Salted with Sharks

Archive for the ‘Historic Elberta’ Category

A Brefe, Tempestuous Historie of Lakeside Shakespeare in which Our Brave Players—and Manye Volontiers—Battle the Elementf, with Engineering Mofte Civill

In Culture Bluffs, Historic Elberta, Kid Stuff, Lakeside Shakespeare on August 2, 2013 at 6:37 pm

Lakeside Shakespeare’s last performance of the season, The Comedy of Errors, takes place tonight on Tank Hill at 7 pm. On July 5, Emily Votruba interviewed Janet La Rue Buck, Elizabeth Laidlaw, Amy Daniels Moehle, and Peter Dully, on the porch of the La Rue House Bed & Breakfast, where the Bucks have hosted six seasons’ worth of these Chicago thespians. She learned how Lakeside Shakespeare got started, how it continues with the help of our community, and why the troupe isn’t performing in Elberta … for now.

Elizabeth Laidlaw, founder and director of Lakeside Shakespeare, Frankfort and Elberta’s very own summer theater troupe

Janet La Rue Buck, proprietor of the La Rue House Bed & Breakfast, born and raised in the Village, and very widely traveled beyond

Amy Daniels Moehle, outreach coordinator for Lakeside Shakespeare, in charge of year-round programming, volunteers, and publicity for the organization

Peter Dully, managing director of Lakeside Shakespeare, oversees all physical aspects of the production

Owen, son of Elizabeth Laidlaw

Emily Votruba, a reporter for the Elberta Alert

 (Emily turns on the recording device.) Read the rest of this entry »

Ann Arbor Railroad Retirees Convene Again August 4

In Breaking, Calendar, Car Ferries, Community Alert, Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron on July 29, 2013 at 4:17 pm

Hey everyone, the Ann Arbor Railroad Retirees gather again, for the 28th year in a row, at the Blaine Township Hall on White Owl Road August 4, to celebrate their years of service in Elberta’s unique industry. All are welcome (bring food!), and the Alert encourages younger and non-railroad/car ferry folks to attend and learn from these wise captains of the Village’s industrial past. Jim Gilbert organizes this event every year, and you should hear some of the stories.

Ann Arbor Railroad Picnic 2013

Blast from the Future: Clara Reed

In E Beach, Historic Elberta, Kid Stuff on July 17, 2013 at 3:51 pm

Alert readers love the writing of our area kids. If you or someone you know has a story to tell, send it our way!


Parks and Rec Meeting Wrap-up

In Agriculture, Farmers' Market, Historic Elberta, Kid Stuff, Open Season on July 11, 2013 at 10:37 pm

July 11, 2013

The Parks and Recreation Commission held its July meeting in the Duck’s Head this evening because the Library was in use for a rescheduled meeting of the Gilmore Township Board. Gilmore normally meets in the Library on the second Tuesday of the month, but this month that night was given over to the special council meeting on the Putney special use permit. Sharyn Bower and Laura Manville hadn’t realized there was to be a regular P&R meeting tonight. No big deal—the commission members in attendance (Jennifer Wilkins, Grace Banktson Williams, and Emily Votruba) as well as Solstice Committee member Michele Cannaert, enjoyed the sun and some food from the newly opened El Berto’s Taqueria.

Since there wasn’t a quorum, no decisions could be made, but there was lots to talk about.

Solstice seems to have netted about $1,900, but the bills for the Port-a-Johns and BaySide Printing services are still outstanding, so it will be somewhat less than that.

Jen said Ken Bonney had received some applications for the full-time DPW assistant position and was going over them. The Employee Relations Committee (Reggie Manville, Matt Stapleton, and Joyce Gatrell) will also review the applications and make a recommendation to council. Ken is in somewhat desperate need of an assistant. He is legally required to have a certified second person to help him with his water system inspections, for one thing.

According to Jen, almost all the stakes and signs Ken and Charlie Hendershott put up on June 27 were gone (yanked/burned, etc.) after the Fourth of July festivities; Ken will install more so that Elmer’s will be able to see where to do the grading for the Lakeside Boulevard project.

