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Mason County Memories

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I remember Bass Lake - Henry Theile History Column Dave Petersen 8-2-08 I had an opportunity to spend some time with Henry Theile from Bass Lake the other day, it was a beautiful day for a ride and we sat outside at the deck table while Henry talked about his families early days on Bass Lake. At 94 Henry has a vivid recollection of events, he still comes up to the home built by his grandfather and father and spends the best five months of the summer season here before returning to the Chicago area in the fall. In 1913 Henry's grandfather who was an insurance and real estate salesman as well as a Blacksmith and wagon dealer (also Henry Thiele) purchased land on both side of the channel from a Swedish Hunting and fishing Club out of Chicago. The area around Bass Lake had already been well known as a hunting, fishing, and camping area and some cottages such as the Karaway Kabin and the Enders Cottage and Mckees Hotel on the other side of the lake were already built. Henry ( the senior) built his house on the property, retired on his insurance residuals and then proceeded to subdivide the property and build cottages. In a circular that he had printed he describes the Thiele Addition at Bass lake as such. " Do you need a vacation? Let me show you a real resting place located on the shores of our beautiful lake Michigan. I own about 7000 feet of water front lots, in a natuaral forest of oak and white pines, on Lake Michigan and Bass lake outlet. My subdivision contains about 70 acres and I have taken great care in beautifying the land before putting it on the market. " I now offer about 50 building sites for sale all large water front lots from 75 to 100 feet wide and and a depth from 200 to 400 feet. The ground is high and has an elevation of from 10 to 40 feet above the water line. We have drinking water taken from wells 30 to 60 feet deep, which is cool all summer and very refreshing. "We have a bathing beach with shallow water and a clear sand bottom, there is nothing finer in the country. The climate cannot be surpassed, as the lake breeze cools the air at all times and we don't know a hot day at Bass Lake. We have a grocery man, milkman, ice man and many farmers bring the choicest of Michigan fruit to camp every day." Henry has many fond memories of the summers spent at Bass Lake with his family and brother Howard and sister Bernice. Travel in those early days was no easy task. When the family got ready and packed to go they would head down to Navy pier to get on one of the mailboats run by the Goodrich Line, they would board in Chicago at 10PM and after a stop in Benton Harbor they would land at Muskegon about 8 am. From there they would get on the Pere Marquette train out of Muskegon to Pentwater and would arrive there about midnight. The trip was not over yet as they had to borrow the model T at the Big Maple Garage and head out past Nebb's Well (Wishing Well) and since the road that we are all so familiar with going north from there had not been built yet the family had to drive out around where old 31 is and on Washington road to get on a two track that they could take to the cottage. Henry remembers, " When we got to the cottage we would take our shoes off and wouldn't put them on until Sunday when we went to church, there was no electricity in the cottage, we had a victrola for music, and the iceman, grocery man and milkman would make the circuit once a week. "The only telephone near us was at Camp Marrison, sometimes people would come down and ask the kids to run a message in an emergency to the camp so it could be called in. We were outside all summer, we made our ice cream money by catching frogs to sell to the fishermen, and we would catch fish out of the river for our own lunch. Later in the summer we would work at the Kingfisher farm doing hay, we didn't get paid but we were able to ride the Shetland pony that they had. " I remember that before the dam was built that when we had a good storm the sand at the outlet would be washed out and our lake (Bass Lake) would start draining into Lake Michigan, the residents would go down to the outlet and try and block the outlet so we didn't lose the lake, that was taken care of about 1927 when the dam was built. They had problems with the weeds on the lake so they took an old skow and put a model T engine on it and a sickle bar that dragged down about four feet to cut the weeds so the boats could get around." Thanks to Henry Thiele for taking the time to share some of his memories of Bass Lake. If you have local stories and photographs of Bass Lake and wish to share those with our reader please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431.

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