If you go out to Google Maps and look at the satellite map for Southport Park in Kenosha, it shows this beautiful sandy beach surrounded by rocks to hold back the waves of Lake Michigan. The Southport Beach House (Now on the Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places) is a beautiful rock faced building with stunning architectural design front and back.
|Southport Beach House|
When I lived there in the late 40’s and early 50’s the place was a stone building with no doors, no windows, and only used for changing into your bathing suits. It was wet and smelled of urine all the time, but what did we know, we were just kids. On the lake side there were two breakwaters that ran out from the beach. On the left, it ran out and then 45’d to the right. On the right it ran out and 45’d to the left leaving an opening for a boat to come in, although I never saw a boat there. The breakwater is the place I mentioned in “Fishing, Ghosts, and My Mother’s Gray Hair” as the place I learned to swim courtesy of my brother.
We spent a lot of time in the summer on the breakwater fishing and swimming. It consisted of humongous rocks stacked on top of each other making a pier of sorts. It was fifteen, maybe twenty feet wide and a couple hundred feet out into the lake. If you know kids, then you know that if there was something to find, kids would find it. What was found was a tunnel from one side of the breakwater to the other side, underwater. The goal, swim through the tunnel. Did I swim through? No, but you can be assured that I tried, but keep in mind that I was only nine when we moved to Florida. Had I been older? Who knows what would have happened.
On one particular day I was instructed to stay home and not go to the park, although I don’t recall the reason. I’m sure it had to do with something bad I had already done, but did that stop me from going to the park. Well you know the answer to that question. Did I pay for my transgression? Of course I did. While I was at the park, I jumped off the seawall onto the beach and managed to land on the only rock in the entire City of Kenosha. I also managed to chip the bone in my heel, something I wasn’t able to hide for very long. Punishment was soon to follow. I might add, and you will think this can’t be right after all you’ve read about me, it was the only bone I’ve ever broken. It wasn’t that I was naughty, or bad, or evil, or mean, I just didn’t listen.
If you’ve ever visited or lived in the Mid-West near one of the Great Lakes, you know that the water never gets really warm. Swimming in Lake Michigan in the summer meant water in the 60 degree range and if it ever got to 70, look out, the beaches were packed. So every once in a while my mother (she was a stay-at-home mom) would take us out to one of the inland lakes to go swimming. Water was probably in the low 80’s and felt like bath water. Being born with a mask on my face and snorkel in my mouth, I was in heaven when we went to these lakes. From the minute we got there until the minute we left, I was face down in the lake. Of course my mother always wanted to leave hours before I was ready to go, so she would stand on the beach or pier (if there was one) and call and call and call for me to come in and get ready to head home. See, I had hearing problems even at that young age. The cool thing about snorkeling in one of those inland lakes is that you can see all the Bluegill just waiting to be caught, but this was a swimming trip and fishing would come later.
Thanks for stopping by.
Good stuff, Mark! Enjoyed your book and looking forward to more of your tales. We were kid a long time ago, weren't we?ReplyDelete
We are older and all you have are the memories.Delete
those boulders are something else, like neatly stacked pile of rocks, just happen to be the size of pickup trucks, some of the cracks you could fall in are a serious hazardReplyDelete
An we didn't think anything of running across them. You've obviously been there.Delete
Childhood memories are something to hold on to and this place was a gem for you. Thanks for sharing some of those memories with us old folks.
Wait, there's more.Delete