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Old friends' warm graveside memories of Rabe's parents

Circa 1978 photo of Rabe family and friends at Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island, probably for a Stone Skipping banquet. L-R: Tim Sullivan, unknown man in beige, Hon. Joe B. Sullivan, Tom Lewand in plaid, Mary Sullivan, unknown boy, Kathy Lewand, in light blue, Edie McGill with red hair, Hon. Joe Gillis, unknown man with big collar, unknown man with tie, the impossibly chic Virginia "Gini" Compton Burns Gillis, possibly Dick Jennings with brown tie, Maryann Rabe, possibly Johnny Rady in red striped tie, James Rabe (plaid pants), possibly Lillian Jennings, Joan Rabe, Wayne Nevala, possibly Tommy Rady, WT "Bill" Rabe, Karl Rabe. Photo credit: Probably Snuffy McGill


WHEN I asked Kathy and Tom Lewand to do a Call Back Yesterday interview this fall while standing over my parents' grave on Mackinac Island, I expected them to be weirded-out and refuse.


But now that I think about it, I guess it wasn't any weirder than the stuff my dad did over the years, like Silent Records and The Stone Skipping Contest. (It's also no weirder than Jewish space lasers, but we'll let that go.) It turned out to be the perfect setting to discuss Ann and Bill Rabe, and to finally give my mom her due.


The photo above is pretty wild. The clothes, the obvious happiness, and how nice to see the people of my childhood alive and well. I am not convinced it's as late at 1978, but that's when my sibs think it was taken. Please leave a comment if you can ID the unknown people.


I hope you enjoy the truly amazing search and rescue story Kathy and Tom tell, apropos of nothing except that it's an amazing story.


A couple of production notes:

  1. You hear me over the phone in most of this episode so you can stay focused on Mackinac Island. Let me know if it works for you.

  2. This podcast includes an excerpt of a Robert F. Kennedy speech to Democratic bigwigs in Detroit in the fall of 1966. It's probably never been heard since 1966, and is from my father's extensive collection. You can expect to hear more of this kind of thing in future episodes.

Bobby in Ypsilanti with former Michigan

Gov Soapy Williams, 1966. Detroit News


Here's the robot transcription of this episode:

Speaker 0 00:00:07 Hi, everybody. Welcome back to call back yesterday. My name's John Raby and this is the podcast where we talk about somewhere in time and life and love and remembrance and parents and sadness and happiness and all that stuff. Uh, I usually hate talking about audio production in the audio production itself. I've loved. I love talking about it with people who mix, but I really tend to like my stuff to just speak for itself. So you get immersed, but I'm doing something that's different enough in this podcast that I think it bears a little bit of explanation and, and to set it up, you know, usually we do a thing at least during COVID times a thing called a, uh, phone sync. And that means, so you don't have to get together and record something. You record your thing in your studio or wherever you are, uh, on a flash recorder or whatever it is that you recorded on it's in reasonably high quality.

Speaker 0 00:01:07 And then you have other people that you're talking to record their thing, where they are, and you talk over the phone. That's why it's called a phone sync. And the sync is you take your audio file and you made it with their audio file. And it sounds like people are in person and it's usually pretty good. Um, but for the, for the interview today, uh, I, I recorded myself in my studio and I spoke with people over the phone and they were on beautiful Mackinaw Island, Michigan in the middle of the Island. And I really think that, uh, and they're really the stars of this and, and, and their voice is probably like 90% of this interview, which is probably how it should be for interviews. Um, and I just didn't want to take you out of the Island. So you're going to hear me talking over the phone.

Speaker 0 00:02:01 That's all I'm saying is you're going to hear me talking over the phone and you're going to hear them in person being where they are being who they are. And I just think it'll give you a better sense of place and a better sense of these people. The people we're talking about that I'm going to be speaking with are old family, friends, Kathy and Tom Lavonne, who knew my folks back in Detroit, Michigan. They stayed friends until my folks died in the 1990s. Uh, I hadn't talked with them since my parents died back in the 1990s. Um, and it was really nice to reconnect and they agreed to record themselves in the middle of Makena Island. And when I start the tape, you're going to find out why

Speaker 1 00:02:46 Tom and Kathy, welcome to call back yesterday. Thank you. Thank you. It's good to be here. Could you tell listeners where you are right now and what you were looking at? Well, we're the Mac and Island

Speaker 2 00:03:00 Cemetery, uh, over on a beautiful sunny, uh, late September day. And we're at the, at the site of your parents' grave bill and Anne Raby.

