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Time In A Bottle

I suppose these places exist because we have fond memories of our past.  Recently I was told by a friend that they were going to Coldwater, Michigan to a Drive Inn Theater.  We used to have two Drive Inn’s in our town.  One in fact was so close to our house that we could look out the picture window and see the screen.  It was easy entertainment.  Pay your money to drive into their parking lot, park by a speaker within good viewing of the big screen, and hook your speaker to your window.  Turn up the sound and you were in business.  As kids I remember sneaking in back of the fence as a group to watch the movie.  Unfortunately we couldn’t hear the sound and it wasn’t quite the same as being inside.  Of course our two theaters closed years ago along with Drive Inn Theaters throughout the country. 

Drive-In Movies

Drive-In Movies

We used to play video games in a place called StarWorld.  It was a business that had probably over 100 video games and pinball machines in one place.  Your money was converted into tokens and you were free to play games until the tokens ran out!  StarWorld has long since closed and the good times there are distant memories.  A couple of years ago we visited a nostalgic video game business where we played many of the video games we enjoyed at StarWorld.  Although our son is too young to remember StarWorld we brought him along to share in our memories.  For a little while it was a trip back in time playing Ms Pac-man, Space Invaders, Centepede, and other games that were entertaining and fun!   Time goes by so fast and taking a trip back to a moment that was truly memorable is a nice experience!

The old arcade games were fun!

The old arcade games were fun!

Tashmoo Park was an Amusement Park on Harsens Island in Algonic, Michigan.  It opened in 1897 and closed in 1951.  The famed Tashmoo Steamship docked at the park daily offering Detroiters an easy access to the park.  Tashmoo Park provided visitors an escape from the excessive heat and humidity of crowded Detroit summertimes. It had picnic tables, a baseball diamond, swings and rides, as well as a casino and a dancing pavilion.  It also had a bathhouse and swimming beach. 

Tashmoo Park

                                                      Tashmoo Park

Tillie Esper and her friend Selina Pramstaller visited the park on June 30, 1915.  Tillie was 23 and Selina was 17.  Maybe it was like a big sister little sister relationship.  Perhaps Selina’s parents were more at ease with Selina going as long as Tillie was with her.  They were in the middle of a full day in which they probably experienced all that the park had to offer.  I imagine they went on many of the rides and probably cooled off in the water.  It stands to reason that they enjoyed a nice lunch at the picnic tables provided.  While aboard the Tashmoo Steamer in the middle of their big day an idea was formed.  Why don’t we write a message of our good time and put it in a corked bottle and throw it in the St Clair river?  Neatly one of them wrote out the message in pencil “Having a good time in Tashmoo”.  They included their names and addresses.  They probably thought that maybe a month or a year later someone would discover the floating bottle and the nice message inside.  Unfortunately the plan must have seemed like a complete failure as the cherry or olive bottle they used was too heavy to float and sank.  Maybe they laughed it off saying “so much for that experiment”

Scuba diver Dave Leander

Recently a diver named Dave Leander discovered the bottle buried in four to six inches of dirt  thirty feet below the surface.  Surprisingly the note which was written on the back of a White Star Liner deposit ticket seemed to be in very good shape.  Amazingly the bottle kept it’s seal intact for 97 years!  Only a little moisture was discovered in the bottle as the note was stuck to the side.  The bottle was left to dry and a new cork was placed on it.  It was covered with paper so that the florescent light wouldn’t damage the contents. 

Bottle Time

When Janet Baccanari got a call from her cousin Eric Schiebold she assumed the worst.  Probably a death in the family she thought.  Happily she was surprised to learn of the good news of her grandmother (Tillie’s) bottle being discovered!  “It’s like she came back to life”, Baccanari 46 said, “it’s exciting stuff”.  Tillie had nine children, three boys and six girls.  Two of the girls are still living.  Baccanari is one of nearly three dozen grandchildren. 

Neither Eric or Janet recall Grandma Tillie talking about her experience in Tashmoo Park or the bottle incident.  It probably was labeled as a failed experiment I’m thinking. Yet the whole discovery has the family thrilled!  In celebration of the memory of those times past an event called “Tashmoo Days” will take place July 20th.  All of the decsendants of Tillie and Selina are invited!  The celebration will include live music and dancing, wine tasting, and entry into the Hansens Island/St. Clair Flats Historical Museum along with many other events.  Somewhere in that Museum the infamous bottle will be displayed!  For the families it will be a time to reflect back in time to two young ladies enjoying a day and a place together.  It will be a time to visit a place that had long been forgotten until a 97 year old note brought the families closer together.  Instead of going on a nostalgic visit for them however, they will be sharing a memory of a time of someone elses long ago. 

The old Jim Croce song “Time In A Bottle” states, “but there never seems to be enough time to do the things you wanna do once you find them”.  This story is about two young ladies doing for one day exactly what they wanted to do!  The note in the bottle is only six words but those words are a good message for all of us.  “Having a good time in Tashmoo”.  The message to us today is take time to enjoy life and the moments that we have.  The note in the bottle was not a failure, it’s message just took awhile to surface! 

Maybe the note stayed intact because it’s purpose was for our generation not theirs!  We are a generation that is always on the move.  Many times like Jim Croce’s song we don’t take the time to do things we really enjoy.  What are some of the good times you enjoyed years ago?  Perhaps it is time to re-visit some of those times!  If it was a Drive-In Movie Theater there are still some around.  Perhaps an old video arcade will do the trick!  These memorable places may take alot more driving  but a few exist.  Maybe remembering fun times will help us come up with other entertaining and fun things we enjoy!  Finding time to enjoy life is so important! 

Perhaps this  bottles message is just in time!  We are constantly sending messages to others without even realizing it.  If our message to others is doom and gloom maybe we have forgotten the things that used to bring a smile to our face!  Hopefully our  message going forward is a message of love and enjoying the moment like two friends, who in 1915 sent a note of happiness that ended up as inspiration to our generation almost one hundred years later! 

Tillie Esper, Time in a bottle

Tillie Esper, Time in a bottle

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4 thoughts on “Time In A Bottle

  1. Enjoyed this post. Brought back some memories of my childhood when we used to go to “Riverview” an amusement park near Chicago, Illinois. We also had a couple drive-in movie theaters that I remember attending. Good memories. Thanks Lewis.

  2. My mom used to take us to StarWorld when we were younger!! We loved that place!!!

  3. Pingback: Memories Of Good Times! | lightenload

  4. Cyndi Revis on said:

    Thanks for sharing, loved it. Always puts a smile on my face to remember the attractions this town offered.

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