Thursday, August 25, 2016

Tragedy in the U.P.


(I can’t believe that I didn’t thrive on history during high school, sucking it up like a sponge. I feel I have a lot of lost time to make up for. And am thankful for the internet.)

“One little girl who was jammed in the hallway in a dying condition begged one of her rescuers to save her. She grasped his hand, kissed it, then her little head dropped upon her breast and she was dead,”
Miner’s Bulletin, December 28, 1913

In the late 1800s the Copper Boom in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula would rival the California Gold Rush. Mines popped up (or dug down) throughout the woods. Immigrants from Croatia, Slovenia, Poland, Finland and other countries flocked to the area at the prospect of a steady job. Unfortunately it didn’t take the mine owners long to clamp down on this prosperity, looking for ways to cut workers while increasing their workload. In 1906, the Western Federation of Miners began organizing the miners of the Keweenaw, seeking to increase workers’ pay, shorten their work day, eliminate child labor and assure job security. Safety was also a huge concern, as an average of one miner died per week during this time.

On July 23, 1913, the miners voted to strike. Management at the Calumet & Hecla mine would not negotiate, agreeing only to an eight hour work day. As the strike dragged on, union funds ran out and the striking workers were left penniless. Many moved away, searching for work in industrial cities such as Chicago or Detroit.

To assure that the children of Red Jacket would have a Christmas, the WFM’s Women’s Auxiliary hosted a Christmas Eve party at the Italian Hall. Hundreds of fathers and mothers brought their sons and daughters to the second floor ballroom. Just as the children were being given their Christmas presents, the only ones they would receive that year, someone shouted, “Fire!”

The panicked crowd raced for the single staircase and only exit out of the building. When the doors at the bottom of the stairs couldn’t be opened, the force of the humanity from above crushed those underneath. An unimaginable 73 were killed, 60 of them children.

There was no fire.

A federal investigation failed to discover if the doors to the outside were locked or blocked by something or even if they opened in or out. The inquiry also never found out who had shouted “fire” in the first place, though many believe to this day that it was someone hired by mine management.  


In April 1914, the strike came to an end, the union defeated. It wouldn’t be long, though, before the copper era would come to a close, and not only the mines but many of the towns of Copper Country would go silent. 



(A lot of my information was also taken from these two sites: http://www.1913strike.mtu.edu/index.html and from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copper_Country_strike_of_1913%E2%80%9314)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Red Jacket

Red Jacket was a well-known chief of the Seneca Indian tribe, and the mining village formed in the 1860s just west of the Calumet and Hecla mine in Michigan’s UP was initially named after him. In 1929, the name of the town was changed to Calumet. I looked up why on the internet, but it’s rather a convoluted story if you ask me, but you can look it up here if you would like.

Every time we visit Michigan’s UP, we stop in Calumet, usually to buy gas at the BP or to pick up something we forgot at Pat’s Food (except this time. Yeah me!). One other time, we walked the streets, stopped in some stores and I even toured the Calumet Theatre.

Since the forecast was for rain on our first full day of camping near there this year, we decided we would spend the morning in Calumet and do some of the museums. 
First we toured the Coppertown Mining Museum.
Just one of the miners many duties, only put him hundreds of feet underground with barely room to stand up or turn around. Not for claustrophobic me. 
This is the Anne Clemenc display. She was a woman before her time, advocating for miners’ rights, leading marches in support of the workers. She even divorced her first husband, due to his physical abuse of her and his alcoholism.
The Union Building, which is now the Calumet Visitors Center, run by the National Park Service. 
The John Green Block, built in 1868, is one of the town’s oldest wood-frame buildings and has had various different businesses behind its doors. It has been home to Copper World gift store since 1977.
The Calumet and Holman Blocks. It is confusing that they call each building a block, but from what I gather, when they refer to these buildings as blocks it is because there are several different units, such as stores or living quarters, inside each one. So they are like their own little “block”.  
The Baer Brothers Building (say that three times fast). It was a meat market back in the day.
 
