I just got an email from my cousin in Beulah, Michigan, to let me (and other cousins) know that the property and the shop in Beulah have finally sold, to the fresh-air market next door. A chapter in my family history has come to a close.
As far back as I can remember, Reedcraft Weavers has been a part of my life. When I was growing up in Cincinnati and we'd drive to Michigan for our summer vacation, Beulah (on the shores of beautiful blue Crystal Lake, in Benzie County) was an important destination, in between stopping to see family in Detroit and heading for our rented cabin in the Upper Peninsula. My dad's parents, Maurice and Ruby Reed, had a cottage on Crystal Lake that they built in the 1940's and named Columbine Cottage. Grandpa Reed had developed in interest in weaving while working as a truant officer in Lansing, and when he retired to Beulah set up a roadside stand to sell his rugs.
Grandpa Reed and his roadside stand, about 1945, along Crystal Drive
From his journal, Sept. 12, 1945: Previously I have sold all my woven goods from a stand under the trees across the road from the garage, but this year I put the table right in front of the garage door, and people stopped there just as readily. And August 5, 1950: Have felt for several years that I'm not getting enough business in this side road location, and wanted to do something about it. Today I did. Went in to see Seward Nichols about a location. He had the former icehouse - boat storage for sale, a huge building between the Crystal Garage and the new Texaco filling station. It is really an ideal place and the big building is extremely desirable in my business. It is second door from the Cherry Hut, an easy 1-minute stroll, and will surely attract some people who stop there. Would have to install a washroom, some partitioning, a big garage door in front, and some filling is necessary in front, which will leave plenty of parking space. They ask $5000, but Dad thinks they'll take four. When I was growing up, every rug in our house was made by my grandfather, and after he retired, by my Uncle Lewis. When we visited during the summer, it was wonderful stepping down into the cool dimness of the shop, out of the hot summer sun, and to hear the rhythmic thump-jangling of the loom. We would wander among the piled displays of rugs (all different sizes), placemats, potholders, stair runners, and bedspreads. When my brothers and I got bored, we would go out and hunt among the stones in the parking lot to find Petoskey stones to take home.
Grandpa Reed at his loom Beulah, Michigan, 1950
Displaying his rugs
Reedcraft Weavers, from a 1960's postcard
Whenever I went to Beulah, Reedcraft Weavers was there - first as a whitewashed building with red letters, then as bright red with white letters. We went to Beulah every summer from 1959 to 1967, when we moved to Florida. In 1970 we drove from Florida to Michigan, and spent time in Beulah. By that time my Uncle Lewis had bought the shop and business, and had taken over the weaving so that Grandpa could retire to Florida. While I was in school in Tallahassee, I drove to Michigan a couple of times during spring break, and visited Beulah. Each time I'd buy something to take home with me - a rug or a placemat, or just some Petoskey jewelry, to remember my visit.
And in 1998 I had the opportunity to take my children back to Michigan for a road trip around the state, which included Howell, Mackinac Island, the Upper Peninsula and Sebewaing. We spent 4 days in Beulah, which we all agreed was not nearly enough time. I taught them both how to look for Petoskey stones, and Uncle Lew taught my daughter the basics of weaving. We all learned some family history on that trip, as I told my children about coming to the shop when I was their age, and Uncle Lewis told stories of growing up in Beulah.
Steven and Stacy at Reedcraft Weavers, July 1998
Uncle Lewis at the loom, 2002
Reedcraft Weavers, 1998
When I was growing up, I knew that Reedcraft Weavers would always be there. I think if you had told me when I was 12 that someday it would go out of business and the building and land sold, I would have been grief-stricken. But now it doesn't phase me. I have the photographs (some of them going back to the 1940's), and my grandfather's journals, and family letters. My children have the stories I've told them. But most of all, I have the memories. And it's because of those that Reedcraft Weavers will live on.
upholstered chair made by Grandpa Reed, Lansing, MI, early 1940's
They've been in a box in my closet, under my bed, and now in my office, for well over 20 years now. I am fortunate indeed to have the complete set of my Grandpa Maurice L. Reed's journals that he wrote in almost daily from 1927 to 1957. Written on yellowing lined paper, between cardboard covers tied with string, these are treasure chests of genealogical information.
Back in 1974, when I first had access to the journals, I decided to read them straight through, and make notes along the way. I just found the list of notes I made on that first reading:
1928: Ervilla Varran & her mother Mrs. Van Wagoner visited [Ervilla Varran would be the future stepmother of the not-yet-born Mary Stoelt, who would marry the not-yet-born John Chase Reed, son of Maurice & Ruby Reed]
1932: Dad Chase is living in Grand Rapids. Maurice used to live in Sturgeon Bay, and left when he was 8 years old.
1935: Ruby & Mabel attending their high school class reunion in Bear Lake
1936: wrote of the life & family history of Henry H. Chase
1937: reminisces about their wedding day in Columbus, Ohio
description of Percy and Mary Reed's golden wedding anniversary
sent birthday card to Grandad Reed in Miami, 98 years old this month
1938: Beem family reunion in Hillsdale
1941: wrote up history of the Beem family
1942: registered for the draft
1943: describes rationing (and includes some ration books)
1945: youngest daughter in hospital with pneumonia; saved by penicillin which was on sale this week for the first time
1946: bombing of Hiroshima
1948: knowing how to type kept him from going to war in Europe during World War 1
1949: oldest daughter & her husband sail for Bolivia as missionaries
1951: wedding of John Chase Reed & Mary Stoelt (this is really funny to read, as Grandpa had some pithy observations to make!)
1952: sold house [in Lansing] for $9950; "not one regret"
1952: Reed family reunion in Beulah
Reed family reunion in Beulah, 1952: my mother Mary Stoelt Reed is 2nd from left in dark dress (my dad, Chase Reed, is looking over her shoulder); Percy and Mary (Beem) Reed are in the center, and Ruby (kneeling) and Maurice Reed are to the far right.
1953: Maurice helps Dad Reed write his obituary (and writes his own)1955: Ruby left her Bible (once her mother's) to be rebound [and here I'd like a respectful silence, with me moaning in the background....A family Bible! With the potential of unlocking a 30-year brick wall! It's been long gone. Oh........]1957: In Flagstaff we drove around a bit. Ruby had received cards & letters from relatives there as a child (see my post on The Luggage Tag)1957: Wrote up "Recollections of an Old Timer" for the Beulah paper And I'm facing the fact that even though I've read these journals through a couple of times, I have not done so recently. It's very possible that there's some genealogically important information that slipped under the radar. I've also discovered that rereading a source I've read many times before can make new information jump off the page. I think I have my reading cut out for me for awhile!