Sunday, September 7, 2008
L. Frank Baum, author of the OZ children's books, had a cottage in Macatawa, MI - called the Sign of the Goose - on Lake Michigan. Many of the old time locals like to believe that their elderly (or former) aunt Dorothy was the inspiration for the main character. When I had an open book shop in Holland, MI I had many customers tell me proudly about their relationship to Baum's main character. Of course, Frank Baum didn't actually purchase the cottage until after the book sold (but who wants to ruin a good story). The author may have visited Macatawa prior to purchasing the cottage but I was unable to find any source material to prove it - but that didn't mean he wasn't there, just that the records weren't available at the time.
Last week I revisited the area again. There isn't much to visit that is actually Macatawa that is public. There is a miniature sized post office with the Macatawa name but it is a small office sized thing located in a yacht storage building (the yacht club is across the busy street).
I was able to walk about 1/2 mile to see BIG RED, the origianal light house on the beach by all of the cottages in the area but I couldn't drive there. Jay Van Andel (of Amway fame) purchased much of the area and made it private but due to the local hue and cry, he allows non-residents to walk out to the lighthouse but not drive to it. The fishermen weren't thrilled to have to carry all of their tackle, etc. to fish off the seawall but it was the compromise.
I've included a photo of the guard gate Van Andel put up to make sure you don't drive in to fish or use the private beach. You can rent a cottage still and spend the lazy days of summer on the private beach without the throngs of us unwashed commoners.
There are no businesses in the area except for one art gallery, Piper's restaurant in Eldean's marina and a little resort - marine clothing shop in the marina. It isn't like the old days when you could vacation within the community and walk to purchase ice cream, etc. Those were the days! I'm posting some photos - I hope you enjoy seeing what L. Frank Baum's quaint vacation area has become. It is gorgeous but only enjoyable if you rent or own a cottage there.