2009.07.29 Gag me with spanakopita

Written by David Green.


I was applied for and was granted a mini-vacation last weekend.

It’s been a busy month with two brothers visiting at different times and all three children passing through town—all three at the same time for one night.

When daughter Rosanna (and Taylor) headed back south, Colleen and I delivered son Ben to his wife in the north country, and daughter Maddie went along.

Ben’s wife, Sarah, went to high school in Suttons Bay northwest of Traverse City. Her family also has a cottage across the bay in Elk Rapids. That’s where we traveled, to meet up with Sarah who arrived in the north a few days earlier than Ben.

It was a short-but-sweet journey. Kayaking in Grand Traverse Bay, swimming in Grand Traverse Bay and sailing in Grand Traverse Bay. Not a bad way to spend a day away from home.

I got a lot of writing done in the car while someone else drove, but I never had the time to write a By The Way tale. Back to the archives I go to find something from the past.

This tale is from a visit to Steve and Brenda Begnoche’s house in Ludington in July 1989. It was 20 years ago, but I still remember this incident very well. It almost chokes me up.

July 26, 1989

We made our annual trek to Ludington last Friday (an abbreviated version of a mini-vacation) to visit the Begnoches. As some of you will remember, Steve holds the record among former Observer employees for longevity as the editor here.

The whole weekend was rather uneventful except when Brenda Begnoche made that big man throw up in a restaurant. More about that later.

Uneventful is a very good word to describe the three fishing trips my son went on. Steve taught him the thrill of perch fishing off the Ludington breakwater, with a side trip to a sparkling river apparently devoid of life but for one water snake. Was that river upstream or downstream from the big Dow chemical plant? I don’t recall any specimen of wildlife attaching itself to a hook.

That’s not exactly true. A loose bobber and hook accidentally sailed downstream after getting cut from a big entanglement of fishing line. There were some exciting entanglements. Something was pulling that bobber under as it floated on down the river.

The final tally for the weekend stood at about seven hours of staring at bobbers in trade for seven perch. Ah, the joys of fishing.

But back to Brenda.

We went out to dinner at Maria’s Restaurant, a very long and thin eatery. You could have lunch at the front door, then sit down for dinner by the time you reached the back. We hiked into the middle and were seated next to a table of grownups. We were four adults with tolerable table manners and six kids.

We were minding our own business—and wishing the kids would do the same—when we noticed a man choking on his food. It was rather quickly decided that Brenda would do the honors of applying the Heimlich since she was a hospital employee.

It wasn’t pretty, but it worked. The victim soon returned to good humor, saying he would do anything for a hug. Brenda was then hugged by Maria and by the man’s wife, and soon everyone was applauding. If I remember right, a good time was had by all. But we passed up dessert.

The man thanked Brenda (“I’m surprised you even heard me with those loud kids”) and his wife complimented us on our well-behaved children (“I liked it best when the little girl got her hand stuck in the water glass”).

On the way home to Morenci, Ben asked when I was going to retire and whether we might ever move to Lundington. But at the Begnoche household, Michelle and Renee still have fond memories of growing up in Morenci, and they want to move back.

What? Give up Lake Michigan for Bean Creek? You bet! That’s what they want, so I guess it’s time to trade children.

  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Front.cowboy
    A PERFORMER named Biligbaatar, a member of the AnDa Union troupe from Inner Mongolia, dances at Stair District Library last week during a visit to the Midwest. The nine-member group blends a variety of traditions from Inner and Outer Mongolia. The music is described as drawing from “all the Mongol tribes that Genghis Khan unified.” The group considers itself music gatherers whose goal is to preserve traditional sounds of Mongolia. Biligbaatar grew up among traditional herders who live in yurts. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.base Ball
    UMPIRE Thomas Henthorn tosses the bat between team captains Mikayla Price and Chuck Piskoti of Flint’s Lumber City Base Ball Club. Following the 1860 rules, after the bat was grabbed by the captains, captains’ hands advanced to the top of the bat—one hand on top of the other. The captain whose hand ended up on top decided who would bat first. Additional photos of Sunday’s game appear on page 12 of this week’s Observer. The contest was organized in conjunction with Stair District Library’s Hometown Teams exhibit that runs through Nov. 20.
  • Front.chat
    VALUE OF ATHLETICS—Morenci graduate John Bancroft (center) takes a turn at the microphone during a chat session at the opening of the Hometown Teams exhibit at Stair District Library. Clockwise to his left is John Dillon, Jed Hall, Jim Bauer, Joe Farquhar, George Hollstein, George Vereecke and Mike McDowell. Thomas Henthorn (at the podium) kicked off the conversation. Henthorn, a University of Michigan–Flint professor, will return to Morenci this Sunday to lead a game of vintage base ball at the school softball field.
  • Front.cross
    HUDSON RUNNER Jacob Morgan looks toward the top of the hill with dismay during the tough finish at Harrison Lake State Park. Fayette runner Jacob Garrow focuses on the summit, also, during the Eagle Invitational cross country run Saturday morning. Continuing rain and drizzle made the course even more challenging. Results of the race are in this week’s Observer.
  • Front.bear
    HOLDEN HUTCHISON gives a hug to a black bear cub—the product of a taxidermist’s skills—at the Michigan DNR’s Great Youth Jamboree. The event on Sunday marked the fourth year of the Jamboree. Additional photos are on page 12.
  • Front.hose Testing
    HOSE safety—The FireCatt hose testing company from Troy put Morenci Fire Department hose to the test Monday morning when Mill Street was closed to traffic. The company also checks nozzles and ladders for wear in an effort to keep fire fighters safe while on calls.

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