Home Sweet Michigan

It’s winter in Michigan, but the summer leaves a year-long impression. Enjoy this guest-blog post by Staci Newcomb, as she details her summer memories of Silver Lake and living in Michigan here on Pure Michigan Connect!

Every year at Christmas, as my plane descends on Detroit Metro Airport and the houses and tips of the trees begin to take shape, I can feel my chest tighten and my heart well up, as warm tears spring to the corners of my eyes. I’m home.

To be honest, I don’t think I fully realized how much I love Michigan until I left. With the job market as it was when I graduated from Michigan State, I was forced to take a job out of state. But it wasn’t until I had been gone for a few years that I realized how much I truly love it.

I grew up in Livonia, in the Metro Detroit area, where most of my friends and family are from. As a child, my parents would take my sister and I to our cottage in Silver Lake, near Lake Michigan. We spent every summer there as far back as I can remember. There are photos of my sister and I as babies, bundled up in the boat, playing on the Sand Dunes, (even eating the sand at times, a fact that I don’t like to admit.) We lived and breathed Silver Lake; it shaped who we are.

We spent our days beached at the Dunes, water skiing, playing volleyball, and making sandcastles. Once we were a bit older, a group of us even hiked over the Dunes from Silver Lake to Lake Michigan, far on the other side. I remember what an enormous adventure it felt like, making the long hike in the heat, especially when you had walked far enough away from Silver Lake that you couldn’t see our parents, or even the lake. We walked in the heat, trying to avoid the sharp dune grass, making up stories along the way of how we had run away. When we ascended that final hill, you could just barely see Lake Michigan, a beautiful mirage in the distance. The sand was coarser on that side of the Dunes; I still remember the swishing sound it made between our toes as we walked carefully around the lighthouses.

After a few minutes of playing in Lake Michigan, we would make the long journey back to our parents, the adventures of the day tucked deep in our minds. They would always ask how the walk was, but they would never know the impact it really had on us.

Spending summers at Silver Lake brought us kids closer together. We weren’t family, but we became as close as brothers and sisters. Now years have gone by, and we’re mostly grown. Some of us are married, some of us have children of our own, and some of us live out of state, but all of us have started our own traditions of returning to Silver Lake in one way or another. New York has taken me in as one of its own now, but Michigan will always be my home.

Staci Lynn Newcomb is a 26-year-old Michigan State Alumnus working as an art director for an advertising agency. She is currently living in a small upstate New York town, holding steadfast to saying “pop” instead of “soda.”

  • Steve Paine

    Wow!

    Thanks for the memory jog this afternoon.

    I too spent many a summer day at my Grandparents house on Silver Lake. The memories are clear and happy…be it taking the old runabout around the Lake, climbing / hiking the dunes to the “The Big Lake”, dune buggy rides with the “original” Bill or Mac Woods (friends of my Grandfather when I was a kid), the arcade or swimming in the alway warm Silver Lake.

    Many smiles…thanks again for the memory trip!

    Steve

  • http://pinkginghamgirl.blogspot.com Staci Newcomb

    Thanks Steve! It seems to be such a wonderful place to grow up. Wow, your Grandfather knew Mac Woods, that’s amazing! I remember the Dune Rides too, and the Whippy Dip… so many things to love about Michigan. :)

  • Beth Good-Burnham

    Oh I forgot about the big hike across the dunes to Lake Michigan. My family made that Hike once it was really with my step sister and her brother. Lord I thought we were never going to make it back. My step sister got a ride with some boys and we hiked it back. I loved taking friends there I always thought it was funny not to tell epople about the big lake drop off one minute it was knee deep the very next step well over you head no one ever sees it coming. Or every new person always wants to climb to the top of the dune and start running down twards the lake for about 2 steps and it is over there head. Boy I miss the place great times and memories.

  • Eileen

    Just had to tell you how wonderful this made me feel! I grew up downriver and moved to Philadelphia way back in ’86. Your first paragraph describes exactly how I feel EVERY time the plane descends – to this very day! I still go home at least twice a year. I tell everyone I need my “Detroit (or Michigan) fix!” Thanks for the brief “heart swell” just reading your post!

