Friday, July 06, 2007

Go Jump In The Lake

....quick, before the State of Michigan makes it illegal to jump off the piers. This is the most ridiculously unenforceable laws that I think they have ever considered (although the $500 fine will make it profitable for the state to do so).
I grew up in Grand Haven, located on the shores of Lake Michigan, where the waters of the Grand River spill brown into the blue of the Great Lake. On either side of the river are piers, one with a lighthouse maintained by the Coast Guard to guide ships through into the harbor where they can drop off coal for the city owned power plant, or construction materials for Construction Aggregates, farther upstream in Ferrysburg (that's right, it's just southwest of Fruitport).
The pier is one of the tourist attractions, and is featured prominently in advertising for many local businesses who thrive during the tourist season, as well as a symbol for the city itself. Many people who come to town take the long walk to the end of the pier, where they take some pictures, and then head back. We called them "fudgies" in honor of their predilection for buying fudge at the many confectionaries along the west coast of Michigan. (We, in turn, were "townies", local yokels who stuck around when Old man Winter dropped mountains of snow on the beach) There is no real industry in Grand Haven besides the tourist industry, most of the autoparts manufacturers having been outsourced to other places.
As a teenager, we would all gather at the second ladder of the pier (which makes the story of the 19 year old Grand Rapids woman who was unable to pull herself onto the pier unbelievable. She couldn't climb up a ladder?), where we would dive and swim (and sometimes, in a fit of misplaced testosterone, ride our bikes off)in the lake, far away from the fudgies who lined the shores with their screaming kids and loud top forty radios blaring disco music. The water wasn't very deep (only about twelve feet, which was how we were able to retrieve our bikes after riding them off there)), and it was free of under water rocks and other debris. And, we were smart enough to obey the signs posted by the US Army Corps of Engineers warning us to stay off the pier during high seas. Now, future generations of townie's good times are in peril because some do gooder with misplaced intentions wants to spoil it for the many to protect the few, who, if they aren't good enough swimmers to be able to swim to shore (which is not that far, my buddies Leroy and Ron Nasty used to swim to shore from the end quite frequently), shouldn't be in the water in the first place.


Peacechick Mary said...

Another stupid law - Minnesota people can't fly a flag not made in America. Sorry about your pier situation and some dumb cluck tourist who is obviously too weak to think either.

Kathy said...

Too bad the state Republicans pushing this legislation don't have the same concern for our soldiers dying in Iraq.