Speaker 3 00:03:12 The gravestone is a flat granite piece and it says bill and Andrei and Raby and the years of their birth and their deaths. And then do you want me to read the inscription on the bottom? It says life is a grave matter.

Speaker 1 00:03:38 You know, you, um, you will you there when they did the Memorial service at the grave? Yes. Yes. What did people think about that saying being on the grave? Do you remember, do you remember what you thought?

Speaker 3 00:03:52 Lot of, lot of conversation, a lot of voice, isn't that perfect for bill and just like him,

Speaker 2 00:04:00 Phenomenal sense of humor.

Speaker 1 00:04:04 Do you think my mom wanted that

Speaker 3 00:04:09 Your mom always put up with whatever your dad did and with grace and humor? So I'm sure she didn't mind

Speaker 2 00:04:18 Their own sense of, of a very wonderful, warm, sarcastic humor and dealing with your dad and other things

Speaker 1 00:04:27 Dealing with my dad. Um, my husband and I were, um, we're on the Island last October. And, uh, we were, we were stopping in the grand hotels store where they sell the castoff grand hotel goods. And I forget the name of the woman who runs it, but she's a long time Islander. And I told her who I was and she said, just, she just blurted out. She said, Oh my God, your mom had to put up with a lot. And then she kind of apologized, but I said, no, no, no, you do not need to apologize because that is exactly what he, you know, he would rush into her office I'm sure. And commandeer the phone and the desk so that he could send a story out. And he wouldn't care if she was in the middle of a sale or, or you know, or anything. No, no. He,

Speaker 2 00:05:19 He commandeered whatever he needed. I remember once when Charles Corolla was from CBS was up doing a story on the stone skipping contest, which of course was one of your dad's brilliant and inventions. And he needed some thing for Charles Corolla to film. So he quickly found me and I'm a lawyer and Kathy's father was then alive and a close friend of your dad's. He was a judge on the court of appeals. And he said, all right, I need you on the front porch right now come right along. And we were sitting down by the pool, having lunch. I think suddenly we were on the front porch and Kathy's father was judging a courtroom battle between me and somebody else over whether you could use fake stones and the stones skipping contest. It was all put together very hurriedly, but it made for a great television because that's your father's brilliance. And one year, the year they invented the drip dry trouser. I think the sport jumped ahead by leaps and bounds because then the skippers could get right out there in the water and their wives didn't get mad at them.

Speaker 1 00:06:24 No, I sent you to a photo of my dad's address book, which must date from the late forties or the very early fifties. And there is Joby Sullivan. Kathy's dad.

Speaker 3 00:06:35 Yes. I saw the van

Speaker 1 00:06:37 And Joe Sullivan,

Speaker 3 00:06:39 My uncle. Yes. You want, want me to tell you how that happened? My mother and her brother, Joe, a Sullivan were both students at the university of Detroit Jesuit school and in Detroit. And they, my, my uncle was worked on the varsity news newspaper, which is where I think your dad and my uncle and my, my dad all met. And they, there was another fellow working at the, at the paper named Joe Sullivan also. And Joseph, Andrew Sullivan. My uncle decided that he, he might be a good prospect to, you know, arrange a date with his sister. So he, he set up his sister, Mary and my eventually to become father Joseph, Brian Sullivan. And of course the star, they fell in love and, uh, both long-time Detroiters. And, uh, they stayed at U of D for awhile, uh, till they graduated all of them and, uh, worked on the varsity news. And the story goes that they used to write Joe a and Joby became best friends. And they used to write editorials in the varsity news. That would cause whenever it caused a problem, they would sign the editorial Joseph C. Sullivan so that they wouldn't get into trouble. But for the rest of their lives, they were known as Joey and Joe B and both, both went on to be judges in the Wayne County circuit court. And then my dad went on to the Michigan court of appeals and they were always called Joe hay. And Joe B,

Speaker 1 00:08:40 Did you, uh, did you pay for that horse to the horse carriage to go by?

Speaker 3 00:08:46 Oh, we're sitting on the carriage road though. You'll hear a lot of them actually coming by.

Speaker 1 00:08:51 Yeah. Perfect. Could you describe where you said you were in the cemetery? It's a beautiful place. So please, please describe what it's like and male, and this is late September of the leaves started changing, right?

