Not too long a drive to the Little River Casino in Manistee MI. Big Greg and Judy and Stan and Connie were at the office when we pulled up. Besides giving us a discounted rate for the campsite as part of the rally we also got $100 in food coupons and $100 for use in the slots. What a deal!
The campsites are very nice with full hookups but not too many trees. And there is a nice pavilion for our pot luck. And it’s a short walk to the casino and hotel. So, all in all, a good deal. Judy and Greg, the organizers, chose well.
We went to Mass on Sunday morning at St. Joseph’s Church where Fr. Sylvestre gave a good sermon. Then we had a wonderful lunch at the Boathouse Grill although the weather was really too chilly to sit out on the patio. We drove around Manistee and found the Ramsdell Theatre and Museum. Thomas Jefferson Ramsdell, pioneer lawyer, state legislator and civic leader, built the theatre between 1902 and 1903. Many traveling companies played here and praised the features that made it unique among the playhouses of the era. Theatrical artist Walter Burridge painted the main curtain utilizing the theme “A Grove Near Athens”. The dome and lobby murals were the work of Thomas Ramsdell’s son Frederick. Public spirited citizens saved the landmark from demolition in the early 1920’s. It was acquired by the city of Manistee in 1943. The Manistee Civic Players have helped preserve its architecture and interior décor. The Ramsdell Theatre was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.
Sunday evening was our rally pot luck where too much fun and food were had by all.
Judy organized water aerobics each morning and I participated once. But we did golf several times at the Heathlands which we think is one of the prettiest courses we have played. Using our coupons we had a lunch at the casino buffet, dinner at their sit-down restaurant, the steak buffet, a pizza and got sandwiches for our next leg. The winnings from our slot coupons also went into the pot.
But the best was the Scottville Clown Band. We rode there with Donna and Ted Rogers who now live in Texas but had at one time lived in DeBary for 5 years and went to St. Ann’s. Donna knew a lot of women I know. It was a hoot of an evening sitting in out lawn chairs in front of the band shell watching the antics of these men. At one point they played all the Michigan colleges and universities’ fight songs parading across the stage with a large letter “M”. Then they paraded with the “M” upside down and played and sang “On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin! We don’t know the words.”
Another of the evening's highlights occurred when Ron, one of our HitchHiker group, received a lap dance from a a rather large sized band member. Ron REALLY enjoyed the attention bestowed upon him by the dancer. After his lap dance, the Clown Band emcee was saying how much Ron appeared to enjoy the close and intimate performance. He asked Ron where he was from. Ron's answer which is really true was "Climax" MI which brought the house down with laughter. The emcee was speechless. Climax MI, population 767. Who would guess!
Since 1903, those famous clowns from Scottville, Michigan have been entertaining millions of music lovers throughout the state. The Scottville Clown Band consists of musicians from all walks of life and all parts of the map. They hold just about every job imaginable, or are retired from them! The city of Scottville is located in Mason County, 7 miles east of Ludington. Scottville is a friendly little town of about 1,200. Only about 16 members have a Scottville address. The rest come from all over Michigan, parts of Florida, North Carolina, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, Kansas, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, New York, Colorado, Texas, and California. The Clown Band's roots date back to the start of the 1900's when a musical group of Scottville merchants began to dress as hillbillies and entertained at local carnivals. Soon the group became more and more popular and the costumes became more and more risqué. World War II meant many hometown men went off to war; it also meant the end of the band. In 1947, Scottville merchant Ray Schulte reformed the group and created what is still known as the Scottville Clown Band. It was at this time that the band asked the town council for uniforms. They were told there was no money for uniforms, just wear "whatever". Note the pictures of "whatever" became.
"It's one of the highlights of my life," said Schulte about re-organizing the group. "It's one of the greatest organizations to come to Scottville." Sadly Ray passed in 2007.