Memory Tour, Sturgis edition

It's picture time. (this is the longest blog post to date, sorry...)

I had taken Blue Bomber with me to my parents this weekend. I kind of knew which destination I wanted to reach (out towards Marty's parents house) because there were some good hills to climb there, but then I got sidetracked a bit on my way back through town. There were some areas of Sturgis that I ended up visiting for nostalgia's sake so half the ride was an urban trek into the memory banks. Enjoy...

Funny map. I was all over the place, including rail road tracks.

This is a park entrance (used to be privately owned) right next door to Marty's parent's house. Marty and I used to go sledding down the (then) dirt drive in the winter time. It was fast and the curve at the bottom was a fun challenge.

Lloyd Edward Stemen. Above the mailbox in that field, my brother still has a tooth out there that he lost while we played football in the snow. This happened during the 46-10 routing of the New England Patriots by "Da Bears" in Super Bowl XX.

This was actually what kicked off the accidental "Memory Tour". Miller's grocery store, an institution in Sturgis and where we did our weekly grocery shopping is going out of business. Signs in the windows say "20% off everything". That's it. Done. Corporate America ran her under, Kroger, BigK and Walmart taking the business away. Although, it is hard to be sad for them. The store hasn't changed in the least tiny bit since I was 5 years old. Lots of memories in that place for me. Low ceilings, narrow aisles. The best.

$4 gas got me thinking about this place. The old gas station we used to fill up at. It's been closed down for years (maybe 15-20), but I can still remember mom filling up the ol' Bonneville while I stared out the window at the sign advertising the price per gallon: $0.75. Big time back then. We'd fill up on Thursdays because the price would always jump a penny or two for the weekend.

Off to the High School. I was interested in seeing what the ball field looked like. The irony here in that this is where they hide the school's trash cans for the winter. The field was a disgrace, the worst I have ever seen it.

This is the view from my old station, first base. There used to be dirt base paths to/from home plate. I will never gather why they would get rid of those. Look at all the weeds in the dirt. The field is probably only 2-3 weeks from being used for HS baseball. By now, we'd have the field dialed in. Putting in hours of "practice" dedicated to making sure everything was edged just perfect and everything smooth and clean. Our field used to be the most well kept of all the fields in the county, including the Community College. Apparently no one has that kind of time any more for tradition. Sad.

Patti's old house near the tennis courts. Looks almost identical to what it did 20 years ago. Hard to imagine we started dating the fall of 1992.

This was another mind-blower. It has been 11 years since one of my closest childhood friends, Clay, died in a motorcycle wreck on July 4, 2001 racing home from work that day to make it to a family July Fourth party. He never made it there. It was at this point I realized that I had travelled right where he died on my ride earlier today. I still remember the last time I saw him. We were taking family pictures outside the church on our wedding day. I saw him drive by, I presume checking in on me. He wasn't invited as we had drifted apart in our separate ways. He would be in the accident just more than a month later.

R.I.P. buddy. Hopefully things are just as warm, bright and shiny where you are as they were on this March day here on Earth. Too bad we never got to enjoy a burger and beer to talk about man-stuff together. You shaped my life in more ways than you can imagine. We got in just enough trouble together to make being kids fun and memorable.

Right across from the cemetary is Dead Man's Hill. This used to be THE place to go sledding in the winter. I thought many things were bigger in my mind than they really are today because I was such a small kid back then. Nope, not here. Still intimidating. I couldn't ride down the steep sides on my bike. Too scared.

Bob James, a neighbor of ours where I grew up on the lake owned this store. I think it was called Sturgis Meat Market. I still remember going in there and smelling the raw meat in that place. Bob would come out to greet us kids wearing a white apron just covered in bright red blood. Looking inside, the place was a wreck. Some sort of ceiling/water damage, tiles and insulation crap strewn everywhere. This was one of those instances where the place seemed bigger in my mind.

Ahhh...the Strand Theatre. Still operational, I will take my kids here someday. I saw Saturday matinee movies like E.T., Pinocchio, Dumbo and 101 Dalmations here. Also, the first "adult" movie with my Dad, The Naked Gun 2 1/2. Ha ha When Whitney Houston died some memories of days gone by came back. Not that I actually cared that that crackhead died, but she did help me get my first
kiss during the 1992 film The Bodyguard here. I remember it so vividly. So...thanks Whitney.
You're still a crackhead though.

My first school. Park Elementary. Went here for kindergarten and first grade. Peered inside. Doesn't look like they use it any more. Everything inside though looked just like it did 30 years ago though. I still remember those porcelin drinking fountains and fixtures. I'd like to actually get in there one day to poke around.

At this point I decided to ride some railroads. Which was scary. Lots of sharp things to poke out my tires. I ended up safe, but ran across this. WTF!? Never seen something like this before.

Rode maybe a mile or so in the soft railroad bed. Kinda fun. Probably do it again.
Took my time riding...looking for "artifacts". Nothing good enough to keep.

Cool shot of where I had been.

What the H could possibly be kept in the locked "treasure box" at the base of this?


  1. That's some good stuff on our old hometown. The campground driveway was a blast as kids on our runner sleds. I remember putting some pretty crappy wax on the runners to try to get more speed. I'm sure the wax lasted all of 2 feet, but it sure seemed like it made all of the difference in the world.

    Dead Man's Hill, saw lots of great sledding accidents on that bad boy, and I'm sure there's a mouthful of teeth scattered around that place. In a parking lot not from there, I "parked" for the first time.

  2. Nice post Tony, also very sad.
    I've also never seen a perpendicular track intersection like that.
    Based on the work I've done with railroads, I'm gonna guess the locked box contains several unhooked wires, an empty water bottle and some greasy ballast rocks.