Tuesday, March 30, 2021

OT: A Fire Took Away a Piece of My Life Today


This evening at 6:49 PM ET -- my cousin Kevin Sweeney (a ND GO IRISH BLOG regular) sent me a text with this video attached of a burning building...

It wasn't just any burning building it was a monument to my youth.  You see, my Grandpa and Grandma Doyle opened a brand new restaurant/bar in Mecosta County (Michigan) on the northern shore of Blue Lake -- on July 4, 1941 -- see add promoting it in a local newspaper.

I grew up just down the hill from Doyle's Supper Club -- what a wonderful place it was.  It was built from cedar logs hewn from the swamps in the area, because lumber was scarce during World War II. 
Here's what it looked like back in those early years...

I drank my first Coca-Cola, learned to love steak and a sauce called A.1. -- even met Olympic hero Jesse Owens -- inside these walls...  
I ran up that hill to Grandpa & Grandma's house -- which was adjacent to Doyle's Supper Club -- a million times.  Grandma was typically at home awaiting our arrival (the door was never locked) and Grandpa was next door -- tending bar and talking Notre Dame football to anyone who would listen...


Here's a menu my brother Jay has --- from November 11, 1961. It was Grandpa Ray's birthday and a dozen of my dad's former Detroit Tiger teammates made a visit to Doyle's Supper Club that day and signed the cover of the menu for Gramp as a present -- see below (check out the prices);

So, it was shocking to learn this great log edifice was burning to the ground.  Over the last few hours I've received note after note from family and friends who also frequented these walls -- with messages like these...
  • "We've had our annual company dinner here for the last 26 years..."
  • "I had my first date here..."
  • "Your Grandpa and my Dad were great friends..."
  • "We celebrated our wedding reception here -- this is devastating..."
  • "I drove up from Michigan State to have my first legal drink here and cousin RJ brought over my Uncle Ray (my Grandpa) to serve me that drink..."
  • "I have called all my brothers and sister Maggie -- we're all devastated..."
    • This note came from one of the Mayer's -- a family we loved like our own, that had 19 children -- many of whom worked at one time for my grandparents at Doyle's Supper Club. 
  • "I wish I could spend an hour with you to tell you the story about the time my dad and Jim Bouton had a little to much to drink one night at Doyle's Supper Club..."


This special place has changed ownership over the years -- it's now called Blue Lake Tavern.  But, what never changed was how important this piece of real estate was to me, our family, our friends and the many I've never met in this rural region of the world.  

Yet, what has surprised me the most is how profound my grief is.  This was HOME and now she is in ashes...   Tough to swallow.

Memories are all that is left...

Yes, I'd rather go to Grandpa's house

Than any place I know

For Grandpa says I'm his boy

And, Grandma love me so...


This is a poem that Grandma Doyle would ALWAYS recite to her eight grandkids...


Today Show Story: Trey Mancini's Return!


The former Notre Dame baseball star and American League All-Star first baseman -- is making his return this week with the Baltimore Orioles after fighting a battle with colon cancer this past year...

ND Pro Day: Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah

ND Pro Day: Liam Eichenberg Media Session

ND Pro Day: Daelin Hayes Media Session

ND Pro Day: Ian Book Media Session