Happy Halloween … and the Indian Drum


Happy Halloween, photo by Julie

Happy Halloween everyone! I shared this story a few years ago, but since we’re back up on northern Lake Michigan at a time when the witch of November is rousing, why not share it again? In 1915, William MacHarg & Edwin Balmer wrote a book called The Indian Drum. The whole book is available online along with 53,000+ more books at Project Gutenberg. Chapter I begins:

Near the northern end of Lake Michigan, where the bluff-bowed ore-carriers and the big, low-lying, wheat-laden steel freighters from Lake Superior push out from the Straits of Mackinac and dispute the right of way, in the island divided channel, with the white-and-gold, electric lighted, wireless equipped passenger steamers bound for Detroit and Buffalo, there is a copse of pine and hemlock back from the shingly beach. From this copse—dark, blue, primeval, silent at most times as when the Great Manitou ruled his inland waters—there comes at time of storm a sound like the booming of an old Indian drum. This drum beat, so the tradition says, whenever the lake took a life; and, as a sign perhaps that it is still the Manitou who rules the waters in spite of all the commerce of the cities, the drum still beats its roll for every ship lost on the lake, one beat for every life.

So—men say—they heard and counted the beatings of the drum to thirty-five upon the hour when, as afterward they learned, the great steel steamer Wenota sank with twenty-four of its crew and eleven passengers; so—men say—they heard the requiem of the five who went down with the schooner Grant; and of the seventeen lost with the Susan Hart; and so of a score of ships more. Once only, it is told, has the drum counted wrong.

At the height of the great storm of December, 1895, the drum beat the roll of a sinking ship. One, two, three—the hearers counted the drum beats, time and again, in their intermitted booming, to twenty-four. They waited, therefore, for report of a ship lost with twenty-four lives; no such news came. The new steel freighter Miwaka, on her maiden trip during the storm with twenty-five—not twenty-four—aboard never made her port; no news was ever heard from her; no wreckage ever was found. On this account, throughout the families whose fathers, brothers, and sons were the officers and crew of the Miwaka, there stirred for a time a desperate belief that one of the men on the Miwaka was saved; that somewhere, somehow, he was alive and might return. The day of the destruction of the Miwaka was fixed as December fifth by the time at which she passed the government lookout at the Straits; the hour was fixed as five o’clock in the morning only by the sounding of the drum.

The region, filled with Indian legend and with memories of wrecks, encourages such beliefs as this. To northward and to westward a half dozen warning lights—Ile-aux-Galets (“Skilligalee” the lake men call it), Waugaushance, Beaver, and Fox Islands—gleam spectrally where the bone-white shingle outcrops above the water, or blur ghostlike in the haze; on the dark knolls topping the glistening sand bluffs to northward, Chippewas and Ottawas, a century and a half ago, quarreled over the prisoners after the massacre at Fort Mackinac; to southward, where other hills frown down upon Little Traverse Bay, the black-robed priests in their chapel chant the same masses their predecessors chanted to the Indians of that time. So, whatever may be the origin of that drum, its meaning is not questioned by the forlorn descendants of those Indians, who now make beadwork and sweet-grass baskets for their summer trade, or by the more credulous of the white fishermen and farmers; men whose word on any other subject would receive unquestioning credence will tell you they have heard the drum.

Read on at Project Gutenberg.

View Julie’s photo bigger and see more in her Holidays slideshow.

See 700 more Halloween photos in the Absolute Michigan photo group  and more haunted, Halloween fun on Michigan in Pictures.

Remembering Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison

Jim Harrison, photo by David Brigham

I’m actually forced to write about Michigan because as a native of that state it’s the place I know best.
~Jim Harrison

I found out last night that Jim Harrison passed away. In addition to being a noted Michigan author, Jim was one of my father’s best friends and a frequent (often late-night) visitor to my house.

If you’d like to read more about Jim, I encourage you to read this fairly recent feature on Jim by Jerry Dennis on MyNorth and also this excellent feature from the New York Times.

The photo is (I’m pretty sure) by another family friend, David Brigham from the original jacket Jim’s book Dalva.

On the Hunt … Interview with Jim Harrison by Jerry Dennis

On the Hunt

On the Hunt, photo by PortrayingLife.com

The Cheyenne had a saying, and the Lakota, too: “When your life is tepid and you’re bored just follow your dog and act like your dog all day.” That’s been known to perk you up.
~Author Jim Harrison

One of my favorite Michigan authors, Jerry Dennis,  interviewed Michigan literary icon Jim Harrison in Traverse Magazine. Jerry is a noted outdoor writer, and I think his interview of Harrison is one of the best. A little taste:

JD: You often describe yourself as an “outdoorsman and a man of letters.” Why is being outdoors so important to you?

