Posted on Lansing State Journal Online – http://on.lsj.com/1vxBFS4
I was born in Detroit after my Dad returned home from WW II. Shortly thereafter my parents moved into a brand new post-war house in Dearborn Heights on a street with the magical name of Silvery Lane, where we lived for the next 24 years.
My Dad worked for People’s Outfitting Company, and later Montgomery Ward, delivering furniture. He worked Saturday and had Sunday and Monday off. As I look back now, that was a major defining parameter of our life: we couldn’t go anywhere on a weekend or do anything because my Dad worked Saturday, and nine months of the year my brother and I were in school on Monday. One time we went charter fishing from Port Austin and maybe in the summer we would go to a lake in Oakland County. Once a summer we would go to a Tigers game if Dad could get free tickets from a neighbor who worked at Ford. We were a one-driver, one-car family, which meant that we didn’t go anywhere if Dad didn’t take us. Disposable income was probably an issue, too, but as a kid you don’t know about things like that.
Our summer vacations consisted of going to Indiana and Kentucky to see the family of my parents. Of course it was fun, but it wasn’t going “up north” to such exotic places like Tawas and Traverse City. It wasn’t going to the cottage at the lake or camping in a state park. I was always somewhat envious of kids who were able to go and do those really exciting things.
But I was a Girl Scout. My 10 years in Girl Scouts gave me the opportunity to visit the Twin Pines Dairy and the Wonder Bread factory. We took the train to Lansing to visit the Capitol. We visited Windsor. I went to Camp Metamora and the Girl Scout Round-up in Button Bay, Vermont. I knew Michigan was much larger than my limited experience; I wondered, though, if I would ever have the chance to visit all those places I read about in books.
Our school district had a marvelous summer recreation program and every Friday we would go to either Camp Dearborn in Milford or Kensington State Park. That meant I had the opportunity to play in a lake. That was important for my identity as a Michiganian.
I remember when I was 12-years old when the Mackinac Bridge was finished. It didn’t really matter because I figured I would never see it anyway. I saw my first sunset on Lake Michigan when I was a junior in college, and a spectacular sunset it was. I finally got to see The Bridge and go to Mackinac Island after I was married.
As an adult, I have been fortunate to be able to travel throughout the state and see the variety of breathtaking sights this state has to offer. As a “big-city” girl with little exposure to the grandeur of Michigan who then moved to a “rural” area, I feel I have a broad and unique perspective of Michigan. I was able to experience the agriculture and natural resources in our state with a wide-eyed wonder. And I thought many times, “I never even knew that this even existed.”
So from the little girl who never went anywhere in Michigan, I have now written a comprehensive tour guide of our state, “Discovering Michigan County by County: Your A-Z Guide to Each of the 83 Counties in the Great Lakes State.” I know that every county has a story to tell through its facts, history, land and water, people and things to do. My desire is that every reader would develop an appreciation for all the abundance that God had given our wonderful state.
Bottom line: Michigan is a unique and wondrous state to visit even if you don’t start to experience it until you are an adult.
To submit an essay about what you love about Michigan and why you choose to live here, contact Anne Erickson at firstname.lastname@example.org. Essays should be no longer than 400 words.
About the author
Who: Barbara J. VanderMolen, of Charlotte
Book: “Discovering Michigan County by County: Your A-Z Guide to Each of the 83 Counties in the Great Lakes State” by Barbara J. VanderMolen
Cost: $50 each from 2 Moon Press
Available: Online at www.DiscoverMichiganCountyByCounty.com