Archive for September 2010

MY MARQUETTE is on sale now.

September 29, 2010

My Marquette has arrived and is on sale now. You can purchase it on my website www.MarquetteFiction.com and it is also available in stores around Marquette County – in Marquette – Snowbound Books, Bookworld, Michigan Fair, Superior View, NMU Bookstore, Peninsula Pharmacy, Marquette County History Museum, in Harvey – Wahlstroms, more stores to come in the next few days.

A book like this can’t be written alone – thank you to the many people who contributed photos, stories, history, family trees, and time designing covers, taking photographs, laying out the pages, coordinating the printing, and delivering the books! You are all in the acknowledgments.

Stay tuned for more excerpts from My Marquette in future blog posts.

Here’s the back cover information:

My Marquette is the result of its author’s lifelong love affair with his hometown. Join Tyler R. Tichelaar, seventh generation Marquette resident and author of The Marquette Trilogy, as he takes you on a tour of the history, people, and places of Marquette. Stories of the past and present, both true and fictional, will leave you understanding why Marquette really is “The Queen City of the North.” Along the way, Tyler will describe his own experiences growing up in Marquette, recall family and friends he knew, and give away secrets about the people behind the characters in his novels. My Marquette offers a rare insight into an author’s creation of fiction and a refreshing view of a city’s history and relevance to today. Reading My Marquette is equal to being given a personal tour by someone who knows Marquette intimately.

Praise for the Novels of Tyler R. Tichelaar:

 “Mr. Tichelaar weaves his obvious love of the Upper Peninsula with beautiful and striking descriptions of Lake Superior and the forests. Talented Mr. Tichelaar has brought us a masterpiece!” — Chris Shanley Dillman, author of Finding My Light

 “…a nostalgic ‘old-fashioned’ piece of Americana…” — John Royce, author of Eclipsed by Shadow

 “Never predictable, sometimes heartbreaking, always hopeful, this author’s work is a pleasure to read.” — Laura Fabiani, Review the Book

 ISBN:  9780979179051

Why I Write About Marquette

September 26, 2010

The following essay is the preface to My Marquette, to be released this week.

My Marquette - released Oct 1, 2010

WHY I WRITE ABOUT MARQUETTE

 

            Where do you come up with your ideas? What made you decide to write about Marquette? Ever since Iron Pioneers was first published, my readers continually ask me these questions.

            My answer is that having been born and raised in Marquette, and being so enculturated into the city’s history and its people, as an author I simply cannot not write about it. The best advice a writer is given is “Write what you know” and if I know any place, it is my hometown, where I and generations of my ancestors have lived. I am unable to remember the first time I saw St. Peter’s Cathedral, the Old Savings Bank, or Presque Isle Park. They have always been there, always been a part of my conscious world—always actively influenced my imagination.

            My earliest memories include my grandfather telling me about Marquette’s past, stories I never forgot that made me wonder what it was like to grow up in this town in the early twentieth century, when automobiles were still a novelty, long before television, in days when my grandpa would get a quarter to scrub the kitchen floor, and he would use that quarter to treat himself and a friend to a silent movie at the Delft Theatre and still have change left over for snacks.

            Since I was eight years old, I knew I wanted to write stories, and growing up in a town where my family had lived so long, hearing story after story about the past, I wanted to write down those stories and make the past come alive for people. While in college, I became interested in family history. I learned then that the earliest branch of my family came to Marquette in 1849, the year the village was founded, and my family has lived in Marquette ever since. As I learned more about my ancestors and Marquette’s history, I could not help but imagine what it would have been like for a person to come by schooner across Lake Superior in 1849, to see only a wilderness where a village was to be built, and what it was like after two decades of struggling to build that town, to see it destroyed by fire in 1868, only to spring up again, grander than before. And what of the winters? Feet and feet of snow, and no snowblowers or modern snowplows. What an amazing courage and determination the pioneers had to carry on each day in the nineteenth century. In my novels, I tried to recreate the early settlers’ experiences so readers would understand and appreciate their courage and draw their own strength from the examples of those mighty pioneers.

