Tuesday, March 31, 2015

It's a Very Small World!

In the summer of 1964, we moved to a little base in Michigan, 30 miles from Traverse City, in the little town of Empire.  There were only nine houses for the military families, located on top of a hill, and the base itself contained very few buildings but several big communication balloons. Our house overlooked a cherry tree orchard and you could see Lake Michigan off in the distance. I remember in the winter when it snowed, it would drift terribly. We had these fences that were supposed to help with the drifts but it drifted none the less.  Many times up to or above the windows. We lived in Alaska two different times but I never remember being as cold as I was in Michigan.

I went to first grade in the white building in the background.
I went to first grade there, in Empire, and was bussed over to Glen Arbor, about 8 miles away, for second grade. I started learning to read in Michigan and can remember standing in front of the class and reading stories out loud. I knew just enough words to think that Kevin and I were in big trouble when we pulled the tag off the pillow in the living room, "Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law," etc.  We thought we were going to jail for sure. Needless to say, we didn’t get in trouble and now looking back, it's pretty funny but at the time, it was very scary for two little kids. We also broke the floor to ceiling lamp, that mom had just told us to be careful around. We got in big trouble for that.  We found lots of things to get into.

While I was in school in Michigan, I learned the words to the Star Spangled Banner. It was quite an accomplishment, even though it was just the first verse.  Another one of the things we did at the schools there, that I don't remember in other places, was buying milk, getting a stamp for each one we bought, putting it in a book and when the book was full, we would get a savings bond.  

Todd John Hatch, born in Traverse City, Michigan
on August 16, 1964
My other little brother, Todd John, was born right after we moved to Michigan. He was born in Traverse City. Kevin and I thought he was like a doll…at least until I dropped him one time, when I was holding him, and saw the panic in mom’s eyes, and heard all his screaming. We approached him gently from then on. 

Very close to where we lived were these gigantic sand dunes, Sleeping Bear Dunes. We would go there on occasion and climb up and roll down those big mounds of sand. I remember it was so much fun. We would also go to Lake Michigan and collect Petoskey stones, a unique stone that we found there along the shore.

Sleeping Bear Dunes
I remember one time we were making plans to go to the lake and I mentioned it to the little boy down the street. He saw it as an invitation and showed up at the door with his little beach bag, ready to go. My parents were furious that I would invite him to go and no matter how much I said I didn’t invite him, that he invited himself, they got madder. So they packed up the car, told me there wasn’t room for me, since the neighbor boy was going, and off they went, leaving me behind. I was so upset that they would go off and leave me. Of course, they went down the block and came back and got me right away, but I learned a valuable lesson about keeping my little mouth shut when appropriate. I was quite the talker at that age (what a surprise). So much so, that I was nicknamed Louella Parsons. I would go from house to house, hear what was happening and then share it with everybody. I thought I was doing them a service. I got no respect!

My best friend in Empire was a girl named Mickey McCullough (standing next to my mom in the pic below). We got into a fight one time and she bit me on the stomach and left her teeth marks. Moments later we were great friends again. I’ll never forget the time my mother was drying the laundry in Mickey’s mom’s dryer and one of us kids had left a crayon in our pocket. The crayon melted all over the other laundry. I think my mother was ready to cry over that one.

Our friends on the hill. 
Michigan was the first place I saw a live snake. There was one right by the front door of the house, right after we moved in. My dad killed it with a hoe, I think. My hero! This was the first place I ever saw hail, too, that I can remember.

I went back, sometime in the 2009 time frame, to see the base we lived on and the school I went to. Things have changed a lot and I was having trouble finding the housing area. We stopped downtown and asked a man if he could lead us in the right direction.  I told him my father had been stationed there and I wanted to show my husband, John, and our friends the Sterns, where I had lived. He gave us directions and then asked what my dad’s name was and when he was there. You should have seen the look of surprise, when I told him. He knew him and said that my father had gone through a lot to find and make contact with him when his wife went into labor, as he was TDY somewhere. He also shared that he was now the Mayor of the big town of Empire, population 300+ people. Small world!

This is the house we lived in, as it looked when we revisited it many years later.
As you can see, Lake Michigan is in the background.

We also went out to the dunes, to relive those memories, and when we got there, I was so surprised! I remembered them so differently. They seemed so much bigger then.  I remembered that if you walked for awhile you could see the lake, so I convinced John and the Sterns to start the trek to see it.  I thought they were going to kill me. By the time we got to the first rise, they were tired and I realized quickly that I was not going to get them to walk all the way to the lake. It turned out that it was much further than I remembered, so we didn’t make it. But we had a great time, just the same. It was fun returning to Empire and all the great memories of our time spent there.

Today's Terri's Tidbit:  I don't think I can share anything better than this adorable picture of our granddaughters Hannah Dawn and Joleyna MaeEllen, taken this week.  


Todd Hatch said...

So this explains it! You dropped me on my head when I was a baby. Mystery solved!

sage said...

I didn't remember you living in Michigan--you lived in a beautiful part of the state