Day 551: Spreading Joy

The Mind’s Eye group headed next to Lansing, Michigan’s capital city. In 1897, Ransom Eli Olds founded the Olds Motor Works in Lansing. Their product, the Oldsmobile, was popular throughout much of the twentieth century. They introduced the first fully automatic transmission in the Oldsmobile in 1940. Laetitia’s group started at the R. E. Olds Transportation Museum, which features a collection of Oldsmobiles dating from 1897 to 2004, the first and last years when the car was made. Afterward, they visited the Turner-Dodge Mansion, built in 1855 in the Classical Revival style, with a museum collection dedicated to Lansing’s pioneers.

A majority of Laetitia’s group members consisted of couples that liked dancing, so the group had an early dinner, attended a performance of the Greater Lansing Ballet Company, and went to a cabaret that featured ballroom dancing afterward. From her perch at the bar, Laetitia watched a handsome young man make the rounds of the older women in the crowd. She thought there might be a limerick there, and after she had a brief conversation with the bartender, found there was.

Young Josh had a plan for enhancing
His financial status by dancing
And spreading great joy
As favorite boy toy
Of the dowager ladies of Lansing.

Day 550: Ishpeming Fleming

Laetitia and her group left the Keweenaw Peninsula and drove east to Craig Lake State Park for a hike. Afterward they went kayaking in Sawyer Lake.

At happy hour that afternoon at a local Ishpeming, Michigan drinking establishment, Laetitia sat at the bar and watched a young man move through the crowd, talking to all the women who would listen about his favorite subject, himself. His line was that he was a former CIA operative who had to retire because of a wound received in the line of duty. He was going to be an author writing James-Bond-style thrillers that were thinly veiled accounts of his adventures with the “Company.”

As Laetitia watched and listened, the bartender whispered from behind her, “Dan tries this line on all the ladies that come in here. Some of them buy it for a while, but eventually most of them wise up. He was away from here for several years, but he wasn’t in the CIA. He was waiting tables over in Escanaba. He consistently flunked English when he was in high school, so it’s doubtful he will turn those adventures that he never had into a novel.” Laetitia smiled and thanked the bartender for his warning.

Since the plan of young Dan from Ishpeming
To pen thrillers like Ian Fleming
Of adventures at night
Means that he’ll have to write
‘Tis likely his prospects are dimming.

Day 549: Misery River

Out of Gladstone, the Mind’s Eye group headed northwest to the Porcupine Mountains State Park, where they spent the morning hiking and bird watching among the hills and along the Lake Superior shore. They had lunch at a restaurant that featured Cornish pasties. While it may seem odd to have pasties on a menu so far from Cornwall, such food offerings are commonplace in mining areas in the United States. When mining in Cornwall diminished in the nineteenth century, many of the Cornish miners left England and came to work in North America. They brought both their mining skills and their food with them.

The evening’s destination was Houghton, Michigan, a college town on the Keweenaw Peninsula. On the way they crossed the Misery River and passed a cluster of houses that also goes by that name. They passed through Houghton and paid a visit to Laurium, because several in the group wanted to see the hometown of George Gipp, the legendary athlete who played football for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame and inspired the phrase “That’s one for the Gipper.”

At happy hour in Houghton, the bartender’s story was about a Misery River native named Bob who retired to his hometown after a life abroad. During his career he had developed a taste for foods little known in the Upper Peninsula. To his chagrin, he couldn’t have his favorite products shipped to him because the delivery services the gourmet food merchants used couldn’t find the Misery River community on their maps. Laetitia turned the story into a limerick.

Bob found that no one would deliver
Pate de foie gras from goose liver
To his town, so it seems
That such haute cuisines
Are rare down in Misery River.

Day 548: Labor of Love

The Mind’s Eye group drove north to Luddington, Michigan, and crossed Lake Michigan on the ferry to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Their destination was Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. They arrived that evening in Gladstone, where they were spending the evening.

The bartender at the licensed premises Laetitia chose for her late afternoon libation was originally from Milwaukee. He viewed “Yoopers,” as the denizens of the Upper Peninsula are affectionately called, as a subject for humor. One of his stories was about a local girl named Joan, who, from an early age, dreamed of being a sports announcer. When her efforts to enter this male-dominated profession failed, she found a hobby that allowed her to realize her ambition to some extent, even though she had to find other work to pay her bills. She was shapely and cute and had numerous lovers. She also had numerous friends in stale relationships who liked to live vicariously through her adventures. Her lovers thought her behavior curious, but didn’t mind as long as she was discrete about using their names. To Laetitia, the story seemed a bit far-fetched, but she used it because it made a good limerick.

When she made love, Joan from Gladstone
Talked incessantly on her cell phone
Telling her friends and neighbors
Of her amorous labors
Complete with each gasp and each groan.