We discussed ways to get volunteers for next year’s Solstice and agreed to write up detailed task descriptions for various aspects of the events; Solstice involves a variety of jobs large and small and we’re considering using the site Volunteer Local (which we heard about from Amy Daniels-Moehle, outreach coordinator for Lakeside Shakespeare) to get people committed to helping with very clear, set tasks way ahead of time.

Market Master Sue Oseland had reported to Jen (the Farmers Market council liaison) on a case of noncompliance; one vendor was allegedly selling items that vendor had not produced. EFM wants to maintain its status as a true farmers’ market, so part of Sue’s job is to make sure that all the vendors are either selling their own produce or are an employee of a local farmer/producer selling local goods. Last year a vendor was found to be selling melons he had purchased downstate. That vendor was barred from doing so. According to Jen, if a vendor is found to be selling goods not their own, they are not kicked out of the market for good but are told to cease selling those particular items.

We briefly discussed holding another Mushy Peach film festival this year. We agreed that last year’s week of Rich Brauer films was, though awesome and fun, also a bit hectic, and that perhaps two or three Mondays in August would be better; still, everyone’s still exhausted from Solstice. If we do it this year we’d like to showcase short films by locals. We’d need to purchase/borrow a digital projector and speakers for this purpose. If you’re interested in showing a film or films of your own, please contact Emily at Maybe we’ll get it together at sort of the last minute, who knows. Parks and Rec does own a screen now, thanks to Josh Herren.

A meeting of the Dunes Neighbors and two representatives from Parks and Rec will be held at the home of Cheryl Gross next Tuesday. In attendance will be members of the Grand Traverse Regional Land Conservancy. They’ll discuss how to incorporate the goal of completing a beach road and other beach and park improvements into the Village’s official five-year Recreation Plan, which is not yet finalized. Information gathered during the Rec Plan public meeting held in April will be incorporated as well, and a final public hearing on the plan will be held sometime TBA. A new draft of the plan will be made available here on the Alert site and also on the Village website. Stay tuned! In the meantime, Parks and Rec welcomes your comments and suggestions. Please send them to Jennifer Wilkins at, subject line “recreation plan idea.”—Emily Votruba

Talk Time with Mabel Little

In GOOD NEWS, Historic Elberta, Kid Stuff on June 29, 2013 at 9:00 pm

Back in December, Alert youth editor Merren Garber interviewed Mabel and Allen Little. Today, June 29, the venerable Elberta couple celebrated their 73rd wedding anniversary.



UPDATE 6/30/13: Patricia Little, Morris’s daughter, wrote on Facebook to say that her mother was called Patsy, and that her grandfather Al did work in former AA Railroad property as Yard Master/Clerk at what was then the Commissary building, before moving to Manistique and becoming Superintendent of the AA Railroad there.

Elberta Odd Jobs: The Saw Filing-Man

In Agriculture, Historic Elberta, On and off the Apron, Post Office, You Mist It the First Time on June 11, 2013 at 12:39 am

If you have an idea for a story in this series on the amazing careers of your fellow Elbertians past and present, let us know at

By Pat Moyna

My father, Earl Moyna, the Elberta rural-route mail carrier from 1920 to 1953, being a civil-service employee, was subject to legal restrictions on other work or positions he could occupy. For example, he could not run for elected office, local or otherwise, but could accept an appointed office—he was a school board member and president for some years. He also could not accept part-time employment with any business that might reflect on or interfere with his federal service.

However, he was free to be self-employed with virtually no restriction. Since he had some spare time and was always looking to improve the quality of life of his large family, he continually sought ways to bring in a few more dollars to that end. He owned three city blocks in Elberta,* all undeveloped except for the one lot on which the house sat, at 826 Frankfort Avenue (now home to Margaret Davidhizar and Sylvester Lee). So he built a barn and a garage with a shop and farmed, using part for a large vegetable garden and the rest for pasture for the cows, pigs, chickens and horses he kept for meat, milk, eggs, and to work the land.