Speaker 2 00:09:06 Yeah, no, there's well that went over there, but yeah, just a little bit, very little. It's an absolutely gorgeous, uh, cemetery. It's rolling down from the main road where there's a Stonewall that goes back 150 years. No, maybe more than that. And a lot of the graves here, date from the 18 hundreds, uh, the, um, uh, we're on the other side of the cemetery, lots of wonderful trees. And, um, we were at a funeral here recently for one of the Island, firemen and council members. It was very moving because it was during the COVID time and everyone socially distanced, uh, there were probably 150 people here scattered all over this beautiful cemetery for a very moving service.

Speaker 4 00:09:51 And of course, when you're buried on makin Island, because no cars are allowed, your mode of transportation is an old fashioned, uh, horse-drawn hearse. And it's, it's the most moving site. I can imagine. One time we were on the Island and it was G men and Williams who was a former governor of Michigan was being buried that day here in the cemetery. And, um, his casket was being moved from the ferry boat where it had arrived up to the cemetery in that hearse. And as people, it went down the main street of makin Island, which of course is this great tourist destination, very crowded. And everybody paused. Men took off their hats, women waved and tears came. It's just, it's a, it's an actually moving, moving experience to see that. So,

Speaker 2 00:11:00 So your parents have a wonderful resting spot here. There's a beautiful tree kind of overshadowing there, gray tree, uh, and, uh, you can still see the deadline blooms from this year on it, lilacs, bloom, as you know, late here in June. Uh, but, uh, it's just a gorgeous spot. Yeah.

Speaker 1 00:11:22 And you know, and you know, Tom, Tom and Kathy, you're not the only friend who is there. Uh, Dave LoJack is, is, is parked right next to them. Right?

Speaker 2 00:11:34 The various similar headstone. I noted that I had forgotten that, but I noted that when we came in

Speaker 4 00:11:38 Dave and next to Dave is Duke churns. I don't know if you ever knew Duke, but he was a great teamster driver of horses. And on his gravestone, it says teamster and husband and father. And then there's a picture of him driving his team of horses. He was an Island fixture. Yeah. So this is a very, it's a special spot, a little spot here in this part of the cemetery. And there's a low wall leading away from the grave. And then a little rod iron, very French influenced rod iron fence.

Speaker 1 00:12:15 And there's, um, there's probably a plastic cup thrown out of the window of the Mike Pence motorcade or in the Bush beer can cores. Um, Kathy, I didn't know until you told me on the phone just the other day, or I didn't remember that you worked in my dad's PR office at the university of Detroit. What years was that?

Speaker 4 00:12:39 Like? About 65, 66 and 67. Maybe when you were pregnant, Tammy was born. He was born in 69. Oh, right. So must've been 60, 67, 68 and 69 probably. Uh, yeah, but uh, we saw Bobby Kennedy there.

Speaker 0 00:13:05 Hey, it's John ravey back in the studio. See, I told you, so you're there with Tom and Kathy, just kind of listening to me, talking over the phone from Los Angeles and it doesn't matter as much. I think it feels a lot better just being on the Island. Now, Kathy mentioned working for my dad in the mid to late 1960s at the university of Detroit and seeing some of the people who came through and I have a wall of tape recordings of all the people who came to Detroit in the fifties and sixties, when my dad was doing public relations for the university of Detroit, uh, the Beatles, Carlos Montoya, a lot of soupy sales, Baron, Von Stauffenberg son, Robert Frost. I hope in future episodes. You're going to hear some of these tapes and yes, I've got tape of Robert Kennedy's appearance in Detroit in 1966. I'm going to play you some of it now. And this is probably the first time this tape has ever been heard since 1966 <inaudible> cell Pete Williams, distinguished members of Congress, ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to be here. I, most of these trips is one travels around the country when stands on one's feet and says something nice about somebody else. And usually it's so rushed. Nobody can say anything nice about me. So I like that.

Speaker 5 00:14:52 I just wanted to say it was one of the highlights of my visit is I just sat there and I thought it was going to go on for 10 or 15 minutes. And I just want to thank all of you. One of the major reasons that I wanted to come to Michigan had been scheduled at an earlier date, but one of the major reasons I wanted to come to Michigan, uh, was because of my high regard for men and Williams. I knew of his record as governor of the state. And I think that, uh, perhaps now in 1966, that perhaps it's possible that people forget that they get that really, uh, what he did in this state, not just what he accomplished for the people of the state of Michigan, but really the fact that he was a forerunner of many of the social and progressive measures that were accepted in other States at later dates and accepted even by the federal government. And nobody contributed really more than nobody contributed more to the far thinking, sighted thinking than Sophie Williams did,

