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Saturday, June 27, 2009


At the bottom of the bay of Green Bay lies the city of the same name. It has grown a lot; when I lived there it was around 50,000 people. It became a world port when the
St. Lawrence Seaway opened.
The Fox River was terribly polluted, though now it is less so. The river was an important part of the town, with a big rivalry between the East Side (our side) and the West. West High and East High were enemies on the sports fields. I went to Catholic schools, so I did not participate in that particular rivalry.

We spent some summer weeks at various rental cottages along the Bay, where the water was clear and indeed the Bay was green. We would walk along the blacktop roads on soft and melting tar that I loved. It could be formed into wrinkly shapes while the sun beat on it, yet it did not become truly liquified. After the shaping it would slowly melt back down to become the road again. Tires would adhere to it slightly, and they would make sticky sound as we drove over it.

Driving to "the cottage" was an adventure, partly because along the way, we would see a scarecrow that was always dressed differently, and partly because we would go to the Frozen Custard Stand. Ice cream was not as it is now. There were many local producers of ice cream in various forms, and though these days, frozen custard might be mistaken for what we now call "soft-serve", it was rich and yellow and dense, unlike the pallid concoction we know now. It truly was egg custard frozen and dispensed into those ordinary waffle cones, which still exist. It was marvelous.

The cottage was a one-story white wooden square house on pilings, with a simple shallow peaked roof, that was at the end of the little loop of blacktop drive off the main road, that led to a small section of cottages. Like most of the cottages it had a screened porch on two sides and was near the bay. There was a sand driveway, and behind the cottage was a wooded area. There were several cottages on the other side of the driveway, clustered together. There friends' families would stay at the same time.
Down the way was "the witch's house", a germanic stone cottage inhabited by Otto Kaap's family*.
*They had a restaurant, in which they sold homemade baked goods and candies, as well as Steiff toys. My experience of those delights gave me an appreciation for European-style bread and good chocolate. Someone was able to purchase the recipes and continues to sell Kaap's candies in Green Bay today.


Young Geoffrion said...

Well, I shall return to the cottage in two weeks (after an absence of fifteen years, during which time it has been rented out) to celebrate its 100th anniversary. Our local ice cream was Hamblin's in Lakefield, Ontario. The cottage was on a tiny granite and quartz island covered in white pine and sumac; a one-room log cabin with a stone chimney and high timber ceiling, to which we slowly added separate bedrooms, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, plumbing, electricity, portable television and telephone over its long history. I remember watching Niel Armstrong step on the moon (the first time the television was taken there) and Nixon's impeachment, but not nearly as vividly as the lightning storms and August hailstorms that from time to time passed dramatically, or the enormous harvest moons at the end of the summer.

hba said...

I was one year to late into the world for Armstrong's giant leap and it's one of the few things I wish I could change about my life :(

I remember driving down a local motorway with my dad convincing me that a small hillock was the homebase of the Daleks which I then had to shoot with a ray gun from the back window (no seatbelts needed back then :) )