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Mason County Memories

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A Real Michigan Winter? History Column Dave Petersen Just in case everyone forgot what a real Michigan winter is supposed to be like I went through some of the photos in my collection to see if I could find anything that might jog a few memories. I grew up in Ludington and I remember the winters we had in the 1960's and as a kid loved having snow to go sledding, build forts and of course have snowball fights in. We would also go down to Lake Michigan and play on the ice near the water. The first time we had a January thaw that I remember was in the early 70's and seeing green grass in the middle of the winter was a little twilight zone like. It just didn't seem natural to me. Then of course we had the storm in 1978/79 that shut down the State for a few days, and I was working an outside job in the early 80's when we were blasted every few days with snow and more snow, certainly didn't have a problem remembering what a Michigan winter was supposed to be like. These past few years though winter seems less and less of a problem, we get the drive plowed a couple times during the winter, festivals have had to import snow and I hear from a lot of newcomers that our winters aren't so bad here. In the back of my mind though I keep wondering when we are going to get a real Michigan winter again, you know, the kind that people talk about for generations. I'm afraid if we get one now that half the population will run south screaming all the way to Florida. The photos that you see here are from the winters of 1935/36, these were years and storms that folks still remember and will talk about it, ask your grandparents what they remember about those winter storms. My grandfather Earl Shaw worked for the road commission during those years down in Oceana County and he talked about the storms and the work they had to do to get the roads open and keep them open for years. Our first illustration is one that shows the icebergs on Lake Michigan, the first time I saw one with adults standing on the edge of the ice near Lake Michigan I didn't feel so bad, They are supposed to know better then us kids, and that photo taken across the line in Oceana County reminds me of the icebergs I saw in the 60's on our Ludington beach. Number 2 A car on a single lane of the road, with snow piled up higher then the roof, does anyone remember some of those places when the snow was piled up high (or higher) then the windows on a bus? Number 3 The SS Alabama is stuck in the Ludington Harbor and if you look carefully at those 3 specks to the left on the ice you will note that they are people walking up to the boat. Number 4 A great view of our Ludington North Pier Lighthouse on an icy January day back in 1935. Number 5, 6 Here are two great views of the Scottville crew clearing snow with the best equipment available at the time. Number 7 This is a favorite view of mine taken at night of the icebergs along Lake Michigan's shoreline, you can almost catch a chill looking at it. If these photos are the closest we get to a winter storm this year it would be all right with me, but in the meantime brew up some hot cocoa, gather up the youngsters and tell them a story or two about your favorite winter storm and what you did on those cold winter weekends without video games, cable Tv and only 3 stations to watch. If you have any stories or photographs to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at davep@blackcreekpress.com or 757-3240 and leave a message if I'm not home.

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