BIRTHDAYS

By Lloyd Streeter

July 18 should be a national holiday. Maybe it is for some nation, though I don’t know which nation it would be. It was a very important day in the history of the world; at least it was that important to me. It was the day I was born. If I had not been born, the world would have been much different! Think of it. Karen would never have had a husband. Well, not one as good as me, though I am sure she would have married someone. After all, she has always been beautiful, smart, and resourceful. And there were three babies that would never have been born. Oh, Karen would still have had children, maybe eight or ten of them, instead of the perfect number of three, but none of them would have been the three that now exist. They could not exist without my DNA which, of course, would not have existed if I had not been born. So, imagine a world with no Bill, the film and documentary maker; without Sandi, the pastor’s wife and school teacher; and without Rich, the lighting producer and deacon. And, equally astounding, think of a world without my children’s children. The world would have been much poorer without Tori, Tina, Ainslie, Brady, Sam, Anna, Jake, TravE (Travis Everett), and Arden. They came, all nine of them, with no effort on my part. They came, like blooms on my hibiscus plant, with regularity and beauty, they came to our world and caused Karen and me to exclaim, “Oh, here is another one, and it is so pretty!”

It was a sad time for many people back there during WW II. It was a bad time for a raven haired young girl in the Kentucky hills. Her drunken father had been shot and killed when he was 46, and her mother would contract TB and would die at age 44. That young girl had given up on her education when she was thirteen and had gone to work for well-to-do people—gone to work washing and ironing other people’s clothes and cleaning other people’s houses. She would have a baby girl and she would be expecting a baby boy (me). She was always ashamed and embarrassed to talk about it for it was not like today when children are born to single mothers and there is no embarrassment at all. She was embarrassed, and I would never have written about it while she yet lived, because I would not have hurt her for the world. But she is in heaven now where she can never be hurt by anyone and where she will never again be embarrassed. She survived her miserable childhood, survived the poverty and the pain that a brutal father delivered in his drunken rages. She survived and she escaped, escaped to northeastern Michigan, escaped to Mikado, and married a man who was nearly twenty years older than she. The circumstances to which she escaped were as dreadful as the place from which she had come. She was not accustomed to the unforgiving Michigan winters when the snow would pile up in six foot drifts and the icicles would hang from the eaves of the house, sometimes for a week before they would melt and fall. At least, in Alcona County, Michigan, she had a husband who loved her and wanted to protect her. It was a sad and difficult time for most people, and especially for that young Kentucky woman. She would receive news of her brother’s death, a casualty of the war, killed at age 19, in Belgium. She would receive news of her mother’s death, the TB winning another pitiful battle. And, because there was a war, times were hard for most people. Canned food, shoes, tires, and sugar were all rationed. There was a long wait for anything made of steel. And the winters in Michigan were hard. But, I was not born during winter. I was born on July 18. They tell me that the average income in 1943 was $2,041. But, the Streeter family income was well below that, probably only a few hundred dollars. A new car would have cost $900, but, because steel was rationed, very few people could get a new car. Because tires were rationed, some people had an old car up on blocks in the backyard or in a barn as they waited for the war to end so that they would be able to get tires and drive again. A loaf of bread could be purchased for ten cents, but Mama made her own bread. A gallon of gas cost 15 cents, but the Streeters did not use much gas during the war and went to town only occasionally by steel-wheeled farm wagon drawn by big Percheron draft horses. Now and then, we went by horse and wagon up the Klondike Road to visit my Uncle Jim. A gallon of milk would set a person back 62 cents, but we got ours fresh from the cow!

The years dragged on through my childhood. We had to make our own entertainment. I ran a thousand miles through the snow playing Sargent Preston of the Yukon– “On, King!” For my birthday, and for the birthdays of my brother and sisters, Mama would sometimes make a cake. It was always a simple white cake, not from a box, homemade from scratch (strange phrase). She would make her own frosting to put on the cake, make it from powdered sugar and a little margarine and water. It was wonderful cake. I would like to have one again.

