Cooler By the Lake
For all the Michigan City-ites—past and present!!
“Cooler Near the Lake”
by Scott Nelson
I am from “M.C.” or “City.”
I am from an identity crisis.
I am from a place where it is normal for a cornfield, a beach, and a steel mill to be within a few miles of each other.
We are almost, but not quite, Chicago.
We are almost, but not quite, “The Region.”
We are almost, but not quite, Michiana.
My license plate, my address, and my roadmap all say “Indiana,” but we don’t act like Indiana.
We are the point where Indiana, Michigan, and Chicagoland intersect.
We are “East meets Central” (Time Zones that is).
Where I am from, Republicans come out to vote in the hundreds and Democrats come out to vote in the thousands; yet during Presidential elections, we are one of the few blue islands in an overwhelming sea of red.
I am from a place where the Chicago South Shore rolls down 11th Street, and where the Franklin Street Bridge stops the traffic going into Washington Park as it raises for the boats sailing down Trail Creek and into Lake Michigan.
I am from the Lake and the Dunes.
The Lake brought me the joys of fireworks and glow necklaces, trudging up then running down Mount Baldy, walking on the pier out to the lighthouse, being buried in the sand by friends, digging into the beach until you found water, and gazing at the Chicago skyline on a clear day.
The Lake also brought me the struggles of fighting lake effect snow, fearing the undertow, hiding from E. Coli, and learning to cope with the “F.I.Ps” who invaded my hometown every summer.
I am from blue collar Polish Catholicism at its finest.
I am from a place where the sound of an accordion means you party, and the sound of a pipe organ means you pray.
I am from kielbasa, rye bread, golumpki, pierogi, potato pancakes, jezynowka, and plenty of beer.
I am from fish fries, first communions, high school graduation parties, and enormous Catholic weddings.
I am from parish festivals with polkas, beer gardens, and raffle tickets.
I am from Dyngus Day, St. Patrick’s Day, St. Joseph’s Day, St. Nicholas Day, and long Easter weekends.
I am from a community of people named: “-alski,” “-anski,” “-arski,” “-elski,” “-ewski,” “-inski,” “-orski,” “-oski,” “-owski,” “-ulski,” “-ske,” “-zke,” “-czak,” “-iak,” “-lak,” “-vak,” “-wak,” “-czyk,” “-icz,” “-ik,” and “-ow.”
I am from being stunned that any restaurant, anywhere, would ever, for any reason, consider serving red meat on a Friday during Lent and still expect to make a profit.
Where I am from…
Highway 12 takes you to where you can buy alcohol on Sundays.
Highway 20 takes you to the Golden Dome.
Highway 35 takes you to Slicer territory.
Highway 421 takes you to the rest of the Hoosier State.
I-94 takes you past the steel mills and on to Chicago.
I am from summer band concerts and parades.
I am from dominance in volleyball and obsession for basketball.
I will forever know who won the Indiana State High School Basketball Championship in 1966.
I am from growing up a minority because I didn’t like the Cubs or Notre Dame…only to eventually realize this also made me a minority in most areas across the country.
Where I am from, you are accustomed to hear outsiders say: “So, where in Michigan is that?,” “That’s the town with the nuclear power plant, right?”, “Oh! I was just at Blue Chip last weekend!,” and “I love your outlet mall.”
I am from Michigan City.
It’s not in Michigan.
It’s not quite a city.
Either way, it will always be home, and things will always be cooler near the Lake.=
Disclaimer: This was sent to be by my husband, who received from a friend. This is our home town. I am very proud to be a Hoosier and to have been born in Michigan City – The City Be the Lake. Thank you Mr. Nelson for putting such eloquent words together stating what this City means to so many.