Speaker 2 00:16:03 We were there right after your father came up with the idea of the silent records. You've D if I recall it, this is a little before our time there, but they had gotten rid of, of, um, college football on it was a great consternation and he needed something to keep university of Detroit relevant. He was the PR director. And so he came up with the idea of jukebox. And this is, of course we're huge. Back then, every place had a jukebox and it could drive you crazy going into a coffee shop or a bar if you didn't like the style of music. So your dad came up with the idea of spawn silent records, sponsored by the university of Detroit. And the fat records came in all different types. You could buy a classical, silent record or a jazz or a country music, whatever it might be, and the Beatles, the Beatles, and put your money in. But it became a known around, I think, around the country that as emanating from the university of Detroit, the silent records.

Speaker 3 00:17:04 Yeah. Yeah. He's talking about the earliest grave in the cemetery is of a little girl whose name was Mary Biddle. And she died when she was eight years old. And she was the first person buried in this cemetery in very early, I think, 18 hundreds, maybe.

Speaker 2 00:17:34 Sorry about the noise in the background. Uh, there are, as you know, almost no motorized vehicles on the Island. There, there was a street cleaning machine drawn by two horses, two horses, two white, but it's strictly, the machine cleans up, of course all the manure, but it's drawn by two horses, but it's motorized the, the actual cleaning apparatus. And it's a little noisy. So apologies for that.

Speaker 1 00:18:02 There's a, there's a lawn now in Los Angeles that whenever you do an interview with somebody when they're at home, because of the COVID, uh, the, the groundskeepers has to be in the yard making noise, that leaf blowers. Oh yeah. I just went ahead and made it a lot because it was, it was necessary. So you have described, and it's very easy to do. We've fallen into it. We've been talking about my dad, my dad, my dad, my dad. Um, and, and since he passed in, my mother died in 91. My dad died in 92. There's tons of my dad on tape. There's tons of stuff that he did, but, but I'm having a hard time remembering my mom. I know that sounds weird, but I, I have a hard time remembering her voice. There are no recordings. There's no video because it was 91. Um, Kathy, can you Tom to, can you give me some sense of what my mom was like?

Speaker 3 00:18:55 Your mom was a wonderful woman. I just, as I was dry riding out here, I was thinking about her and my mother who were really good friends. And, but I always think of them as laughing. Yes. They were always, always

Speaker 2 00:19:13 Laughing. They,

Speaker 3 00:19:16 Your mom had all, you know, all these children around and she never seemed to be. And of course your dad, and she never seemed to be overwhelmed, which always amazed me.

Speaker 2 00:19:30 I remember, uh, one of my favorite stories about your mom was the year or several years, you guys lived way on the backside of makin Island is, you know, it's only eight miles around, but way in the backside is quite a ways on a bicycle at midnight. And back then we had millions of bats flying everywhere.

Speaker 3 00:19:48 Yeah. Before the white nose, fungus got them all, but,

Speaker 2 00:19:51 But we had tons of bats and your mother, uh, of course didn't like bats at all, but your dad got a chance to live out there. And I, I think it was a pretty good rent or maybe cheap, free rent. And so that's where they lived. And so your mother was not thrilled about it, but she didn't complain, but she would, she got an old banana box from Dowd's market, uh, which was a banana crate of wood, which she'd put on her head and wears a hat when she'd ride her bike home at night. So the bachelor, she's just, she just calmly said, well, I got my hat. Here we go. And off, she'd go at night.

Speaker 3 00:20:28 And I remember that place, Oh my God, that you lived in silver. Birches was just a disaster.

Speaker 2 00:20:36 In fact, I remember a little guy named John that used to run along when we would be there visiting and, and, and hit all the shutters. So the bats had flat during the day.

Speaker 3 00:20:50 And I remember your mom boiling diapers, because I don't know whether there wasn't a good washer and dryer there probably wasn't. And so she had to boil them on the stove.

Speaker 1 00:21:02 Right. And that would have been diapers for me. Cause I would have been three and my brother James, who was like a year and a half younger than all, he's still a year

Speaker 3 00:21:09 And a half younger than I am. So

Speaker 1 00:21:12 Yeah, they did it, there was running water there. It was an old, it was an old casino. It was on the other side of the Island on purpose. It was built as a lodge, I believe so that there could be gambling and horse. Yes, yes. And one of the draws was that for, for a family of eight, was that there were all these little rooms. So each kid could have,

Speaker 3 00:21:37 It was a big draw for the grand hotel during the tough years of the depression, because they would get the wealthy people to come up. So they could go to the back side of the Island and spend a night or two out there

Speaker 1 00:21:48 On gamble and have, and have a boost too.

