach in the 1950s & 1960s

We look forward to seeing you at the NEW location - we are moving to the Society's Old School House "Discovery Center" at 130 Center Street, Douglas.


WGVUís Morning Show with Shelley Irwin will air a special half-hour recorded at the Pump House Museum on Friday, June 26 at 9:30 am. Society member, Jon Helmrich, will join Shelley Irwin for his monthly special feature, The View From the Dunes, which will focus on our museum, the Summertime exhibit, and this yearís book on the Big Pavilion. Helmrich and Irwin plan to talk with Jim Schmiechen, Kit Lane, and Harold Thieda at the museum for the broadcast. WGVU is at 88.5 FM on the radio dial or on-line. The View from the Dunes airs monthly and covers people and events in the Saugatuck-Douglas area. Helmrich has produced and co-hosted the feature since February 2007.


Two of the top planning goals for the Society presented at the May Annual meeting were to activate two important committees for the Society - Development and New Revenue. Both committees will be concerned with exploring and implementing new income and revenue streams to ensure the Society's long-term vitality. The Development committee will plan and discuss many things including fund-raising benefits, grants and donations, and new ideas such as legacy gifts and an endowment plan. The New Revenue committee will plan and explore potential new income ideas such as retail and gift items at Society shops, sponsorships for Society events, space rental, and other income generating plans.

Both committees are planning their first meeting within the next few weeks. We encourage all members to consider joining us or suggesting members for each committee from the community and Society membership. Please contact Nancy Woods for the Development Committee by email at or by calling (269) 375-8103 and Jon Helmrich for the New Revenue Committee at or (269) 857-3574.


The May 23 Member Preview Reception was once again hugely popular - the Museum was definitely the place to be seen on the perfect Saturday evening of Memorial Day weekend. Among other attractions was the unveiling of the newest addition to our sparkling line-up of Society publications, The Big Pavilion: "The Brightest Spot on the Great Lakes".

The new volume, the 48-page product of our award-winning publishing duo, author Kit Lane and graphic designer Ken Carls, chronicles the history of Saugatuck's most famous building, the enormous Big Pavilion dance hall that stood at the bend in the Kalamazoo. Generously illustrated, the book takes the reader from construction in 1909 to destruction (by fire) in 1960 - and through the many phases of Saugatuck's changing social scene in between. The text is punctuated with quotes from hundreds of newspaper articles and first-hand accounts by Big Pavilion regulars.

The book is going like hotcakes. Get your copy now at the Museum Shop for $19.95. As with previous Society publications, a special numbered hand-bound hard cover keepsake edition is available for $100 per copy. As our very limited supply of hard covers is depleted, the shop is happy to take prepaid orders for additional copies or you can order by REPLYING to this email or through Fred Schmidt at 269 857-5751.


The Society's Oral History team recently completed the following five histories complete with videos, slideshows and a brief narrative.

Elizabeth Ann (Betty) Mulder at home

Betty Mulder at the fish pond behind her home.

Henning Christiansen the violin maker
Bill Porter and Cynthia McKean show their hexagon home
Dawn Schumann tours the Presbyterian Camps
George Schumann guide through the Schumann lakeshore home

In addition, during the past year the following persons partook in some form of oral history process: Peggy Boyce, Barbara Crandall, Joan Brigham, Joyce Plummer, Patricia Woods, Bob & Lue Crane, Maryann Curtis, Frank Lamb, Bill & Mary Leber, Fran Manifold, Dorothy Otto, R. J. Peterson, Carl and Janet Wicks, Janet Wolbrink, and members of the Saugatuck HS 1957-58 graduating class.

A special oral history for recently deceased Douglas resident Dean Dornan was gathered from many local friends' reflections on the day of his funeral. In addition, several area residents have been encouraged (and supported as needed) to write their own personal histories for placement in the oral history archive.

During the next year the DVDs for many of the above will be edited into a movie format and, with the approval of the subjects of the videos, made available for purchase by family and friends. All of the oral history video recordings made before 2008 have now been transferred from VHS to DVD. On request copies may soon be purchased by family and friends. All oral history videos can be found online by clicking HERE.

Visitors to the Museum, and eventually the Old School Discovery Center, will be able to request a host to briefly audio tape their memories of the area. Anyone interested in having yourself or a family member interviewed for an oral history that relates to historical Saugatuck-Douglas experiences can contact John Shack directly at or at (269) 857-8644.

SDHS 101

Attention Members! You have another chance to delve into the workings and opportunities that the Society has to offer at the next "SDHS 101" session, which will be held at the Old School House Discovery Center on Saturday, June 27th, at 10:00 a.m.

These sessions are not only for new members, but for "old" members who may find some very interesting facts about our organization. For more information and to register contact Nyla Hensley at 269-857-5704 or email


Families move to a community for a variety of reasons. In these tight economic times, it's nice to recall that some come and stay for reasons of employment.

