Monday, July 9 – …A study of the elderly on Washington Island…found many healthy older people, a disproportionate number in their 80s and 90s. One conclusion…low stress was responsible. Another…a heavy fish diet.
Wednesday, January 17 – …at this time of year, when high winds and seas are common, it’s possible to baby the boat along, gently nudging into the larger swells rather than bashing them to avoid icing down…
Tuesday, May 15 – … Around the turn of the century, a young assistant light keeper who was despondent cut his own throat on Pilot Island’s rocky outcropping… Perhaps it is this young man’s spirit that still inhabits the lighthouse?
Saturday, January 6 – …A funeral for Ann Greenfeldt brings members of an old island fishing family back for the burial at Schoolhouse Beach Cemetery.
This is the last ferry ride, the ride home to the island for burial. Casperson Funeral Home of Sister Bay stockpiles concrete vaults at the Town Shop in December for such winter eventualities, eliminating the difficulty of arranging for a heavy vault truck to cross to the island in mid-winter.
Undertaking is one service not available on the island, but we have been most fortunate to have a reliable and flexible service in Sister Bay. Greg, his father Clyde, and Clyde’s father before him, knew the faces and names of many island families….
Arni likes to tell the story of a casket slipping into the lake as he and his father, Carl, transferred a box with body from a rowing skiff to the open fantail of the fish tug-freight boat Welcome. They had anchored off the ice banks near Europe Bay, awaiting the delivery of the casket from Mr. Casperson, Clyde’s father. From shore it was transferred to a small rowboat, and from there to the awaiting Welcome. It was at that point when the box slipped from their grip. Imagine several hundred pounds of wooden casket and dead weight teetering between small skiff and fish tug, perhaps a small swell still running from the previous night. The casket was partially submerged.
Mr. Casperson opened and reached into the retrieved box and “straightened up the gentleman’s clothes and tie.” No water had entered the casket. Arni raised anchor for the homeward trip to Detroit Harbor. One imagines the casket inside the small fish tug, jammed alongside the engine box, stove, mail and other assorted freight in the hold of the fish tug.
Clyde Casperson’s undertaking services to islanders were well known. Years ago Ella Carlson was transported by ambulance through Sister Bay, having just been transferred from the island ambulance at NP after a winter ferry ride across the Door. Ella said to the ambulance crew, sensing this ferry ride might be her next-to-last, “Step on it when you go past Clyde’s.”
Sense of humor? Or sense of the future tinged with superstition? Ella was buried several weeks later at the island cemetery alongside her husband of many years.