Thursday, February 2, 2012

The What Not Inn

Guest post by Ann Jane

 When Betsy asked me to write a guest post on her blog, she had me shaking in my snow boots.  Me?  Write?  On someone’s blog?  A formal type writer I am not.  
 However, what she asked me to write about was easy:  My Grandparents or someone earlier.
[Ann admitted to me that when the temperature hits 50* she's outdoors painting, so her blog, Willy Nilly, This and That might be all about her artwork! (hint, Ann!)]

  Lucky me!  I knew my Great grandparents on my Mom's side.  We spent many a Sunday afternoon piling in my Grandpa’s big old Buick and taking a mini road trip to the “What Not Inn.”

 The first I remember being there I was probably five years old because my brother was a baby and for some reason he cried all the way there.  Kind of unforgettable in a car with 6 people and a 30 mile ride.  It seems like a forever ride to a five year old anyway.  But what fun it was to finally get there.  

 I was named after Anna, my Great Grandma.  I always thought that was kind of cool and she and my Great Grampa John were quite the characters, running that Inn from the 1920's until the late 1950's.  The Inn was located just South of the Resort towns of Saugatuck, Douglas and Holland, on the main and, at that time only, road North along the Lakeshore of Lake Michigan between Chicago and points North.  Back then it was almost exclusively Chicago people who had Summer Homes on the Lake, the most famous being Al Capone.  Some interesting people passed through and came to eat at the Inn and spend the night in the cabins.

 Back then, I was the youngest mobile child at these family Sunday and Holiday get togethers.  The older kids could wander and play in the Orchard or on the bridge over the Koi Pond but being the Wee One as he called me, my Gramps seemed to be my playmate.  He was a combination magician, artist and someone who just knew how to be a kid himself.  The old man had a huge bushy white mustache and a shock of unruly white hair and he always wore some kind of straw hat or Beret to hold it down. 

 Oh boy could he tickle a little kid with that "stache"!

 Gramps thrilled all the kids with the Quarter appearing out of your ear trick and a Quarter was a lot of goodies at the corner store for kids in those days. The boys would tuck theirs in their pants pocket but for us girls still in our Sunday Best dresses, Gram would get a handmade lace edged handkerchief and make a knotted pouch and tie it around our wrist. She seemed to have a never ending supply of these handkerchiefs in her apron pockets for some reason.

 Gramps was never without a pencil tucked over his ear and a pad of paper stuffed in a pocket.  The man could sketch and draw anything you asked him to.  THAT was my greatest fascination: to see lines turn into an animal and the animal into a scene out of his head.  He must have done hundreds for me in the short 5 years that I was lucky to have time to spend with him.  

 I’m sorry to say I didn’t inherit his drawing talent -- but it sure hasn’t been for a lack of trying over the years!

 My Great Gramma Anna sold the restaurant part of the Inn after he died but she still ran the 8 little cabins behind the house.  Somehow it just wasn't the same going to visit after he passed, maybe because I was older and there were younger kids and I could play with the big kids.  There was a very big presence, at least for me, that was missing.

 The What Not Inn is still there today and has been remodeled and expanded over the years to a Bar and full service restaurant.  There is this Awesome wall as you come in the door with photographs from the day it was built to the present and local area photos, with my Great Gramps in almost every one of the old original ones -- along with a few infamous guests that spent their Summers on the Shore.

  I think I should go visit that place again.   This time, I think take my camera and see if I can recapture some memories.

Some fun posts of Jane's:

Find Ann Jane on:
 aka @equuisdancer on Twitter
 her blog: Willy Nilly, This and That 


  1. That's a nice story Ann! It sounds like you had a great relationship with your grandfather. It's strange how the whole feel of a place changes once the pivotal figure is no longer there. I'd want a poster-photo of that Wall for my home!

    1. Lori,

      Thanks so much for visiting my Guest post that Betsy was so kind to ask me to do.

      You are so right about the pivotal figure not being there and how it changes everything.

      I have great plans for photos of that soon as they re-open in the Spring!


  2. Your vivid memories, Ann, paired with my own of living in those dunes on Lake Michigan made for a wonderful moment when I read this. I could almost feel the sand and see the trillium. Thanks so much.

    1. Hi Susan,

      Thanks for stopping by. Wow, your from Michigan? What part?

      Trillium in the Spring and sand between your toes are a given. Glad I could take you "home" for a bit.


  3. It sounds like you have some great memories.

    1. HI Jack, Thanks for stopping by..I do have a lot of memories, my Grandparents were a large part of my growing up years. Living on a Farm everyone chipped in at one point in time and one set lived in part of that big old farm house. Another story maybe.


  4. What are snow boots?.......I'm from the land of flip flops...........:)

    Ah yes, the car trip. One of my fondest memories is loading up in our station wagon at about 10 at night because my dad didn't want to drive on a crowded road and there were 6 of us; my parents, my grandmother and my two sisters in addition to me. Except we were driving from Central Florida to South Carolina. However, it was quite the adventure for me because we didn't vacation much 'back in the day'.

    Thanks for sharing your family with us.

    1. Hi Bill..Thanks for coming to visit. LOL..yes, Snow Boots. They are lined up right next to my flip flops though..those are impatiently waiting for the weather you enjoy year round!

      Car trips..they are rather memorable when you have the whole family plus along! But make for fun memories..My Dad always took the "back roads" which meant we got lost alot..he'd just laugh and say "We might be lost, but we're making good time"

      We'd all roll our eyes at that point. Maybe another story there!


  5. Hi Ann,

    What a lovely story and what a great personality your grandfather was. Thank you so much for sharing your childhood memories with us.

    I dreaded those family drives when I was a child, one of us children was always sick, and we had to be quiet unless we wanted to walk!

    1. Hi Barbara..Thanks for stopping in!

      Boy I'm glad I wasn't the only kid who dreaded the drive..but the end result was well worth the trip. I'm not sure we were ever told to walk..I think my folks probably would have been afraid we would!



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