After some eleven years in the blogosphere, I am retiring my blog. I want to thank Linda Heller for getting me up and running, in 2010, and I am so, so grateful to all you, gentle readers, for your faithful support all these many years. I am back to the old manual typewriter of my youth, and would be happy to send you some of my recent writing. All you have to do is send me your snail mail address, by writing to me at: Charley McKelvy, P.O. Box 116, Harbert, MI 49115. Fair winds and following seas!
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Flyboy checked out the beach Wednesday afternoon when the surf was up, from a safe vantage point.
He wasn’t about to dive in, but he saw someone who was.
Gully the Gull had no problems with the surf. And he sure wasn’t worried about Flyboy, up there in the dune grass.

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This is how we knew fall was about to befall southwest Michigan. All five calendars in my office agree: 9/22/21—fall begins.
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All together now: “When the moon hits your eye, like a big pizza pie, that’s . . .”
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I am saddened to report the death of my dear cousin, A.V. (Lonny) Smith III. Lonny served in Vietnam and was a distinguished attorney in Oregon. Fair winds and following seas, Cousin.
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Our dear friend Mary took this picture of us at Clementine’s on Wednesday. Great shot, Mary!!!!
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(South Haven, MI) We met Mary and Dave for a leisurely luncheon at Clementine’s yesterday, in a booth by a window. And then, of course, we strolled around town, from high to low and back again. It was a beautiful late summer day on the west coast of Michigan, and we just grooved on it. And we have been grooving on South Haven ever since we first “discovered” Van Buren County’s seaside resort, at the mouth of the Black River, on the Shoreline Bicycle Tour in August 1987. Yes, that would have been just two months after we moved permanently to Michigan. And we have made day trips to South Haven, in all four seasons, a permanent part of our mental health plan. Yesterday’s visit certainly fulfilled that plan, and, as a bonus, we got up close and personal to a Double-crested Cormorant that was happily diving for fishy delights at the mouth of the Black River. We saw an inbound sailboat on auxiliary power and just plain folk out basking in the afternoon sun. Ah, South Haven! It was number one on our gratitude list yesterday and will be again, real soon. Here are some of the photos from our day in the sun in South Haven, beginning with Mary and Dave in the booth (sorry, Dave for the lack of leg room) at Clementine’s:

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At least we saw some fireworks.

(Chicago, IL) My friend Joe Rochetto and I had every intention of attending Saturday night’s game featuring the two Sox: the hosting Chicago White Sox vs. the visiting Boston Red Sox. Always a great match-up, particularly late in the season with the Red Sox vying for a Wild Card slot in their hotly contested AL East division. Yes, the White Sox appear to have the AL Central wrapped up, but they need to stay focused on the prize, and, so we marched off from the Monastery of the Holy Cross, where we had attended Solemn Vespers with the monks and the angelic singers of Schola Laudis, to witness a great baseball game. Did we have advance tickets? Nah. We were gonna just throw ourselves on the mercy of the box office and come up with a couple of ducats for say $12 a pop, somewhere near the foul pole in right field. Well, as were approaching what Guaranteed Rate Field, aka Sox Park, we saw fireworks, signalling that a White Sox batter had hit a homerun. A White Sox batter had indeed hit a homerun, and were we there to witness it? No, but we were close. And we were close to attending the remainder of the game until the ticket agent informed us that the only seats left were in the gold section and were selling for $87 a piece. Too rich for our blood, so we retreated back to the monastery over at 31st and Aberdeen from the ballpark at 35th and Shields. We were hoping to find a friendly place in which to view some of the game on a sports channel, but we found no such place. So we headed for home and tuned in the game on the radio. We were thrilled to hear the White Sox come back from a 7-2 deficit and actually go ahead to make it 8-7. But when Joe dropped me off at our dump in the dunes at 10 EDT, the Red Sox had evened it up in the eighth to make it 8-8. I listened in hopeful silence on my recliner as the Red Sox scored a run in the top of the 10th and the White Sox put men on the corners in the bottom of the inning, only to have the next three batters fail to drive them in and win the game. But, as we said, during our long, fruitless march to and from the ballpark, “At least we know the Sox will win.” We just didn’t know which color sox the winners would be wearing.