Vertin’s Department Store was the largest commercial building in downtown Red Jacket. You can see that, as the business grew, they added additional floors to the building. 
Calumet State Bank and the Coppo Block.  A few windows in on the left side you can see where the architecture changed signifying where the bank ends and the Coppo building begins. 
The Michigan Hotel which served the area’s elite and was owned by Bosch Brewing Company.

I don’t know what this building is – or was – but it is pretty much gone beyond repair. It has no roof or back wall. There are many more buildings in Calumet that are in the same, or worse condition. As my sister Pat would say, in German, “Wie Traurig”. 
I took a picture of this building on Tuesday afternoon because I thought it looked cool and liked the turret on the corner. Little did I know that on Thursday Hubby would be entering the store under the blue awning. That would be Auto Value of Calumet. Can I tell them why, Honey? (He had forgotten to put the gas cap on the Blazer when we got gas at the BP and he needed to buy a new one. Moral of this story, don’t take a picture of an auto parts store while on vacation as you may have to stop there before you are done.)


Most of the information above (except about the auto parts store) was taken from the booklet “Downtown Calumet: Guide to the Historic Mining Community”, produced by the National Parks Service. Also click on the many links included here for more information.   

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Going to Church

 On arriving there, they gathered the church together and reported all that God had done through them and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles. 
(Acts 14:27 New International Version)

Touring Calumet, Michigan, earlier this month, I was once again amazed by how many churches this community supported in its prime. Every religion was represented and each nationality had a church in each religion. The Calumet & Hecla Mining Company, the life-blood of the town, encouraged this spirituality, feeling that men who went to church were less likely to carouse and thus be more dependable employees.

 Too bad employers don’t have those same thoughts in this day and age. Or are the morals of church attendees today no better than non-believers? Can strangers tell if you are a Christian or not by your actions? A few things to think about this week. 
The Calumet Arts Center, in I don't know which old church. 

St. Anne's Catholic Church, now the Keweenaw Heritage Center
Inside the Heritage Center
Norwegian Lutheran Church, established in 1898, currently being renovated by the Sons of Norway Ulseth Lodge  
National Lutheran Church, which served the Finnish population  
Originally this was St Joseph's Church, but when the numbers started dwindling at the six  Catholic parishes in the town, several churches combined and this one became St Paul the Apostle Church. 
A large sign outside St Paul the Apostle announced that it was "open", so I got this far, but I had Dino with me. This kindly lady told me that if he was a well-behaved dog I could tie him to the stair railing and come in. I regrettably declined. 
St John the Baptist Croatian Church 
Not in Calumet, but a few miles up the road near Eagle River, this is the church of  the Society of St John, the monastery of the monks who run the Jampot. Yummy. (If you click here, see the picture of the five monks? The one on the far right with the longest beard is the one who always waits on us Jampot. He is a sweetheart.) 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Going from this to that

As Dino insists on reminding me, it is time that I tell you about the camping trip we took to Michigan’s U.P. the first week in August.

Oh, shoot, I suppose first I should tell you how we went from this
To this
The middle of July, in anticipation of our camping trip two weeks later, we started to set up the old Coleman popup. My sister and I had bought it used in 1997 and though it did fine for many trips, it has started showing its age the last few years. Each time we put it up, Hubby and I think that it will be the last time. It creaks and groans as he cranks it up and the canvas always has a new hole in it. This time however, it was more than a hole. Not only one or two mice got into it over the past year, but I believe it was an entire village.

In addition to the rodents, somehow water got inside, that or the critters had been proficient at peeing, as places inside were more than a little damp and had begun to mold.

These discoveries were made around eleven on a Saturday morning. I ran in the house and jumped on-line. King’s campers, about 40 miles down the road, had two used popups for sale and I also found one on Craig’s list which showed promise.

Hubby came in the house and I asked if he wanted to run to Wausau to look at the ones at King’s. Sure, he answered, do I have time to take a shower? They close at one, I told him, so make it a quick one.

That was our first mistake. Well, actually our only mistake. The remaining events were beyond our control.

When we got to King’s, the cheaper of the two popups was perfect for us. We started looking around for a salesperson, just as one appeared who was being dragged over by another couple who had already looked at the camper. We want it, they announced.

Drat it, Hubby, if only you hadn’t taken that shower.
               
