August in Little Suamico, Wisconsin
This is an archived post from “The Aroma of Bread,” and was first published 21 Jul 2013.
This past weekend we were in Suamico, and with a bit of time to waste Gary thought it would be fun to try to find the cottage the family used to rent back in the early 60s, unfortunately we came close, but could not positively identify the cottage – well it HAS been 50 years!
While it was always difficult to get Butch on the road (there was always one last thing that needed to be done at the factory), once on the road he was ready to relax and enjoy a week at the cottage. For a week in August the family would rent a cottage located in Little Suamico, on the bay of Green Bay. The family had learned about the cottage from Butch’s sister Hank, as she and her family had been renting the cottage for a few years. A week at a cottage meant visitors, so the family made a point of visiting each year. It really was the best of all worlds for the kids, as they got to spend “their” week at the cottage, but enjoy other family members weeks via day trips.
The cottage was an unassuming building that contained a large fieldstone fireplace, and windows that had a legacy. The owner of the cottage had a brother who was a contractor in Chicago. One of the brother’s regular accounts was Marshall Fields. When Fields changed out the State Street store windows, he was able to “dispose” of them as he wished, so he brought them up to Little Suamico and installed them on the Bay side of his brother’s cottage, creating a wall of glass. What is not visible in this photo is a large wicker swing. The family would gather on the porch in the evening to talk, swing, and look at the Bay, listening to the calming sounds of the water. If they were lucky it would also be a full moon.
Each year on the way to the cottage the would stop for Florida citrus and corn at the Florida Fruit Market. This stop added to Marie’s already groaning list of foods that had been packed to not only feed the family for a week, but the many friends and relatives who would stop in for a day or an evening. The Florida Fruit Market was a fascinating place for young boys to explore, as not only was it full of citrus, but also all the souvenirs of a Florida vacation were there for purchase. Gary remembers shells, and beach jewelry and all sorts of cheap but interesting items.
Once at the cottage the family would settle in for a fun week on the Bay. Some years Cub would bring his 16′ fiberglass runabout boat up for the family to enjoy during the week. This boat was perfect for waterskiing and fishing. Fishing was a daily activity, and one evening the whole family was out on the water. Well, the whole family minus one. The family’s Boxer Fawn had been left behind, but on this particular evening she too wanted to go fishing. Taking matters into her own paws, she swam out to join the family in the boat. The boys were thrilled that she had done so, but I can imagine Marie, not so much.
Another water activity were the water boats. I love the contrast between these three pictures. In the one photo you have Dick giving a fully dressed Dan a ride. In the other, you have 38-year-old Marie wearing her first and only swim suit, topped off by a life preserver. I do love the pure look of happiness that I see on her face as she gets off the bike.
The best that I can date these photos is August 1960, as they were included in an album with other photos from that year. Each photo had been cropped to fit into the sleeve and unfortunately the date stamp was on the bottom of this developed batch. We can also assume that these were taken the families week at the cottage as the group photos include Fawn. If it had been a day trip to visit during other family members week, Fawn would not have been included.
Gary has this vivid memory from 1960. Hank and Syd and their family had secured the cottage for the week of July 9-16th, which happened to coincide with the Democratic National Convention being held in Los Angeles, California. The boys must have been there for an overnight as Gary remembers playing inside in the living room portion of the cottage. Unlike during their week in August, this was a cool July evening and the black and white TV glowed in the evening light as he watched the convention. As they played, Hank came in and asked them if they would like some ice cream. Kennedy would secure the nomination on Wednesday, July 13, 1960, the third day of the convention.
While Marie looks happy in the photos, you just wonder how “relaxing” these weeks in Little Saumico really were for her. She couldn’t get away from her usual task of cooking and cleaning for large groups of family and visitors. Hamburgers, hot dogs, brats, the occasional beef roast, and of course the fish that was caught each day by the boys. But each evening sitting on the swing listening to the sound of the water as the sun slowly set over the bay was certainly a welcome change of scenery.