I struggled on through my school years. I was sick a lot, strep throat, ear aches, mumps, tonsillitis, hydroceles, and lice infestations. I missed a lot of school and could never catch up. I was “held back” a couple of grades and I hated school. I planned on quitting school when I reached age sixteen and when it would be legal to do so. But I was surprised and overtaken by God’s grace before I could become a dropout. I was born again, saved by God’s free grace. It changed me. It changed the course of my life. God called me to preach, and I knew that I had to get through high school. God helped me to get through good ole Oscoda Area High School. I went on to a great university where I earned a BA degree. Since that time, I have earned several post- graduate degrees. God may make a learner of me, yet!

Pastoring three Baptist churches (only one at a time, thankfully!) occupied my time during the next forty years. Birthdays went by faster than mile posts on the expressway when you are going the speed limit. Birthdays have been tolerated as a necessary evil, something like the way April 15 is tolerated every year as we fill in our tax return. They were another milestone, but there was no joy in them. I guess I should not look at my birthday that way. After all, God has given me another year of life, and that is something to celebrate. I never expected to get this far. To reach the biblical three score and ten is indeed a blessing, and I have now gone three years beyond that. It seems like an even greater blessing when I realize that life expectancy was only 63 when I was born in 1943. So, God is good. I enjoy life. We just spent two days at Daytona Beach. We enjoy our home in Florida. And Karen tells me that we are having lunch at Ruby Tuesdays today to celebrate my birthday!

NORTHERN MICHIGAN, MIKADO AND ALCONA COUNTY

cam_data/photo085.jpg

by Lloyd Streeter

“Northern Michigan” is what we call that part of the state north of Standish.  Of course, there is a lot of Michigan which is north of Oscoda, where we had a summer home.  So, when I mention Northern Michigan, I am not referring to the Upper Peninsula.  I’ve spent very little time in the U.P.

This part of northeast Michigan, between Tawas and Alpena, on the sunrise side of the state, is the area where I grew up.

The closest town to the farm where I grew up is called Mikado. Mikado was first called Bruceville, because the founder of the town was Daniel Bruce, and the town was first named for him. I have read that the town was also called West Greenbush for a while. The name was changed to Mikado some time around the turn of the century, c. 1900. The Japanese name for the town was borrowed from the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera, The Mikado.

Well, you can be sure that the residents of Bruceville had no first-hand experience with opera, either “light” or “heavy,” or any other kind! They just liked the name, Mikado. Unfortunately, they did not know how to pronounce it; therefore, the name of the place is “mi-kay-doe” [long i, long a, long o].

Mikado was once a bustling and growing town with a bank, a hotel, train depot, several grocery stores, restaurants, grain elevator, hardware, several churches, barber shop, a four-room school, and various other establishments. However, after most of the virgin timber was harvested and the logging business died, the Detroit and Mackinaw rail spur was removed, and the town began to die. That was between 1920 and 1935.

When I was growing up in the 40s and 50s, Mikado was only a fraction of its former size. There was a restaurant, owned by Kenny Collins, and later by my cousin, Thellis Good. The restaurant always had good hamburgers, and when it was owned by Kenny, it sold comic books (very popular at the time), newspapers, and other sundries.

Across the road from the restaurant was First Baptist Church. It was an American Baptist church. Because of the liberalism in the American Baptist Convention, First Baptist suffered a split back in the 40s. Herman Waldeck (one of the best Christians I have ever known), Edwin Goddard, Lloyd Andrews, and a few others withdrew from First Baptist, went just east of town, dug a basement and started Calvary Baptist Church. First Baptist continued to dwindle until the late 50s and it closed. The building was torn down. Calvary Baptist, where I was saved during my teen years, has continued to hold forth the Gospel as an independent Baptist church.

Just south of the restaurant was Joe’s garage and filling station. Joe Silverthorn sold and serviced Ford tractors. His mechanics would repair, overhaul, weld, cut with a torch, or order parts for any tractor, truck, or car that was brought to the place. For a while, Joe was also the dealer for Studebaker cars. Joe’s garage was a favorite gathering place for a group of men, mostly older men, who had a card game almost every night. My uncle, Charlie Streeter, and Russell Wallenmier were regulars at the card game.

