Thursday, May 26, 2011

Life on Lake Michigan

My mother was born and grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. Over the years of her childhood her family lived in many different homes, all of which were within walking distance of the Lake. It, therefore, stood to reason that there would be many photos of her and/or her family taken during activities at the beach/Lake. Not so!

A few days ago I told my mother that I wanted to write a blog post for the
"4th Annual Swimsuit Edition" of Jasia's COG . We had, over the last year, sorted out the thousands of photos that I have and divided them by surnames. This was the first step in what I envision as a massive scanning and computerizing project. I asked my mother if she wanted to go through the photos of her Kijak family and pull out some for me of swimsuits or activities at Lake Michigan. She didn't seem to think there would be any photos of such events because she reminded me again that she and my grandmother had a deep fear of the water (ever since my mother's younger brother almost drowned) and they never went near the Lake. I persisted, though, and told her I knew there was an old photo of her in a bathing suit at maybe 2 or 3 years of age. The search began.

After several hours of her searching, I went back to see what had been uncovered. Immediately I saw the photo that I had remembered and told my mother - "there it is" to which she laughed and told me "that isn't ME, that's my older brother at 2 years old". The joke was on me but the picture is great and definitely dates back.

Here is a photo of my uncle, Elden Jay Kijak, at approximately 2 years old in 1920 in St. Joseph. Perhaps the family had been to the Lake, I don't know, but at the time they did live in downtown St. Joseph within walking distance of the beach. My grandparents had been married in 1914 and had son, Harris, in 1915 and son, Elden, in 1918. There was a large extended family and I can imagine they did have some picnics and such at the beach.

Elden Jay Kijak
ca 1920, St. Joseph, MI

In any event, the photo is darling and worthy of this post. By 1927, there were 4 children in the family including my mother, Eloris, who was born in 1925 and younger brother, Leslie, born in 1926. This photo is perhaps the only one I have of my mother and her 3 siblings together in a photograph.

Harris and Elden Kijak
Leslie Kijak (in highchair) and Eloris Kijak (sitting on step)
ca 1927, St. Joseph, MI

Today my mother and I live in St. Joseph and I must confess that we don't go into the Lake or take advantage even of the pool in our condo complex. Fears of water can be passed on and my mother certainly did that to me as well. But it is lovely living near the Lake, walking along the shore and sitting and watching the view. I may even go so far as to get my feet wet (perhaps even to my ankles) but that is it!

Above photos from personal collection of Cheryl Schulte