Let me start by saying something that I have always felt about our lake. From the time I was growing up, I have always thought nothing really bad or tragic could happen while at Clark Lake. I realize the word “happy” covers a lot of ground. But that’s the word that comes to me to describe our piece of paradise.
That feeling has stayed with me and was there when I started college in Ann Arbor. I had a litmus test for anyone I dated. After visiting me at Clark Lake, did he love it as I did? That was one way I would know if I had found a “keeper.” And I did find the person I wanted to keep. He’s Richard Boonstra, and we have been together now 64 years.
One of the qualities that drives my feelings of affection for our lake is friendliness of the people. If someone passes by my yard, it’s “hello Patti, how are you?” Or neighbors just stopping in to spend a few amiable moments.
My husband and I spend summers here, as we have for many years. My own connection with the lake started sometime in the mid 1940s. I was lucky enough to stay with my uncle at the lake during the summer. I had two readymade companions in my two cousins—William and Gordon Matthes. They had friends like Dick Ligibel, and all of us spent time together. Some of that time was in my cousins’ speedboat. The mahogany inboard, a Hackercraft, was notorious on the lake. I recall being out in the middle of the lake with the engine idling and the hatch up. My cousins would be doing who knows what to the engine. Their goal was to get it to go faster. They usually succeeded!
William and Gordon added wind power to the boating experience. They had one of the twelve Mower sailboats on the lake. These boats were 18 feet, 9 inches long and were built of mahogany planking fastened on oak ribs with copper rivets. It was impressive, especially to me who enjoyed riding in it. I didn’t know how to sail. I just recall being told to “duck” when the boom was about to swing to the other side.
As I approached dating age, the Pleasant View and Eagle Point pavilions figured into the lives of my girlfriends and me. We would go to the dances at Pleasant View. Then some nights we would roller skate at Rollo Every’s rink above the boat storage on Eagle Point. There was always some drama involved. Would some new mysterious boy show up, perhaps someone from Jackson?
My memory tells me that we didn’t worry about a thing. I don’t recall any of us involved in alcohol during our high school years. But there was something we carefully hid and retrieved surreptitiously. The hiding place was a hollow in an old willow tree a couple cottages away from uncle’s. To my knowledge, he or my girlfriends’ parents never discovered our stealing puffs on Chesterfields. These were carefree summers.
At one point, our family moved across the lake to place on the south side, east end. My father had purchased three cottages and a farm house on 90 acres. Dad had ambitious plans for it. He wanted to subdivide the back acreage. He intended to give it lake access by digging a canal from the lake to those new lots. His first stumbling block came from my mother and me. We both opposed it–and talked him out of it. So gradually, he sold off the property. To read more about the addition, please click here.
My father decided to move us two lots to the west. He was in construction, and cleverly converted a fishing shanty into a cottage. And that’s where Rich and I are to this day.
These old places at Clark Lake have their secrets. I’d like to tell you about one that few know about. Behind our cottage hidden in the woods are the remnants of a drying room. It was used to preserve vegetables and fruits. Today it looks like a Roman ruin, and you definitely wouldn’t find it unless you knew where to look. I like having it there. I wonder what stories it could tell.
Now in my 87th year, I still love to paint. I always have a project in progress here at the cottage. Clark Lake serves as an active inspiration. I marvel when I look into the clear water along the dock and study the yellow-green lake bottom. Even the stones say something to me. There is something magic about all of this, and that fits perfectly with my wonderful lifelong attachment to Clark Lake.
Below, a painting by Patti Boonstra.