Mel Hershaw reports that in 1935, his father Gus moved their family from Wisconsin to Saugatuck to operate the farm that brother-in-law, Louis Jones, had purchased on the New Richmond Road. During the 1936 construction boom, Gus moved his family into town and went to work for Rieth-Riley hauling sand to make the new road (they had the contract for what is now the Blue Star highway from the Saugatuck end of the new bridge to about where the interstate overpass is north of town). Other contractors were kept busy as well. L.W. Lamb built the "new bridge" across the Kalamazoo, and Lyons Construction had a dredge and suction working to pump the island out of the river and create the raised roadbed on either side of the bridge. (Both Rieth-Riley and L. W. Lamb are still active today).

After the road work was finished, Gus went to work driving a truck for Frank Sewers, one of Saugatuck's leading commercial fishermen. He'd haul loads of fish from Saugatuck and South Haven down to the big market in Benton Harbor, where they'd be sold and others would carry them on to retail markets in Chicago and elsewhere.

Gus didn't like to work out on the lake because he'd get sea-sick, so in addition to driving the truck, he'd do other things closer to shore, like repairing the nets and seining the river for carp. "Sewers" is a name (like Yoder, rhymes with odor) which was the target of more than its share of humor. Mel recalls a favorite true story about an upper crust lady visitor from Chicago who entered the market on Saugatuck's Water Street to ask "Where do you get your fish?" "We get them from Sewers" was the reply. The shocked patron left saying she "would never eat fish taken from sewers".

In later years Gus worked for Baker Furniture in Holland until poor health made him give up work. He passed away on Feb. 26, 1968 and rests with Bertha in Riverside cemetery. His marker memorializes his service as a private during WWI.

Do you have personal stories of Saugatuck and Douglas which you'd like to add to the Society's Archives? Click HERE to leave a note on the Society's Guestbook or contact Chris Yoder at (269) 857-4327 or by email: at    Submitted by Chris Yoder


Look for your new Society Directory in the coming weeks. This year sponsors have taken out ads to help underwrite the costs of the Directory. Please make sure to thank them when you see them.

An "Upscale Sale" fund-raising event at the Old School House Discovery Center, being planned by Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society for mid-July, provides a "win-win-win" opportunity to help support the completion of this unique community resource and the Society's other volunteer programs, while clearing out unwanted high-quality household items and gaining a tax deduction in the process.

Donated items may be dropped off at the Old School House, 130 Center Street in Douglas, Saturdays from 9 a.m. to Noon on June 20, June 27 and July 11, and Tuesdays from 4 to 7 p.m. on June 23, June 30, July 7 and July 14.

The planned sale anticipates a focus on "value" items such as antiques, framed art, collectables, jewelry, musical instruments, cameras, recorders, personal electronics, small power tools, sports equipment, housewares and small-scale furniture or appliances.

The sale will not include home electronics, computers and peripherals (unless unused and in original packaging), large-scale furniture, exercise equipment, clothing or small, low-value items.

For additional information or questions about whether specific items will be welcomed, or to inquire about a donation pick-up, call (269) 857-5751


The Society's May Heath Memorial Study Group was formed to determine an appropriate permanent local memorial honoring Mrs. Heath.

As a part of their "data gathering" efforts, the group is beginning to collect information about her. Do you have personal memories to share? Do you know where one of her paintings can be found? Would you like to work with this study group? If so, contact Chris Yoder at (269) 857-4327 or by email at

by Jack Sheridan
(Click on an image for the answer)

HISTORY: Miniature golf, shuffleboard, a restaurant on the corner ca 1955.
MYSTERY: Name the corner.

HISTORY: A very important corner ca 1905.
MYSTERY: Name the corner.

HISTORY: A historic trail ends here today.
MYSTERY: Name the trail.

HISTORY: Ca 1940, the scene includes the Quick boathouse, Papoose sailboat, and the Carl Bird shop.
MYSTERY: Name the corner across the river and the Inn there today.


To become a member or renew your membership select from the following categories:

Individual $25
Household $45
Senior (65+) $18
Senior Household $30
Student $5
Corporate $150
Life, Individual $300
Life, Household $500

Send check payable to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society to: PO Box 617, Douglas, Michigan 49406. You can also click HERE for a Society Membership Application.

Send items for the newsletter to: Fred Schmidt, PO Box 617, Douglas MI 49406 or email


The Saugatuck-Historical Museum is located in the historic Pump House at the foot of Mt. Baldhead on the west bank of the Kalamazoo River. The Museum will open Memorial Day weekend 2009 with a new exhibit titled:

"Summertime: One Hundred Years of Leisure at the Lake Michigan Shore"

The Museum will be open daily from Noon to 4 PM through Labor Day and on weekends in September and October from Noon to 4 PM.

The Society's Technology Center is open Monday from 1 to 4 p.m., Tuesdays 10 a.m. to noon and Wednesday 9 a.m. to noon.

Society Phone: 269 857-5751
Museum Phone: 269 857-7900
Tech Center Phone 269 857-7901

If you would like to contact us with comments, please email us at or call us at 269-857-5751.
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