            The scene in Iron Pioneers that I feel best demonstrates The Marquette Trilogy’s themes of courage and survival is when Molly and Patrick talk about why they left Ireland to come to America. Their discussion reflects the tales of many immigrants who came to Marquette—some like Patrick to escape religious or political oppression—some like Molly, to avoid poverty and suffering. Molly’s daughter, Kathy, after overhearing her mother relate how her ancestors had starved during the Irish potato famine, and knowing that others around the world are far from as fortunate as her, asks her future husband what the past and her ancestors should mean to her.

            “How can we live in America, knowing that others are suffering?” Kathy asked.

            “By appreciating our good fortune and being happy.”

            “Happy?” she asked, feeling it impossible after years of living under her stepfather’s oppression, after the suffering her mother had known. She feared to be happy from fear it would not last.

            “Yes, happy,” said Patrick. “All those people who suffered would want us to be happy, to live and marry and have children who will not know such pain. We are the extensions of our parents and grandparents and all those brave people; we’re a continuation of their spirits, and our happiness helps to validate their struggles, to give meaning to their lives.”

            He only understood this truth as he spoke it, as he suddenly believed the world could be a wonderful place; that everything could work out for the best. He felt like an old Celtic bard who foresaw a hopeful future capable of washing away past grief. 

 

            I wrote my trilogy as a tribute to those pioneers who built Marquette, and those like them in every community who built this nation despite the difficulties they faced. Whether a person has ever visited Marquette should not determine whether they find enjoyment or inspiration from the history of this fine city. The story of Marquette is the story of the American Dream, of dreams for a better future and the struggles to achieve that dream, the hopes and fears of countless American generations of immigrants seeking a better world, and how some achieved it, some failed, and some persevered without giving up. Based on the pioneers’ examples, my novels have hopefully inspired readers with the courage to endure their own trials and overcome them. To give people that courage, and to hear how much my novels have resonated with them, has made the many lonely hours of writing all worthwhile.

            In writing about Marquette, I knew I wanted to capture the magic of one particular place and allow readers to travel there and come to know it as well as I did. I have lived in Marquette all my life except six years when I foolishly thought I would find a better life elsewhere, only to feel exiled. While I was away, Marquette celebrated its sesquicentennial in 1999, and that same year, I, homesick, decided to write about its history.

            I had written other novels, but never satisfied with them, I had left them unpublished. When I began writing Iron Pioneers and its sequels, although I knew the task would be monumental, I finally felt I had found my voice, the books I was actually born to write.

            I wrote about the outdoors—the wild, thick forests, the temperate, green-leaved splendid summers of blueberry picking and daring to enter Lake Superior’s cool waters, the roar of the winter wind, the blizzards that leave behind snowbanks that must be shoveled, and ultimately, the sense of peace one feels among so much natural beauty. I wrote about Marquette’s history, for I could not imagine a more inspiring story than the American Dream played out in a quest to build an industrial empire along Lake Superior, of an iron discovery that produced more wealth than the California Gold Rush, of a mined product that helped to win major wars and change the world. And I wrote about the change and decline of that iron industry, how it affected the people who lived in Marquette, sometimes fulfilling, often destroying their dreams.

