Sunday, December 21, 2008

Family Automobiles - Northport

Email exchange with Mary Floro in response to the Family Automobiles series:

OK. That would have been the 1951 Pontiac Convertible. Great car. Elaine and I were married in 1951 and Karen came along in September of 1952. The next summer, that would be 1953, the first time we ever went any place without Karen we left her with the folks in Watervliet and borrowed the Pontiac. We went to Traverse City and got a cabin at a cottage court on the East Bay (probably filled with high-priced condos now). Very romantic. We explored Leelanau County (Michigan's Little Finger) and found it beautiful and fascinating. Nobody from our family had been there before. When we got back to Watervliet we traded the convertible for Karen and went back to Grand Rapids in our company car. I worked for the pipeline company at that time and was required always to be available to be reached by VHF radio thus always drove the company car (Dodges and Pontiacs since I was Division Superintendant. The Formen under me  drove Chevys or Plymouths).Our descriptions of Leelanau County caused Dad and Mom to head north. Just south of the village of Northport on Grand Traverse Bay they saw a FOR SALE sign at the end of a long driveway going down to the Bay. It turned out to be 60 acres of land with 2,000 feet of frontage on the Bay with a  big old 2-story house with a long front porch a fireplace in a big livingroom the full width of the house, two or three bedrooms and bath, big kitchen and diningroom and a separate stairway to servant's quarters It was known as "The Ranch". Well believe-it-or-not Dad bought the place for $9,000! For I don't remember how many years the family enjoyed that place as did many relatives and friends who were invited up. Of course there the usual problems and expenses of keeping an old place up. Then one year a developer from Muskegon bought a farm and cherry orchard north of town and drove a bunch of stakes in the ground and offered lots for sale at $10 a front foot on the Bay. Well at that the Township officials got $$$$$$ in their eyeballs and decided that if the developer thought Bay frontage was worth $10 a front foot all frontage in the Township, including the Rranch, was worth that much and raised Dad's taxes 8,000%. Well we fought that all the way to the Tax Tribunal in Lansing and got a token reduction but I think the whole thing broke Dad's heart. He sold the place to a military retiree for $41,000. They turned it into a Bed & Breakfast. You'll have to ask Patty about that. She and Geof stayed there at least once. I never went back to Leelanau County again. I suppose it's worth millions now, even though the real estate bubble has burst as I predicted. What used to be an Indian shack town has been turned into a casino I guess. Dick's kids probably have lots of stories and I understand Richard is trying to duplicate Northport on Manitoulin Island. So I refer you to them.
Mary Floro <> wrote:
Oh Jim...I don't know.  I was a teenager in love with the guy that I am married to now.  That has been 53 1/2 years ago.  I don't remember the color or what the heck it was.  I was enjoying it and laughing at your mom and dad and nothing else sank in.....sorry!  Big kinda rounding corners, black top that he took down and folded in.  Mary
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 19, 2008 2:12 PM
Subject: Re: Our Family's 1919 Automobile Trip

About what year would that be?  Which car? These are the kind of stories I hoped would be shared. Could it have been the 1951 blue Pontiac convertable?

Mary Floro <> wrote:
Hey Jim:  The most important memory of mine is "the convertible" when I was a teenager.  Uncle Allen would take me in his favorite convertible with Aunt Gen in front with him and me in the back seat.....he would put his arm around her and she would giggle and we headed for the outdoor theater.  They would be "smoochin'" in the front seat in hopes he would get a rise out of me and I would just shake my head and laugh.  I miss those people and the convertible.  Doesn't get any better.  Mary from Ohio

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