I stood in the middle of the quiet neighborhood street. Where am I? What is this neighborhood? It is an enchanting, charming and quaint little community of victorian style houses. It is an imaginative wonderland.
We parked across from a campus, a campus of what we didn’t know. The buildings were all painted white, they were large, the campus was pristine and well maintained. On the grounds stood a chapel, a post office, a library and what appeared to be numerous meeting houses or halls. We were mystified.
We began to walk the neighborhood admiring the houses; every house boasted Victorian style. They were ornate and stately as they overlooked the beautiful shores of Little Traverse Bay.
Who lived here? Each house was named; I could only imagine of a time long ago.
A row of houses sat on a bluff overlooking the bay. Did the owner and family sit on their porches in the warm afternoon to watch the sailboats grace the waters? Or did they gather in the later part of the day to watch the sun set and the sky grow dusky?
The Runquist family looked forward to the summer stay every year. The house was smaller compared to the other houses on the bluff but that didn’t matter to them, they had a view of the bay and just like their neighbors, they watched the water change its hues of blues as the sun moved across the sky.
Even though the cottage was a little smaller, it still housed their children and the occasional visiting relatives from Flint. The children had the lawn to play on and squealing with laughter, they would somersault down the hill again and again.
In the heat of the day, their mothers took their brood down to the water to play on the shore and swim in the afternoon. Not only did the kids enjoy this water activity, but secretly the mothers did, too, as the children went home tired and sleepy.
The Runquists gathered on the porch every night to watch the sun set into the Little Traverse Bay. If the porch was overflowing with family and friends, some moved down to the lawn to sit on blankets to watch the nightly show. Some evenings were cloudless and the lowering sun blinded the eyes until it was just hovering over the horizon and disappeared. Other nights, especially after a thunderstorm rolled through earlier in the day, the sky danced with golds and oranges and peaches turning into soft violets and purples; those sunsets were Mrs. Runquist’s favorite and she secretly wished she could capture that rainbow of color on canvas.
At the end of the summer, maybe late August and at times if lucky, early September, the Runquists closed up their summer cottage. Every one in the neighborhood did the same as the old wooden victorians were not winterized and with the brisk chill of winter and the fierce winds that can blow from the northwest, the Canadian clipper, neither man nor beast dare live in here in the winter.
The Runquists have summered here for now nearing four generations. The family continues long time friendships with others in Bay View. Grandmas knew Grandmas, mothers visited with mothers and the children grew up together. The legacy of the Runquists lives on as the grandchildren of the first Runquists now have children of their own and these little ones are experiencing the joys of summer just as their moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas before them did.
The Runquist cottage lives on amidst the throes of change. Society pushes forward, Bay View and the Runquists hope to stay just the same, a life of simplicity centering around family. The summers are remembered and treasured, joy and laughter cherished, an era of yesterday lived forward to today. Time stands still with the hope to never change.
The History of the Bay View Association
In September 1875, a group of Michigan Methodists met in Jackson to organize a Camp Meeting, a popular form of religious gathering at that time, “for intellectual and scientific culture and the promotion of the cause of religion and morality.” They chose Bay View as the site because of its salubrious summer climate, its beautiful location on the shores of Little Traverse Bay, and its availability by railroad and lake steamer. (http://www.bayviewassociation.org/History-27/)
The United Methodist Chautauqua campus