The highlight was the Polish Festival in Boyne Falls, which featured a beer tent at which was served only Budweiser, hot dogs that were labeled “kielbasa”, golabki covered in tomato soup, cold perogis, and, for music, not polka, but a band which played oldies from the 60s.
Northern Lower Michigan is filled with people of Polish extraction—my high school yearbook could have been produced in Warsaw—so it was hard to figure out what happened.
Luckily, for those wanting real Polish food, there is Legs Inn, a not-to-be-missed Polish restaurant, all the way at the tip of mitt of Michigan. There is nothing else nearby in Cross Village except for that restaurant and a small gas station.
That Legs Inn survives is easy to see once you taste the dishes. Genuine. And real beer! They even truck the waitresses in from Poland. A new crop arrives at the start of every summer. They stay in a bunkhouse next to the restaurant, serve food until Labor Day, and sail away back home.
My parents have a cabin in Gaylord, Michigan, the town in which I did the majority of my growing up. It turns out that Claude (Elwood!) Shannon, the founder of information theory, which is, as we all know, probability by another name, was born in this wee town.
I never knew this when I was a kid; I only discovered it after the town erected a bust of Shannon in a new park created on the footprint of an old building was torn down. It’s tucked away behind a chiropractor’s office, strangely perpendicular to the street and not facing it.
Rumor had it, too, that several scientists from the Manhattan Project took out a cabin at the south end of Otsego Lake. This cabin is on a hill which overlooks the state park. I lived about a few hundred yards away from the park.
When I was a boy, the cabin was overgrown with trees and weeds and open to the elements. Squirrels lived there. But there were, as I recall, old photographs on the floor of people who looked scientist like.
High school graduation was in 1982, and I don’t get back to Gaylord often. Each time I do, I peer into the faces of men and women who look about the same age as I am, trying to see if I recognize anybody. Sometimes I receive funny looks back, but that’s probably because I start staring first. I have yet to see anybody I knew from the old days.
Except in New York City, where once I was in a meeting deciding whether or not to have our company buy some software, when one of the sales reps remembered me from a biology class we shared. I have a shockingly poor memory and did not recall who he was.
There wasn’t just reminiscing: there was plenty of swimming in salt- and shark-free Lake Michigan. Water was just right. Clear, and containing the occasional, now hard-to-find Petoskey stones. Whenever anybody sees one of these fossils, they snap them up. Tourists—which we in the North call fudgies, i.e. southerners who come up searching for fudge, the shops of which are in every town—will pay actual money for Petoskey stones.
My next important vacation move was to do as little work as possible. In this, I succeeded beyond all measure. Hence, I am behind in everything.
I’ll start working on answering emails and comments to old posts later this afternoon. Thanks to everybody who read and wrote in.