During our 45 plus years of wedded bliss, we’ve moved a lot. About 15 times. If you factor that we’ve been in our lake home for 21 years, that’s not letting much grass grow under our feet anywhere else. Many were rentals. We’ve only bought 4 homes. And I’ve liked them all. This house was only 2 years old when we bought it. All the rest were significantly older. I always felt I was born to have a boatload of antiques (I do) and live happily in a 3-story, 1890’s Victorian. (Never have) Now my nearly 65 year old knees sees the writing on the wall about that little bucket list item.
|Not to be. Too old to covet a 3 story house, sigh…|
We’ve gone through a lot of neighbors. Some so forgettable I can’t conjure up names or faces. Others, dear friends whom I still keep in touch. Though we’ve lived here the longest, I have not had one truly close neighbor. It’s kind of a snooty little town. Since we’re rookies with only 21 years under our belts, I’ll use that as the excuse. My point. I’ve lived in places like Leeds outside of Sioux City for a year, and consider Carolyn, who lived in the other half of the duplex a close neighbor friend. After living next door to Pam for 20 plus years, she continues to be a nice acquaintance.
|The playground with a soccer net in front…|
When we moved here, our house had been the 4th one built. A narrow private drive butting up against a park. Consisting of a baseball diamond, couple soccor fields, small playground, and a boat launch. We now have 7 houses, with 2 empty lots owned by 2 of the homeowners. Muskegon Lake is on our south side. The first house built is due east of us. It’s stucco and looks like a Spanish hacienda. It’s cute, though more of a cottage feel with only 2 bedrooms and maybe 1,000 plus square feet. This was the style they had planned for our small cul-de-sac. Since there’s only one, I guess that idea didn’t fly.
|Side view of hacienda. The shadow is from our house…|
Until about 5 years ago, only one house of the 7 had changed hands. But repeatedly. About 30 years ago, the house was a summer cottage. The owners were having a party and one guest became infatuated (obsessed) with the little Spanish hacienda. Soon after the party, the same guest, lacking just the right amount of sanity, returned. We’ll call him RCG, (rich, crazy guy). Offered an outrageous sum of money for the hacienda. He wanted it all. Everything but the clothes on their backs. RCG bought it, lock, stock, barrel and boat dock. Included in this deal was a fishing boat.
|Adam at our beach before dock and sea wall, 1996…|
You can’t (or probably shouldn’t) stop a bass boat quickly. The front end of that style boat is quite low. So if you’re going really fast, then try to stop, a wave of tsunami proportions will gush over the whole boat. First time out, RCG went 50, then pulled back on the throttle. Sunk the boat. He was incredibly rich, but dumb as a rock. I own some rocks that are considerably smarter.
|My rocks. Definitely brighter that RCG…|
After living there a couple of years, RCG wanted to buy the empty lot east of him. He loved the hacienda but it was cramping his style. He was used to living large. The lot he wanted had been sold to a couple with building plans. No matter what RCG offered, they would not sell and started having their new home built. So RCG bought the corner lot east of the (normal) folks, Dale and Carol. RCG put up a 10,000 square foot house resembling a VFW Hall. But without all the frills. On a lot suitable for a 2500 square foot home. Everything in RCG’s new pad would be black, white or red. And he ended up redoing most of the red stuff. After walking on the new red living room carpet, the bottoms of his white socks were pink. RCG had the carpet tore out a week later and black and white tweed installed.
|The 10,000 sq. ft VFW Hall house. Not pretty…|
Wasn’t necessary for RCG to sell the hacienda. He didn’t need the money so he rented it to a friend. That’s who was living in due east when we bought our home. A nice guy with a dog named Sasha. Who ran away from him every day. Every. Single. Day. Sasha would run up to Josh or Adam and start playing, but as soon as Gene got within 10 feet, she’d take off. Gene didn’t stay long before buying a home in the country. That way, Sasha could run a lot farther away from him. Crazy dog. Next RCG rented to a couple who were here short term too. Don was the general manager of harness race track about 10 miles south of us. They were only here for the racing season.