            Mostly, however, I wrote about life in a small town, of the relationships between people in a community. Many people think small towns are quiet and dull because they lack the fast-paced lifestyle of metropolitan areas. But small towns have a greater and more personal drama. Willa Cather, author of O Pioneers and one of my greatest influences—my title Iron Pioneers is partly a tribute to her—best described the relationships in small towns in a passage I used as the front quote for Narrow Lives:

 In little towns, lives roll along so close to one another; loves and hates beat about, their wings almost touching. On the sidewalks along which everybody comes and goes, you must, if you walk abroad at all, at some time pass within a few inches of the man who cheated and betrayed you, or the woman you desire more than anything else in the world. Her skirt brushes against you. You say good-morning and go on. It is a close shave. Out in the world the escapes are not so narrow. — Lucy Gayheart

 Relationships are complex in small towns, the layers of social networks dizzying; in the intertwining family trees and the friendships of my characters, I tried to capture this reality. A love affair or a conflict between friends can be of mammoth proportions in the history of a small town—as important to its inhabitants as a world war is on a national or international scale. It was that personal connection to each person and place that one feels living in a small town that I wanted to capture in my fiction.

            I have felt lonely in large cities, walking down streets where not a face is familiar, where no one notices you. In Marquette, although it has grown to where I can go into a store without seeing a familiar face, I know if I stop to speak to any stranger for a minute and name a few friends or acquaintances, the stranger and I will know someone in common. We are only separated by a degree or two in our little city of twenty thousand people.

            Living your entire life in the same place breeds familiarity. Even if I see no one I know when I walk about Marquette, the city is rich with memories and history for me. It is an indescribable comfort to enter the downtown post office and recall that my grandfather helped to build it during the Great Depression. I can walk down Washington Street and see the stone in the sidewalk marking where the Marquette Opera House once stood, where my grandfather proposed to my grandmother before it burned down in the great fire and blizzard of 1938. The First Methodist Church has a stained glass memorial window to honor my ancestral aunt and uncle, Delivan and Pamelia Bishop, who were among its founders in the 1850s. I look out onto Iron Bay and imagine what my ancestors must have felt when they first arrived on its shore. My readers tell me, because of my novels, they now walk about Marquette, equally imagining what life was like here for the generations before them—to me, that is the ultimate compliment to my work—that it has made my readers imaginative and interested in history and especially their own family stories.

            A timelessness settles over a person who grows older while living in the same place. You talk about Cliffs Ridge, the ski hill whose name was changed to Marquette Mountain twenty years ago, yet your old friends know exactly where you mean and do not correct you—it is still Cliffs Ridge in their memories too. As you drive into South Marquette on County Road 553, you turn your head out of habit to look at the old red brick house of the Brookridge Estate, which you have always admired, only to realize it is 2010 now, not 1982, and the house was torn down nearly twenty years ago to build the new assisted living facility, Brookridge Heights.

Moments of joy from your past keep you connected to people. Thirty years ago, the Marquette Mall had a fountain with colored lights—so many people have told me they had forgotten about it, and they were glad when I reminded them of its beauty in Superior Heritage. Every place I step, I remember a dozen moments from my own past—I stop to get gas at a station where once stood the Bavarian Inn where I had breakfast dozens of time. I go to the remodeled Delft Theatre and can still remember the first movie I saw there when I was three years old—memories layer themselves on top of each other. The past never dies—we can travel back to it in our minds, and reading a book is the opportunity to enter another world or an author’s mind and experience another person’s experiences.

Tyler R. Tichelaar

            I imagine such nostalgia and family connections are why people enjoy my books, why some of my readers stay in Marquette despite the possibility of better lives elsewhere, or why many of my readers, exiled from Upper Michigan, find comfort for their homesickness by revisiting Marquette through my words. Books and memories allow you to go home again.

            This deep abiding connection, this sense of place, of belonging, of knowing I am home and knowing how much that is to be valued—that is why I write about Marquette.

Waterfalls 2 – Agate Falls

September 16, 2010

A few days ago I posted photos of my visit to Bond Falls. Not far from there, lower down the Ontonagon River, is Agate Falls, which I also visited.

Agate Falls has a higher drop than Bond Falls. It also is more difficult to walk to the bottom since the stairs once there have long since been removed, but walking down the slippery steep rocks along the river is well worth the effort, provided you’re careful.

Forest at the bottom of Agate Falls

Not only are the falls beautiful, but so is the forest, and the many twisting roots among the rocks that made me feel like I was in a forest out of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels.

