Jerry Donnelly: The importance of our history
So what happens when much of our history is lost? To quote Napoleon Bonaparte, "What is history, but a fable agreed upon?" Yes a fable -- a story with a moral lesson. We do this every day as we relay stories from our mouths to our children and grandchildren. We exaggerate the reality of what happened to make some ordinary things legendary. If you don't believe me, just try to find out the true story about a golfer's hole-in-one recollection. More than likely it wasn't a majestic high arching shot bouncing once on the green nestling into the cup. The truth is probably the shot bounced off a nearby tree, ran like a scalded dog across the green, rammed the flagstick so hard it jumped 10 feet high and fell straight down rattling back and forth into the hole. The stories get better and better the more they are told. Thus the fable has been created, but it has no moral lesson except for how to exaggerate facts.
If one is in the business of finding out what is true and what is not true about any of our history they usually are looking for cold hard facts. So why don't we go out and just ask the people who were living during that historical time to tell us what they recollect. We then write it down and it becomes historical information of which is notoriously fable with a smattering of facts. History therefore is very difficult to pinpoint unless we have a written document, a picture, a written firsthand account, a drawing, newspaper article, a cemetery record, or just about anything which can be challenged as to its veracity. And even a great historian becomes a not so great historian as his facts are disputed by new evidence by future generations of historians.
The reason I am going on about history is because I have been asked to try to coordinate the history of Petoskey-Bay View Country Club for the upcoming centennial during the summer of 2015. I have been anointed the club's historian almost since my membership was accepted back in 1991. Why me? Because I asked the question after looking at the meager history the country club had at the time "Are these the only few paragraphs of our nearly 80 years of history?" And, yes they made up the bulk of the history of the Petoskey-Bay View Country Club. So off and on over the last 20 years I have been asking a lot of questions, scouring the Petoskey publication of the Daily Resorter in the early 1900s, the Petoskey Evening News of the 1940-50s era, and the Petoskey News-Review. If you ever want to get totally frustrated spend some time trying to find information on microfiche. The bottom line is, I have found a lot, but a lot has vanished because of a fire in the PBVCC office back in the 1940s.
So much of the club's history from 1915-1947 has been lost. We have only what club members have found for us through the old scorecards, a very few pictures, some Zelda Gillman research from the historical museum, some notations from Cliff Buckmaster, and some stories from current members whose parents and grandparents were members. One would think we would have a much better picture of our history as we approach our centennial. This is where my readership can help. If you have anything in your basement, attic, cedar chest, safe, or the clutter which sits in one of the drawers of your desk which might look historical in regards to the Petoskey-Bay View Country Club, simply send it my way. Call me, write me, stop me on the street, email me, face time me, Skype me, twitter me, face book me or by whatever means necessary -- let's communicate. My phone number is (231) 348-0884 and my cell is (586) 321-7213 (good luck with that one). My e-mail is email@example.com. You may also call Carole or Sue at the club directly at (231) 347-2148 -- they are much nicer to talk to than I am.
One fact we do know about the history of the Petoskey-Bay View Country Club is that as the leaders of Petoskey gathered in the fall of 1915 to discuss golf, they were jealous of the Harbor Springs golf courses at Harbor Point and Wequetonsing, and even little ole Conway had a golf course in the area. They conspired to have their own golfing grounds. Envy was the motivating factor behind the founding of the then Petoskey Golf Club. Most motivation evolves out of one of the seven deadly sins and being envious was the Petoskey Golf Club founders' sin. We don't have to be proud of it, but this sin was a good one. It secured a beautiful piece of real estate which connects Bay View and then the commercial properties going north on U.S. 31 to Mackinaw City. Let the facts speak for themselves.
As usual, this is one man's opinion.
Jerry Donnelly is a Petoskey native who was an educator downstate. His column appears monthly. Donnelly can be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.