So maybe I should write a brief introduction to me – your host and humble narrator, Jim Hall.
While my immediate family consists of fairly large people, it always felt like a small insular group to me – and these days it certainly is. My father Melvin is without a doubt the toughest and gentlest man that has ever walked the Earth. My mother Lois was, equally without doubt, some sort of demonic plaque put on the planet to torture good people. And my younger brother John was singularly the smartest person I have ever encountered. Rounding out the cast is me – for what it’s worth.
My father started his professional life as a teacher in Allegan, MI. He had aspirations to become a school administrator, and with his second job – in Detour, MI – he achieved that goal. Detour is a lonely outpost on the far eastern edge of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Dad was the principal at the high school there, as well as teaching some classes, coaching some teams, and driving the bus for away games. I’m certain that he loved that job. But, when Mom became pregnant with John, she insisted that he be born in Allegan (where I was born) because she liked the doctor there. So Dad took a lesser paying job as an assistant principal at Gobles High and we returned to the Lower Peninsula.
It was at Gobles that Dad learned that school administration is much more about politics than it is about education. But fortune shined upon him and he landed a teaching/coaching job at Spring Lake.
Spring Lake, MI is a quiet little bedroom village. At the time we moved there in 1965 most of the people who owned big important stuff in the thriving metropolitan enclaves of Muskegon and Grand Rapids lived in Spring Lake. They mostly occupied large estates clustered around the lake – yes Spring Lake is both a village and a lake. What lakeshore real estate they didn’t occupy was covered with extravagant summer homes for rich folks from Chicago and Detroit. The village proper is ringed by farmers who were just getting by, and centered around a tiny merchant population that supported both groups.
For many years prior, the good burghers of Spring Lake sent their sons and daughters to high school in the next town over, Grand Haven. But the folks in Spring Lake weren’t particularly pleased when a promising young football talent who went on to major college glory was always credited as being from Grand Haven. So they decided to pony up the funds and build their own high school. And nothing was too good for these folks. They not only built a fine “modern” facility, but they staffed it with the best and brightest teachers that money could buy. Fortunately for the young Hall family, that included my father who would take the job teaching English and Latin as well as coaching Track and Cross Country.
Spring Lake was, and probably still is, a great place to be a kid. It really was, and is, the kind of community that Mayfield was on the old “Leave it to Beaver” TV series. And we had family there – our ancestors arrived in town shortly before the Civil War.
And that’s enough for this entry.