(Editor’s Note: The Peninsula Township Board is holding a public meeting about the winery lawsuit on Oct. 6. Read more here… jb)
Five generations! Sometimes it is hard to believe. Our grandson was able to spend almost six weeks with us this summer, at the cottage on Old Mission Bay. That was a joy. We hadn’t seen him in person since December 2019, thanks to Covid-19.
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Little Billy is the fifth generation of my wife Patti’s family to enjoy summering on Old Mission Bay. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it. That is one family’s unbroken commitment to the Old Mission Peninsula community for well over 120 years.
Patti’s grandfather, Dr. George N. Kreider, was a noted physician in Springfield, Illinois, President Abraham Lincoln’s hometown. In the 1890’s, Springfield was not a very healthy place to be in the summer. The hot, humid, prairie climate nurtured diseases like malaria. Old Mission was an ideal place to escape disease ridden Central Illinois. Dr. Kreider learned about Old Mission from colleagues and realized it would be a pure and healthy place for his family in the summer. A lot was purchased, a cottage was built, and so the saga of our family and the Old Mission Peninsula was born.
Even in the 1890’s Old Mission Peninsula agricultural was thriving. The tempering of the climate, due to the surrounding water of Grand Traverse Bay, and the sandy, well-drained soils made an ideal location for growing fruit.
Further, transporting the harvested fruit to population centers on the Great Lakes, and beyond, was easily done by ship. A lot of cherries went aboard ship across the wharf at the head of Old Mission Bay. Patti still remembers seeing the warehouse and dock when she was a girl. She and her friends used to dive off the dock into the deep blue water.
Patti’s father, George P. Kreider, grew up summering on Old Mission Bay. When his father passed and left the cottage to his sisters, George found another lot on Old Mission Bay, purchased it and built another home. That is where Patti and I now reside, many thanks to his foresight.
George never lost his love for Old Mission. His favorite time of year was the fall. He loved to come to Old Mission and make apple cider. Patti and her brother grew up summering on Old Mission Bay. She made many friends in the community. Fran Thompkins was one of her best friends. Patti was in her wedding party when Fran got married.
Our daughters, Libby and Katie, spent every “growing up” summer at Old Mission. Both of them learned to swim like fish, both have an award for swimming the mile across the bay, and both held summer jobs at Peninsula Market or The Boathouse Restaurant. Now Katie’s son is learning to love Old Mission, as well. And so it goes.
I could go on and on with memories, but my ramblings do have a purpose. I have been pretty vocal about my opposition to the Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula lawsuit against the Township. So, I wanted it to be clear that my family has a long history in this community, and thus has a legitimate vested interest in the rural, residential ambiance of the Old Mission Peninsula. Ours is a family history in the Old Mission community that spans over 120 years. We see Old Mission Peninsula as a very special place, principally because it has retained its rural, residential character.
Let me also be clear, I am not opposed to wineries, only to the idea of expanded commercialization implied by the demands the wineries are attempting to force on the community through their lawsuit. Growing grapes and converting them to good wine with an Old Mission appellation seems to me a legitimate agricultural enterprise, one that fits well with the character of the area, and one that benefits all residents. I suspect this was the intent of Chateau Grand Traverse when they opened in 1974, at least that is the story told on their website.
Now, turning eleven wineries into new mini hotels, entertainment centers and party venues, in such a small area as Old Mission Peninsula, as implied by the demands of the WOMP amended lawsuit, does not seem like a good thing for the community, at least not in my opinion. I sincerely hope that the Township can continue to find a way to push back against these demands.
Thank you again, Old Mission Gazette, for letting me voice my opinion.