Daily Archives: April 13, 2016

The Trailer on the Water


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Back to my many addresses.

I had almost forgottenĀ  about the trailer on the water. We didn’t live there for long, and not much happened there.

When fall rolled around on Beaver Island, we had to move out of the farmhouse. Though it had been occupied in the wintertime when my Dad was growing up there, it was not insulated, and was very difficult to heat. Dad used to say they’d start the winter with a woodpile “as big as the house.” It was widely believed – even by us – that in trying to keep warm, we might accidentally burn the place down. Better to find another place to spend the winter!

Our own place was not even close to being ready to move into. The slab was poured. That was all. We were still waiting for the well to be completed; we had no structure in place.

We arranged to move into McCafferty’s Hotel for the winter. There were eight units in the building. They were like little apartments, with a living room, full kitchen and a bedroom or two. There were laundry facilities on the first floor. They rented by the week in the summer, but were available as monthly rentals in the off-season. Unfortunately, we couldn’t move in until the beginning of December, after all the hunters were gone.

We moved in to the trailer for about two months, until our apartment at the hotel opened up. The driveway was a long (almost a quarter-mile long!), curved two-track that turned off the East Side drive just before Welke’s Airport, and led all the way down to the south side of the harbor. There were two trailers there, angled along the shoreline. The view of Lake Michigan was spectacular. The wind off the water, though, would hit the broad side of the building, and never even slow down until it had passed all the way through the trailer. I was cold all the time that I lived there!

We knew we wouldn’t be there long; we only brought the bare necessities and never really settled in. That’s probably why I have so few memories of that place.

I had to work a short shift on Thanksgiving that year, as the Shamrock did a festive meal for those who didn’t have family on the island. I was finished early enough, though, to cook our dinner at home. “Topper” McDonough, an old family friend, came to have dinner with us.

One night, when the sky was especially clear, we all wrapped in blankets and walked to the shoreline to look at the stars.

One cold day, after many attempts to get the furnace working, my husband asked Darrell Butler Senior to come over to fix it. Darrell asked Terry if he had thought to hit the reset button.

“Yes,” was his answer.

“How many times?”

“Just once.”

“Once? you’re sure?”

“Yes. Once.”

At that point, Darrell struck a match. A huge BOOM sounded. A pause. Darrell peeked around the corner. His dark eyebrows were charred.

ONCE, you say??

“Well…once…twice…maybe a couple dozen times…I don’t remember.”

Those are my only memories of my short time at the trailer on the water.