|by Richard Teichen
When I was growing up...we had a summer home at Crystal Lake near Frankfort, MI. We always took the carferry across from Milwaukee....usually to Ludington. (The Ann Arbor carferries were much older and less "passenger friendly"!) I can remember when the Badger and Spartan were new (!!!!!). We were always excited when we arrived at the dock to see which boat we would be sailing on! We occasionally sailed on the City of Saginaw, Pere Marquette #?....but we were always elated when either the Badger or Spartan were waiting at the dock! (Do you remember the ultra-violet lights on the flip-up toilet seats!!!????? There's trivia for you!!) We would get two adjoining staterooms and my Mother would always have ample supplies of Dramamine. When we would cross in foggy weather.....the boat horn would blow every 3 minutes or so. As a child...this would terrify me (!!??) and I would cover my ears non-stop for 6 or 7 hours!!!!!!! But I still LOVED to take the boat. (Fire drills while under- way were also a bit tense for me...as a young boy!!)
I also remember when they modernized some of the Ann Arbor boats...which were transformed into the Arthur K. Atkinson (former Wabash???) and the Viking. I was surprised to see the Atkinson tied up at Ludington....as I was sure it had been scrapped years ago. I remember that the locals in Frankfort said that the Ann Arbor crews didn't like the dieselized boats....because they cut down the trip time ....resulting in fewer work hours.
Every summer, tho...we would always take the boat. I think that the only carferry that I never sailed on...was the City of Midland...as they seemed always run the Midland up north to Kewaunee(???). I do remember the upper car decks....when it was in port.
Other random memories.......the carferry going in circles outside of Ludington....because all of the slips were occupied. (Had the captain gone mad?? No....just holding his position!) Turkey sandwiches in the diningroom, sleeping on the stateroom floor with our dog (!), sailing into Ludington and Frankfort during the early morning sunrise, the boat listing in port as they loaded the freight cars, the sound of the throbbing engine as I slept, that certain smell of the steam heat. My cousin was stuck in ice on the Pere Marguette outside of Ludington....one winter. (Several days I believe!!!) I was always amazed when we crossed in thick fog....and out of the mist appeared the Milwaukee or Ludington Lighthouse several hundred yards ahead. How was that possible?? It was magical. When docking, they used to only drop the anchor when it was windy and the boat was drifting side-to-side. (Now it is a standard procedure...I believe.)
We have taken our son on the Badger several times over the past few years...as I wanted to share that experience with him (He loved it.) Even when we drive up to Glen Arbor now...we always stop at Ludington, if the Badger is due in. (Two summers ago, I even took it on business....coming from Bay City and going to a meeting in Wisconsin.
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