I am an urban child. During the summer, I rode my bike everywhere and took in a matinee at least once a week. I went to Tigers baseball games, enjoyed bittersweet hot fudge sundaes at Sanders, and watched the Scott Fountain change colors on Belle Isle. It was a great childhood, yet I envied people who owned cottages and boats. It did not matter that I could not swim. Each summer I desired a vacation near a lake with a boat in the dock. Boats in the water or being towed on the road equal summer.
This first image comes from the Charles R. Childs Collection of photograph prints and negatives dating 1922-1951. (Childs was a photographer from Illinois who specialized in tourist shots.) Taken at Gull Lake, this photograph (c. 1930) centers on Chris-Craft boats filling up at Dixie Gas and Oil. Builders of the standard “runabout,” the company marketed to the middle class by introducing payment plans in the mid-1920s. Boats were no longer just for the wealthy.