Thursday, June 12, 2008

Help Keep Ludington Beautiful

My brother and sister-in-law passed along my recent post about Ludington to a friend of theirs, Margery, who grew up there. She replied:

Thanks for passing this on. Talking about the
Badger made me remember the day it came in on its maiden voyage, ­late October 1953. I was in the fourth grade, and we all went down to the channel, at the foot of Ferry Street, to watch it. Every whistle and horn in town went off. It was just so slick and so elegant."

The ship, I should add, still sails right into the slip. From where I was watching, a few blocks away, it looked like it was sailing through real estate. The slip, it seems, has been a popular place to develop condos in recent years.

"The Armistice Day storm was horrible, but there were many like that," Margery continued. "My dad worked his way through Michigan State, by working summers and vacations on the boats out of Frankfort. It was the Depression, he had no money and no job, and when the struggle got to be too much, he quit school and went to work as a coal passer on the boats.

"When the worst storm in living memory hit, they were en route from Kewanee to Frankfort. The waves crashed over the sea gate, and down into the engine room, putting out the fires, and slowing the ship, which became more and more difficult to steer. Several times it breached, and almost capsized.

"Hour after hour they struggled, exhausted and sea sick, but they kept the fires going and crept across the lake. When the breakwaters at Frankfort finally came in sight, they were too tired to cheer, and you can imagine what they must have felt. I forget the number of ships that sank on the lake that day ­ but there were several. Daddy had had enough, packed his things and drove back to East Lansing."

Peter, a Wisconsinite and former coworker of mine, also had something to say, regarding the definition of the Midwest from yesterday: "I was just reading your blog about the Midwest and I must object that the Dakotas should be included in the Midwest. Rapid City and Mt. Rushmore in SD may be equated with the West, but so is Dodge City, KS. Jerry France didn't include these states when he launched his real estate magazine mainly because there relatively little money to be made from advertisers in the Dakotas."

I'm open to discussion about the Midwestern-ness of the Dakotas, but I have to say I'm ambivalent. Certainly the Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD, is about as Midwestern as it comes:

But by the time you get to Wall, SD, you see this sort of thing on the walls:

North Dakota has a similar split. This could be any suburban park in the Midwest, but it happens to be in Fargo:

This happens to be west of there, at Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Not too many scenes like this in the Midwest:

Then again, adding the Dakotas would increase the sheer size of the Midwest by a considerable 147,000 square miles, bringing the total to an impressive 755,000 square miles (1.95 million square kilometers), or about the size of Mexico.


At 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, not everyone wants to be part of the Midwest. I can recall my friend Frank, who's from Kentucky, telling me that the Louisville newspaper once decided to start referring to Kentucky as a Midwestern state. Their reasoning was that, with only a river separating it from several undisputed, even ur-Midwestern states, it already functioned as part of the region in economic terms. There was, he says, an enormous uproar. As far as the readers were concerned, they were Southerners and Kentucky part of the South and that was that. The newspaper, he said, backed down. ANK

At 9:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dees - I was happy to see the Corn Palace picture. Th blog has come a long way since '02.
You know I have the postcard of the Palace on my board in the garage. I was surprised to see that you now have added "One Day, One Postcard" I feel honored to be a recipient. (couldn't leave a comment there because it was too complicated). MT


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