Across the road from Joe’s was Gus Holmes’ grocery store. Gus sold all kinds of groceries, but seemed to major in meats and cheese. He considered himself to be somewhat of an entertainer and “disc” jockey. On Saturday nights (when most people would go to town), Gus would hold a drawing. Customers had to be present to win. First prize was always a ham, but after a few years, the first prize was downgraded to a  “picnic ham.” Second prize was usually a 25 lb. bag of flour. There were sometimes third and fourth prizes of whatever canned goods that Gus chose for the purpose. This drawing was “broadcast” over a loud speaker system both inside and outside the store. Typically, a group of 2 or 3 hundred people was listening to him as he spun his favorite country songs on his 45 rpm machine. Gus told his jokes and tried to be winsome in teasing the winners. And, before and after his drawing, Gus would “broadcast” country and western music. At least two or three times every Saturday evening, he would “broadcast” Eddie Arnold’s “Cattle Call.” He also “broadcast” songs by Hank Williams, Ernest Tubb, and Hank Snow. Each song was typically introduced and commented upon by Gus. Gus and his wife, Edith, lived in a log house next to the store.

Just south of Joe’s garage and south of the Glennie Road was the post office. It was a rather imposing building that had once been a bank.

Across the road, east of the post office, was Joe Hughey’s Shell Station. Some of the younger men would gather at the Shell station at night when they were not “crusin” up and down through town trolling for girls or looking for someone to challenge to a drag race.

Still further south of the post office was Eddie Wood’s Hardware. Eddie did a good business, and he was a highly respected member of the community. He lived in the apartment above the store. Farmers needing bolts, barbed wire, nails, glass, screen, well pipe, or any of a hundred items would look for them at Eddie’s.

Just east of Eddie’s Hardware, across the road (the north-south road through town was numbered as M 171 at that time but is now numbered F 41) was Fred Richie’s Sunoco Station. Fred wore his filling station hat and uniform every day. He gave good service, filling customer’s tanks, checking their oil, water, battery, and tire pressure. It was a full-service station, and Fred worked hard. My dad bought almost all of his gas and oil products at Fred’s.

Behind Fred’s station was the old Mikado school. It was a fairly imposing wooden building with four classrooms. The school had been closed for several years by the time I arrived on the scene. The Mikado School District had consolidated with the Oscoda District. The kids from in and around Mikado rode the bus for about an hour to go to Oscoda.

Also behind Fred’s garage was the baseball diamond. Mikado always had a good baseball teams. My Uncle Charlie was an umpire for the various baseball leagues, so he spent a lot of his summer days at the ball park. When he was not hanging out at Joe Silverthorn’s, Uncle Charlie could usually be found at the ball park or at the restaurant.

Further south and on the east side of M 171 was the creamery. Many a farmer had a cream separator to separate the cream from the skim milk. They did not sell milk. They sold cream. The cream had to be taken to a creamery where it would be tested for its fat content. A check would then be issued to the farmer. My dad sold cream for many years. He fed the skimmed milk to the pigs.

All of the other establishments in Mikado were on the east side of town, along the Greenbush Road. Behind Gus’ store was St. Raphael’s Catholic Church. Quite a few people in our community were Catholic. They always had a good attendance at the Catholic church.

East of St. Raphel’s was the town hall. The town hall was just a small auditorium with a full basement. The main floor had basketball hoops. The hall was used for all kinds of meetings, parties, and square dances. The Goodfellows held the Christmas party there. The kids were given “parts” to memorize and perform. Santa Claus made an entrance and every kid got a bag of goodies to take home. Incidentally, the Santa Claus was my Uncle Charlie. One year, my sister, Alice, recognized Uncle Charlie’s hands (he wore gloves in the subsequent years!), and the rest of the kids in our family recognized his “Ho, Ho, Ho.”

I should explain that the Mikado Goodfellows was (and still is) an organization of community leaders and helpers who do good things for the children, the poor, and any people who are having a difficult time. They put on funeral dinners. They help the sick and injured; and they help those who lose their belongings in house fires.

The town hall was about 50 by 100 feet. The first garage for the town’s first fire truck was attached to the side of the town hall. The first fire truck was a little water wagon pulled by a Jeep. It was okay for putting out small grass fires if the pump was working and if whoever used it last remembered to refill the tank with water. Gerson Kahn was the first fire chief. Sometimes, at the town hall, there were country music shows. One in particular that I remember was a Grand Ole Opry show with Little Jimmy Dickens, Minnie Pearl, and others. I was not present for the show, but my parents were. It was a well attended show because the people around Mikado (c. 1950) would not have missed an Opry show, something they listened to on WSM every Saturday night! And Minnie Pearl was a favorite of my dad’s; so, he definitely would not want to miss it.

