As I grabbed a letter out of the box, I noticed there were several with a Notre Dame return address label. Mmmm – where did I get these – then I remembered Mark. He was a friend from years ago and his letters were written during the summer of 1977.
Summer was filled with golf, local softball tournaments and the famed Fayette’s Raft Races. This letter was followed by additional letters from Dave, Ron, Judy and Kathy all recapping and confirming the fun of the annual raft races in Niles, followed by the big dance and ending at the “Fayette”, drinking to the victory of the winning man-made raft with the coveted big trophy in hand.
The river fest lives on as the Niles River Fest but the Fayette Bar is long gone. The building still stands but the people that provided such a positive impact on the community for so many young people back in 1977 are no longer there. Luckily someone realized that the Fayette River Fest should not be forgotten and it was resurrected in 1992. Now another great Michigan Festival that makes it worth the trip to the Great Lakes State.
Dave – better known as “Nobes”, also wrote that year about the “great bike” trip to Interlochen – 245 miles. They camped at the Interlochen State Park. We “cooked out over the open fire, we usually had beans and some other canned meals, and of course – BEER”. Dave writes. They stayed at Brad’s cottage a few days and over to Denny & Jill’s cottage and then traveled up farther into Michigan to Glen Lake. Today Glen Lake is still a summer vacation haven and just across from the famed Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore - voted the Most Beautiful Place in America by Good Morning America and voters across the country!
Walt and Ron missed out that year for the annual bike trip because they had to work – they made it in 76 though. I wonder if those guys have ever planned a reunion ride – Dave, Walt, Brad and Ron. If they haven’t they should!
Back to Mark – now a doctor somewhere in the south, wrote several letters that year. He described the softball tournaments between East Main Gardens and Synder Vending of the Buchanon League, the Orchard Hills Junior Golf Championship (where he beat Bigford moving him into the Semi Finals to play the “very, very, very good” rival with the 2 handicap), the Barron Lake Day and his big “back to school party” on August 12th before everyone headed back to college – he back to Notre Dame. His passion though – consistent through all his letters, was always Notre Dame. One of his last letters later that year, could not contain his excitement that The Fighting Irish beat the Texas Longhorns for the National Title – now that was a letter. His excitement oozed from the written page as he wrote “the greatest team in the land” was the National Champion winning the Cotton Bowl. They “destroyed” #1 Texas – 38 to 10. To Mark, it was a great year. But all through his letters from the summer of 77, he conveyed that this would be the case, “this is ND’s year Julio” he wrote . . . and so it came to pass!
Not real sure where all those guys are today. I know where the guy is they wrote the letters to – in Virginia that summer of “77” missing his buddies in Michigan – now my ex-husband far away in Florida, missing Michigan again. Regardless – he left the letters behind and they make me smile. I remember the summer of “77” too – but across the state in a different part of Michigan. Watch for those letters . . . if I could only find that darn box!