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Tag - The Cottage in Michigan City

Andy Bagnall

I thought that Andy Bagnall was my first boyfriend, but I think there might have been someone previous to him (that I never told my parents about!)

Andy BagnallAndy was a lifeguard, at the public beach in Michigan City, Indiana, and another distinction was that he was one of the two guys I ever dated who was Blonde!

The distance from our beach to the public beach, was about a 20-minute walk along the lake, which my friends and I would take whenever we got bored with just laying out in the sun.

I must have been 14 when I met Andy because I remember my parents telling me that I was too young to be “dating” anyone yet, yet alone a guy who was at least 4-5 years older than me! My girlfriends and I probably walked by the lifeguard stands a few times, before Andy got up the nerve to come and talk to me. After that, walks to the Lifeguard stands became a daily if not twice daily ritual for myself and my friends. Since no one really needs to be “saved” from the waters of Lake Michigan, Andy and I could just sit for hours and talk, while he was working. There was also nothing more beautiful than the days it was too cold and overcast for “beach activity”. Those days were the best to huddle under our jackets or a blanket and just enjoy the wind-swept glory of the beach in inclement weather.

Mj Wilson & Andy Bagnall - Michigan City, INMy parents allowed Andy to come to our Cottage and hang out with me, but I wasn’t allowed to go anywhere with him, in his car. (Sounds ridiculous even now!) I think that first summer of our “beach romance”, I maybe rode in his convertible Fiat Spyder one time and then it promptly broke down on us, leaving my father to wonder if we lied about the whole thing! Andy was very Blonde, tan and cute (in a very “lifeguard” way) but he was a tad shorter than me. I remember only walking around barefoot when I had to walk next to him.

Our “structured” romance was going along fine until one fateful night. Since I couldn’t go out at night (or anytime) with Andy, he would just come by at night and we would sit on the front porch and talk. One night, he stopped by with a friend, and we all sat around talking but our neighbors had company coming over and Andy’s car was blocking the driveway. The driveway to our house was U-shaped and it came down steeply from street level. You entered at the top of the “U”, then had to make a sharp left turn because the house walkway was at the bottom of the “U” and then to get out, you had to drive up the steep, other side of the “U”. This driveway was a monster to negotiate because it was so steep…trying to drive it using a stick shift, had disaster written all over it.

Mj Wilson & Andy Bagnall - Michigan City, INAndy had left his Fiat parked at the top of the driveway, and since other houses utilized the driveway, I told him he had to bring it down. As he drove the car down, I don’t know if he hit the gas instead of the brakes, but he ended up running into the steel handrails that lined the walkway up to our house. It wasn’t really any big deal…there was no huge damage, but my father came out and all hell broke loose. He was yelling at Andy for running into the handrails and Andy kept apologizing and Andy’s friend tried to take the blame, to get it off of Andy, but nothing good came out of it. My dad “proclaimed” that I was forbidden from ever seeing Andy again!

So the Princess…..er, me, was forbidden to see her Summer Romance, and that caused all sorts of “drama” around the house. The good thing was, my Mother and Grandmother absolutely adored Andy, so they would get me in the car, (on the pretext of going shopping), and then they would drive me down to the public beach, and leave me there, to hang out with Andy while he was working, while they did go shopping! I remember being so surprised that they would do something like that for me! So, that’s how the rest of the summer was spent…my Mother and Grandmother plotting ways to get me to see Andy, that my Dad wouldn’t find out about!

Mj Wilson & Andy Bagnall - Michigan City, INEventually the drama all blew over (or my Dad just forgot what happened) and the next Summer and Summers after that, I had no restrictions placed on me anymore, and my friends and I would get together with Andy and his friends, whenever we were at our cottage. I visited Andy once at his College, and I kept in touch with him through my early College years but by then, I had quit going to the Cottage as much, since I was usually living elsewhere.

Follow up Note: My friend (partner-in-crime) Karen, from Michigan City, informed me that we used to walk down the beach, early in the morning, dressed in odd clothes to “deface” the Lifeguard stands! I think I might have some photos of that as well!

