Family mythology

First of all, I totally stole this photooo from Lizard Breath. I *have* an almost identical photooo somewhere but I cannot find it.

Now that I have disclaimed that particular fact (there are more to come), I have no idea what this thing is. It kind of looks railroad-related to me. How ’bout you? The first time it surfaced was in late summer 2007. In the span of about 24 hours, I bought my first iPhone, did a whole bunch of errands in an absolute downpour, picked up Uber Kayak Woman over at Metro and drove us north to the beach. The photooo I can’t find [easily] was one of my early iPhone photoooos. The Commander and I had walked down to Our Northern Correspondent Paulette’s end of the beach and there it was sticking out of the sand. (After only a few years, The Commander was not able to walk the beach any more and then even get down to it…)

What is *that*? Is it a piece of rail? Could it have somehow migrated all the way over to our beach from the Back Bay, where there was once an active railroad trestle? Strange things wash up on beaches. I will never forget when The Engineer walked down to “The Pond” (near where the “rail” is) and found a “loverly” old drawer-shaped wooden boat submerged in the sand. A reclamation crew was quickly scrabbled together and we liberated it and painted it yellow (or was it yellow already?). He christened it “The Top Drawer” and we all had great fun rowing it around despite the fact that it was always just a wee bit leaky. And square. Maybe not the best shape for a boat?

Anyway… That was then and now there’s this rail-like thing. Whether this is a rail or not, it got me thinking about the old trestle that crossed the Back Bay from Bay Mills to Brimley. As family mythology would have it, my grandmother used to have to walk that trestle from her family’s home in Bay Mills to school in Brimley. As family mythology would have it, when a train was coming along, my grandmother would have to climb over the side and hang on, waiting for the train to pass by. Given the geography of the area, I doubt that most trains were moving very fast going across that trestle so maybe that was considered safe in those days. Nowadays? Faced with having your kid walk across a railroad trestle — over water not less — every soccer mom (and even me) would saddle up their mini-van and drive their kid to school, even though it might be five times the distance around the Back Bay from Bay Mills to Brimley. But this bit of mythology happened in the early 1900s and I don’t think too many people had automotive vee-hickles then, especially not in the yooperland.

I am calling this mythology because I certainly wasn’t around when my grandmother was going to school and, by the time I was born, that trestle was long gone and all I can do is report what my parents told me umpteen gazillion years ago and I am probably mangling that. By the time I landed on this planet, Bay Mills was largely vacation homes and even though we would sometimes drive over there, it was not usually that exciting a drive and my main memory of the Back Bay was of a guy named JB who was a friend of one of my cuzzints driving a fancy boat (hydrofoil? hydroplane? I can’t remember) from there into our bay when the lake was calm enough for him to do that.

Grandma would’ve lived in Bay Mills way before she married my grandfather and they and a couple of friends bought the moominbeach. I can remember my dad sailing or canoeing me around our bay and showing me the old cribs (submerged rock docks) and telling me stories about what it was like back in the 1800s. Not that *he* could even remember that but he was closer in age to those who could. I can’t present this story as the truth. I think there are probably elements of truth in it. But I don’t know what and how much is true.

4 Responses to “Family mythology”

  1. Mac Says:

    I believe there was a boathouse at that end of the beach with rails going into the water to launch and retrieve the boat

  2. kayak woman Says:

    Yes, I remember that boathouse. I don’t remember any rails or much about it (I was a little kid) but I bet that is correct!

  3. Paulette Says:

    @Mac: Walt.and Ruth Stevens told us that they had a boat house in the structure of a lighthouse at the west end of this beach. We have a picture of this “lighthouse” (boathouse) somewhere. There is still an old boat winch where the lighthouse had been. They told us this had perished by fire. Don’t know if you know this, but Walt Stevens helped build the Mackinaw bridge as a steel worker. In fact a huge old picnic table, since disassembled, was made by Walt from the temporary timbers used in the construction of the bridge. Do you remember the dock that Stevens had on the beach? I have a picture of that in an old Michigan History magazine that highlighted Ruth Stevens in her work as a head secretary for 50+ years for the Soo Locks. The huge steel sections from this dock remain in the woods just off the field.

  4. Paulette Says:

    @kayakwoman Bay Mills…At one time more than 1100 people lived on Bay Mills Point. There were three churches there as well. One of them remains there as a residence. This was at the height of the logging days, when a window, sash, and door company (I forget the name.) at the end of the point provided many jobs for the residents. Ray had a cabin there for over 25 years on the Superior side.