Cruising into yesterday

To all those travelers that over the years have visited this magical land. To their warm smiles in old photographs pasted in dusty scrapbooks. To their “wish you were here” messages sent on thousands of postcards. To the souvenirs they brought home with memories of an unforgettable vacation.

— Excerpted from “Vintage Views of the Mackinac Straits Region”
by M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson (Arbutus Press, 2007). 

Historic Great Lakes Cruises Cover

She stands white blazer buttoned, hands on hips with her elbows pointing out as far as her wide-legged pant seams, the most self-assured adventurer you ever did see smiling as sweet and bright as a choir of angels on the cover of a Georgian Bay Line 1939 Great Lakes Cruises brochure in my hands.

Life is grand!  says her star-shaped stance. And then I’m off, too, booking my passage on a big white ship all spiffed up with orchestras and mahogany dressers and a ballroom, ready to explore faraway ports like Penetanguishene and Isle Royale and to marvel at the “Soo” from the promenade deck with my own slacks billowing like sails.

Vintage images and words are a ticket to times past — an especially fun place to visit when you’ve passed through before, and a direct connection to eras you’ve never been.

Christine Byron and Tom Wilson are keep-savers of times past. After years of collecting old photographs, maps, advertisements, brochures, pamphlets, guidebooks and other materials, the Grand Rapids-based couple began pouring their love for northern Michigan, its history and the state’s tourism industry into published keepsakes of their own, the “Vintage Views” series: Leelanau County (2002, Sleeping Bear Press); the Charlevoix-Petoskey Region (2005, U of M Press/Petoskey Publishing Company); the Mackinac Straits Region (2007, Arbutus Press) and Along the West Michigan Pike (2011, Arbutus Press).

They wanted to show what drew early travelers to these regions they’d come to know so personally.  “We’ve also used messages from the backs of postcards, inviting readers to share someone else’s vacation from some other time and place,” said Tom, who started a business ( creating prints from nostalgic tourist and travel ephemera.

While these twice-awarded Michigan Notable Book authors generously shared treasured pieces of the past they’ve preserved over time with us for this vintage-themed issue of BLUE, Michigan’s rich legacy as a resort destination carries no less restorative power today than it did a century ago.

From classic car tours and historic resort havens to Great Lakes cruises and nostalgic spots to dine, we hope you’ll find stories inside are fun trips back to yesterday — along with more places and ways to discover and uncover that fun again this summer.

With heartfelt thanks for reading,

Lisa M. Jensen,

Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine

*Photography Courtesy Vintage Views Archives

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