Birches, Ink, Stone

One of many postcards of Silver Bay from Detroit Publishing. In the late 1890’s, the company obtained the rights to a Swiss process for converting black-and-white photos to color prints using lithographic stones. A separate stone was used for each color, from four to 14 stones depending on the complexity of the photo. Cheaper methods eventually put the company out of business. Of their Silver Bay postcards I have seen, the postmarks date from 1907 to 1917.


Dogs cannot stay in the Inn at Silver Bay, which may be the one thing that’s wrong with it. So while we vacationed this summer, Gus was far away in dog jail and I suffered from pooch-deprivation. But one morning, walking back up from Slim Point, I saw a Labrador Retriever in the company of a young girl who was watching her mother play tennis.

I stopped and said, “Can I say hello?” And the little girl said, “Sure.”

“What’s your dog’s name,” I asked, and she replied, “Bailey.”

I held out my hand to Bailey, expecting a nose bump or a dog lick, but instead, Bailey took most of my hand in her mouth; my thumb stuck out on one side and the tips of my fingers showed out the other.

“Don’t bite, Bailey!” said the little girl, but I was not worried. There is really only one way a Lab can hurt you, and that is when you bend over in greeting and the dog jumps up and breaks your jaw. It’s not on purpose; they just have really hard heads. Bailey was not jumping up. Bailey was softly chewing my hand, a dreamy expression in her dark brown eyes.

I grew up with a Labrador; they are bred to retrieve game undamaged and have what is called “a soft mouth.” Bailey, who was new to the world in February, still had some baby teeth I could feel. There was really no chance of pulling my hand free; Bailey was not going to drop this duck.

With my left hand, I began scratching Bailey behind her ear. Bailey, though young, was not born yesterday. She realized that if she let go, I could scratch her behind both ears. That was how it worked out. In parting, I looked once more into her brown eyes, thanked the little girl, and walked up to the Inn, a little less lonely.

The Silver Bay Story

The Silver Bay Story: 1902-1952 by E. Clark Worman, a nice history, was published in 1952 by the Silver Bay Association. It includes black & white photos by William Terzian and a map of the Silver Bay campus on the endpapers by Malcolm Graeme Duncan. Copies appear on eBay fairly often, or you can go to Abebooks where copies are currently on sale for between $1.00 and $54.00

The Raft

And this one, from 1991:

At Silver Bay, Abbie swam to the raft for the first time in her young life. When she tired, she’d float on her back for a moment. I swam alongside in the event she sank, but she made the ladder in fine style. And when she climbed up and onto the raft, and turned around to see the beach half a world away, the look in her face was wonderful. She sat down, hugging her knees, shivering with excitement, her eyes huge, her smile ethereal. I asked if she wanted to swim back in, and she said, “Not just yet,” and stayed a while longer to savor her triumph. I thought I would burst with pride.


My daughter tells me I should include more stories, so here’s this one, from about 20 years ago:

One of my fondest memories of Silver Bay is an afternoon at the beach, at Slim Point, that was interrupted by a thunderstorm. The sky above was clear and beautiful, but a huge cloud suddenly appeared from behind the mountain at our backs, and the thunder was audible from miles away as the storm approached. We scrambled to get everything together and I put Abbie up on my shoulders, carrying her as fast as I could to the Inn. We got to the front steps just as the rain began, and ran up to the room to check the windows. The wind was blowing from the other direction so no rain was coming in. Abbie and I laid on the bed together and watched the storm roll over the Inn, over Silver Bay, over the lake, and on to the mountains beyond, oooing and ahhing with each lightning strike. It was one of my favorite moments of fatherhood, being able to share the excitement and wonder of a really beautiful storm in a really beautiful place with my little girl, who had never seen anything like it.