Skip & Eddie Gonsorek

I don’t even remember when I first met Skip & Eddie. Their parents lived full-time in Michigan City, IN, where our Cottage was, and whenever we came to town, our parents always got together to play cards, drink and argue.

My Mother always told us kids to call their parents “Uncle Ed & Aunt Lorraine” so I thought we were all related and that Skip & Eddie were cousins of mine. As we got older, we (the kids) realized that none of us were related at all and our parents were just drinking buddies!

The original Gonsorek family had five kids – Diane, Eddie, Skip, Tina and Tim. After Lorraine passed, Ed remarried, and his new wife, Dorothy, had at least five kids of her own! (I actually lost count of how many people were in that extended family!) There were brothers and I think a sister that were older than all of us, but there was also Karen, who was a bit younger than me, who became part of my group of close friends.

Michigan City had a big Marina and lots of people from Chicago brought their boats over. There was only one small public beach there and the rest was all private beach property. Whenever we were in town, Skip & Eddie (and friends) and Karen would more than likely spend their weekend days hanging at the beach with us. My Dad was always conning the guys into doing manual labor, in exchange for free beer. The guys were more than ready to pitch in for that!

mc01_webI have so many memories of the Gonsorek Family…

Like the first time I ever got drunk, was on Harvey Wallbangers, at a party at their house, when I was maybe 13 or 14! (I think that Eddie was the bartender that night, so it’s probably all his fault!) What a bad influence they were! And, I never drank Wallbangers after that night either! (Thanks Eddie.)

We went to a lot of local fairs and carnivals together and did what everyone else in Michigan City did – cruised the McDonalds’s at night, looking for people we didn’t know! (Seriously – that was a big past-time in Michigan City!)

There are also some vague, vague memories of playing “Spin the Bottle” one night, on our backyard patio, but I’d never remember “who kissed who” and there are no photos to prove any of it happened anyway!

My mother loved Skip and Eddie so much, I’m surprised that she didn’t trade two of her own children, in exchange for the two of them!

Eddie even became sort of a “brother” to me, when he lived at our house in Chicago for a year, while he was working in the city. When I had a boyfriend who was seriously injured in a traffic accident at college, Eddie was the one who drove me down to Southern Indiana to see him, in the middle of the night. What are friends/brothers for?!

I’ve known for well over 15 years, that Eddie actually lives less than 35 miles from me now, and we have yet to get back together! I will now have to annoy him on Facebook, until he finally makes plans to do so! Or, threaten to post more photos, when I unearth them!

The Cottage in Michigan City, Indiana

Growing up, my Family lived in Glenview, IL, which was a suburb, north of Chicago. When we were really young, my parents bought a summer home, that we called “The Cottage.” The Cottage was about an hour and a half away, in Michigan City, IN, and it was this small house that was directly on the beach of Lake Michigan. The only thing separating us from the water was the rolling sand dunes and “Cigar” trees.

We didn’t go to the Cottage every weekend, but we did spend a majority of every summer there, (I sometimes went in the Winter as well) and we shared those times with a vast assortment of friends and family. All of us have fond memories of the Cottage and the times we spent there. It also had one of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever been to in my life.

The Cottage - Michigan City, IN

The Cottage – When my Family owned it

The Cottage only had two bedrooms and one bathroom on the main floor, and an enclosed porch that faced the water. It seemed like there were always renovations going on as we got “drafted” into helping with all sorts of fixer-upper projects (until we did such a bad job that we were “banished” to the beach!) There was a large garage under the house, which a second bathroom and shower was eventually added to, along with a large room that had bunk beds and single beds, for additional sleeping areas. On any given weekend, before we could invite anyone along, we had to do a “head count” to make sure we had enough beds for everyone. Nine people could sleep upstairs and I think up to six people downstairs?

My Dad bought the Cottage for about $15K in the early 60’s. When he sold it in the 80’s, it sold for around $85K. Today, the property is worth in the multi-million dollar range, as lakefront real estate went crazy in that area. I will show photos of what the cottage looked like when we lived there and what it looks like now! You can’t even recognize it as the same place.

I will be sharing many, many memories from our Summers (and Winters) at the Cottage.

The Cottage - Michigan City, IN

The Cottage Today

The Cottage - Michigan City, IN

The Cottage – Today