Friday, March 13, 2009

Postcard Friendship Friday #7

Band Concert, Belle Isle, Detroit Michigan

Happy Postcard Friendship Friday! Today's postcard was postmarked on March 4, 1917 and pictures a scene from Belle Isle, a Detroit City park located in the middle of the Detroit River.
Known as Wah-na-be-zee(Swan Island) to the Chippewa and Ottawa Native American tribes, today Belle Isle reflects the late 19th century movement to create metropolitan parks begun in Paris and emulated in America by landscape architects like Frederic Law Olmsted.
Ownership of these six hundred acres in the Detroit River passed over time to the French and then to the British before ending up with American settlers. The city of Detroit finally acquired the island, whose name had changed from Hog Island to Belle Isle in the middle of the century, in 1879.
Soon citizens were calling on the city to create a public park on Belle Isle that would emulate the parks and tree-lined boulevards of Paris. In 1883, the city secured the services of Frederick Law Olmsted, the prominent landscape architect and planner responsible for famous urban parks in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, and Boston. After Olmsted's design was completed, other buildings were slowly added to the island.

Canadian Geese at Belle Isle (This picture is for Shelly and Sandy)


The most famous structure on Belle Isle is undoubtedly the Aquarium and Horticulture Building. Inspired by the Naples aquarium, the firm of Nettleton & Kahn designed a building with a highly articulated brickwork facade, copper roof, and a huge interior space to hold the great aquariums, where diverse marine habitats are displayed.




The Horticulture building, also called the Conservatory, includes a fernery and a tropical plants sections, and is surrounded by three acres of formal gardens, lily ponds and greenhouses.

Orchids, bromiliads and other tropical plants

Another noted building is the Belle Isle Casino, designed by Albert Kahn in 1908. Once said to be the finest casino in the United States, ornate towers frame the building's four corners, and verandas provide picnickers with shelter.
A beautiful public park of memorials, fountains, athletic fields, man made lagoons, and dramatic buildings, Belle Isle is a green oasis near the city's center.

The beautiful Scott's fountain

Circa 1934, this is just one of thousands of pictures taken with Scott's fountain as a backdrop

My family and I made many trips to Belle Isle. We went ice skating on the canals in the winter, swam in the Detroit River in the summer and enjoyed concerts, picnics and all that the pretty island had to offer.


The postcard was mailed from Detroit to St. Louis, Mo, while the Big War, WWI was still being fought.

It reads:

Detroit, Michigan
March 4, 1917
Say you folks down there has some of those St. Louis Germans killed you all or what the dickens is the matter you don't write. We have all been sick, one of the worst winters I ever saw. Some of us down all the time. Nothing but cold and snow. How is that big boy Chas. those girls and and Jack. Write soon.
Your brother Clarence.
204 Antietam Street, Detroit.

The street Clarence lived on was just about 3 miles from Bell Isle. It no longer exists, and was probably razed on the 1950's to make way for the Chrysler Freeway. The address in St. Louis still exists.
The back Story:
Clarence, heh, heh, the big kidder, is trying to get a rise out of his sister Bohemia Mae. He took the trolley over to the casino on Belle Isle to buy this post card. He would like Bohemia to pick up her PDA and text her favorite peep.
Bohemia is lax in her writing as she is very involved with the war effort. She volunteers at the local USO at the Civic Center three afternoons a week. She fills cups with fruit punch and plays patriotic songs on the flute. Sometimes she takes the kids along. That big boy Chas. recites "Hiawatha" and "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere and the girls, Gertie and Millie hand out home made butter cake with boiled icing and sing "Goin' Down By That Wide River" in two part harmony.
Bohemia is not concerned about "all the sick " people that Clarence is writing about as she knows very well he lives alone and has multiple personalities. Dinner table conversation with him is just impossible and makes her heart race until she fears she will faint dead away. She and her mother contrived the story that Clarence was adopted so as not to ruin Bohemia's chances of finding herself a husband. A.J. fell for it - and Bohemia - hook line and sinker.


For more Postcard Friendship Friday fun stop by and visit our PFF hostess, Marie at Voila! Vintage Postcards!

I would like to say Thank You! To Cynthia at Oasis Writing Link (OWL) for this beautiful Premio Dardos award!
Cynthia's blog, in her own words is "a place for commentary about life and culture in Puerto Rico and beyond; experiences with yoga, and literature -spiced with a strong dash of appreciation for nature, art, film and music. " It is a delightfully interesting blog. Stop by and say hello!


Sandy said...

ahhh loved it, ...multiple personalities, what a delight it would be to dine with him!!! Love the photos and the ducks/geese...beautiful!

Rudee said...

I posted a picture of my mom some months ago, posing while standing on one of Belle Isle's statues. She was such a serious woman, that the picture took me by surprise. I cherish it now.