JH: Very early my dad would take me trout fishing because you know I’d had my eye put out and I needed extra attention. I remember asking him the difference between animals and us and he said, “Nothing. They just live outside and we live inside.” Which struck me very hard at the time, because I could look at animals and say, “I’m one of you.” The real schizophrenia of the nature movement, if you ask me, was to think you could separate yourself from nature. Even Shakespeare says “we are nature, too.” So there’s this sense of schizophrenia to think you’re different or more important than a bird.

JD: In your writing you’ve mentioned the “mythical underpinnings” that connect us with animals. Is that something you can elaborate on?

JH: Oden, that Scandinavian god, always had ravens standing on his shoulders. Myths, of course, are full of our other creatures. I would see bears almost daily in the U.P. They would wander around my cabin, hog my sunflower seeds, and I got to know a couple of them real well. I’d come home from the bar and a bear would be standing by the side of my driveway and I’d open my window and he’d put his chin on my door sill and I’d scratch his ears. They get used to it. But I’d never feed them near the cabin, that’s where you make a mistake. I’d put a fish on a stump about a hundred yards from the cabin.

There’s lots more,  I really encourage you to read it!

View Michael’s English pointer photo bigger and see more in his HuntTestDigital.com slideshow.

More books & authors on Michigan in Pictures.

Michigan author James Oliver Curwood and the Curwood Festival

curwood castle

curwood castle, photo by LightuptheDarkn3ss

This weekend (June 7-10) Owosso holds their annual Curwood Festival honoring Michigan author James Oliver Curwood. The Shiawasse District Library says that James Oliver Curwood was born in Owosso, Michigan on June 12, 1878. He was in the University of Michigan journalism program for 2 years before quitting to become a reporter for the Detroit News-Tribune. Wikipedia’s entry on James Oliver Curwood says that:

By 1909 he had saved enough money to travel to the Canadian northwest, a trip that provided the inspiration for his wilderness adventure stories. The success of his novels afforded him the opportunity to return to the Yukon and Alaska for several months each year that allowed him to write more than thirty such books.

By 1922, Curwood’s writings had made him a very wealthy man and he fulfilled a childhood fantasy by building Curwood Castle in Owosso. Constructed in the style of an 18th century French chateau, the estate overlooked the Shiawassee River. In one of the homes’ two large turrets, Curwood set up his writing studio. He also owned a camp in a remote area in Baraga County, Michigan, near the Huron Mountains as well as a cabin in Roscommon, Michigan.

Curwood was an avid hunter in his youth; however, as he grew older, he became an advocate of environmentalism and was appointed to the Michigan Conservation Commission in 1926. The change in his attitude toward wildlife can be best expressed by a quote from The Grizzly King: “The greatest thrill is not to kill but to let live.”

Nearly 100 films were made from his books. You can visit Curwood Castle Museum in Owosso and definitely have a look at this great video from Michigan Magazine TV on Curwood and his castle.

Check this out bigger and also see LightuptheDarkn3ss’s Flickriver.

Also see the Curwood Castle slideshow in the Absolute Michigan pool and lots more Michigan history on Michigan in Pictures!

Farewell, Maurice Sendak

Wild Things

Wild Things, photo by Apocaplops

“Please don’t go. We’ll eat you up. We love you so.”
– Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Beloved children’s author Maurice Sendak passed away yesterday at the age of 83. That makes me very sad.

Check this out bigger and in Erich’s Polaroid slideshow.

Cool Morning on the Farm

Cool Morning on the Farm.

Cool Morning on the Farm., photo by photoshoparama – Dan.

Whenever I see a photo like this, I think of Nature Baroque: Snowflakes & Crystals by my friends Jerry Dennis and Glenn Wolff from their great book It’s Raining Frogs & Fishes.

Daniel shot this in Newaygo County yesterday morning.  Check it out bigger in his Colors slideshow.

Above Michigan … and the Au Sable River

Au Sable River by Marge Beaver

Au Sable River, photo by Marge Beaver

Today’s photo comes from my coffee table … or more precisely a book that’s on my coffee table. The book is Above the North and it features the photography of Michigan aerial photographer Marge Beaver. abovethenorth1From the inside cover:

“These stunning bird’s-eye views offer rare and beautiful glimpses of northern Michigan’s unique terrain from the lofty perch of photographer Marge Beaver’s camera lens. Beaver’s breathtaking four-season photographs transform our view of Michigan into a magical land. From the Sleeping Bear Dune in winter with its vertiginous sandy edifice, to a Coast Guard cutter shattering the icy Straits, to the ghostly silhouette of a sunken ship and the brilliant turquoise waters of Crystal, Torch, Elk, Charlevoix, and Glen lakes, these are images of Michigan as you’ve never seen her before. All of these, plus arresting photographs of orchards in snowy-white bloom, winding rivers, and city harbors make this book a collector’s item for anyone who loves Michigan.”