And it’s well worth it to see the falls. I could feel the spray coming off them as I took these photos.

Agate Falls with walking bridge above

If walking down to the bottom of the falls is too strenuous, there is also an amazing old railroad trestle that has been made into a walking bridge from which you can view the falls. Here is a picture taken from the bridge.

Agate Falls, taken from the walking bridge above

Waterfalls – Bond Falls

September 13, 2010

The roaring Ontonagon River as it turns into a waterfall

I love waterfalls. They are up there with trees among the most beautiful things you will ever see.

This past weekend I visited what may now be my favorite U.P. waterfall – Bond Falls. Besides the long downward slope of little waterfall steps you watch as you walk down quite a long trail along the Ontonagon River, the waterfall ends in not only a dramatic large fall, but a fall that is a semi-circle that you can walk around. Its circular pattern is very impressive, and walking around the well constructed platforms, maintained by UPPCO, gives you a large spectacular view of the waterfall’s various sides.

The main drop of the falls at the bottom is an impressive 50 feet high, and the Ontonagon River in all flows 875 from Bond Falls being the first drop down into Lake Superior. From this point, the river runs down to nearby Agate Falls.

At one point, I felt breathless seeing the farthest end of the falls with all the green lush trees and grass around the waterfall and riverbanks. And I thought, this must be what heaven looks like.

Take a look at my photos and see if you agree with me. And after visiting Bond Falls, be sure to visit nearby Agate Falls, also on the Ontonagon River and very impressive in itself. For more information, visit http://www.dnr.state.mi.us/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=412&type=SPRK

Bond Falls - the first sight at the bottom.

Central view of the round, two-sided Bond Falls

 

Heaven must look like this.

Blueberry Picking

September 6, 2010

As another wonderful blueberry season, and summer itself, comes to an end, I thought I’d post the blueberry picking scene from The Queen City which takes place in 1920:

            “Mama!” Beth hollered again.

The Queen City, The Marquette Trilogy: Book Two

            “I’m coming,” Kathy called. She had promised to take the girls blueberry picking. Last year a huge forest fire near Birch and Big Bay had resulted in this summer’s mammoth blueberry crop. A “blueberry train” had been organized to take people to the berry fields north of Marquette so they could spend the day filling their pails. When Kathy heard reports that people were returning with tubs full of berries, she was determined to go; she just hoped the fields were not completely picked over; she longed for blueberry pie and did not want to disappoint the girls.

            Kathy, Beth, and Thelma soon walked to the train at the depot with a few dozen Marquette residents, all fiercely intent upon blueberry picking, and even more intent on having a good time. Smiles and general gaiety marked the group, for it was a pleasant summer day, with a slight breeze to cool them from the sun’s rays, and the low humidity meant the woods would not be stiflingly hot. True Marquettians are always ready for an excuse to get out of town, no matter how much they love their distinguished city of sandstone and scenic views; they have an innate desire to get lost among trees, to forget civilization’s existence, to renew their spirits amid Nature’s serenity.

            The train trip was uneventful, but all the more pleasant for it. Quiet yet eager conversations filled the railway car, and Kathy found herself surrounded by several of her acquaintances. Marquette’s population now surpassed ten thousand, but it remained small enough that if everyone did not know everyone else, people were sure to have mutual friends and acquaintances. Because she could read lips, Kathy could better converse on a noisy train than most of her neighbors with perfect hearing. She felt she hadn’t known such fun since long before the war. Thelma and Beth occupied themselves by looking out the windows. Beth tried to count the birch trees, but she soon gave up–they flew past so rapidly. Thelma willingly entertained her younger cousin, pointing out pretty little meadows or oddly shaped trees. They spotted a few deer, including a princely young fawn. The morning sun glistened through the trees, casting a medley of sunshine rays through the train windows. The ride felt all too short on such a glorious morning, but after a long day of berry picking, they knew they would all appreciate the shortest return trip possible.