Pa was used to working hard from the time his father died when he was not yet four years old. In Elberta his day began at 4 AM with tending the livestock and milking, helped by the boys and even by the girls. At 7:30 he was off to the post office to sort and “put up” the mail for the route in Gilmore, Blaine, and Joyfield townships. By 9 he was on his way around the route. In the early days, it would take 8 hours, but as time went on, improved roads and vehicles trimmed his time to about 4 hours; he would finish his route, process outgoing mail, and be home by 1 PM. I made that trip with him every work day that I wasn’t in school from the time I was 3 years old (Ma’s idea of day care).

Most every family in Elberta struggled during the Great Depression and sought ways to help feed their families. We were no exception, though we had it a bit better than more than a few neighbors. Thanks to his tireless effort to improve his lot, Pa provided us with most essentials of life. Both he and Ma had hard childhoods and agreed that it was important to help their neighbor any way they could. Pa being busy about 18 hours a day, Ma took up the humanitarian tasks, assisted by the girls, while the boys helped Pa farm.

Ma had her own version of a soup kitchen, making a canning cooker full of soup every week or as needed and feeding a number of neighborhood children who my oldest brother (“St.” Michael, who was called Floyd, his middle name, in his youth) would bring home with him from school. Ma’s kindness was remembered by those kids long after they were grown, and was repaid a hundredfold in later years when Ma was widowed and Mike was confined to a wheelchair.

With all Pa had on his plate, you’d think he’d be content to spend what free time he had relaxing. But it wasn’t in his nature. When he wasn’t at a stock auction or an estate sale, he was pursuing other enterprises. In 1939, he started “Moyna Resort” on Heron Lake, also commonly called “Upper Herring Lake,” so the growing kids would have employment to start making college money (all seven of them attended college). He and the older boys and girls built the boathouse, the cottages, and the boats. Once open, Ma and the girls ran the business while the boys got jobs in the community. This allowed Pa more time to pursue another of his vast array of talents.

From early on, Earl had possessed a knack for sharpening tools, something that to this day is a hard skill to master. He learned many such skills from his grandfather and namesake, Michael Earl Conboy, and brother, “Uncle Pete” Conboy, both Irish carpenters and tinkers.

Earl set up his shop to sharpen all his edged tools (saws, axes, chisels, knives, scythes, sickles and sicklebar teeth, the triangular cutters used in cutting hay). He did every type of saw from handsaw to one- and two-man crosscuts, to circular-saw blades. He dressed, set and sharpened or filed every conceivable cutting device right down to sewing scissors. This was the substance of the Irish tinker’s art!

One reason Pa sharpened his own tools was that he couldn’t find a reliable person to do it anywhere in the surrounding area of Benzie, Manistee, Wexford, Grand Traverse or Leelanau Counties. As word got out, Earl became increasingly busy at his craft. He charged a reasonable fee for this indispensable service and soon had customers from as far away as 50 miles bringing him their implements. I spent many a pleasant afternoon in the garage with Pa, holding the big saw blades steady while he hand-set them with a special hammer and handheld saw set. Handsaws he set with a pliers-like device that had a pre-set rake. Filing of the teeth was accomplished freehand on the big saws and with a mechanical filing device in a filing vice for the small-toothed saws.

Much of his early work was correcting poor work done by others, but as time went on that disappeared as almost his entire business was repeat customers who wouldn’t take their work to anyone else. To accommodate the farmers who were his principal customers, he had them bring in their jobs in the off season to be ready for the next harvest. So winter was a busy time for “the saw filing man.” Ψ

*The house was in block 26, lying between Charles and Fifth Street and facing M-22 (Frankfort Avenue), directly across the street from the Weksler and Doc La Rue homes. Block 27, a riparian block, was directly behind (east of) block 26. A riparian block was one which bordered an uncontained waterway, so how much land you owned depended upon where the water line was today. The third block, 36, was also riparian and used as summer pasture. It was between Third and Fourth Street. Some of those streets were renamed after WWII.