East of the town hall was Kahn’s store. Kahn’s sold everything from bacon to bolts, from groceries to guns, from overalls to oilcloth, and from cornmeal to canning supplies. The Kahn’s were, of course, Jewish. They were wonderful people, good neighbors who did a lot to help their community. Joe Kahn came to Mikado, I think, right before the turn of the century. Joe raised a large family. He started in business by loading a wagon with goods and visiting the homes and farms in the area around Mikado. He built a store, a pretty big building for Mikado. There was a large apartment above the store where Joe and his family lived. Two of Joe’s sons, Gerson and Bill, were running the store during the 50s. Bill was living upstairs and Gerson was living in a nice house across the road. Gerson was a conservative Jew and Bill was a more liberal Jew. Bill also owned and operated a real estate business. The Kahns were people of integrity and dignity and they ran a good business.

Across the road from Kahn’s General Store was Bob Smith’s barber shop. It was a little white building with big windows in front. There was room for just one barber’s chair, an oil space heater, and about five chairs for those waiting for their haircuts. Bob was getting on in years during the 50s, and he had the shakes, probably from Parkinson’s disease. One night, a member of our family, a teenager, was taken to Bob’s shop for a haircut. Our whole family sat in the car and watched through the big window as Bob got a straight razor and started to shave around the teenager’s ears. Bob’s hand was shaking when he came at the kid with the razor. We laughed when we saw the fear in the kid’s eyes and when we saw him squirm in the chair, but he managed to survive with both ears intact!

East  of the barber shop was the grain elevator. Actually, it was more of a feed store, but it was a place to get grain ground or buy feed for horses, chickens, and rabbits.

East of the elevator was the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The people who went to church there always wanted us to know that they were not Mormons, though they did have a common origin with the Mormons. I knew many of the people who went to church at the Reorganized Church, and they were honest and good people. Of course, I did not agree with many aspects of their religion, but they were friends and good neighbors in the community. Years later they would change the name of their church to Christ’s Community Church.

About a mile east of the four corners of town was the Calvary Baptist Church. It started out in a basement which was dug there. Eventually, they built an auditorium. I received Christ as my Savior at Calvary Baptist when Pastor Doug Taipalus was ministering there. Some of the members of the church at that time were Herman and Esther Waldeck, Jack and Mary Stuit, Allen and Bertha Silverthorn, Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Nickelson, Don Umphrey, Delbert Travis, Irwin Sweet, and a great group of young people. I have many fond memories of this group. Pastor Taipalus was a tremendous encouragement to me when I was a poor, shy, backward teenager. I was baptized and called to preach under Doug’s ministry. He officiated at our wedding. I knew him for 50 years, and he was still a good friend on the day that he died in 2008.

Across the road from Calvary Baptist is the township cemetery. My mother and dad are buried there. My grandmother, whom I never knew, and my grandfather who died when I was 5 years old, are buried next to my father and mother. I remember going to this cemetery with my parents on Decoration Day (Memorial Day). My dad would walk to one grave and then another, and to all of the graves of his relatives and friends who had departed this life.

Scattered throughout Mikado and between the businesses are the homes of residents. There may have been 3 or 4 hundred people living in the town at one time, but when I was a boy, there were only about 150 people living there.

Today, Mikado is almost a ghost town. Kahn’s, Gus’, Joe Silverthorn’s, and the restaurant are all closed. The grain elevator is closed. Bob’s barber shop is gone. The school building and Fred’s garage both burned. First Baptist Church and the old post office were torn down. The Reorganized Church moved to a new building two miles east of town, their old building is now a residence. There is no place that sells gasoline anymore. The businesses in Mikado consist of a tavern, which has been there for about 80 years, and the Mikado Market, which is located in the building which was Eddie’s Hardware. Of course, St. Raphael’s and Calvary Baptist are still there. There is a small post office. One bright spot is that a nice Civic Center (town hall) was built back in the 70s; a place for the kids’ Christmas party, funeral dinners, and bingo nights. And, there is a fire house for the town’s two fire trucks.

I grew up on Tait Road, two and a half miles northwest of Mikado on a farm that my grandparents acquired in 1897. My dad was born there in 1902 and I was born there in 1943. I grew up in Alcona County and went to school in Oscoda.