Marge’s web site has great aerial shots from Alpena to White Lake and points in between. Check out her aerials of marinas & harbors, lighthouses, Detroit and many more locations in and out of Michigan. You can check out a cool interview with Marge right here.

A Polaroid Elegy

gull slide, photo by mfophotos

Frequent Michigan in Pictures contributor Mark O’Brien has just published A Polaroid Elegy – My Last Year With A Polaroid Camera. He writes:

This book is really about a journey into the slightly surreal world of Polaroid photography. Not everything you see looks the same after being shot with a Polaroid camera, and this book may give you a better appreciation for the wonderful invention of Edwin Land. The film used to create the photos in this book will no longer be available, hence the title.

Click through to preview and order the book. You can see many Polaroid photos Mark has taken in his Polaroids slideshow (photo set).

No Polaroids you say? Savepolaroid.com (where you can learn more about the history of Polaroid and Edwin Land’s work) notes that on February 8, 2008, Polaroid Corporation announced that it will discontinue production of all instant film. Apparently there is something called PolaPremium that will be revealed in a few days, so all may not be lost. Speculation is rampant.

Reeds, Crooked Lake from the Waters of Michigan

Reeds, Crooked Lake photo by David Lubbers

Reeds, Crooked Lake, photo by David Lubbers

Michigan environmental writer Dave Dempsey has long been someone I admire. His biography of Michigan Governor William G. Milliken is a book that everyone who loves Michigan should read. For years I’ve had a gorgeous black & white photo of the Manitou Passage by David Lubbers hanging in my office.

I was therefore pretty darn excited when Dave told me about his new book, The Waters of Michigan.

It’s a rich and thoughtful journey through Michigan’s rivers, lakes and other manifestations of water with words and photos, and today I am honored to have some more photos from the book and an excerpt titled Water and Michigan’s Destiny on Absolute Michigan.

I hope you get a chance to read it.

Cruisin’ the Original: Woodward Avenue

Cruising Woodward Avenue in Detroit Michigan

Cruising Woodward, 1951 (above) …the seriousness of the times (1950s) did not dampen a growing love of cars and the freedom experienced by driving them. These young Detroiters found their cars especially useful during the longest transportation strike in the city’s history. In April 1951, the folks here piled into a car not far from the Fisher Building, in the distance, which is across from the General Motors Building in Detroit’s New Center area. After the strike, Detroit mayor Albert Cobo urged the city council to sell Detroit’s streetcars to a willing buyer, Mexico City, for $1 million. The streetcars remained in service there until the 1980s. Detroit soon dismantled its trolley tracks, and only buses ran after that. Cars became the city’s major means of transportation.

Cruisin’ the Original: Woodward Avenue by Anthony Ambrogio and Sharon Luckerman begins: In the 1950s, cruising swept the nation. American streets became impromptu racetracks as soon as the police turned their backs. Young people piled into friends’ cars and cruised their main streets with a new sense of freedom. The Totem Pole on Detroit’s Woodward AvePent-up desires after the hardships of World War II plus a booming economy fueled a car-buying frenzy. To lure buyers to their particular makes and models, automobile companies targeted the youth market by focusing on design and performance. No place was that more relevant than on metro Detroit’s Woodward Avenue, the city’s number-one cruising destination and home of the world’s automobile industry. Barely 50 years earlier, Henry Ford rolled his first Model T off the assembly line at Piquette and Woodward, just south of where cruisers, dragsters, and automobile engineers ignited each other’s excitement over cars. This unique relationship extended into the muscle car era of the 1960s, as Woodward Avenue continued to reflect the triumphs and downturns of the industry that made Detroit known throughout the world.

The Totem Pole (right) was the cruisers’ unofficial starting point on Woodward Avenue at Lafayette Street, kitty-corner from the zoo. This 1957 photograph demonstrates the “proper” way cruisers parked—to see and be seen, backed in, like the finned Plymouth in the lower-left corner. (click photo for larger view!)

Funded in part by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s National Scenic Byway program and with guidance from the Woodward Heritage Team, Detroit writers Anthony Ambrogio and Sharon Luckerman interviewed numerous local historians, automobile engineers, automobile museum directors, and Detroiters who cruised during these extraordinary decades.

The Images of America series celebrates the history of neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. Using archival photographs, each title presents the distinctive stories from the past that shape the character of the community today. Arcadia is proud to play a part in the preservation of local heritage, making history available to all.

Cruisin’ the Original: Woodward Avenue is available from the publisher online at www.arcadiapublishing.com or by calling 888-313-2665.

View other excerpts from Arcadia Publishing’s Michigan books at Michigan in Pictures!

Here’s an action-packed feature on the Woodward Dream Cruise from Absolute Michigan!