  • Paul Di Piazza

    this story is soooo my childhood in the late 60′s early 70′s and we lived in Livonia as well for a time. Walking for what seemed like miles along the Frankfort beach the sand so hot .. seeing the fisherman on the pier..looking for Petosky stones at Point Betsy.. motorboating down the Platte river.. going back to the cottage on Crystal lake while my mom played Kingston trio songs on the record player while the sun went down and the fireplace lit up, drinking water from the iron water well in downtown Frankfort waiting for the the ferry’s or ore freighters to come by and looking at them from binoculors to see their names.. smoked fish from the local fish shack with fresh fish from the lake and so on.. looking down the water on Crystal lake so blue and so clear you could see all the way to the bottom like 30 feet down, my heart still skips a beat or 3 lol everytime i see a picture of some Michigan landscape or lake or river i still remember. But Frankfort and Crystal lake will always be mine in my heart. You can take the boy out of Michigan but you can never take Michigan out of the boy. Im in Canada now and I go to Lake Huron at Sauble Beach to try to have a small taste of what I used to have.. its good but it will never be Michigan :) I will someday go back to Lake Michigan to spend my final days.. its where I truly belong.

  • Nancy Klepper

    Thank you Staci for such a wonderful shout out to Silver Lake. Being a resident it is great to realize how many others are in love with our area. Hope to see you in the summer!

  • http://pinkginghamgirl.blogspot.com Staci Newcomb

    Hi Nancy, thank you for your comment! Silver Lake will always have a place in my heart. My dad, Gary, still lives in the area; hopefully you will see him from time to time in the store. I am hoping to come back to visit this summer!

  • JD Newcomb

    Well, I never ate the sand. Not voluntarily, anyway. Jason probably did.

    The thing I loved about Silver Lake was what I recall as being the last hill on 18th Ave heading north toward the lake, when you finally see the view of the dunes you’ve been waiting forever in the family van to see. Then, passing Whippy Dip and forcing our parents to promise to come back before we left.

    Why approach the lake from the south on the far west side, when we live north and east? I have no idea. Dad loves taking weird roads to places. I got confused last year because I went through Mears from 31, when all my childhood memories are apparently from Shelby Rd. Go figure.

    Great article, Staci. And from living in Virginia the past seven years, I completely agree. Going back to Michigan is going home.

  • Mike Brown

    I still live in the Midwest, not Michigan but Chicago. I see plenty of the western shores of Michigan as well as the awesome Indiana Dunes along the southern shores. Racing sailboats is a passion of mine and every July racing to Mackinac Island is such a treat and much anticipated. It is a great thrill to experience the lake but I also enjoy my deliveries home when I get to actually stop in ports like Frankfort, Pentwater, Leland, or Holland, MI. I miss the state and think one day, when my girlfriend and I can get away from the big city we will settle in some remote, and of course, beautiful corner of the state. People say we are crazy for going through winters in the Midwest, but I say bunk! We survive them cause we are from here and enjoy the white stuff as much as the greening of spring and the mind-blowing summers. I am all about Pure Michigan! Love it…will never forget it…and will keep my roots firmly grounded in these parts. Heck, we even surf the lake which is another story….
    Thanks again Staci….Mike.

  • http://www.chocolateonion.blogspot.com Maria Almaguer

    I’m in Pittsburgh now but Michigan is where I belong; someday I will be back! Thanks for sharing!

  • Amy Keller

    Hi Staci,

    My parents brought property between Silver Lake and Lake Michigan in 1969. I have spent many summers up at Silver Lake. I couldn’t wait for Easter Break every year to open up the cabin. The memories of beach parties, swimming in Lake Michigan and Silver Lake, taking the canoe across Silver Lake and down the channel to Lake Michigan, ice cream at Whippy Dip, driving the dune buggies on the dunes, and having fun on the water slide next to Hide-away campground (I’m dating myself now). Spending time with my summer friends who lived in the neighborhood by our cabin. I live in Northwest Ohio but am planning on moving back to Michigan soon. Thanks for sharing your post and bring up a lot of wonderful memories and thinking of all the kids I haven’t seen or talked to in a long time. Even my kids love Silver Lake and go back every summer either with me or with their friends. My parents have retired now and spend the summer up there. I can’t wait to do the same thing.
    Amy