I thought since the Flier Memorial services are on a Thursday and Friday, some of you might want to know what you can do around Muskegon other than hang at the museum (which is fine by us!) A lot of visitors to the Museum have often asked me “What do you do around here anyway?” Well, despite what the teenage locals will tell you, there’s quite a lot to do around Muskegon, especially in the summertime. Following are some of my favorites.
There’s Michigan’s Adventure, the amusement park that’s half rollercoasters and half water park. They’re constantly updating every year, and it’s amazing. There’s the Summer Luge Track (If I remember correctly it’s the only one in the country, or it’s one of two), Muskegon State Park if your inclination is for hiking and swimming (You can hike beach, dunes, transition dunes and woodland all in the same area, or visit the Blockhouse, a replica of an 1812 lookout tower that guarded Muskegon during the War of 1812. Hike far enough, and you can photograph the Silversides from her starboard side.). You can swim at Pere Marquette Beach, have a meal and Ice Cream at RuthAnn’s. (Ruth Ann’s Flirts with the boundary of the state park so you have gorgeous scenery to eat in. ) Visit the Muskegon Farmer’s Market on Thursday or Saturday for everything from fresh produce to candles, doughnuts, cheese, pet accessories, Amish or Mennonite items, handmade furniture, live plants, and other things. My favorite Cheese Lady is there. What’s there is different every time, and the place is very large. If you lean towards Art, there is the Muskegon Art Museum which will be featuring the Regional Juried Art Exhibition. During the Flier weekend, Muskegon will be hosting the Unity Christian Music Festival. On $10/day and you have the opportunity to hear several bands that day for the price. (If you’re near enough, Muskegon also hosts an Irish Music Festival, a Summer Celebration Festival, among MANY others. Living there was often like getting a free concert every weekend as the music drifted across the lake.)
As mentioned earlier, there’s also the Hackley and Hume homes, built when Muskegon was a booming logging, sawmill and transport town. During this time, Muskegon had more millionaires per capita than any other town in the WORLD. (And that was back when being a millionaire was a BIG deal.) This is why, when you look in the several block radius around the Hackley Hume homes (two of the most beautiful and fanciful homes I’ve ever seen) there are so many gorgeous homes with multiple floors, porches, overhangs, turrets, and beautiful hand-carved details. These men believed in philanthropy and helping the town so they also built many things for the people, such as the Hackley Public Library. It looks like a castle, and has stained glass windows of many famous writers and authors. It also has a precise replica of the Book of Kells, the famous seventh century hand-drawn book discovered in Ireland, with beautiful illuminations and knotwork. Only a few exact replicas were ever made, and they cost thousands of dollars a piece. The Muskegon Irish-American Society undertook a fundraiser to bring one of these replicas to the Muskegon Library. It’s the only one on permanent display in a library in North America. They turn one page a week. It’s a gorgeous building to visit.
There the Frauenthal, which is one of those theaters built in that era where they had real box seats in the sides of the walls and gilded carvings surrounding the stage. Believe it or not, the Glenn Miller Orchestra will be performing on Saturday, August 14, at the Frauenthal. (Glenn Miller, for those who don’t know, was a huge WWII era performer. The men of the Flier, Redfin and Robalo probably listened to his records and certainly danced to it.) There’s Hackley Park, a memorial for the Civil War era soldiers from Muskegon.
There’s the LST-393 Museum, dedicated to the Landing Ship Tank Ships, workhorses of the military in WWII. Strange thing about those ships, despite the fact that hundreds of them served during WWII, only TWO still exist, one in Muskegon. After WWII, they were sold to freighting companies all over the world. They served, and most were eventually scrapped, scuttled, or abandoned, if they weren’t lost at sea. The 393 was sold to a company in Muskegon who turned it into Highway 16, a ferry linking Muskegon and Milwaukee (much like the Lake Express Ferry today.) After she was retired, she was moored in Muskegon and more or less forgotten, just like many of her sisters. Unlike her sisters however, when her identity was discovered, she was not too far gone to restore, thanks to the fresh water of the Great Lakes in which she had traveled since 1946. Her bow doors were re-opened (they’re the front door to the museum), and she has bee re-done from bow to stern. If you’re interested in more Naval History in the European Theater, she’s a good stop.
I love Muskegon, in case you haven’t realized, and still miss it, years after my husband and I had to leave for our work. I hope you do too during your time there for the Memorial.
And sixty-six years ago today, Flier is still in the drydock. She will be until tomorrow. She is scheduled to leave on 2 August, and has double exercises with the submarine Muskallunge between now and then, plus night training, and satisfactory completion of her sound test. The men would be hard pressed to finish everything in time.