On Monday, I drove down the street, past Belle Isle to the Whittier Manor (used to be the Whittier Hotel) to see a patient. The facility opened in December as senior housing. It's stunning. They still had the original crystal chandeliers, but sadly, they covered in the pool, and I don't don't what they did to all that beautiful Pewabic tile that lined it. Hopefully, it's been resurrected and used elsewhere in the building. I snapped a picture of the chandeliers for my brother. Back in the day, he was a chef there.

Thanks for this post today.

Müge said...

Thank you for this beautiful postcard and very interesting explanation and photos! Happy PFF! :-)

Sreisaat said...

Hahaha, I love the adopted child spin on Clarence. Makes for a very good story :) Happy PFF!

Postcards Crossing

Lanny said...

That was a marvelous trip, thanks for takin' me along.

Sheila said...

I'm so glad they changed the name from Hog Island to Belle Isle! It has a little more "je ne sais quoi" don't you think? :)

Midlife, menopause, mistakes and random stuff... said...

I'm a little under the weather and balh today Muse Swings and as usual your awesome posts always do the trick :)
Thanks and hope your weekend is filled with love, joy and laughter.

Steady On
Reggie Girl

Catherine said...

Absolutely French style buildings. I confirm.

You're a fantastic stoty teller, Muse Swings. I always read with pleasure the extrapolations from the true story. What a personality, this Clarence. I apreciate his humor.

Congrats for the award. You deserve it.

Martha said...

What a great postcard tour. Michigan is so beautiful. Thanks Musie!

Chris Overstreet said...

I can't help but notice that Clarence's sister lived on a street with a German name.

Denise Elizabeth said...

Funny I grew up in Michigan. Thanks for the comment. Denise

fortuitous faery said...

beautiful postcards! the one with the canadian geese reminds me of the canadian geese that hang out in the lake near our house. :)

petra michelle; Whose role is it anyway? said...

Yes, the imagination is a wonderful thing! Love yours and its journey!

MuseSwings said...

Sandy - yep, the birds are for you - which is totally different from saying you are the birds. Which I'm not. I'm just saying.
Rudee - Mmmm the Whittier! I enjoyed a Christmas lunch in their dining room about 20 years ago. Lovely!
Catherine - I keep getting error messages (again) today and can't get over to see your PFF - will keep trying!
Thank you everyone for stopping by for PFF!

Diane said...

thanks for the little history lesson. i've only lived in the detroit area for a little while now. so, i don't really know that much about the history. and, to be honest, they way things are looking here now doesn't exactly inspire one to want to know. (very depressing.)

and i loved the story!!

papel1 said...

Your posts are always great! I have never been to Belle Isle.

Margaret Ann said...

Fascinating...every photo and every last word...Love visitng you! :)

Linda said...

HAPPY PFF!!! Nice choice! smiles and blessings

Janeen said...

Happy PFF! Oh how do you do it? I look forward to Fridays so much. I imagine you during the week getting your post card and story ready. I hope your enjoying your unemployment~ can we call it retirement yet, because I sure am enjoying your time and writing talent. By the way, you KNOW I'll be taking pictues of my sisters tea party this weekend, should be fun!

MuseSwings said...

Thank you all so much for your kind comments! Janeen - I really am pretty much retired and according to the Mister spend waaaaay too much time here in blogland. But I love it!

Amy said...

Thanks for coming by my page today. I have seen a lot of geese flying over my house lately. I guess they are back to stay warm. Have a great day.

Debby said...

Hm. Being an outcast from his family, isolated, alone, thank goodness Clarence had multiple personalities to keep himself entertained at dinner.

Cynthia said...

Great post! I so enjoyed the historic tour through Belle Isle. I had forgotten all about that lovely place. Thank you for the memories and for the endearing comments you wrote about Oasis blog. <3

Postcardy said...

The real story is interesting and the back story is hilarious!

Sparky ♥ ∞ said...

That was great! Multiple personalities ... so funny! Makes me want to visit Detroit before it slips into Lake Michigan from all the burden of the economic mess. I sure hope they can save their economy. ♥ ∞

Margo said...

Fascinating story! Thanks for waking me up this morning. I'm a Saggitarian, so I know I'm supposed to be here :)

Self-Proclaimed Editor said...

What a wonderful informational post. I came by way of a couple links and am happy I stopped by. We are in Michigan and not far from Belle Isle so it was very interesting to read some of its history. :)

Sreisaat said...

Hello Muse Swings.
You have 4 correct guesses in my Greek stamps! As a token of appreciation, I'd love to send you a postcard. If you could mail me your postal address at postcardsxing-at-yahoo-dot-com, I shall send you one right away :)
Thanks for playing!

Postcards Crossing