Quote of the Day: "If all the lumber cut in Michigan during the white pine lumbering era (1860-1900) would provide enough boards for a solid row of out-houses around the world, as some writers stated, then the amount of whiskey consumed by lumberjacks, tough guys, drummers, and plain drunks during the same period would have made another set of Great Lakes bubbling over with pure whiskey." Roy L. Dodge, Ticket to Hell: A Saga of Michigan's Bad Men. 1975.
Here's a sampling, bits and pieces in a few cases, of some of my favorites. When a lumber camp ran low on food a committee was selected to make for the nearest town to buy supplies. When the committee returned the resupply consisted of "several cases of whiskey and a couple of loaves of bread. After staring silently at this exhibit, one jack dourly remarked, "What are we gonna do with all the bread?"
"A Swede goes back to the Old Country and is asked how he liked America. "Py Yesus, it take me twenty year to learn to say yelly and den dey call it yam."
And my favorite is told in a Finnish dialect. A Finnish tavern owner by the name of Frank Uotila from Mass, Michigan visited Hancock. On his return home he had a small sign reading "Nineteen-F-U-twenty-eight" placed on his tavern. When asked why he put those letters and numbers on his building he replied, "Well, I peing up py dat Hancock blace, I seen pilding up dere, it saying nineteen-oh-von-A-D. I asking someone what dat meaning and dey tellin me dat meaning Anno Domini. I saying tis: If dat dem Dago, he putting his 'nitials on his pilding, I put my 'nitials on my pilding."
A truly unique book about a unique corner of our world.
Bloodstoppers & Bearwalkers: Folk traditions of Michigan's Upper Peninsula by Richard Dorson, 3rd ed. University of Wisconsin Press, c2008, 371p. $24.95 pb.
The breadth and diversity of the islands is staggering. From Isle Royale in the western end of Lake Superior to the islands in the St. Lawrence River is a distance over 600 miles as the crow flies, if the crow so desires, or about 900 miles by car if the bird has a valid driver’s license. The islands vary from being overrun by tourists, to pastoral working farms, municipal parks, true wilderness experiences, or just out-of-the-way, uncrowded getaways.
Dunphy introduces readers to the Great Lakes largest and only delta. It’s found where the St. Clair River decants into Lake St. Clair and the “Flats,” as they’re called, is home to some fascinating island destinations. Harsen’s Island has been called the Venice of America because of its profusion of canals. The island’s flat roads make for fine biking with great close-up views of freighters plying the river that carries more freighter traffic than the Panama and Suez Canals combined. There are a few tourist type boutiques in a quaint village to browse through if one lives to shop. Next to Harsen’s Island lies Russell Island. The latter is open to the public one day a year for six hours. And across the river is Walpole Island which does not belong to either Canada or the U.S. The island is unceded land that has never been included in any treaty with the original setters of the continent, making Walpole Island, First Nation Land. The island contains the greatest biologically diverse habitat in the area, and includes a remnant tall grass prairie. The author was told the famous war chief Tecumseh is buried on the island. There is a museum, unique Native American craft shops, rare plants and a strong sense of community. Two of the best times to visit are during the spring Pow Wow or the Fall Fair. A trip to Walpole Island is a ferry ride to a whole new world.
Unnatural Causes by Dawn Eastman. Crooked Lane Books, 2017, $26.99
If you are considering the purchase of any of the reviewed books the easiest way is to click on the cover which will take you to Amazon where the price is probably cheaper than the price quoted by the publisher.