As I was raised on Bob-Lo and have continued to make it my permanent
home for the better part of 50 years, I would like to share some of the
memories that I have as a child growing up here.
When I was born, my parents and 3 other siblings lived in a house down
on the beach by McGeorge’s, William’s, and VanDerbeck’s. Some
of you know where that is. (near the Tavern). The house is no
longer there. When I was one year old, my folks bought the house in
the Pines that Lee’s now own. Most people know it as “the old Post
Office house”, next to the Historical Society. I lived there until
I was married at 19.
Gahn's Gulf Gas Station
We had a Gulf Gas Station at our house, and it was nicknamed this
Most people will probably remember it. You can see the
Historical Society in the background on the right.
The things I remember the most was all the kids I used to play with that
also lived here full time. Those being the Plaunt kids, the Feeley
kids, the Gibbons. Sometimes our parents didn’t get along, (you know.....the
old politic stuff), but it never seemed to bother us kids, we played together
none the less.
I especially always remember waiting for summer to get here so that I
would get to see my summer friends. It always worked out so that one
would come up for a couple of weeks, then they’d go home and another would
come up, and so on. It seemed all summer long there was one friend
or another here. We all used to congregate down at the Pines dock.
If ever a parent or a friend wanted to find someone, all they had
to do was go to the dock, and we’d be there. Back then, all the kids of
the island, being permanent residents or summer, we were all one big crowd.
When we gathered at the dock to swim, or just “hang out”, someone
was always skiing. I’ll never forget the man that always brought his
boat down to the dock ready to pull anyone that was willing to go. We
had to provide the skis and life vests, but he supplied the boat, motor
and gas. I’m sure some of you remember him............Kenny Howard.
DUST!! It hasn’t changed a bit, except for the fact that there
is much more traffic here now then there was back then, and the cars today
are sealed much better in that they don’t fill with dust inside. I
can remember my girlfriends and I getting ready for an evening out with
the boys. We’d spend hours doing our hair up in brush rollers trying
to look just right. The boys would pick us up in and old island bomb,
and by the time we got to where we were going, maybe even just to the dock,
our hair would be coated with a thick layer of dust making us look 40 years
older than we really were. We didn’t need hair spray!! It always
infuriated us, but we always hoped that this one time we didn’t go through
all the work for nothing. Our hope was always to no avail.
For dust control, they used to spread old used motor oil on the roads.
They would have it filled in this big drum on a trailer, with an apparatus
of sort that would dribble it on the road. As a kid, I always walked
around bare feet, and I can remember walking down to the dock and back a
couple times a day just after a fresh spread of oil. Needless to say,
you can imagine what the bottom of my feet looked like. I certainly
didn’t care, but my mother didn’t take too kindly to it. The remnants
of this oil can still be seen on the road in a couple of spots yet!! It
used to harden and pack just as if it was blacktop.
The winters were always great! We always got a lot of snow, and
the ice bridge was generally never an iffy thing. In fact, there were
times that my mother would let me walk to town to spend the weekend with
a friend in Cheboygan. Most of the time we crossed the ice in what
we called the “Snowbug”. It was an air sled that my dad built. I
do have an old picture of it if anyone wants to see what it looked like.
Mom and Dad would pack us all in the back and cover us with a tarp
to keep the wind off of us, but little did they know, we still froze to
death anyway. On the days that it was thawing a bit, it was a little
hard to get it moving, and I remember Dad standing at the steering wheel
and bouncing up and down, giving it all the throttle it had, to get the
skis to come loose from the snow. Once we got snowmobiles, I was allowed
to travel the ice after dark by myself.
Pictured are: In the the Bug is my dad, Bert Gahn, and standing on the
ground are my grandparents, Gene & Maggie Babcock.
I remember the day that I first learned to ride a “big girl” 2 wheel
bicycle. All of you know where the Pines Hotel used to be.....well
just south of there is a house that’s right next to the sidewalk going down
to the Pines Dock. When I was about 7 years old, there was a tennis
court where that house now sits, and I learned to ride this bike on that
tennis court. Needless to say, by the time I learned, I had bleeding
elbows, and bleeding knees.
All during my adolescent years, my family and grandparents did a lot
of picnicking. We would either go down at the end of the Weiner Rd,
(some people call it Bible Rd.) or down at Snake Island. The Weiner
Rd. was just a nice sandy beach for us kids, and Snake Island was a great
place for my grandfather to fish.........his passion!!
Vehicles, (if you can call them that), were a sight to see back then.
Most of them were held together with wire or binder twine. I don’t
think 100 mph tape was here yet. Most of them didn’t have headlights, mufflers,
and some didn’t even have doors........but they always got us where we wanted
to go. I remember when I was 12 years old, my dad decided it was time
to start teaching me how to drive. We didn’t have a sheriff then,
so what the heck. One of my cousins was driving their Model A at 12,
so now it was my turn. He put me in the drivers seat of this old blue
Chevrolet truck, with a standard transmission, and 3 on the floor!! Oh
brother, what was I going to do with that??? He explained the process
to me, (several times), and I gave it a try. After several attempts
of trying to make it move, we galloped up the driveway. I was
never so scared in my life, worrying that I would run into the house. All
of us kids were driving before our time.
Was taken right in front of the Palmer/Marconi house where the windmill
is. It's my mom, Audrey Gahn,
sitting on the car holding my little sister.
The rest of us are on the bank, and that's me in the blue snowsuit.
I also remember that when my dad worked for the Mackinac County Road
Commission, on the days that he would start up the big old grader, I would
stand out in front of our house to wait for him to go by. I would
flag him down and ask if I could ride with him. Naturally he would
let me get in and I would spend the day riding. I remember doing a
lot of “head bobbing” as it was a slow tedious ride, but I loved it.
We got electricity back in the 60’s, and prior to that we always used
a generator for some things and gas for everything else. I remember
the day they finally turned on the power. We were all at school, and
always came home for lunch. We ran home as fast as we could trying
to be the first one there to flip on a switch to see if the lights worked.
My older brother beat us all and he was the lucky one that got to be first
at flipping on a light switch without hearing the generator automatically
start. Once we got power, we all got CB radios to communicate with
each other here on the island, and also in Cheboygan. We didn’t have
telephones yet. When we first got power, it would go out a lot. I
remember one winter when the power went out there was no way to communicate
with the people in Cheboygan, so my dad and my uncle that lived in town
at Pries Landing, set up this signal just so that we could let them know
everyone over here was ok. My dad would go out onto the front porch
at night at a certain time and point a seal beam light towards Pries Landing.
He would flash it 3 times if everything was alright, and my uncle
would flash back letting us know he got the message. I remember him
having to do this for 3 nights in a row one time. I don’t know what
the flashes would have been if he wanted my uncle to know there was trouble,
and I’m sure glad he never had to give that message.
In the spring time after everything had thawed, the main road by the
Community Building would flood. The Community Building hadn’t been
built yet and the water was almost up as high as the floor at the church.
It would completely flood the house just across the road. Well,
some of the kids in the neighborhood would go down to the big creek
and catch some suckers, then take them back up to that flooded spot and
release them. Usually there was always a row boat there and we’d row
around in it. I would imagine when the water finally receded, the
smell must have been horrible because of the suckers that were put in there.