Speaker 3 00:21:51 Yes. Booze and prostitutes

Speaker 1 00:21:55 And prostitutes in my, my nephew, uh, Jim, who is now like past 40, uh, Jones Jones child is now, uh, uh, uh, actually a suicide prevention counselor in Portland, Oregon. Um, so very successful, heavily married like that. But back in the day, back in the early two thousands, he was working for Goodwill in, I think Queens, I dunno how that happened, but he was in Queensland and the only place he could find a stay was in Chinatown. Uh, and it was the second floor of former Morehouse

Speaker 3 00:22:30 Had been,

Speaker 1 00:22:31 Had been converted into like a, uh, you know, commuter kind of apartments. People would come during the week and just sleep and all of these rooms that were four feet wide by 10 feet long, he didn't even know that it was connected to silver verges. And my, my mom was also not bossy. And I think Kathy told me a great story about when, when she helped you with would have been Tony or Kevin or,

Speaker 3 00:22:56 Oh yeah. When we, Tommy was brand new, couple of months old, we were here staying with my parents and he was very colicky at that time. And, uh, she just came along one day and took a needle and made the hole and then sterilize it and made the hole in the nipple much bigger and mixed up a little cereal and put it in the bottle. And, uh, it, it helped him so much and she never said any, you know, do it this way. It was just very gentle. She said, here, I think I can help. She certainly had the knowledge behind her to do that. And, uh, it worked out great. She saved me a lot of nights of sleepless, nights of pacing, back and forth with a crying baby. Right.

Speaker 1 00:23:46 And she wouldn't have been, I knew when you started telling me that story, that she wouldn't have been bossy. She wouldn't have been old. Kathy you're an idiot. I know best she would have just kind of showed you and helped you and, and been very cool about it.

Speaker 3 00:23:59 She was a dear, dear lady, very sweet, very kind, very thoughtful and funny. We spent a fair amount of time.

Speaker 2 00:24:10 We have to spend a fair amount of time. They were at our house or, um, because of my in-laws of course being old friends of theirs, but they knew both Kathy and me, uh, separately. And I've never once saw your mother upset or angry or frustrated at all. She was always a great frame of mind, which I think was helpful given everything she had to, to juggle and manage.

Speaker 1 00:24:37 Exactly. Do you guys, do you guys remember the summer of 1979 on Macedon? I dunno how much you were there,

Speaker 3 00:24:45 79, what happened in 79? That,

Speaker 1 00:24:50 So when they were filming the movie on Makena.

Speaker 2 00:24:53 Yeah. So we sure do we still have one of their bikes from that year?

Speaker 3 00:24:56 Yeah,

Speaker 2 00:24:59 That was the year we had just bought our house a year earlier in 78. And, uh, so we were here and it was a big, big excitement on the Island because several of our neighbors had a significant roles in it.

Speaker 3 00:25:12 Yeah. Jimmy Dunnigan was the Irish ambassador. Yeah. And I missed my golden opportunity. I was supposed to be a Gibson girl, but it rained that day. And I, wasn't going to go down on my bike to show up with my hair, soaking wet and sit all day.

Speaker 1 00:25:33 How did the, how did the Island, um, take to the people from Hollywood?

Speaker 2 00:25:39 As I recall, it was, they just kind of fit in, they all rode bikes and nobody up here really pays much attention to pretense. Um, you know, maybe very few people do. And so it was kind of like, yeah, they went to the Mustang bar, like everybody else. And the Mustang buyer just serves a hamburger and bud light, uh, if you want to splurge, you might get a PB plat, Pabst blue ribbon light. But back then, but that was about it. And they went there, uh, back then, there were not a whole lot of fancy restaurant options. And the grand hotel was still pretty, um, had not been fixed up. I don't think it might've been by the seventies, but

Speaker 1 00:26:20 Yeah. Yeah. The read that the redecoration had happened already by Carlton Varney.

Speaker 2 00:26:24 Oh, I had it. Okay. Well that's right, because it was in the movie.

Speaker 3 00:26:27 Sure. Right. Because they converted the dining room every night, a day night.

Speaker 1 00:26:33 I think that Makena worked its magic on the cast and crew.

Speaker 3 00:26:37 Well, it's interesting that over the years, they've, you know, a few, quite a few of them have come back for that somewhere in time weekend. And even Jane Seymour and Christopher Reeve at one point I think came back.