A few years ago, before we retired, we bought a condo at Oscoda. We now spend part of our summers here in Norther Michigan.

I had some reasons for wanting a home in Northern Michigan. I have some family here. A brother and a sister still live near Mikado. And, of course, this is still home and I have pleasant memories of so many places; places that would not mean anything to anyone else, but places that take me back in the mists of my memory to people and events now dear to me. I drive down a country road and I think of the spring beside the road where I used to stop the tractor and get a cold drink of good spring water. Sometimes I pass a farm and remember that I cut, bailed, and hauled the hay out of that field, and I fed cattle at that farm. And, over there, I filled that silo. We hunted deer in those woods. We cut firewood there. A friend lived there.

And I love Northern Michigan because, in the summer time, the weather is beautiful. Normally, it is not too hot. And, there is such an abundance of trees that it makes the world look clean and fresh and beautiful. Some of the rainbows are perfect, just like they were when I was a boy–full, complete and solid rainbows that over-arch the creation of God. And, some of the sunsets are so red that it is as if an angel swept the western sky and set it on fire.

Karen and I like to drive out in the evening to see the deer in the fields and the flocks of wild turkeys scratching beside the road. We like walking down to the “mighty” AuSable River on a foot-trail near our home. We watch the canoes and the boats coming down stream, most just floating along with people who are content to relax and enjoy the scenery. There, at the river, we see families who have come to the “beach,” the beautiful, sandy stretch along the great bend in the river; at the place that is called “Three Pipes.” We also like to go to the “real beach,” the well cared for beach-park at Oscoda, the Lake Huron beach, a beach as nice as any we have seen in Florida, Jamaica, or Mexico.

Here in Northern Michigan, we love the summer weather, the friends we have made, our church (Family Heritage Baptist at Harrisville), and our family.

Of course, the winters here are hard on people our age. So, come November, we will head for our winter home in Lake City, Florida.

cam_data/photo070.jpg

cam_data/photo105.jpg

Deer are plentiful here–  Canoers on the AuSable River beach.

cam_data/photo083.jpg

Oscoda--Ainslie 07

Brian, Brady, & Tina / Ainslie on the AuSable River beach.

cam_data/photo114.jpgAusable river

Friends from Illinois by the Lumberman’s Monument.

The “mighty” AuSable as seen from the monument.

Oscoda--Tinacam_data/photo103.jpg

Tina on a sand hill behind our home.   Jackie enjoys the river, too.

cam_data/photo081.jpgcam_data/photo082.jpg

Lloyd with Brady and Ainslie.

Posted Sept. 6, 2008

Edited Feb. 16, 2013

 

 

Our Vacation With Brady and Sam

Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise

Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise

Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise
Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise
Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise

Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise
Carnival CruiseCarnival Cruise
Top row: Our ship, the Carnival Imagination / Boys on Grand Cayman Island

Second row: Sam & Brady with their “wooden friend” / Holding a turtle at the Turtle Farm

Third row: Hanging out on the deck / Mini-golf on top deck–look out Tiger Woods!

Fourth row: The steward left us a pet / Breakfast on the deck tastes better!

Fifth row: Brady enjoys the long, blue slide / Sam & Brady both thought the yellow slide was awesome!

Sixth row: Sam is dressed for dinner / Brady really liked his fresh fruit cocktails

Last row: Our waiters were so good to us / Karen, Brady, Lloyd, and Sam on formal night in the dining room

Our Last Sunday at First Baptist

June 3, 2007
First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 039 First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 005
First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 006First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 004
First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 060First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 058First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 045
First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 055First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 054
First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 051First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 023

First Baptist LaSalle June 3, 2007 044

 

Top row: Pastor Lloyd Streeter/  Pastor Doug Taipalus

Second row: Pastor Lee Taylor / Pastor Taipalus and Pastor Taylor

Third row:  Poster the ladies made for the banquet / Beautiful decorations with sunflower theme

Fourth row: Yummy desserts!

Fifth row: Lots of good food provide by the church / About 250 people came from 4 or 5 different churches

Sixth row: Lloyd and Karen eating with Gloria and Pastor Taipalus / Deacon Kevin Perryman presenting us with gifts from the people

Seventh row: We are leaving a church full of dear people.

It is hard to say “Good-bye” at the end of 30 years!