Q is for a Quiet street – Water Mill Lake

This post continues a series using the Alphabet to go through streets that were significant in my life as part of the Family History Through the Alphabet Challenge. Amazing I know, but Q is a letter I do not have a street for.  Someone suggested I do “A quiet street” for Q so this post will be about the house on Water Mill Lake, the quietest place I ever lived. Except for that one night something was killing something out in the forest.  And there were those duck feathers strewn around the pathways as the ducks down the road disappeared, one by one.

Photos from 1976 to 2007 taken on Watermill Lake, Lake County, MI.

In 1976, soon after the birth of my third daughter, my mother and Henry moved from the house on Fairfield in Detroit to the house on Water Mill Lake in Lake county.  Water Mill is a much smaller lake than Idlewild and is less than a 5 minute drive away. Lake county is a 4 hours drive from Detroit.  The house was separated from it’s lake front by a dirt road.  In the back, through trees and underbrush, was the Pere Marquette River.  This house was in the Manistee National Forest. Houses were few and far between. My mother and Henry planted a wonderful organic garden, fished and froze the bluegills they caught for winter eating and installed a wood furnace to cut down on the heating bill.  I would go up for several weeks in the summer during June, with my children after the Williams Reunion in St. Louis. We lived in Simpson County Mississippi at that time.

In 1978, shortly after the birth of my fourth daughter, my mother was diagnosed with uterine cancer.  She had noticed bleeding but ignored it for too long and after several years of treatments that took them to Detroit far too often, she died in 1982.  Just after the birth of my son.  Henry continued to live there by himself, seeing his brothers, sisters and friends who came up to Idlewild in the summer. In the winter there weren’t too many visitors.

In 1986 we moved to the house on Idlewild Lake.  Of course Henry became part of our life, eating dinner with us often, us visiting him and him visiting us. He contributed lively discussion, the same kind I remembered from my growing up years, to my children’s growing up.  In 1996, shortly after being diagnosed with liver cancer, Henry died. He left us his house. We rented it out for several years. Our oldest daughter lived there when she returned to Lake County as Assistant principal of the local high school.

In January of 2005, with only one of the children left at home and serious foundation problems with the house on Idlewild Lake, we decided to move to Henry’s.  We added a few windows and had the attic turned into another bedroom.  We had to replace the septic system which took out a few trees behind the garage so we put a garden in back there. We bought the lot next door at an auction. There were deer in the yard, racoons trying to get into the garbage cans. Racoons are so much bigger then they look in children’s picture books. At one time there had been a lot of people who came to that road to fish but the owner of the property had posted it so there was not much traffic on the road and not many people coming to fish. The lake was too small for jet skis and speed boats, that was nice. We had to walk up to the corner to get the mail because the mail man didn’t come down that road to deliver.  There were only 4 houses on the road and only ours and one at the corner were occupied all the time.

Our third daughter moved home after graduating from University of Michigan while searching for a job. The spring of 2005  another of our daughters and her family moved to Idlewild on the way from Seattle to wherever she found a job, which turned out to be Atlanta.  During that summer we had visits from the other children. They stayed between our house and the old house on Idlewld Lake.  It was good to have everybody close by again. In the fall of 2005, our youngest son moved to Atlanta to work with AmeriCorps, then the second daughter moved to Atlanta. Somewhere in there the third daughter moved to Indianapolis for her new job. Our two elderly dogs died. We were down to one cat. My husband and I were alone for the first time in forever. It was wonderful. It was peaceful.

In 2006 our daughter who lived in Detroit moved to Atlanta. In the summer of 2007 we helped our third daughter move from Indianapolis to Atlanta and decided to look around and see what we could find because it seemed to make sense that we all settle in one place to be both support and company for each other.  We found the house with the solarium (which is on Venetian so I will be writing about it in a few more posts) and that decided us. Just as the Michigan housing market went downhill, we sold the Water Mill house and bought the one Atlanta just before that market went downhill. We sometimes talk about how we could have done it differently and held on to that house in Idlewild while spending some of the winter months in Atlanta. Moving made sense but I really miss being on the water and being out of the city.

14 thoughts on “Q is for a Quiet street – Water Mill Lake

  1. I have canoed the Pere Marquette several times. It is a wonderful location. As we passed the few lodges and cabins, I would choose the ones I liked the best and imagined what it would be like to spend a summer or have a fall retreat. If they didn’t have a screened porch, I labeled them crazy, and wondered how they endured the mosquito season without one. I won’t even mention black flies. My family loved to camp and Michigan was a favorite destination. Your home looks just about perfect.

    1. We never had a problem with black flies when we were on Idlewild lake, or with ticks either. Both were present at the Willis Mill location. Mosquitoes didn’t bother me. They weren’t around until about 6pm and then disappeared as the night wore on.

  2. I can tell from these posts just how much you loved these places. Despite the animalicide (new word!) and the ticks it still does sound idyllic. We usually sell on the down trend and buy at the top of the market….very clever…not…but driven by life plans. Maybe one day we’ll do better.

    1. I did love those places. I think we did ourselves in this time and can’t see moving again. Being financially able to move again that is. Can’t see the market here going up in my life time. Oh well, at least we aren’t living under a viaduct. Although if I needed a “V” that would be useful ;-P

  3. OMG! I lived at 18242 Fairfield, between Curtis and Pickford. We moved there in August of 1967. I attended Hampton Elementary, Gesu School, Immaculata High and Uof D/Marygrove. I have such fond memories of that neighborhood, I still drive through there just to look at the old house and remember the good times.

    1. C. Rae, I hope you clicked on the link and read the Fairfield post. I only lived there a short time while I was a senior at Wayne State but my mother and the rest of the family were there for several years.

  4. Kristin, some of the best times I’ve ever had as a child were in Idlewild, MI from the early 1960’s to early 1970’s. We had a cabin on Craig Street (blocks from Water Mill Lake) and used to swim and fish in that lake all the time. At that time, there were three cottages on the east (I think) side of the lake and a gentleman who had a hardware (?) store in Baldwin lived in the largest cottage and leased the other two. After we sold our cabin, we still camped on Water Mill Lake in the summer (in our motor home). Your “quiet” street was also special to me and I just wanted to thank you for sharing your memories and reminding me of mine.

  5. More…I’ll be in Idlewild this weekend, tromping through the woods…and attending the music fest at Morton’s Motel!

  6. I hope you read this soon. I fished this lake many times and talked to your mother and henry quite often. I just went by the old house Oct.31 and its sad to see it going down hill fast. I’m looking at a lot on the west side to build a new retierment house on because mine on North lake is to small, this is still a nice quite lake to live on. Thank you for your post it brings back many good memories.

    1. Late last night I had a feeling that the house was not being cared for. I feel so bad about that. It was a wonderful house. I wish we could have kept it. Is it for sale?

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