            When the train stopped at the berry fields, the passengers scurried across the meadows and copses, laying claim to large shady trees under which they could leave their excess belongings until lunchtime. Several people had brought multiple buckets, one even brought a small washtub. People went off with one pail, returned to place it under their claimed spot, set off into the fields to fill a second, and then started on a third. Little fear existed of anyone stealing berries amid such a multitude of overflowing bushes.

            Kathy selected a spot for lunch while Thelma led Beth across the berry patches; Beth anxiously followed her cousin, but her enthusiasm was not bound to last.

            After fifteen minutes of berry picking, Beth was tired enough to want a break. Thelma, too focused on picking berries to bake a pie for her father’s visit next weekend, ignored her cousin’s complaints.

            Seeing that Thelma wasn’t paying attention, and that her mother was across the field, Beth decided to quit picking and go for a walk by herself. As she crossed the fields, she spotted another girl close to her age. She did not recognize the girl from Bishop Baraga School, but that did not matter. Beth went over to introduce herself; in a few minutes, the two girls were best friends, chasing each other and playing hide-and-go-seek among the trees; they completely neglected the blueberries, save for trampling over some of the bushes.

            When Kathy looked up, she was concerned not to see her daughter near Thelma, but after a minute, she saw Beth and the other little girl. Having known Beth’s work ethic would not last long, she smiled to see her daughter had found a friend. Kathy returned to berry picking until Thelma had picked her way in the same direction. When the two were close enough, they started to chat and momentarily forgot about Beth until Thelma heard her scream from across the meadow.

            Thelma told her aunt what she had heard, and then Kathy, who had not heard anything, quickly looked about for the source of her daughter’s cries. Then Beth came running toward her mother, her dress ripped, her eyes filled with tears, clutching the handle of her berry pail, only half connected to its handle so that the berries were haphazardly plunking from the bucket to the ground as she ran.

            “Beth, what’s wrong?” asked Kathy, rushing to take her girl in her arms.

            “I saw a snake! I nearly stepped on it before I saw it,” she said between sobs. “And that girl, Amy–I hate her–she just laughed, and she picked up the snake and shoved it at me; it hissed and tried to bite me!”

            “There, there, dear. There aren’t any poisonous snakes around here. What color was it?”

            “Green, and it was really big, like this.” Beth held up her hands to indicate a foot and a half.

            “Ha,” laughed Thelma. “It was just a little garter snake. It won’t hurt you. I know a boy back in Calumet who keeps a half dozen of them as pets.”

            Rather than be consoled, this news ran shivers up Beth’s spine.

            “There, dear, it’s okay,” said Kathy. “It wasn’t nice of Amy to do that, but it didn’t hurt you any. Now tell me, how did you rip your dress?”

            “Oh,” said Beth, forgetting she had intended to carry her pail in front of the rip so her mother would not see it. The snake ordeal had broken her cunning, so she had to confess. “I tore it on a branch while Amy and I were climbing a tree.”

            “Well,” said Kathy, “it’s one of your older dresses, and I imagined you’d end up with berry stains on it, but I wish you wouldn’t climb trees.”

            The mention of berries made Beth look to see how many she had picked. Then she discovered her bucket handle had broken. The bucket hung down at a forty-five degree angle. Inside, only six berries and some blueberry leaves were to be found.

            “I lost all my berries!” she cried.

            Twenty feet away, a young boy heard the lament. He had witnessed the snake incident and been unable to restrain from silent laughter, but now he felt sorry when Beth looked devastated by the lost blueberries.

            “Come, dear,” said Kathy. “Let’s have lunch, and then we’ll fix your pail so you can still fill it this afternoon.”

            “But I had it almost full,” sobbed Beth. “I wanted to pick two pails worth.”

            In truth, the pail had barely been a quarter full, but Beth exaggerated her loss so her mother would not chide her for slacking in her berry picking.