Pat Moyna, the youngest of the nine children of Michael “Earl” and Margaret “Fern” (O’Leary) Moyna was born around 4:00 in the morning, during a late winter blizzard on Friday, the 10th of March 1939, under the supervision of the legendary town doctor, Frank J. La Rue and and his wonderful helpmate and wife, University of Michigan graduate nurse Ellen Baver La Rue. He was delivered by Ellen in the house that still stands at 826 Frankfort Avenue, directly across the street from the Crane-built Victorian which served as the La Rue family home as well as doctor’s office and clinic. Pat grew up in Elberta and as the youngest, became the memory of all his family, incorporating their adventures and memories into his own. Pat left Elberta after college and eventually had a career of over 28 years in the US Army Security Agency, where he was a signal intelligence and electronic warfare technician. With all the school teachers and English majors in the family, and being Irish, he was bound to gravitate toward storytelling and writing. Now retired finally at 74, he finds more time to focus on the prose and poetry he loves so much. The romantic past of what will always be his home town is a frequent subject of his efforts. 

Tombstone Tourism: Exploring the Past Through Gravestones and Monuments

In Calendar, Culture Bluffs, Elsewhere in BenCo..., Historic Elberta on June 10, 2013 at 10:15 am

By Mary Link

Al Bryant, a local taphophile (someone who studies gravestones) gave a presentation for the Benzie Genealogical Society monthly meeting on Wednesday, May 8.

Showing pictures of tombstones of the famous and infamous, including his distant cousin, Clyde Barrow (of Bonnie and Clyde fame), Mr. Bryant explained the symbolism used in designing gravestones and the various types of markers.

Religious and fraternal groups have had their own special symbols and identification for posterity. In the nineteenth century there were more than 300 national fraternal organizations, the most obvious in Benzie County being the GAR (Grand Army of the Republic), whose markers are in our local cemeteries.

Crosses on tombstones used to indicate a person of the Roman Catholic faith but today are used by/for anyone. An anchor symbolizes hope, a heart charity, and the combination of a cross, anchor, and heart is faith, hope, and charity. The language of flowers symbolizing friendship (white roses), sensitivity (lily of the valley), modesty (violets), and a message of love (pansies) is used in grave markers as well. Other symbols are: a lamb or dove indicating a child’s grave; weeping willow tree for sorrow; an open book for a life well spent, or openness; a closed book for “life is over”; gates for the gates of heaven. An ax cutting a tree indicates a life cut short. Read the rest of this entry »

March Elberta Council Meeting Report: Holier Than Thou

In Community Alert, Gov't Watch, Historic Elberta, Infrastructure and Planning, Law & Order, On and off the Apron, Open Season, Politics, Public Safety, Village Money Situation on April 5, 2013 at 4:02 pm

By Emily Votruba

VILLAGE COMMUNITY BUILDING March 21, 2013—Sharyn Bower announced that the County Board of Commissioners would be holding their regular meeting at the Village Community Building on April 16 at 6 pm as part of their tour around the county. The Planning Commission will hold two public hearings before their regular meeting, also on April 16, beginning at 7 pm in the Library. The first hearing concerns the definition of “apartment” the commission wants to add to the zoning ordinance and to add apartments to the C1 Commerical District as a special use. The second hearing is to receive public comment on Loy Putney’s special use permit application and site plan for his Bay Valley Inn building project. Before the regular council meeting on April 18, beginning at 7 pm, there will be a public hearing on the proposed new Recreation Plan.

Ken Holmes asked for an agenda addition, to discuss who has the authority to speak with the Village attorney.

PUBLIC COMMENT District 7 county commissioner Don Tanner had just come back from the Michigan Association of Counties (MAC) conference. He’d urged our legislators to vote for the Medicaid expansion bill and to set up a health exchange for Michigan. He spoke with Darwin Booher (state senator, 35th District), Howard Walker (state senator, 37th District), and Wayne Schmidt (state house, 104th District)—“Ray Franz was nowhere to be found.” Read the rest of this entry »