As a Petoskey teenager in 1969, the only thing I knew about Mancelona, MI was that it was a small town with several turkey farms along a barron stretch on US 131.
That winter, my Dad and Mom, and younger brother, Craig, and I were traveling north in a Volkswagon Bug during a slushy snowy Sunday when we got sucked up in the slush and drifted off the road to hit a mailbox head on. The mailbox bounced off the front windshield, smashing it into 1,000,000 tiny pieces of ground glass. The mailbox post also crinkled our front end into a V shape.
After being towed down the road, we ended up staying at a gas station for an hour or so to evaluate the damage. It was then I saw Mancelona’s football star, donned in a greasy oil-stained blue work shirt with a name tag displaying “Mike”.
(I still remember his name (Mike C*******), as I was a sleuth back then, even without the aid of the Internet, and tracked him down in the weeks that followed, without his knowledge of course.)
He reassured my Mother about the glass in her hair (and beyond), and gave my Dad some advice about driving the Bug the rest of the way home to Petoskey. I seem to recall a roll of Duck Tape coming into play.
Me? I was just mesmerized by a small town boy who was so adult, and so darn cute with a square jaw and short curly brown hair, hidden away in a tiny village which seemed to have nothing to offer.
The gas station is gone now, but I still recall how wonderful the village of Mancelona made me feel that snowy day in 1969. It was hard to fathom that in 1869, exactly 100 years prior…four years after the Civil War, Perry Andress homesteaded here and named the village after his daughter, Mancelona.
Now, I live here and call it my home ~ with my “bestest” friend and husband, Rustic Russ.
I love Mancelona.
I love the Mancelona Do-It Best Hardware on the corner where they smile and shout a hello to you by name. I love the tiny Post Office where, if I don’t show up for a week to get mail, they hold it and bring it to the counter without a request from my lips. I love the one stop light, by the best DQ near the 45th Parallel.
I love the fact that Rustic Russ can ride on horseback through the Glen’s parking lot with our friend’s, also on horseback or with their covered wagon, and not cause a stir.
And in the winter, you may see Rustic Russ running his team of sled dogs down our road, along the airport, and heading into town.
It is now winter in Mancelona.
If you happen to see his team at the Hardware, or the Feed Store, be sure and say Hello…
And say a silent prayer of thanks for a small town, named after a small girl, that hasn’t changed its ways…and doesn’t make it’s people change their ways.
We can remain like those in the past, 100 years ago, when people traveled by dog power and horseback and no one expected anything different.
Small, simple freedom is a wonderful blessing.
Until tomorrow ~ God willing,