2002.07.03 Two summers in Bay View

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

I had one of those eyebrow-raising, ear-perking moments while listening to the morning news one day last week. The news person suddenly mentioned the Terrace Inn in Petoskey, Michigan.

It’s not really in Petoskey; it’s in Bay View on the north edge of Petoskey. I just read that Bay View is a “fairytale village,” but that isn’t true either.  It really exists. I spent two college summers there—working at the Terrace Inn.

The story on National Public Radio addressed the problem that seasonal workers are having. Due to national security issues, there’s a huge backlog of visa requests.

The head waiter at the Terrace Inn missed the first month of work because he couldn’t get into the country. It’s a nation-wide problem and several hotel owners are suing the Immigration and Naturalization Service.

The head waiter, by the way is from Jamaica.

Jamaica? At the Terrace Inn?

Things have definitely changed in Bay View since Lester and Stella Teegardin owned the inn.

Stella Teegardin owned the inn 30 years ago. When I was there, we had workers from such exotic locales as Guss, Iowa, and Eagle Fall, Wis., but never any farther than Nebraska.

I have many fond memories from the Terrace Inn. I was the only male worker living there among 10 young women. We were sequestered in the damp, chilly basement of the big hotel and it was wonderful.

In the late 1960s, the Terrace Inn was nothing fancy. It was a big three-story affair with many rooms filled by regulars who returned every summer until they died or were unable to make the trip.

The rooms were nice but plain. Bathrooms were down the hall. Air conditioning was handled by opening a window to catch the cool breezes off Little Traverse Bay.

We had no Jamaican head waiter. The staff consisted of ordinary college kids like me. Maids, waitresses and assistant cooks, plus the only male who operated the Hobart dishwasher. There was one professional on the staff. Fran came from Peoria every summer to serve as head cook. She made the famous Fran’s Fritters and she was an expert at broiling whitefish.

The Terrace Inn website portrays a much different picture of summer lodging. the There are 43 rooms with 43 baths. Plain rooms apparently don’t exist. There’s the Hemmingway Room, the Somewhere In Time Room and the Lighthouse Lovers Room.

There’s the Deluxe Jacuzzi Suite for only $159 per night plus $45 extra for each additional guest up to four.

The dining room is now the Historic Dining Room. That justifies “a four-course dining experience for under $30!” Exclamation point indeed. A dish of ice cream costs only $3.25. Guests now have the option of eating on the historic porch. Nobody was going to get served on the porch in 1969. I don’t think Lester would have allowed it.

Now, they even offer horse-drawn sleigh rides, which suggests year-around occupancy. Bay View used to shut down around Labor Day. I think there was concern about the Petoskey Fire Department’s ability to drive the snowy hills of the village in the winter.

Early September was always such a sad time at the Terrace Inn. One by one, the workers would head off to Pellston for the flight home, or load up their baggage into the family car for a trip back to Owosso, Toledo or Jackson. The summer people, including the few wealthy Bay View kids who would befriend us lowly hotel workers, would leave in droves.

I saw on another website that the Terrace Inn is for sale. The cuisine is described as country inn. The atmosphere is characterized as casual/romantic. A suggested financial arrangement required just $9,637 a month for 20 years. That all it takes for the $1.3 million facility to be yours.

You even get a head waiter from Jamaica who loves working in Bay View because the job is pleasant and pay is good. When he missed his first month of work due to visa problems, he lost out in $2,000 in wages.

$2,000?

There’s another way in which the Terrace Inn has changed. In 1969, a dishwasher from Morenci never cleared a thousand for the whole wonderful summer.

    – July 3, 2002 
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