Sunday, December 17, 2017
My best friend in my adult life was more than 20 years older than me. She used to tell me stories about how this are was when she was little. I was really interested in hearing about riding on dirt roads that lead from Elkhart Indiana to South Bend. I have always loved knowing about the history of this area including the Indians that camped along the St. Joseph River and the ambitious men that built this area east of Chicago into a manufacturing hub.
I was raised in Michigan City located on Lake Michigan just east of Gary. My father worked at US Steel South Chicago Works and commuted to work each day on the South Shore Railroad. My aunt and uncle owned a home on US 421 just off the Michigan City Toll Road exit. The front of their home was a restaurant with a HUGE dining room and lunch counter. The kitchen was their personal kitchen. You could do things like that back then. I remember when the toll road was BUILT. My brother worked at the construction site. That brought the restaurant a lot more business. One of her customers was Dr. Scholl.
Dr. Scholl was born on a dairy farm in Laporte County Indiana. He invented arch supports for shoes and advertised himself right into a major company. The company headquarters was built in Chicago. He bought a mansion on Lake Michigan in the little "town" of Long Beach. He visited my aunt's restaurant often. She mentioned to him that the daily work of the restaurant was becoming too much and she was thinking of closing it and moving into town and opening a catering service. Dr. Scholl offered her a job of house keeping for his mansion on the lake. She jumped at the chance because she would be well paid to visit the mansion once a week to do light house cleaning. Since he didn't live there and visited sporadically it really involved dusting and vacuuming. The other part of her job was to cater any dinner parties he might have while he was at the lake.
I remember visiting the mansion with her. I played at the beach while she did her tasks. I remember being in awe of the bathroom faucets that were gold. There was what I called the African room that was totally decorated with African masks, animal heads and other art. There was a HUGE bathroom/dressing area as you came into the home from the beach with several sink areas and changing rooms. There was an exercise room down there too. The kitchen was the most amazing one I had ever seen, the kind you might imagine seeing in magazines now. Very State of the Art. That is all I remember about the house, but I'm sure I saw most of it.
Al Capone had a mansion in Long Beach too, but his was not on the lake side of the road that runs along the lake shore. His was surrounded by a tall iron fence. I never saw the inside of HIS retreat, lol.
My other aunt worked at Arno Tape, which made adhesives for Dr. Scholl products.
I go back home pretty often since it's only about a 25 minute drive. Of course the town has changed so much it's almost sad to go there. There is a Casino, an Outlet Mall and a nice antique shop. If you don't live in Michigan City you have to pay to go to the park at the lake. So I am just lost in my thoughts about going to the amusement park that was there, visiting the zoo, spending every single minute I could at the beach and of course parking at the Lover's Lane called Fedder's Alley.
I love local history and lore. Is there something really interesting about the town where you were raised?
Grateful: to still have my memory.