Some day: The old route 10-31

March 27, 2012




Bruce Miller


mcp blogger

Before the freeway came this far north,  people would drive north on what is now Pere Marquette Highway, then called US 31.  The highway went through most of the main towns and cities along the lakeshore. When it got to Ludington, it joined U.S. 10 east and west to Scottville where U.S. 10 continued on and US 31 went north.

Last time we discussed Zack’s restaurant.  There was another restaurant on the south side of the highway called Gibbs Country House.  The business started in a store in Ludington and then moved out to the highway.  It was a popular place to go not only for locals but also weekenders. A large part of the popularity was due, in part, because of Harold Gibbs.  When there might be a line of people waiting for a table, Harold would play his saxophone for them.  He was no Jimmy Dorsey, but it was entertaining and creditable enough so that people stayed to listen and enjoy. On any given night, Harold might stop at your table and offer free dinner if you could guess what color underwear he had on.  The diner would say a color. Harold would turn side ways so you could see him pull down a little of his pants by the waist and pull enough shirt up so you could see what color under garment he had on.  True to his word, dinner was free if you guessed the right color. The building is gone now leaving only memories. 

There was an expression that many of us got into the habit of saying:  “Some day”.

Weekender friends of ours used to visit and on one visit, they needed to know why it is that a large Holiday Inn was built out in the “middle of nowhere”. Why indeed?  Being a local person with some degree of credulity, they thought that I might have the answer.  My answer was that large motel is built there because “some day” the U.S. 31 freeway is going to have an off ramp right there.  The motel changed names over the years and still there was no freeway off ramp.  We were determined that “some day” it would happen none the less.  It finally happened.         

I drove a truck with a Detroit V12 engine from Dow in Ludington to Martin Marietta in Manistee.  It was an incredibly loud, heavy truck.  The poor souls who lived on 6th street had to endure two or three trucks going up the hill three or four times each daily and three or four each nightly. The trucks sometimes ran on weekends too.  The poor souls who lived in Scottville had to endure the same thing, slowing down to stop or turn at the light only to roar out of town going north.  The people of Scottville said “some day” there will be a bypass. Later, the trucks had quieter V8 engines and then the truck usage was discontinued. Then the bypass was built.  Not a moment too soon. Of all my memories, there was a “special” little girl named Janie who would be out by her house waiting for her bus every day.  She would watch for me and I would get the biggest smile and friendliest wave every day.  Come to think of it, I’m glad that they took their time with the bypass.  


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