We received an overwhelming response to our summer story request. We sifted through a ton of stories and it was tough, but we forced ourselves to narrow it down to two. Below the stories you can find some runner-up images. Enjoy!
#1 Becoming Miss Tahquamenon
The picture shocked me. I’d never liked being photographed, considering myself un-photogenic, so when I opened Jim’s postcard attachment and was catapulted back to 1958, I just sat at my computer and stared at it for awhile.
In the photograph I am standing atop a picnic table under the pavilion at Luce County Park, near Newberry, Michigan. The shelter had been constructed to ward off the sun’s rays or rain, the vertical kind, not today’s rain that pounds in horizontally, driven by a storm out of the west. A line-up of seven other young women clad in white shorts and sweaters like mine lines up alongside me, each draped with a diagonal shoulder to hip banner identifying her as a contestant. Mine says “Miss Chamber of Commerce.” Sharon Bellville, last year’s winner, has crowned me with a pearl embroidered tiara and is in the process of pinning an overlapping banner on me; it says “Miss Tahquamenon.” My shoulder length hair whips back and I am smiling and radiant. The picture is the best I will ever have taken; this is my moment.
I am sixteen years old and I am Miss Tahquamenon. I will not need a big wedding now; this eclipses being a bride. Bride would be redundant. Miss Tahquamenon suffices for a lifetime.
What did I do to earn this honor? I sold the most buttons for fifty cents apiece advertising the Tahquamenon Outboard Association’s Labor Day Water Carnival, and carried a lit torch while gracing the prow of a sixteen foot cruiser in the parade Saturday night. Friday night I danced up a storm at Pentland Township Hall, well, carefully danced up a storm, because my buxom cousin’s hand-me-down dress remained too large despite alterations, and my date was forced to hold it in place the entire evening. Try rocking and rolling with that!
I’d been photographed and paraded, fed and fussed over. My fellow contestants and I had been guests at the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba a few weeks before, where we cheered for a local girl who competed for the title of Miss UP State Fair. (Sharon had graduated from high school and gotten a job downstate.)
In order to win the title of Miss Tahquamenon a committee voted me number one among my competitors. I can’t say I expected to win, but I accepted the honor, spoke with composure, thanked everyone, smiled with genuine delight, and departed with an armful of roses prepared to preside at the Tahquamenon Outboard Association’s marathon the next day. (This afternoon’s races on Round Lake had been cancelled due to the weather.)
When I study the photograph I can make out the faces of several of my fellow contestants. The nearest girl displays a spontaneous disappointment that I now find touching. She doesn’t jump up and down smiling and cheering for me, she just looks miserable. I hope she has retained her ability to respond with candor.
Fifty years later on the Fourth of July I stood with my brother in front of an exhibit of old time pictures, courtesy of Jim Dwyer who has been endlessly generous in preserving these memories. Joe and I were eavesdropping behind several women studying a picture taken near the end of my reign as Miss Tahquamenon. In the photograph I am standing front and center in my swimsuit, flanked by this year’s candidates- similarly clad young women with high hopes. Joe’s eyes locked with mine, he grinned at me conspiratorially and I hissed back at him, “Don’t you dare! Don’t you dare tell!” Joe remained silent, we listened as they chatted, and finally we heard one of them conclude, “I don’t remember her name, but she was Ann Moulder’s sister.” That I was. Still am.
#2 Destined to Win
So it was that on a glorious (are there any other kind?) Glen Lake day, Ella’s mama Hope remembered that there was to be a juggler at the Cherry Republic. It was already 6:30 and he would finish at 7!!
Piling the 3 kids into the family truckster off Hope flew to the Cherry Republic to see the Juggler; she made a quick call to Grandma (GG) and told her. GG reminded her that there was also to be a pie-eating contest that night at 7 pm and anyone of any age could enter. “Well, we’re not going to stay for that; we’ll be home for dinner shortly after the juggler finishes”.
As they hurried through the front garden a Cherry Republic-friend greeted Ella and asked her if she was going to enter the pie eating contest. “hmmm, I need to ask my Mom, just a minute”. What could Hope say other than “yes”.
GG got the call: Ella is in the contest.
GG got in the car with Great Grandma Frances.
As GG and GG Frances got to the garden the sounds of cheering fans pulled them to the competition. There was Ella Hesano, age 5, leading the pack. Years of learning to get as many-as-possible samples of jam, jelly, salsa, candy, trail mix, and cherries had her skills honed and sharp! Who else but Ella could win that contest? No other child in the history of the world or the Cherry Republic has ever found, re-hid, found, re-hid the bear as often. No other child has ever been so thoroughly delighted by the little (but very generous)tub of “bear-finding reward candies” received every single time!
No other child but Ella was destined to win that pie-eating contest that beauty night.
Win it she did!! Of course she did!! Even more than Luke Skywalker, “it was her destiny”.
Oh man, that is one blessed kid. Destined to win the pie-eating contest at the Cherry Republic.
Life just doesn’t get better. Study this picture and try to convince Ella otherwise!
God Bless the Cherry Republic. A land that we love!
And here are some photos that we thought deserved some attention!