My husband, Don Falk, and I came to Jackson in the 1950’s from Minneapolis. We arrived the day before Don was to begin work as a controller for L.H. Field’s Department Store. We checked into the Hayes Hotel. The day was hot and the hotel had no air conditioning. I was miserable. Don was anxious to make Jackson a pleasant experience for me, so he took me to Jackson’s finest restaurant. I remember dressing for dinner in heels, a hat and with two pair of white gloves–one to wear and one to spare. We entered the Regent Café through the back door off an alley and were led down a narrow hall that overlooked the busy kitchen before we were seated in the dining room. I decided then that Jackson was not a ‘white glove’ town, but it had some of the best food I had ever tasted. Don was transferred to Kansas City in 1989, and later returned to Jackson as president of L.H. Field’s.
During the years we lived in Jackson our family often summered at Clark Lake. We rented the Grazianni cottage at Kentucky Point from Rags and Rae Albrectson. My daughter, Pam, reminded me that her father broke two of his ribs at that old green cottage. The squirrels, raccoons and opossum that sought shelter from rain between the clapboard walls made so much racket it was impossible for any of us to sleep.
One morning after a particularly wet and clamorous night Don made a plan. He had Pam and her sister Amy pound their bedroom walls to drive the animals down and out the hole in the foundation where Don was waiting with a baseball bat. Pam told me she remembered hearing her father’s ribs break when the swing of the bat hit the dirt, but missed the opossum. The marsupial shot from under the house and zoomed up a cedar tree. Despite the pain from his broken ribs, Don managed to get off a shot with the girls BB gun. Our softhearted daughters insisted the beast be scared away, but not killed. Don loaded his 22 after the BB gun failed to get the opossum’s attention, and shot the animal in the tree. The creature fell and began to run. Don finished him off with a second shot before going to the hospital to have his ribs taped. The girls told me their father caught the remaining squatters in a live trap at Kentucky Point. He told his daughters he relocated the squirrels, the cat and the raccoons miles away in a farmer’s field. But Pam and Amy knew he drowned all but the cat in the lake and put the wet carcasses out for the next garbage pickup.
Plumbing was minimal at Kentucky Point. The stool overflowed, the shower backed up, and the tub didn’t drain. Pam worked at the Country Club of Jackson. Before work she would bathe in the lake using Ivory soap because it floated. All us women were encouraged to use one of the two outhouses on the property. The men used the building marked “Pointers,” and the women used the one marked, “Jetters.”
Pam told me she climbed the stairs to the attic to peek at the ghosts lurking in the “slave quarters.” The legend is that the Grazianni family brought help with them from Covington, Kentucky. They slept in the attic. Pam said she remembers seeing ceiling beams separating sections of the attic and several mattresses on the floor but never could muster the courage to step onto the third floor to search for the spirits. I never went into the attic. We were renting and had no business up there.
The summer we rented another cottage in the Graziani compound, K2, I remember hosting a pig roast for 100 guests. The barbeque was catered but I served a broccoli casserole I baked in 9” X 12” Pyrex pans. Thirty years later here we are packing up those original twelve Pyrex pans.
While we were renting Raddy North’s cottage Pam and Amy found a half-sunken wooden boat. They dragged it home, and re-sunk it. They used it as a holding tank for the mud and painted turtles they caught in a nearby swamp. Before releasing them at the end of the summer they had 30 turtles living inside that boat, but no snappers. Snappers were dangerous.
Pam remembers our family entering Raft-O-Rama when the theme was movies. We all dressed in ordinary clothes and did nothing to the raft except hang the sign, “Ordinary People,” over the side. Pam is still amazed that nobody got it. We came in last place.
I remember Sunday morning breakfasts on our pontoon with the Adam’s and Korton families. Don would fire up his charcoal grill and make pancakes and sausages while the rest of us drank Bloody Mary’s and putted around the lake. We had nothing but fun on Clark Lake.
When Don retired we had Mike McKay build our new home on land formerly occupied by the Pleasant View Hotel. Don died in December of 2015. I moved to Atlanta to live with Pam. Our lovely home is on the market for some lucky family to begin their Clark Lake adventure.