Lake Superior country is at times threatening, and at other times a most welcoming environment. Situated in the northern part of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, it has some of the strongest winters and also some of the most beautiful summers in the nation. Lake Superior is also the largest freshwater lake in the world. The weather that reaches this area, the so-called Keeweenaw peninsula, has traveled some 50 miles or more across the open waters of Lake Superior, bringing fresh and clean air from the far reaches of Canada. The picture shows the Keeweenaw peninsula extending out into Lake Superior. Canada is to the north, and well out into Lake Superior is Isle Royal National Park. I was born in Hancock, and spent my first 18 years there. Hancock is on a waterway called the Portage ship canal. It used to be that huge ore boats would load up with iron ore from the Mesabi Range in Minnesota and travel the full length of Lake Superior to Erie, Pennsylvania where they unloaded their cargo for the steel mills in Pittsburgh. But, sometimes the storms are so bad on the lake that the boats avoid going around the tip of the peninsula and instead take a safe, but longer, path through the ship canal. Over its entire length of the ship canal there is only one bridge across it, and that bridge exists between Houghton, on the south side, and Hancock on the north. When the ore boats use the canal because of a storm there could be dozens of them that have to pass through this bridge, and traffic could be held up for hours.
My First Memory
Wow, that was a great nap! Now, I wonder what I can do? It is so bright, and what is that I feel on my face? It must be that wind thing again. I wonder where wind comes from? Well, I’ll never find out lying here on my stomach – all I can see is the sheet I am on. I wonder where my piggly rag is – my toes feel very lonesome and alone without it. Ah, there it is. I guess I’ll get up and see what is around me – it sure is great to be able to just jump up and down on this bed. Let’s try that for a while, to find out how much noise I can make.
Here I am standing on my bed, and there are lots of bars all around me. I guess they are there for me to hang on to. Way over there I can see some water with a boat on it. Why can something stay on top of the water like that? When I am in water for my bath I sink to the bottom of the tub. Is the sky always so bright and sunny? I remember some other times when the sky was very noisy, and a bright light flashed on and off. Oh, and that was when water fell from the sky and everyone tried to run away from it. But I’m not afraid of water from the sky. I think that is called rain.
I wonder if I can make it rain by making the bright light go on and off? Maybe when I do that then rain will come from those pretty clouds up there, and that might scare my mom and dad. That would be fun. Let’s try it. Well, when I close my eyes it’s very dark in here, just like at night. Whee – I opened my eyes and it flashes light, but there is no noise. I wonder if I could make a noise like that? So, I’ll try flashing the light for a while and see what happens. That’s fun.
I think I have done that enough for now. Where’s my mom? Maybe I frightened her with all those bright lights. I’ll call her and let her know she is safe and not to worry. Mommy – Mommy – Mommy. Ah, she is here now, and I’ll let her pick me up so that I can snuggle up next to her. I love you too, Mom.
Much of my activity while growing up was centered on Lake Avenue, which you can see of the left side of the map.
South of Lake Avenue you can see a plot labeled Rink, and then another plot labeled Ball Field – just above The Point. As the years moved on these places figured deeply into my growing up years and much is to be said about these places.
But first, we moved from the Lake Avenue home to the house labeled #2, on Hancock Street, thence to #3 on Dakota Street, and finally to 412 on Ryan Street. Our stays in homes 2 and 3 were quite short, because I remember we were in 412 Ryan when I started kindergarten, so that must have been in 1932. We were living there when I was drafted into the army in June, 1945, and I lived there with my parents from the time I returned from the army in December, 1946, until I left home for good when I got married in the summer of 1947. My bride Sally and I lived in an apartment on Franklin Street for the first two years of our marriage.