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BROWN: Lake stories from the 1940s

• Jul 24, 2018 at 3:00 PM

Courtney Frifeldt, who is a longtime Spring Lake resident, lives on a quiet street near my parents. Sometimes I see him riding his bike in the evenings, and he shares interesting stories about what Spring Lake was like when he was young.

I recently sat down with Courtney and asked him to expand on a few of those stories.

During our meeting, Courtney tells me that he and his family moved to Spring Lake from Detroit when he was 14 years old. He noticed that no one locked their doors, which was different from the city.

He loved growing up in Spring Lake. Courtney says, “The lake was so clear you could see your feet.”

In the summer, Courtney and his friends went trolley fishing on Spring Lake from a back porch on Barber Street. When they swam in the lake, they had ball anchors, one in each hand, and they’d dive in. “We’d get to the bottom — just like that. The water was so clear down there you could look all around.”

He continues, “We’d also swim across the lake to the Spring Lake Yacht Club, then we’d climb up the platform and dive off. It was about 20 feet high.”

After swimming across the lake back home, he was so tired that he could only eat a candy bar and then go straight to bed.

While he was in high school during World War II, they would get a day off school to go and pick up metal for Scrap Metal Drives and send it for the war effort.

In the winter, Courtney went sledding at the North Shore with his friends. He said, “It was pretty good. I had a Flexible Flyer — a high-runner I brought with me from Detroit.”

When he worked for Verplank’s Ice House, which was behind Huntington Bank, they made ice 24 hours a day. Each piece of ice weighed 300 pounds before it was cut. Homes and businesses put signs out when they needed ice and how much — 25, 75 or 100 pounds. Places like the bakery needed 100 pounds of ice, and the Highland Park Hotel got 600 pounds of ice.

On certain days, he worked in the ice house and other days he delivered it. When he delivered ice, he was paid $3 per ton.

He liked delivering ice to Strawberry Point because there were always a lot of girls around.

Delivering ice had its benefits. Sometimes when he was at the bakery making a delivery, he would pick up a doughnut on his way out with his ice pick. When he was Campbell’s Drug Store (where Love in Action is now), he got ice cream from the soda fountain. After all, when you deliver a ton of ice, you need a few treats to keep your energy up.

— By Carrie Brown, Tribune community columnist

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