|Adam on North Muskegon’s baseball team, 1996…|
This was kind of a tough time for Adam. Moving here at 15, not knowing a lot of kids yet. Our first time living on the water. He became quite a fisherman. On our spanking new, blindingly white dock. Dale and Carol now lived in between the RCG’s hacienda and his VFW Hall frill-free home. Adam and Dale became good friends and fishing buddies. Dale and Carol had a black lab named Junior. Junior would beg Adam and Josh everyday to throw sticks in the lake for him to retrieve. Hour after hour, from the time the ice melted until the lake froze over again. If you didn’t start throwing sticks, Junior would knock you to the ground. But Junior never picked on our pooch Chico, who was getting up in years.
|East side of Dale and Carol’s home…|
Dale became a fishing mentor to Adam. Muskegon Lake offers walleye, perch, steelhead, salmon, trout, catfish, sturgeon, large mouth bass and pan fish. Plus some less desirable species. Wouldn’t ‘ya know, that’s the one Dale and Adam enjoyed trying to land. They’re actually called bowfin fish, but around here they’re called dogfish. A vicious breed that eats anything that swims near their mouth. Adam left his mesh metal fish basket loaded with small bait fish hanging in the water, from the dock one night. Next morning, gaping holes and a couple toothpick long metal threads were all that remained of the basket. Demolished by hungry dogfish.
|Water was so deep when we moved here, 1994…|
So Dale and Adam started a weekly contest. Called it, “Doggin’ for Dollars.” Neighborhood guys, minus RCG cause fishing was beneath him. Plus he couldn’t touch anything as disgusting as bait. Each of the guys threw in 10 bucks. Which was a lot of money for Adam. John, Adam, Joshua, Pat, Dale and Don. Once in a while a friend of someone would also come down for the contest. From 6 until 9 pm. Whoever landed the biggest dogfish got all the money. Sixty or 70 bucks every week. Plus it help rid the lake of these nasty predators. The next morning there might be 10 or 12 dogfish lying on Dale’s yard. Still breathing cause they have lungs. Dale buried them deep in Carol’s flower beds. One of the reasons her flowers are gorgeous 20 years later. The guys came close to the dogfish state record several times. I think some of them were close to 10 pounds. The first biggie Adam caught ended up biting right through Adam’s thumb nail as he was holding it up with pride for all to see. Dogfish have teeth that resemble canines. Pain was worth it cause Adam won that night. Goodness, that got kind of long winded. Forgot this was all about the house due east. Not the going’s on outside. Still, makes me smile remembering all those summer Thursday night fishing contests.
|Dogfish. My memory is much more eel like…|
So RCG decided to sell hacienda. Bought by a retired lady who moved here from Chicago. Named Carol. Sigh. What are the chances? Two Carol’s next door to each other. Chicago Carol lost her husband, but all of her grown kids still lived there. Odd. She had a step mother-in-law here. Chicago Carol brought a Vizsla with her. Small, beautiful hunting dog who was crazier than a loon. Bit everything and everybody, including Carol. She ended up having a wooden fence built around her deck. Virtually blocking her whole view of the lake unless she was standing up. So the dog would stop snacking on anything with 2 legs. Chicago Carol wasn’t here long. Decided she needed to be out in the country so the dog could snack on bears and badgers.
|New dock 20 yrs ago. Our house on left, hacienda with fence for crazy dog on right…|
Next owner of the house due east was a single retired lady. Yeah, there were 3 or 4 retired ladies in a row. This lady (can’t remember her name) was a retired commander from the Navy who moved here from San Diego. She had a nephew who was a colonel at the Pentagon. He came to visit quite often. One of his chores was planting flowers in her yard. The colonel and John were good friends. She soon needed more care and attention, thus moved. The house due east was sold again. Another single, older gal. Surprise. She had a lot of family around town, but did not stay long because of failing health. Two years, tops. About the going rate for the place.