So close, and yet so far. This was from a previous season when the right Sox won that night game.
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Bridgeport’s beloved native son, Joe Rochetto, returns today to his childhood Chicago neighborhood for a grand tour. He is shown here by the pond at Palmisano Park. He remembers when it was Stearns Quarry.

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Flyboy celebrated his successful visit to the vet last week by strolling down to the beach for some down time in the dune grass.
Nobody comes down Dune Road without Flyboy’s permission.
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(HESSTON STEAM MUSEUM, IN) On Labor Day, there were three different railroads to ride: narrow gauge, vintage amusement, and craftsman railroads. We rode the first two, and found the line for the third to be too long, so we went back and rode the narrow gauge again. But we shall return to Hesston before the end of the year, most certainly for the Hesston Ghost Train, which will shock-and-roll the last two weekends in October. We might return the first two weekends in December as well to tour the snowy woods on the Candy Cane Express. Who knows? All we know is that Labor Day ain’t Labor Day without the Hesston Steam & Power Show. Here are some photographic highlights of our day in the steam (and be sure and check out their website at: HESSTON.ORG):

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Summer’s movin’ on down the line. Happy Labor Day, and safe journey home, space fans.
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(Harbert, MI) I spent a lot of time in the surf at Surf City, New Jersey as a kid. Now, as an old fart, I get to hit the salt-free, shark-free surf in Lake Michigan at what I call Surf City, Michigan. And, as a bonus, we can hear in the night if the surf is up for a morning splash. How cool is that?

What’s a little surf to a seasoned kayaker?
A surfin’ safari in Lake Michigan.
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We see a lot of barns in our travels around southwest Michigan, but this one, just east of Three Oaks, Michigan on U.S. Hwy. 12, stands out in its field of dreams.
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Day is done; gone the sun. Summer is slip-slidin’ away.
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Flyboy takes five in his Mondo Deluxe cat bed.
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By Golly, a basket full of begonias basking in the morning sun. By Golly!
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Life with Charley:
You Can Go Home Again
by Charles McKelvy

Getting into the swim at Rainbow Beach with Dad in 1951.

Yes, you can go home again.
I base my claim on a recent realization I had while driving through the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago. I realized as I drove north along South Shore Drive that I was home, again.
The past—specifically the first six years of my life from May 7, 1950 to May 7, 1956—was present. I was back in the formative neighborhood of my early childhood, and I was feelin’ it.
Was I ever.
No, I’m not getting all Twilight Zoney on you here, but I think a lot of you know what I’m talking about. Face it, sports fans, we’re all getting older, a second at a time. And, as we wind down the mainspring of our lives on the mortal coil, we tend to look back.
And why not?
When wiser friends than I firmly suggested that I “should not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it,” I took them at their word.
Good advice.
And so, as I advance relentlessly into the eighth decade of my life, I rather enjoy looking back. And, lately, circumstances have enabled me to take a really good look at those aforementioned first six years of my life, when I lived in South Shore with my parents and baby brother, who arrived on the scene in the spring of 1953.
I am no expert on early childhood development, but I have interviewed those who are. They all claim that those young, developing brains of ours are—well—big, wet sponges lodged between our ears.
So my little McKelvy brain was on full record as I grew and developed in South Shore in the early 1950s. I didn’t need a camera or tape recorder to capture all those formative experiences with my parents and little brother, because that wonderful wetware between my ears did it all.
And those memories are there for instant retrieval, especially when I trigger them by one of my regular drives through the old ‘hood.
Take, for example, a recent drive home through South Shore:

I caught the red light at 79th Street and South Shore Drive and happened to look to the left. There for my wondering eyes to see was a sign identifying that stretch of green space along the big, blue lake as Rainbow Beach Park. I knew it simply as Rainbow Beach. I knew at once that I was in for a flood of memories, chiefly of my late father, James S. McKelvy, taking firm hold of my infant self and gently guiding me into the gentle surf of Lake Michigan. I couldn’t have been more than 18 months old at that point, but I was lovin’ it. And, as I waited for the green light, I was lovin’ it all over again.
Yeah, you really can go home again, and, sometimes, you have to take a trip down memory lane, or South Shore Drive, or whatever, in order to get there.
Well, I was there that afternoon in 2021 reliving that afternoon in 1951 when I was learning to swim from the master.
Yeah, my Dad.
The same guy who had rescued distressed swimmers from the big surf of the Atlantic Ocean along Long Beach Island in New Jersey. I knew I was in the best hands possible, and my dear old daddy sure got me lovin’ the whole experience of being in the open water.
So much so that I found myself entering open-water swimming events as an adult. Just such an example being the Fox Lake Challenge Four Mile Swim my swimming buddy, Tom “Griff” Griffith, and I entered in September 1986. That was a year after my father died. He was very much on my mind that chilly, post-Labor Day morn out there along the Fox River northwest of Chicago. Griff and I had trained for the swim in Lake Michigan between North Avenue and Oak Street in Chicago. Yes, we had more or less swum the full four-mile distance before our big day. We reckoned we were fit to be victors in our age groups, but then the race director dipped a thermometer into the water and shook his head. Now, this was in the age before swimmers could wear wetsuits for outdoor swims. We were all eyes and ears as he shook his head and proclaimed: “Hmmm. 64 degrees. If it was up to me, I’d cancel this event, but I’m leaving it up to you swimmers.”
There weren’t all that many of us—no more than 20 at the most—and we were all pumped and primed enough to chorus: “Let’s go for it.”
We all hopped into the icy drink, shivered and shrank, and then stroked on down the four-mile course. A course, mind you, that involved both the aforementioned Fox Lake, and then a channel that led to the Fox River. At least that’s how I remember it, but all I could focus on that morning was warming up in that chilly water and staying on course.
Mind you, the better prepared swimmers had arranged to have friends in kayaks and/or canoes escort them along the way, but Griff and I figured we’d buddy up and stay on course.
Well, right way old Griff said he was too cold to do much more than survive the swim. He told me to go on ahead without him, and, reluctantly, I did.
Sticking with my tried-and-true freestyle, or front-crawl stroke, I crawled across Fox Lake, looking up every couple of strokes to see where in tarnation I was. I could see some faster swimmers on up ahead, along with their canoe escorts, so I followed them.
And, in keeping with the theme of this essay, I truly went back to Rainbow Beach in 1951, and said, “Hey, Dad, how about swimming with me today?”
Dear Old Dad did just as I requested, and he was with me the whole, entire four miles. He swam before me, behind me, and beside me. He never left my side. I know he was more than a little amused when I overtook the fastest swimmer in the race, a nationally ranked Masters swimmer from Indianapolis. I caught up with her just shy of the finish line, and, as I approached her, I could see why I had caught her. She had hypothermia and was floundering, barely able to doggie-paddle forward.
I asked her if she needed help, and Dad and I were ready for an open-water rescue, but she was out of her head with the chills and screamed: “Don’t get near me!!!”
Dad said, “Back off, son, and call for help.”
Father knew best. I did the best thing for that poor woman I could by waving my arms and shouting for the race officials at the finish to paddle over in a rowboat and pull her out. They did. They had her wrapped in blankets and sipping warm fluid in no time; she lived to swim another day.
So did I. And so I waited for Griff to finish in fine, but utterly chilled, form. “Guess I still have a little more baby fat than you,” I told him.
He laughed and said I must have channeled some inner resource to finish as well as I did.
I shrugged and racked my success up to some “higher power thing,” knowing full well that I had gone home again to Rainbow Beach and enlisted the moral support of Dear Old Dad.
And Dear Old Dad was mighty proud that morning when the race officials gave this big boy a second-place trophy for the 30-39 year-old age-group.
My time that day?
No idea, except to say it was one of those magically real times of my life when my past informed my present.
So, yes, you can really go home again: I have a trophy on my mantlepiece to prove it.

