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My other neighborhood on Red Arrow Highway

   

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On Red Arrow Highway, the old road along the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan from Chicago to Detroit, the past coexists with the present. There are old-fashioned pleasures, and not everything is in a strip mall and belongs to a chain. Actual human beings own places and sell you stuff it's fun to buy. This area is known as Harbor Country.

Top to bottom: Oink's Ice Cream Parlor and Fudge Shop in New Buffalo; chef and owner Ibrahim Parlak chatting with customers at his Cafe Gulistan in Harbert; the veggie stand on Red Arrow in Sawyer; Schlipp's soda fountain in Sawyer; a car hop at Mikey's Drive In on the highway in Bridgman; Ben Franklin's Five and Ten Cent Store in Bridgman.

About five miles further away from Lake Michigan is the town of New Troy, which calls itself the Center of the World. The name comes from a general store that operated there from circa 1860 until 1976. When woodworker Terry Hanover and his wife settled there, they took over the name in 1976 for their wood shop, which is still there. Their showroom is on Red Arrow as it passes through Harbert.

Red Arrow even preserves a Shell station. Gas stations mostly all used to look like this. In the mirror is the road behind. Ahead are St. Joseph and Benton Harbor, and houses by Frank Lloyd Wright.
 
 


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☑ Photos and video by Roger Ebert. You can use them but say where these good places are. All of my TwitterPages are linked under the category Pages in the right margin of this page.
 

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20 Comments

Interesting. I live in this area (in fact, less than a mile from where Muhammad Ali lived until recently) and I've never really stopped to appreciate the things we have right here. Thank you for pointing these out!

This is what life looked like before big box stores dominated the horizon.... Reminds me of my younger days... Thanks for sharing!

I'm an anxious girl. In a hurry most of the time. But when my car hits Red Arrow Hwy, everything slows down. My heart is quiet, my mind is clear and my body relaxes. The breeze off the Lake mixed with the scent of forest leaves is heady, to say the least. My husband and I love to get lost in all the little stops and shops that are hidden and tucked away. Nothing is obvious. Everything is special. Thanks Roger for giving Harbor Country the praise it deserves.

awwhhhh. That little girl with the candy ring is precious! What an excellent picture.

Beautiful photos/wife/little girl, idyllic place.

Gunther Grass has surpassed you: he is about to publish his 3rd autobiography.

Thanks for posting this! I live in California now and seeing the Ben Franklin reminds me of my home in Ohio.

That is an excellent photo of the little blonde girl!

dat was a perfect tour

OMG, what did they do to the wheelchair van accessible spot at the garden center?

That little girl is precious. Small towns are beautiful.

This is so true about businesses! I try very hard to keep a lot of business in locally owned shops. It isn't possible to do all my shopping there, but I do give them my business when I can.
It is important for people to do that in my opinion.

I've lived in Michigan my whole life and have yet to see this. It's so odd how little we explore our own surroundings. The places we'll least likely go, that's what's always on our minds.

Perhaps I should hit the road.

Lovely! I'm a city girl all the way, but something in my heart knows these places.

We have family that live in Michigan City, New Buffalo, and St. Joseph. I always make a plea to take Red Arrow. I can imagine myself back in time, like well to do Chicago famlies going to and from their summer homes. A beautiful area off the beaten path!

Red Arrow Hwy! This brings back lots of memories of great trips to the Warren Dunes. But where's the mention of Redamaks? Best burgers ever.

Ebert: If you try the half-pounder at Mikey's, a mile or so up Red Arrow from the light in Bridgman on the left, you might find cause to revise that.

Years of great memories there: my grandparents lived on RAH about 30 miles northwest, near Lawrence. That stretch becomes hilly and winds through dense trees, like a wooded roller-coaster, and the houses on hills overlook the road where the cars race by. Yesterday at our family Labor Day gathering, we had a chuckle when I told my brother and sister that stretch of road strangely reminded me of the movie Pet Cemetery. A few years ago a man in a wheelchair like me somehow got the handles of his chair hooked into the grille of a semi, and he shot those rapids (safely, thank God) at 50 miles per hour. Can you imagine! (PS. Thanks for a lifetime of education… from when I was a lonely kid stranded among the cineplexes of Orland Park who scratched for the Show section of the family's Sunday Sun-Times.)

The Ben Franklin Five and Ten Cent video reminds of the local mom-and-pop hardware store. After going to both of the big box stores (they are right down the street from each other) I find what I really want at the small, cramped Duncan Hardware.

My family has a house in Long Beach and we'd always go out to eat around here when I was a kid. I remember seeing you multiple times at the various restaurants in the area, one in particular that I can no longer remember the name of. Very nice area.

Every time I'm traveling back here to Muskegon from South Bend, Chicago or Indiana, I always pass the sign for Red Arrow Highway, but I've never driven it. Maybe I will someday.

I don't think I'll ever understand why, somewhere between the 1950s and now, marketing people decided that it was a good idea to stop making gas stations and general store signs and candy displays look cool.

Thanks, Roger, for sharing your travels with us. I love to hear the stories and to see the pictures of where people have been. Hope you have had a good summer!

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