"[History is] a cyclic poem written by time upon the memories of man." -Percy Bysshe Shelley

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

another Belter's Island reminiscence

a vintage ad

From a 2010 interview with Cal LaPorte, conducted by Janelle Kohl:

Cal remembers that Belter's Island was there before 1925. Years later, when Cal turned 21, he was allowed to go there for a beer. Drinking age was 21 back in the 40's.

Belter's Island Resort was neat and clean. It was a local bar and run nicely. Lots of music and dancing. Mrs. Belter had a lot of antiques. She also had a piano that she played.

In order to get there, one would have to get picked up from the mainland and taken over by boat. Whenever you wanted to leave the island you could get a ride back.

Belter's owned the island and Beaumont's were there too. They were related by marriage. [As the previous article indicates, Mrs. Beaumont was the daughter of the Belter's.]

Cal recalls a story about a happening on the island:

There was a bachelor named ----. He always had his car at the main landing to get to the island. In the winter you walked over to the island. A few people each year might take a chance and drive over. ---- was known to drink a lot. One winter he disappeared. Townspeople looked for him all winter and no one could find him anywhere. Come spring, when boats were out and about, he was found in the bottom of Stone Lake at the main landing. Evidently, he took a drive right into the lake and never made his way back out. All on the Stone Lake parking lot to the island.

Memories of a Forgotten Island

pictures from the article
Reprinted from the Lakeland Times, January 2, 2009, by Joyce Laabs.

Editor's Note: Memories fade, but some are captured to be renewed. This was the case of Beaumont's Island on Stone Lake in Manitowish Waters. The following appeared in The Lakeland Times in July 1978. We thought our readers would enjoy a piece of forgotten history.

My Sweet Little Miss as Manitowish
I've got a sweet little miss at Manitowish, Wisconsin 
With golden hair and blue eyes -- blue as the sky
When the moonlight shines on those Northern pines
She'll be waiting there for me.
On that island of Bliss -- I'll steal a little kiss
That will send me in ecstasy.
We'll find romance galore -- on the shores of Beaumont's Island
I'm in love -- so in love with my sweet Little Chick-a-dee
I'll take her into my arms -- with all of her charms and her beauty and love for me
Gee -- but I miss -- my sweet little miss
At Man-Man-Manitowish
At Man-Man-Manitowish.
  Last week the strains of the above song, written in 1948, echoed across Stone Lake in Manitowish Waters for the last time when Mitzi Beaumont again sat at the piano in the now-deserted bar on Beaumont's Island to knock out a little "honky tonk" jazz.

For those who heard it, memories of an era that spanned the years from 1932 to 1960 flooded back.

Those were the years when the bar and resort on the island really "swung" -- the years it was under the ownership of Maude Belter -- and after her death -- her daughter Mitzi Beaumont.

Beaumont's Island sits in the middle of the Manitowish chain. Many, many years ago it was part of the mainland. No one is sure which year it split off -- or why -- but one day there it was: six acres of land topped by some 2,000 trees, sitting in Stone Lake.

Records do show that in 1904 the United States Government, under Theodore Roosevelt, deeded the island to Edward McQuire. We also know that a boys' camp operated on the island at one time and that the Koerner's owned the island for a period.

Apparently, five cabins had been constructed on the island prior to 1904, but there is no information as to whether they were built while it was part of the mainland or after it split off. We also know that, prior to 1932, the Hungers had operated Cedar Lodge Resort on the island, but it had laid dormant for some four years before Maude Belter saw it.

In 1931, Maude was vacationing in the area -- visiting Mrs. Walter Mewes of Milwaukee at their resort, Mewes Lodge, on Spider Lake. Mrs. Mewes was the world champion in the women's division of national fly and bait casting, a title she won in 1934.

Maude decided she would like to spend her summers in Wisconsin's Northwoods, so set about looking for something to purchase. She found the island that summer, and the moment she saw it she knew it was for her.

At that time, the island held eight buildings: a homestead cabin, six rental cabins, and a large cabin that served as a dining area. The cabins were rented on a weekly basis, with some of them rented for the entire summer season. All were built of hand-hewn logs, chinked to fit. There were refrigerators and kerosene stoves in the cabins, linoleum on the floors, and the ever present out-house behind.

Maude Belter applied for, and received, the first liquor license on the island. She then converted the dining area into a bar and dining room, and in the summer of 1932 opened for business.

Getting the customers to the island was another matter. A great bell was stationed on the shore, directly across from the island. The bar customers would be picked up at this point. They merely rang the bell and boats would go and pick them up. After drinking their fill, they were returned to the mainland. Resort guests were picked up at the Rest Lake Landing.

Belter's Bar became known throughout the north. Knowing as a place where there was always a little music and dancing. A place where you could "sit in" and play for a set or two; where there was always fun and companionship. At one time, it was known as the "show place" of the north. Now it was known as the "fun place" of the north.