The other one they had for sale was more expensive, smaller and not in very good shape, or that was our opinion. We quickly crossed it off the list.

We jumped in the car and headed home, as I grabbed my phone and messaged the guy on Craig’s list who had a popup for sale down by Curtis.

He got right back to me and said we could come over yet that afternoon. We were already on the way home, so instead of turning around and driving over there, we asked if we could come on Sunday. OK, I guess we did make another mistake.

A short time later, he messaged me back and said the camper was sold, but his neighbor was selling his as well and it was a comparable price and condition. I didn’t know. Sounded shady at that point, so I never got back to him.

Instead I found yet another one on Craig’s list, this one in Marshfield. It was the right size, decent price, looked pretty clean and was a 2003, so fairly new. I messaged him, saying we’d love to come look at it the next day.

That night we went for a pontoon boat ride with our son, and I was nervous I would miss this new guy getting back to me and it would be too late when we got home. He did message me around eight and I answered him around nine, thinking it was definitely too late by then. Low and behold he got back to me yet that night and we set up a time for Sunday.

We found his house with no trouble and the trailer was perfect. The couple was selling it as they had previously owned a fifth wheel, but downsized when they bought a new house which didn’t have room in the yard for the larger trailer. Well, the wife was not happy with the popup – too much work, too small, too inconvenient. Which I all totally get, having gone camping in my parents’ fifth wheel when I was in high school. For us though, right now, a popup camper is totally the best option.

After showing us everything on the camper, the man said, think about it, and he walked away to let us talk about it. We both wanted it, and even though the price wasn’t bad, we’d like to get it down a bit.
Ok, he was asking $2400, so I told Hubby that if he came down to $2200 we would take it.

The guy came back out and Hubby asked if 2400 was the bottom line and if he would come down a couple hundred. When he said he’d take $2200, tears sprung into my eyes. It was really going to happen! We were going to get a new, used camper.

We gave him $500 down and went back the following Friday with the Blazer and the rest of the money.
A week later, Hubby and I took it for a ride up some big hills to make sure the antique Chevrolet could pull it. The Blazer did fine.


We got home, set it up and even though it was pretty much spotless already, I vacuumed, swept and washed everything inside. Then we stocked it, closed it down and waited impatiently to take it camping a few days later. 


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Dino Goes Camping

                Even though we have been home from our camping trip for over a week, Mom has not gotten around to sharing the trip with you - her faithful fans. She just got home from work (late again), and she already said, “I’m too tired to write tonight”.  So here I am. Dino, the wonder dog, stepping in to help Mom out.
                Plus I just want to show you pictures of me! And all the fun I had camping. 
 In my back pack, ready to go. 
 Love camping, not so crazy about the ride though
 Ah, finally, my first swim in the Big Lake.
 I'm saying, come on Dad throw the stick again!
 And because Dad loves me so much, he threw the stick again. 
 And again. 
 I could swim all day. 
 Ok, I may look tired, but I am still ready to go swimming again. 
 I don't know why Mom and Dad are looking that way. The lake is over there!
 Walking down the Pooch Path. 
Time to go home. That makes me very sad. But I guess as long as I can still spend time with Mom and Dad, no matter where we are, I am happy. 

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Getting Off Track Another Day

I have a couple days off from work this week, so had planned on getting caught up on all the pictures I’ve been taking the last few months. Instead, Monday night, my daughter Val and I met up with the young man who is making a short clip for our nonprofit organization, Tumaini Volunteers, so that he could record some of Val’s thoughts for the film. We met at a place about halfway between where each of us lives. Though I had to be to work early the next morning, Val and I made several stops on the way home, causing me to take another 64 pictures! What is this strange addiction I have for taking so many pictures? 
 These are all of some place called the Little Falls Resort. I wasn’t able to find out much about it online. 



 These two photos were not staged. I just don’t do that. I included them here because they reminded me of that old famous home video of Sasquatch. 

 But of course, then we needed to find and photograph Big Falls.  

 We finally stopped at a bar and grill for supper. Believe it or not, I didn’t take any pictures. All of these delays were worth it though, because it meant I was still on the highway, when this scene appeared. Rare Northern Lights in July.