Carol Vincek and I enjoyed several outings together. She had six kids, and two of her girls were the same age as my two daughters. We have been friends since the two oldest girls started kindergarten. The Sunday night I stayed at her house, we went to a beachside baptism held by her church in St. Joseph. After a prayer service and picnic, they baptized by emersion over 30 people in very cold Lake Michigan.
Instead of walking down the short dune to the beach, I sat at a picnic table near the parking lot. I soon engaged in a conversation with the fellow also sitting at the picnic table. He was from Dowagiac, MI, my hometown, and I soon realized he knew three out of four of my late brothers. His grandchild was one of the thirty being baptized. He was single and sounded somewhat interesting until he said he was born in 1953, the year before I graduated high school! Carol came back and he knew one of her grown kids. What a small world. (So much for my cougar instincts!)
We made our way into St. Joe and on to the bluff above the St. Joseph River overlooking Lake Michigan. When I was a kid, our family visited Silver Beach and all it entailed including “The Fun House.” Inside were all kinds of fun things to do with slides, strange mirrors, air blowing through grates on moving walkways, a huge wooden bowl to walk or roll around in, etc. Outside, above the ticket booth, was the “Laughing Lady.” She was a hefty individual who bent over in a belly laugh that you could not resist joining.
There was also a carousel with a brass ring machine and 44 hand-carved, life-like horses. The park opened in 1910 and operated until it closed in 1971 due to declining attendance. In 1997, community-minded individuals began promoting the idea of bringing the carousel horses back to life. The Silver Beach Carousel once again became a local attraction as of January 2010. Although we were driving in that area and I could hear the carousel music, I didn’t realize its recent history. If I had, I would have stopped to say hello.
We found a swing along the beach at Lion’s Park where our families and other friends used to gather for picnics and swimming eons ago and before we put in our pool. We were swinging and reminiscing while the sun set and the stars came out above the lake. The lighthouse lit up at the end of the pier. Then Carol drove me around the historic neighborhood on the bluff. It was a totally fun evening with an old friend, sharing stories and memories.
The next morning we had breakfast and goodbye conversation at the Cracker Barrel. It doesn’t get much better than that. God bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”