A Summer Place

A fistful of quarters jangled in my pocket as I strode toward my destination.

When I was ten years old, there was simply no better place in the world than the humble campground store I knew as Barney’s. It was the hub of a Michigan lakeside resort that my family frequented during the seventies. Every summer, we drove up north with the Monfort family, rented a pontoon boat, and shared a cottage that was adjacent to a tiny, private beach. I imagine that the proprietors, a couple named Barney and Eunice, considered the surrounding geography to be the main draw of their business. But while playing on the beach, swimming in the lake, riding on the boat and fishing were all pleasurable to some degree, I was happiest when I was allowed to burn a little time and money at Barney’s.

It was nothing more than one long, rectangular room with a concrete floor, a place where patrons could find any convenience they might have forgotten to pick up in town as well as the preferred vendor of nightcrawlers and waxworms. There were vending machines for soft drinks and newspapers, and I certainly purchased my fair share of candy there. But the real attraction for me was the front half of the establishment, which was dominated by pool tables and pinball machines. Read More

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