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BBI: June 1966

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Frequent Floater
Frequent Floater

Joined: 12 Nov 2004
Posts: 61
Location: Toledo, Ohio

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 1:18 pm    Post subject: BBI: June 1966 Reply with quote

In June, 1966, my parents Tom and Diane Shannon were enjoying their first year of marriage, expecting me, and savoring their last day of a trip to BBI. Mom had finished the dinner dishes, proud that they had brought just enough food for the trip. She and Dad settled in for a quiet evening on the front porch, listening to the waves hit the shore as the sun slowly set.

Mom didnít recognize what she heard next, but Dad did. (Mom was an island newcomer, Dad spent time every summer of his life.) It was the church bell ringing again and again. Mom says Dad sprinted out to the road and saw a column of smoke. Like most of the rest of the island, they jumped in the car and ran to help.

The fire was at Mick Caulkinís cottage. It was a huge cottage. Dad said it had 12 bedrooms. By the time my parents got there, the pumper was on site, lines pulling water from the lake. No where near enough water to try to save the cottage, but hopefully enough to keep the fire contained.

No one was staying at the cottage, but the week before, painters and cleaners had been there getting the place ready. Dad always assumed that some pile of rags left behind started the fire.

My Dad and a bunch of other guys grabbed lines and climbed to the roof of the boat house to keep it soaked down. It was full of boats, fuel and oil, and if it had caught fire, it could have been catastrophic. The wind kept throwing embers at them. The embers were landing on the menís heads, so they sprayed each other as well as the roof.

The cottage had been surrounded by Lombardi poplars, which began to catch fire. Since the cottage was a loss, some men cut and dropped the flaming ones onto the cottage so they didnít spread the fire.

My Mom, eight months pregnant at the time, was trying to help where she could. Thatís when she heard the woman who ran the Birch Shop yelling. She had noticed a number of propane pigs out behind the cottage. They had to be moved out of range or they could explode. Mom and a bunch of women ran to get them moved.

Mom had just managed to kick one of the pigs out of itís rut in the ground and was rolling it away when she felt someone grab her arm. It was one very, very angry Ray Plaunt. He snarled at her. ďDammit, Diane, I donít need to make an emergency run to Cheboygan tonight!Ē Mom went back to the bucket brigade.

Everyone kept pouring as much water as they could until finally the fire was out. Dad said Ray and Curt had been on their way home from the dock when they spotted the smoke. Curt had been the one to ring the church bell.

My folks were too exhausted to leave the next day as planned. They both slept a long, long time. All they had for dinner that next night was tuna on lettuce leaves since they had run out of bread.

A slice of BBI history. Iíll post pictures of the Caulkinís cottage before and after. Mom took a picture of my Dad before he got cleaned up, so Iíll post that, too.

Please post the histories. Keep the tales alive!
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Beach Glass Hoarder
Beach Glass Hoarder

Joined: 06 Aug 2009
Posts: 23
Location: Ashtabula, Ohio

PostPosted: Sun Aug 16, 2009 10:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ray Plaunt....I kept saying Plott in my posts...but I think everyone knows!!
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Dan Reynolds
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Joined: 13 May 2002
Posts: 501

PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That is a GREAT story, Erica. I mean, not great for the loss of Caulkins' cottage, but a depiction of how things on the Island are and should be. People dropping everything to help one another, and doing what needs to be done without a thought for themselves.
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