Maude ran the resort and bar each summer until her death in 1949. She even spent several winters living on her island. After her death, her daughter, Mitzi Beaumont, bought the island and continued the operation -- adding a few innovations of her own.

Mitzi loved to play the piano and sing, and one could always be sure of good entertainment on Beaumont's Island.

Guests from far and wide continued to flock to the island. Now, when the bell rang, customers would be picked up by a big war surplus inboard launch that Mitzi and her husband had purchased.

Mitzi had also added another innovation. Directly over one of the stools at the bar, they drilled an opening of about 10 inches. When young men brought their dates to the bar, they tried to sit right under the opening -- then, after a few beers -- would give Mitzi the nod.

Mitzi would go outside, climb the stairs to the second floor, position herself over the opening and drop a fox skin (with the head still intact) through. This never failed to bring a piercing scream, a wild jump and a round of laughter.

Mitzi ran the bar and resort from 1950 to 1960, but just during the summer season, returning to her home in Milwaukee each winter.

"There's no way you'd get me to live up here in the winter. It's just too cold, and I'd be isolated," she said.

In 1960, Mitzi shuttered the entire operation. "It got to be just too much work and I wasn't getting any younger." Mitzi turns 80 this year, although one would never know it to look at her, and one would never believe it if you watched her play the old piano and sing. She's still full of fun, has a love for people, and a deeper love for her island.

She now spends her summers puttering around the island, and travels to her daughter and son-in-law's home -- directly across from the island -- for breakfast and a little conversation -- each morning. Her grandson and son-in-law rake the grass that fronts on one side of the island -- but other than that, the island is quiet.

The furnishings remain in most of the cabins and there are still many wonderful pieces in the bar. Now, Mitzi has made a decision. This year, each of her children will choose the section of the island they wish to own and Mitzi will deed it to them.

"I may come back next summer and spend some time on the island, but I'm concerned I might trip over a  root, for walking isn't that easy on the island. I think though that the time has come for my children to take it over.

"They may restore some of the cabins, or they may tear them down. Whatever they wish to do with their part of the island is fine. However, there will be no trees cut down. The trees on this island are so beautiful -- and breath-taking in the fall. I'm just happy to see the island remain in the family."

So, its hey-day now past, Beaumont's Island remains isolated, tranquil and beautiful. The bell still stands on the mainland, its peal silenced for the most part -- but when it does sound -- the memories of the island linger on.

"tuning in" at the library

air conditioning, plus...
Visit the library for the latest in summer extravaganza: air conditioning and Mozart! Plus books, movies and more.

As I have recently finished reading Don Campbell's The Mozart Effect, not to mention recently returned from a week studying therapeutic harp playing, it seemed appropriate to integrate what I have learned from these experiences. In The Mozart Effect, Campbell found that businesses and individuals who listened to Mozart (or Bach or some equally "structured" music) found a leap in productivity and reasoning skills. (Other music produces different effects.)

To whit, we have introduced Mozart behind the library's front desk. Already I (Callie) am inclined to spring about, pixie-like. Not that this is anything particularly unusual, mind you.
...Mozart, equals...

Campbell further found that individuals who took "music breaks" for about 20 minutes each day found themselves more refreshed and invigorated. So when you are suffering from that post-lunch "afternoon slump," pop on your iPod.

But let me add a caveat that rock music has mixed effects -- although it can initially raise the adrenaline levels, after a time it has been shown to grate on the system. You may notice more effects from instrumental music, particularly Classical. Try a bit of Baroque, some Impressionist, some New Age... see what you like and adjust accordingly. After all, if you don't like it, it's not going to do much good no matter what the experts say!

Let this also exist as a comparison to the dentist's office, where I went yesterday for my six-month teeth cleaning. (No cavities, thanks for asking.) There, they played a stream of Oldies on the radio. Although I'm sure the staff get some enjoyment out of Bruce Springsteen, not to mention the weather forecast, they would probably find that patients experience less discomfort and require smaller doses of anesthetic if they put on some very mellow, relaxing music. Personally, I find that when I'm in the dentist's chair with someone scraping on my teeth, Bruce (though enjoyable under other circumstances) causes my muscles to tighten and makes me want to clench my jaw.

....Ecstasy! (by Maxfield Parrish)
And now that we have finished a blog post entirely unrelated to the history of Manitowish Waters, go on your way -- with music!!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Celebrating 20 Years with Janelle!

Last week we held a celebration for our head librarian, Janelle Kohl, to honor the anniversary of her 20 years of work here at the Koller Library! Donna made cake, many patrons brought cookies and treats, and we generally enjoyed a festive atmosphere. Please join us in thanking Janelle for her years of wonderful service to the library and community!