Speaker 1 00:26:54 Yep. I think what, what happened is the, uh, you know, the, the movie got such a public drubbing, but, but they knew that they made something special and it was reinforced by all of the thousands of fans who really love it and who don't care, what the critics said. And so every, and everybody kind of comes back and celebrates that they made this good thing that really, and I think the movie inspires a lot of people. It helps a lot of people that makes them happy. And I think that in Hollywood, that's not often the case, you know, there was, it was a really happy show, me really happy shooting, I think. And that's rare. And then you've got all this appreciation for work that they did 20, 30, 40 years ago as the years went on, but it just makes people happy. So I think it's kind of golden for everybody that was involved with the picture. So sure. Jane Seymour has been back like three times.

Speaker 3 00:27:50 Everybody still watches it. You know, they still show it at the grand hotel and we have a, an old DVD of it maybe, and everybody gathers around and

Speaker 1 00:28:02 We'll take it out for a year or two and watch it grow and rhinos though. They'd never seen it before. It's just a moving, moving wonderful movie. Hey, look, there's John Hewlett with hair and a mustache. So, um, you know, we're talking, we're, we're, we're calling back yesterday in our conversation here, we're remembering the past. Um, and you guys have kind of shifted in the hierarchy now of, of, uh, the, you know, the circle of our, of our people. Cause, cause Kathy, your mom just passed away this summer. She was 94, 96, 96. Um,

Speaker 3 00:28:41 She was the last of that generation. They're all gone now, all their friends and uh, the greatest generation, um, you know, uh, yeah, so it's, and as my father said, we're used to say often we're inching slowly forward in the queue. Now we are, I guess. Yeah. He very weird. Yes. Yes, indeed.

Speaker 1 00:29:19 I didn't, I didn't wanna interrupt. You were, our older grandkids are, well, the oldest one is just out of college. We have two in college and it won't be long before we might be great grandparents, hopefully not for another two years yet. But it's hilarious when I knew you. You were, but now, now that I'm 50, you're not old.

Speaker 2 00:29:45 That's right. We were probably 54 when you first met us. Know if you're 54? Oh no. 20 years. Let's see. I'm 74,

Speaker 1 00:29:54 33rd year or 20 or something. I just thought you were ancient.

Speaker 4 00:29:58 Yeah. Right. And you were,

Speaker 2 00:30:01 You you're exactly 20 years younger than I am. I'm 74. I won't say old Cathy is, she's a lot younger than I am. Particularly when she talks about her kids, she claims she was a child. Right. And that the first was born when she was 12 or 13. So,

Speaker 1 00:30:16 Um, let's, let's let them pass by, but they talking about Marianne bill again or Maryville.

Speaker 4 00:30:22 Yes. This is the stop for Mary Biddle.

Speaker 1 00:30:25 One of the while we're I have a, I have a more serious question, but are they done? Are they stopping? No, they're moving on. Okay. Um, what is my serious question here? Oh yeah. Um, you know, talking about your mom, talking about my folks who've passed, passed on incredibly early. Um, we were at grand hotel, my husband and I last October, they were, they were shutting down the hotel. The somewhere in time, weekend was ending. All the furniture was in the lobby, draped with sheets. They're bringing in all the flowers. And I was walking on the front porch thinking about all that. Uh, it was a crisp fall day. The, you know, it had just been made known that the grand hotel, uh, was sold to an investment group. So we didn't know what the future of the hotel was going to be. Um, just like everybody, you know, there was a huge upheaval in my test and I was, and I was thinking back to all the parties that my folks through at grant hotel at the end of the season, and I'm not especially a woo kind of person, but I was almost seeing ghosts at that point.

Speaker 1 00:31:35 I wouldn't doubt it.

Speaker 4 00:31:35 Yes. There were a lot of, uh, a lot of interesting people and a lot of famous people, a lot of celebrities that passed across that front porch and a lot of ordinary people who were wonderful

Speaker 2 00:31:49 And, uh, your dad, uh, part of his job was to make sure they were well taken care of. I remember when the w brand new governor Jim Blanchard, uh, in the, in 83, uh, he was literally in his first, the first time he came to the Island, it was a month after he had marched in the Highland tulip.

Speaker 4 00:32:10 Oh, not even a month. It was like a week. Yeah.

Speaker 2 00:32:13 And, uh, someone had the tulip festival run out and thrown a bucket of water on it.

