It was the spring of 1994. After living in Jackson for 7-1/2 years, we’d sold our rambling ranch and were moving 160 miles northwest to Michigan’s west shore. The new location included several small towns and lakes (plus the biggie, Lake Michigan) to choose from but our deciding factor leaned towards the best high school for Adam, who would be a sophomore. For what we wanted, North Muskegon offered a smaller school district and 2 lakes which might allow us our first crack at lake living.
The moving company was spending several days in Jackson, wrapping and boxing our belongings. We bought a 3 year old house on Muskegon Lake in North Muskegon, a few blocks from school. Hubs had already started working in Montague and Josh was on his summer break from MSU, so they were staying in our new empty house. Adam was finishing his freshman year, so we were staying in Jackson with Mildred, one of our dear neighbors.
Adam and I went to North Muskegon to get a feel for our new pad and bring John back to Jackson to supervise the crew as they loaded the moving truck with 14,000 pounds of our bare necessities. Yikes, where did we get so much stuff? (Those oak antiques are mighty heavy).
The truck in Jackson was loaded and leaving at 7 am, destination North Muskegon around noonish to start unloading. The McCain Road house was empty and spit-shined but for the white 1964 Stingray Corvette Coupe sitting in one stall of the garage. John would drive the Vette, I would follow in the car and arrive a good hour before the movers. Ah, the best laid plans. After spending the night in a hotel, I drop Hubs off to pick up the Vette. We walk through the house one last time (new owner’s will take possession the next day), John raises the garage door, reaches in his pocket, opens the Corvette door and slams it back shut.
Looks at me and says, “where’s my Vette keys?” (Immediately running through my head is, Oh Lord, grant me the serenity). “They’re not on your key ring?” Got to mention I usually keep a duplicate set of whatever Hubs is driving because ‘at times’ he’s left them on the console when he gets out to ‘fill ‘er up’ and pushed the automatic locks without thinking. Then the doofus can call and ‘here I am to save the day’ can rescue his sorry butt. And yes, he already had a cell phone although it was as big as those little smart cars you see tooling around.
But I never had an extra set for the Vette. I drove it sometimes but never carried a set on my key chain. John didn’t drive the Vette during the winter from December until May, so he kept his keys in a neat old oak box on the top of his dresser. The realization of where that antique oak box was at the moment was heading due north in a semi filled with boxes and our furniture.
Hubs yelled, “we gotta stop the movers. They said they were eating breakfast in Leslie. Let’s go!” We hop in the car, hit 127 north doing 80 and breathed a sigh of relief when we spot the semi parked alongside a restaurant. The table of familiar faces look surprised when they see us striding towards the table. “Hi guys, what’s up?” (Hubs is as frantic as if he’d misplaced one of our kids). “The keys to my Corvette are in a wooden box which was on the dresser of our bedroom that you guys packed. We need that box. I can’t move the Vette and the new people take possession tomorrow. Come on, I’ll pay for breakfast, let’s start looking for the box with the box inside.” (He was so upset he didn’t realize the hopelessness of this situation).
“Ah-John there’s no way we can find that exact box without unpacking the whole truck, which would take us most of the day. We just can’t do that. Here’s what I suggest. We drive to the new house, unpack as fast as we can.” (though the bedrooms were first on the truck, so would be coming off last) “You and Denise go through the boxes as we unload them until you find the keys, then you drive back to Jackson and pick up the Corvette.” (Now doesn’t that sound like a fun moving day? Guess we should be happy it was only 160 miles one way).
John looked like he was passing a kidney stone, but what could they do? At least he didn’t sling the rest of their breakfast on the floor to get them moving faster. He drove like a maniac to get to North Muskegon which did absolutely nothing. The moving truck only goes so fast. By early afternoon they had backed up into our weird driveway and had their unpacking rhythm going.
A few tense hours passed while they hauled out furniture, boxes and more boxes, but I had 4,000 things to do before I was forced to drive back to Jackson. I wanted the boy’s rooms set up and their beds wearing clean sheets before I left, but the Hubs was ripping through boxes like a shark eating frenzy. (The cleanup of half empty boxes would take me days).
Finally around 9 pm John found the right bedroom box holding the wooden box with the Corvette’s precious keys nestled inside. “Found ‘em, Neese, let’s go!” Dang Dude, chill. (Although, technically it would be the new owner’s home in less than 3 hours, we doubted they would be there at midnight. At least we prayed they wouldn’t be there yet).
Luckily we were in our mid-40’s and still rambunctious at 10 pm. Hopped in the Caddy and made it to Jackson around 12:30. Unlocked the house, raised the garage door, Hubs got in Vette, revved it up and backed out. I closed the garage door, placed the garage door openers and keys on the ledge inside the breezeway, turned out the lights, locked the door and got in the car. Again. That’s 320 miles-twice plus unpacking in between for our long moving day. But the trip back to our new house was fun. We had walkie-talkies with a range of 3 miles so talked back and forth the whole trip so neither of us would fall asleep.
This goofy life event got me thinking about people and their keys. Before Hubs retired, he always carried a big ring of keys, most of them for work. Keys to the building, office door, tool room, supply room plus house keys and whatever means of travel we were using at the time. My daughter Shannon has so many keys, she’s divided them up on different key rings somehow.
As a stay at home mom, my key chain was never been bogged down with numerous keys. After the kids grew up my key ring held a key to open the front door to the McDonald’s restaurant where I worked. No I wasn’t a manager or even an employee of importance, just a prompt one. I often had to wait to get inside because the morning manager was late. (A pet peeve like no other). Not only was I missing money cause I couldn’t punch the time clock but I had a lot of tasks that needed to be done before we were ready to open.
For many years I had a key to the door of my church. As Parish Visitor I made copies of the Sunday sermon to mail out to the folks who could no longer attend church (hate the word shut-ins). These days my key ring is puny. Key for the house, Jeep and lock box. The key ring does carry some weight from a dangling piece of Black Hills Gold, a couple leather key fobs I’ve had at least 25 years. Plus the only copyrighted high school mascot image in the US for the Yuma High School Crims (Yuma Criminals, one of my favorite stories and it’s true-look it up). Right now I’m waiting with bated breath for an extra key for Hubs new/old pickup truck, a 1962 Studebaker Champ. He’s having trouble getting an extra set made. No one has the right blank to make this oldie which means if John loses or misplaces them, he’s sunk. Fear not, he can’t get the truck door key to lock or unlock so at least he won’t get stuck outside…