Sunday, December 21, 2008

Henry Pratt's Memories XXVII

The next paragraphs of the 1986 Record article I have already quoted in "The Old Family Place is Sold" sent out July 22. Continuing:
He vividly remembers taking fruit to the boat docks in Benton Harbor. Graham and Morton  was located where the Salvation Army Citadel is now. "We would pull our wagons up to the dock. There would be a string of wagons a half-mile long. Men would jump on your wagon and hand your packages to the dock wallopers. They were usually drifters and worked for no more than 25 cents an hour."
Lake Michigan--Paw Paw Lake--the St. Joe River--the waters were an important part of everyday living in this area for work and play. In Watervliet there was the Forest Beach Pavilion and the Beechwood. The Beechwood was built 50-60 feer into the water. There was music and dancing. As a young child Henry remembers coming up for picnics in the woods near the pavillions. Both had burned down before the Pratts moved to Watervliet.
This was a popular vacation spot because it was so easy to get here. There were boats and trains. The family would come up on the Interurban from Benton Harbor. "We got off the train at the terminal in North Park on the north side of Sherwood Bay. We would walk  to the dock--it was a big dock and there was the steamer Margaret. I remember riding on the Margaret in 1908 (I was seven). She was my favorite  She had two covered decks. We paid 10 cents per person--spent the afternoon circling the lake and no one ever collected any more.
My note: I have been looking at a photograph of the Margaret in Rick Rasmussen's "Paw Paw Lake", his book about 100 years of resort history from the 1890's to the 1990's The Margaret is a very impressive looking boat for an inland lake. It was 88 feet long and 22 feet wide and double decked. It accomodated up to 120 people and had a piano on board. There was a single smokesock sticking high out of the middle. The photo looks as if it were taken from in front of the Ryan cottage or near there.
(July 31)

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