Speaker 4 00:32:18 Well, I noticed it had splashed up on him and they, they were parodying cleaning the streets in Holland, you know, and it was an accident, but he got very wet.

Speaker 2 00:32:31 So we were sitting down at dinner with your dad and mother and the governor and his wife and Kathy and me, and, um, the waiter was quite nervous because he was a brand new governor who was very young. And the waiter had a full tray of drinks. We'd ordered drinks and leaned over to serve the governor, his drink, and the whole trace filled on the governor on the table, all over the governor, sopping wet. The rest of us were fine. And there was a photographer of course, over, not far away, snapping pictures. I've never seen anyone move faster than your father and grabbing that photographer and walking. He sent me back to the table with the film back then, of course there was something called film in the cameras and he brought the film back and said, here, we won't have to worry about that story.

Speaker 3 00:33:16 Cause he didn't want another story of Blanchard getting soaked by a,

Speaker 2 00:33:20 I am sure. Knowing your dad that he got the film back by offering the guy drinks or something like that. I'm sure it was no physical violence involved, but you got the job done.

Speaker 3 00:33:31 He was a big man, but he was a gentle.

Speaker 2 00:33:35 But the other favorite story about your dad in my mind, uh, was, um, a year later, uh, or maybe later on that same year, I had been the governor's chief of staff and campaign manager, but he and I had a disagreement and I got fired and I thought life was over. I had a young family and I was pretty down and I came up to the Mackinaw

Speaker 3 00:33:55 And of course it was a front page above the fold storage,

Speaker 2 00:33:58 Big story. And, uh, your father was waiting for the boat with you, maybe because you were here anyhow. He said, you know, life's going to go on. You're going to be just fine. We're going to the grand hotel for dinner. And then I get your suit and tie on and be prepared for success.

Speaker 1 00:34:13 I seem to remember that. And I don't remember, I don't know if I remember it as something that happened to me or if I remember it as a story,

Speaker 2 00:34:20 Well, it would have been in 1983, summer of 83. And of course I actually wasn't long before Blanchett was hiring me to do all sorts of things. And I became chairman of the democratic party and your dad was exactly right. But boy, he had the right pick me up that day. Very kind and thoughtful.

Speaker 1 00:34:39 We're almost done, but I need you to tell me the story that has absolutely nothing to do with my parents, just as Mackinac geography, uh, the weirdness of, of sound waves. Um, tell us, tell us the story when you save somebody's life.

Speaker 3 00:34:58 Oh, that old story.

Speaker 1 00:35:00 Yeah. Right. I guess, and I guess I could do the setting just very quickly. You guys live on what's called the East makin Island is aligned stone, outcropping aligned stone mountain in Lake Huron. And there are two big Bluffs that overlook the water East bluff and West bluff. You guys live on the East bluff, uh, in that house that you just bought and, uh, which had weird paint on the walls, I think called calamine or something that you right there was impossible to get off. Cause it kept us solving anyway. That's very interesting. I just wanted to show you that my memory is great from 50 years ago. Uh, so that's the, that's the setting you're you are 500 feet above the water.

Speaker 4 00:35:41 Uh, yeah, I think it's actually maybe 600 feet above water, but,

Speaker 1 00:35:45 But yes, and down

Speaker 4 00:35:47 Below us, um, is a large hotel called mission point resort and with a expansive lawn in, in the evenings, people sit out on the lawn in, um, Adirondack chairs and it's watched just, you know, by the water, it's a beautiful setting and frequently there are parties down there on the lawn. And so this one evening we had had company over on our front porch and, um, they had laughed and um, I don't know, Oh, Tom was, Tom was sailing in the port here in the Meccano race.

Speaker 1 00:36:27 No, I was done. I was down below working cause I

Speaker 4 00:36:30 Footnote on the story. But anyway, so Tom wasn't there. It was just myself and Christie and Carrie and I guess they were maybe nine and 11 and um, we were cleaning up and we heard this man's voice yelling, help, help. I can't swim. I can't swim. And he sounded like he really meant it. It didn't sound like a prank. And it went on for a little while and we ran down to the, the road above the bluff and there's a fence there and we looked down, but by this time it was dark and we could still hear this voice, but it became apparent that the sound was carrying up the bluff and we could hear it. But the people who were down below on the shore at mission point, couldn't hear it. They were just continuing doing whatever they were doing. And of course, this is the days before cell phones.

