Black as the ace of spades

When I was a little kid in Soo Ste. Siberia, one of our favorite family things to do was to drive by the Soo Locks. When I was first learning to talk, I would give my parents the order “down boat!” If you are not familiar with the Great Lakes, the locks is where lake freighters negotiate the elevation changes between the Lower and Upper St. Marys River. That’s Lake Huron/Michigan to The Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee (okay, Lake Superior). The Native Americans and the Voyageurs had to portage the rapids back in the day.

We usually drove the waterfront in the evening. Grandroobly had a grueling bank job back in those days. It was a different time then. If you heard a banker talk about how you could get into all kinds of sh*t in the banking business, he meant collecting cows, not approving mortgages for McMansions that the prospective owners didn’t have a prayer of paying back. Grok grok. Git off yer stoopid ol’ sopebox, Ol’ Baggy. Grok Grok.

Ahem. Don’t mind Froggy. Anyway. After we would finish driving by the locks, I would inevitably order my parents to “Go by the oldest house in town!” I was beyond the “Down boat!” stage by then. Now, Soo Ste. Siberia has some old houses. Our little northern city turned 300 in 1968 and there are a few houses leftover from that era. The John Johnston house and the Henry Schoolcraft house. They are strictly historical sites now, nestled in with new old houses (early 20th century), an old ice rink, the American Legion, the Coast Guard station, a fancy marina, and the Valley Camp freighter museum. Makes you wonder if the people who actually lived in those houses ever dreamed about what the place might look like 300-plus years hence.

The Oldest House In Town for me was not the Johnston house or the Schoolcraft house. It was an abandoned Victorian-style house on Barbeau Street (I *think* that’s the street). It was a decrepit old building with turrets and the whole works and The Commander would always say — dramatically — that it was as black as the ace of spades. It was as spooky as all getout too but I was never *really* afraid of it with Grandroobly and The Commander in the front of our vee-hickle. I don’t think that house is there any more. I think it finally crumbled into oblivion. Or maybe it burned. I don’t remember. I wish I had a picture…

Ifya wanna google-map the location, Sault Ste. Marie, MI, zip code 49783, Barbeau St. It’s down by the river to the east of the canal just off Portage.

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