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Mason County Memories

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History Column 280 Dave Petersen Earlier this week I spent part of an afternoon with Maurice "Mac" McCormick at his house looking through his photograph albums and listening to stories of when he sailed on the Great Lakes. Mac is 94 years young this year and we talked about all of the different boats that he sailed on in his career that began in 1937. "I started at the bottom" Mac told me, and he worked his way up through the ranks to Second Engineer although he had his license for the higher designation of First Engineer. Mac began working as a coal passer, water tender, and did everything else that needed to be done down in the engine room. "My favorite boat was the PM 22, it had the best crew, of all of them it was the best one." During the second world war Mac like many of the Great Lakes Mariners served in the merchant marines but as soon as the war was over he was right back on Lake Michigan. During his career he sailed on many of the boats from Ludington north to the Straits until the completion of the Mackinac Bridge in 1959 brought many of the mariners down to Ludington to seek work. The Railroad and the boats were a major employer in Ludington. When we stepped outside Mac's daughter Jane McCormick Croff pointed at different houses up and down the street where carferry workers lived when she was growing up in the neighborhood. Jane said "The men of the boats were like family since they spent most of their lives on the boats. Floyd Fay (an engineer with the boats) would walk by our house and wave at my dad on his daily walks. Mac retired in 1975 after working on the boats for 38 years, he told me he would have liked to work a few more before he had to leave. He sent me home with some pictures to share with our readers, many not yet published that I think you will enjoy. If you have photographs to share with our readers please feel free to contact me at 757-3240, email to davep@blackcreekpress.com or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News PO Box 340 Ludington Mi 49431 Pic1 Mac McCormick (center) was working as a water tender when this picture was taken about 1940 Pic2 This car and trailer are being loaded on the Sainte Marie for a crossing at the Mackinac Straits. Pic3 The Sainte Marie was built by the Toledo Shipbuilding Company in 1913 for service on the Great Lakes for the Mackinac Transportation Company. The boat ran service at the Straits until 1961, a victim of the success of the new bridge the boat was scrapped in 1962. Pic4 The Grand Haven was built in 1903 at Toledo Ohio for the Grand Trunk Carferry Line and remained part of the Grand Trunk Milwaukee Line until 1946. Eventually laid up in 1965, the boat caught fire while being scrapped in 1970. Pic5 The Nyack of the Crosby Transportation Company at the dock. The Nyack was 231 feet long and built in Buffalo in 1878. While being refitted the boat burned at Muskegon in 1915 and while some work was done to rebuild and repair it was abandoned in 1933. Pic6 During the Winter of 62/63 Most of the fleet was caught in the ice out in the harbor and could not break free. The city lights were within sight. Home was so close they could almost touch it but they remained ice bound.

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