Next in due east was an older widow named Mary. She had been living in Washington state but her daughter (pain in the ass) lived here in a ritzy condo across the lake. According to PITA (see above) John mowed our grass too short, and we had too much shrubbery. Which her mom’s cat like to ruin with cat pee. Our dock was stacked in the back yard at this time because Lake Michigan’s water level was down about 4 feet. Our lake flows into Lake Michigan, so our lake was down at least that much. If we put our 100 foot of dock out, we weren’t even close to water. Those low water levels lasted more than a decade. Ugh. It’s back up now by 2 to 3 feet. Anyway, a couple of the top stacked dock sections had shifted and were hanging over about a foot on PITA’s mom’s property. Not touching her property, but John had to move them. A year or 2 later, PITA’s husband went bankrupt. They lost the fancy condo, and sold Mary’s house at a huge loss just to get out of town. They all moved back to Washington state.
|Our stacked dock precariously close to house due east property line…|
So up until about 5 years ago, only one home in our little nook had changed hands. But that didn’t last. An older couple built a small ranch on the corner as you turn into our private drive. The woman’s daughter, Pam lives in between them and us. Pam also owns the lot just west of us. No one will be building there because it would block her lake view. Pam’s mom, Jayne passed away suddenly. Not long after, Russ, Pam’s step dad passed away too. So that house is now on it’s third owner. RCG went bankrupt. No longer RCG, now just CG (Crazy Guy) lost his frill-less VFW Hall home, so another family bought it. Now the new VFW Hall family is going through bankruptcy. The VFW Hall house might be cursed. CG (formally known as RCG) has been married 9 times. I kid you not. We went to 3 or 4 of his weddings. Don’t know why he kept getting married. He NEVER looked any of his brides in the eye when repeating his vows. Plain to see, he doesn’t like or respect women. But he knew the wedding vows by heart.
|View due east over the water…|
Which brings us to Sandy. Who bought the place for that rock bottom price about 6 years ago. Appeared normal at first. Sigh. A divorced teacher about 10 years younger than me. Living with a decent guy. She has 2 sons, oldest one is handicapped, other was in high school then. Sandy completely remodeled the inside of house. Great job. Vessels instead of sinks. Planted flower gardens that completely surrounded her house. And she kept them up. Gorgeous. Added a pea gravel, meandering path from the deck to the sea wall. Breaking up her already minuscule back yard, which is only 50 feet wide. Then she lost her job. She had not yet sold her previous condo residence. Which they moved out of, to due east when they couldn’t get along with any of the neighbors. Ding, ding, ding. Warning bells, red flags, and radar going off here folks.
Three years ago, we came back from visiting our kids and noticed a strange couple in Sandy’s hot tub. Found out Sandy had moved back to their condo and was renting out the hacienda as a beach home for $1,500 a week. Every Saturday she and Lenny came back, drained and refilled the hot tub, cleaned the house and waited for the new weekly renters. They had no dock, so they used Dale’s. Showing renters around the waterfront, which was dry as a popcorn fart back then. On cleaning day, Sandy would go down to the beach with a big rake, sweeping the seaweed away from her shore line, leaving it smack dab on Dale’s shoreline property.
|A gar pike Adam speared off our dock, 1996…|
I asked Dale if Sandy or her renters used his dock and had an accident, who would be liable? Dale’s dock is a permanent one. It’s very high off the ground, especially when the water was low. Dale asked Sandy to please stop using his dock. She did not. So he literally had to block it off from her. After the first summer renting the hacienda, Dale suggested strongly to Sandy that she not leave that big pile of seaweed in front of his house anymore. Fine. She then left it in front of mine. Every week for most of one summer. When the pile got about 5 feet high and across, I had enough of Sandy and her seaweed. She now had a couple sections of dock, so the renters could keep a small boat or water toys. I put on old clothes, shoes and gloves. Carol volunteered and came over to help. It took us a couple hours but we hauled every last piece of stinky seaweed to her shore and completely covered her first section of dock. With her own seaweed. She never raked it over here again.
|Our lake view due south…|
Sandy’s at it again. She finally sold the condo, and moved back to due east last fall. Joy. Last week she took a can of paint and casually sprayed her lot line on both sides early one morning. Had a landscaping crew in for a couple days. Thought maybe she was installing a fence to block our lake view. Or installing an invisible fence for the yippy-yappy dog she just got. Who runs everywhere. Nope, they trenched along every couple of feet and rolled up 95% of her sod from the yard. Put down black weed control landscape fabric. Honest, she kept about a 6 foot circular spot of grass in her front yard. I think I could count the grass blades without too much trouble. Why she would keep that itty-bitty strip to mow I cannot venture to guess. That’s where it’s at for now. I’m sure this week several tons of pea gravel will be arriving. Then perhaps planting an English garden. A perfect match for the hacienda due east…
|The way I imagine the yard due east will look soon…|