On This Date
Ten Years Ago Four pairs of loons were nesting safely
on the inland lakes. Two other stories seemed related, but weren't.
The Young Eagles in one of them referred to a program started
by Paul and Ellen Welke for students, in which each were allowed
to take the controls of a Piper Cub for ten minutes; the 13 students
were thrilled. The other story, The Eagle Has Landed, concerned
the plight of new editor Chuck Hooker's Jeep Eagle, which somehow
decided it was time for a bath and wound up in the harbor.
The Wildlife Club announced its four priorities: mow, fertilize,
and plant fields with rye, clover, and buckwheat; place mineral
blocks; eliminate poaching; and reduce predation by live-trapping
The court case against the Road Commission was postponed because
their witness list was too long. A $10,000 Frey Foundation recreation
grant helped complete the Master Plan and to create the Gull Harbor
Nature Preserve. Peaine Township tabled a bid from Processing
Concepts Limited to computerize its records for $7,950 plus $120
Jewell Gillespie won the Michigan Heritage Award for serving
as a bridge between the lilting jigs he grew up with and more
modern tastes. He taught himself to play the ocarina, mouth organ,
piano, and fiddle, and began entertaining his family and friends
as a teenager. He wrote many songs as well, including his signature
tune, On the Beach at Beaver Island. The award was generated by
the popularity of Beaver Island music that resulted from field
recordings made by Ivan Walton and Alan Lomax, in which he was
featured as back-up guitarist for Pat Bonner's fiddle.
Ray and Claire Cull celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary
in a party hosted by Rich Gillespie, with Tammy McDonough and
Barry Pischner acting as soloists in the preceding mass. Their
ten children, twenty grandchildren, and three great grandchildren
led Ray and Claire into the Parish Hall.
Twenty Years Ago The July, 1983 Beacon was unusually
thin. The primary story concerned the candlelight installation
ceremony for the Sweet Adelines, organized through the efforts
of long-time near-professional barbershopper Harriet Rafferty
and her equally talented daughters.
The Civic Association raised money by raffling a lot in the Port
of St. James, donated by Morty Brous at the insistence of Ed Wojan.
The winner decided to build a house on it and stay on the Island:
our own cross between Bob Dylan and Burl Ives, Joddy Croswhite.
The Game Club was worried about inbreeding in the deer herd,
descended from 12 deer brought to the Island sixty years before.
They hoped to introduce new blood, but inducing deer to swim over
from the mainland was proving difficult.
Passings noted were Elsie O'Donnell, 93, who left 7 children,
33 grandchildren, and 36 great-grandchildren, and Gilbert High,
a brother to Fred, Albert, Arthur, and Lydia Lewis.
The Beacon contained a poetic paean by Godwin Heights
valedictorian Daniella Williams that concluded with these lines:
Here on Beaver Island in full array
All the boats lined up in the bay;
Wildflowers, ferns, and sandy shores,
This is Nature, opening her doors.
Thirty Years Ago The July Beacon contained the
story of Jewell Gillespie in the American Girl towing the Oil
Queen from Charlevoix when rough seas caused its deck load to
shift. Jewell stood helplessly watching as it began to roll and
then turned over. He managed to get the capsized barge into Sand
Bay, and then obtained Coast Guard permission to tow it to Paradise
Bay. To remove the fuel, he plugged up the vent pipes and unscrewed
the drain plug, and pumped it out. The next step was to attach
cables to the bottom from two cranes and a winch truck, and other
cables tied to the American Girl and the Eager Beaver. The Oil
Queen flopped back over, with only minimal seepage.
Two separate cases of the Coast Guard helicopter flying ill Islanders
to the Little Traverse Hospital were reported.
The Island Players began rehearsing Neil Simon's Plaza Suite for
an August performance.
The Island ferry, the Beaver Islander, was laid up for a week
with a broken clutch. During repairs the former ferry, the first
Emerald Isle, was leased from the Arnold Line. Captain Russ Green
flew to Mackinac Island to bring her back.
Frank Nackerman retired as Postmaster after serving for 34 years;
Mary Minor, who had been his assistant, took his place.
An episode in the ongoing Beaver Tales series recalled the history
of the Silver Top Saloonso-called because they served that
brand of beer. Johnny Green, a musician, businessman, and politician,
had a lot on Main Street where he decided to build a two-story
structure. Started on a Saturday, it was finished the following
Saturday. The lower level served as a tavern run by Willie Boyle;
the living quarters upstairs held so many card games that a hole
was cut in the floor to allow drinks to be sent up in a box on
a rope. With prohibition, the building became a tailor shop, where
Frank Nackerman was fitted for his first pair of long pants. After
the tailor moved out the doors disappeared, and dogs, cats, and
even cattle could be seen milling around inside. In 1923 the building
became the Post Office, with Willie Boyle serving as Postmaster,
the 14th on Beaver Island.
Joe Moore, a student at Grand Valley State, took part in an overseas
program in which he studied in Vienna for six weeks.
Forty Years Ago The Beacon opened with a fish story:
tired of all the broken lines and loosened hooks amateur
fishermen reported from Lake Geneserath, Walter Wojan and two
of his sons decided to show the world how it was done. Rigged
up to go after the big ones people whispered about, they pushed
off early in the day. Walt hooked onto a real lunker, but managed
to stay with it. Within fifteen minutes he had guided it into
his net. Its size was such that they immediately headed for town
to have it weighed. Three separate scales averaged 23 ½
pounds for the 42"-long pike. Two weeks later Ron Wojan went
back on his own and caught another 42" northern, this one
weighing a respectable 18 pounds.
LaDonnis and Eleanor Mooney were blessed with twin daughters,
Terri and Sherri.
The Historical Society received a windfall from the daughter
of James Dormer, who ran a store here in the 1800sincluding
King Strang's personal Biblewhich of course he rewrote.
Plans were announced for a log chapel to serve as the St. James
Mission, with a vicarage nearby scheduled for the following summer.
Right Reverend Charles Bennison, Bishop of Western Michigan, planned
to dedicate it on September 1st.
Walter Chase visited the Island to see the site where his brother,
David Chase, was killed in a train wreck, now marked with a cross,
near Protar's Tomb.
The 1st annual Golf Tournament was held at the Beaver Island
course, owned by the Beaver Lodge. The winning score was 73, with
Doug Wilson of Ypsilanti and Ted Kondratko of Dearborn tied.
Dr. Sorensen announced he would take appointments for dental
work in August at his Beaver Island office.
Turkeys planted on the Island were sighted on Mrs. Redding's Trail.
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