Speaker 4 00:37:35 Everybody had landlines. I called the police department and I said, I think there's someone in the water. I hear a man's screaming help. I can't swim. And when there's a large boy out in front of our house called buoy number two. And uh, I said, I think he's, it has a red light on it. And uh, you can get an, a bell and you can hear it. And I said, I think he's somewhere near buoy. Number two. Well, that's the entrance to the freighter channel. And uh, so they sent the, the woman on the other end of the phone at the police department said, Aurum I stay on the phone and I'll send the police boat out to see if we can find him. Well, the police boat turned out to be somebody 15 foot runabout fishing boat with a little motor on the back.

Speaker 4 00:38:31 And I could see that because the policemen was in that boat had a, had a flashlight. There were no lights on the boat, but I could see his flashlight. Um, but I'm of course stuck in the house because I have, it's a landline phone and I can only go so far. So the girls are down by the fence, across the road. And they're yelling to me, giving me directions to guide the light on the fishing boat, closer to where they think they hear the voice coming from. And I'm relaying that information to the dispatcher. Who's relaying it to the policemen and the boat who has a police radio and believe it or not, we actually did find the man he had had actually stolen a canoe. He he'd gotten drunk, he'd stolen a canoe and the canoe had swamped. But the current through that straits of Mackinac is incredibly strong. And if we hadn't been able to find him, he would have been swept right out to the middle of the, of Lake Huron. And, uh, you know, that would have been the end of them as it was. They took him to the medical center where they treated them for hypothermia and then they put them in jail. So I don't know that it was really all that grateful to us, but

Speaker 2 00:40:00 He never sent you a thank you note. So the footnote is that I was in Detroit working. I called just to check in and Cathy answered the phone and she said, I can't tech talk time saving a man's life click. And I'm in Detroit thinking, Oh, okay, Whoa, this is going on up there. But I let her learn the full story.

Speaker 1 00:40:22 I'm asking this of everybody, because this is ostensibly a podcast about somewhere in time. Do you guys, uh, do you believe in time travel to any extent or do you, do you wait, you could time travel if that's easier?

Speaker 4 00:40:40 Do I wish I could time travel? I think I'm pretty happy.

Speaker 2 00:40:44 Yeah. I I'm enjoying the, well, not, not 2020, but I'm enjoying the rest of the time we're in. But yeah, I think I'm pretty happy with the time we're in and I love reading the history and it would be fun to see what the future is. Uh, I don't know that I have any particular desire to go back in time, although there's some interesting things that happened. So I guess I've never really thought about it, but

Speaker 4 00:41:12 Living on Mackinaw Island too, we're very close to history. You see it every day and, and kind of participate in the history. That's made this Island, um, from the time of the native Americans, you see the you and you admire and you love the, you know, Sugarloaf and, uh, our track and the formations that the native Americans thought were the home of the great spirits. And then you live with the Fort, um, in the backyard practically. And, and, um, we're sitting here at the cemetery and across the road is the Fort cemetery where the soldiers who served at the Fort were all buried. So history is very, um, ubiquitous and very present all the time. I think because you feel kind of a part of history living here and therefore happy with where we are and knowing that there'll be a lot going on after we leave. But it's all part of the same wonderful sweep of human history. You guys are good.

Speaker 6 00:42:28 I had forgotten until midway through this, that Kathy was Kathy was a docent tying things together for people helping them see stuff.

Speaker 4 00:42:38 Well, I was also the very first woman appointed to the Mackinaw Island state park commission. I had the very first woman chair of the mechanized state park commission. So I have a lot of, a lot of love for the, for the history that's here.

Speaker 6 00:43:01 This has really been fantastic. I appreciate that. You guys didn't think it was such a weird idea that you didn't want to do it.

Speaker 0 00:43:07 Oh, well, thank you so much for asking us we've enjoyed it. It was great talking to you and we'll look forward to seeing you and your husband next time. You're up here.

Speaker 6 00:43:15 <inaudible>

Speaker 0 00:43:19 Big. Thanks to Kathy and Tom Lavonne for taking the time to record themselves up in the middle of Mackinac Island. Not hard duty, but I really appreciate that. They took the time to do it. Call back yesterday is produced, written, recorded, and directed by me, John Raven, our theme music is performed by the van Dyke parks and our logo was made by Michael Yulan caught additional support from Bermudez projects in Los Angeles. Join me soon for the next episode of call back yesterday. And thanks for listening

Speaker 4 00:43:49 St. Anne cemetery, October 5th, 2:38 PM.

Speaker 6 00:44:29 Yeah, <inaudible> <inaudible>.


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