I earned this without a wet suit.
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Proof positive that swimming is the best spectator sport, ever! This is one of the early events in Tuesday’s high school meet that saw the Bridgman Co-op Bees beat the Portage Northern Huskies, 97-92. Later, while the Bees reigned inside, it rained buckets outside. Not a spectator got even a drop.
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(Chicago, IL) I had my Canon PowerShot SX50 HS digital camera at the ready Sunday as I motored home from the Monastery of the Holy Cross on what I call the scenic route along the south shore of Lake Michigan. So when I caught the red light at 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, I snapped off two shots: one of 57th Street Beach and the other of the Museum of Science and Industry. Behold:

Surf’s up!
I saw them bring the captured U-505 submarine to the Museum of Science and Industry when I was a kid. It’s actually in this picture, but you just don’t see it because it’s underground.
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Golfers were out in force Sunday morning at the South Shore Golf Course in Chicago.
Golfers check in at the South Shore Cultural Center, operated by the Chicago Park District. This was once the South Shore Country Club. Now it’s everybody’s country club.
A cool place on a hot morning, in Chicago.
A golfer’s view of South Shore, my home from 1950 to 1956. Those were happy, first years of my life.
After round of golf, why not head on down the road and hit the beach? But not just any beach.
Why not Rainbow Beach, where my father taught me to swim?

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I went to sea yesterday with my tow-float and didn’t get hit by a single boat.
Away we go!
This is as far into the lake as Natalie has gone this summer. She’s afraid of getting the “nose crud.” She’s right, of course, because I have had it ever since my first plunge into the lake. What can I say: Lake Michigan operates on a natural filtration system.
This is my beach locker.
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(Berrien County Youth Fair, Mich.) We had the fairest of Fair days on Wednesday as we walked from horses to llamas and fancy chickens and swinging fairgoers and back again. It was all too beautiful, and, like everyone else on the fairgrounds, we were pent up from having been deprived of the Fair last year due to the COVID lock-downs. Here is a visual record of our fabulous day at the Fair:

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I was talking to a friend in Chicago on Sunday about the comparative merits of bicycling in the Windy City and in the Great Lakes State of Michigan. A native Michigander, he readily agreed that the latter trumps the former 10 to 1. Maybe 100 to 1. Why? Because we have something Chicago doesn’t have, and that being lightly traveled backroads. Let the following photo speak for itself. It shows Natalie (last fall) pausing to take in the view along Elm Valley Road just north of Three Oaks, Michigan.

Fabulous fall bicycling on the backroads of Michigan, just ahead.
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(Berrien County Youth Fair, Mich.) “Attention on the fairgrounds: the fun couple are back for a week of fun.”
The rides won’t be up and running until Wednesday, but we’ll be back!
Pet your bacon before you eat it.
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We mourn the loss of our friend and neighbor, Sue Krusack. Sue went home on Saturday, August 14, 2021. Fair winds and following seas, Sue.
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August 13, 1977 and counting. Happy Anniversary, Dearest!
The honeymooners in the Apostle Islands of Lake Superior. A superior honeymoon was had by all.
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If you can’t make it to Iowa tonight for the historic Sox/Yankees game, then take some good friends to a minor league game at a ballpark near you. This is los tres amigos at Four Winds Field in South Bend, last week. Yes, we saw fireworks during and after the game.

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One nation, under God.

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Had me a high ol’ time Sunday afternoon, riding to the nearby Warren Dunes State Park in sylvan Sawyer, Michigan. Yes, WDSP is the only country club I would ever join. Why? Because it’s the people’s park, for the people, of the people, and, it was with the people I dined al fresco on the beach, with my trusty e-bike at my side. Could life be better? I don’t think so. Oh, I tried the veggie burger, and, I must say, it had a spicy kick to it. Me gusta mucho. Here are the snaps from my snappy Sunday ride:

Journey’s end.
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