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Meanwhile about 700 miles west of the borscht belt, soulful rhythm blues rippled across cool lake waters of Idlewild Michigan. This popular African American resort just north of grand rapids was the perfect place to be idle and wild. The black entertainers came here and many of them were just starting out. like Delorecess, 4 tops, and we went out almost every night. Gladius Chip Chase was 16 in 1925 when she first came to Idlewild on a field trip with a group of teenagers. Ema Jean Clark nearly 25 years hear junior visited with her aunt and uncle in the late 30's and Ann Hawkins has always been there. My mother and father meet here and I guess that was in about 1922 or 23 they say I was conceived here and I have come every summer since that time Decades later all 3 are still neighbors in Idlewild. During the first half of the century, African Americans were not welcome at most resorts, motels, restaurants, and rest stops. So you would stop the sheriff or police men say I'd like to catch just few hours sleep, thats what my people would say and we'll be parked here in the square in the heart of the city. When we would leave Detroit, there was always a lunch packed, Something to drink and we never really stopped along the way. Thats why alot of African Americans begin to decide they want to form there own vacation communities where they wont have to face those kinds of unpleasant racist encounters. Road trips often ended in Safe Heaven like Highland beach near minneapolis maryland, Where the son of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass brought his family in 1890, Oakbluffs and Marthas vineyard near Cape Cod and Idlewild A group of white men found at Idlewild, entrepreneur looking to cash in on the need for a black vacation get away. In 1912 the resort developers acquired nearly 3000 acres of pine trees and spring fed lakes in Michigan. They offered small plots to African American buyers for $35 a piece, at $6 down and $1 a week affordable for middle class families. They wooed black people by saying, dont you want a resort there was something appealing about a place to be able to go in the summers and have a quality of opportunity to do the things that everybody in this world so to speak had an opportunity to do. That opportunity to some of the most inflectional African Americans of the day. Including novelist Charles Chessnut, and Civil Rights leader W.E.B Du Bois. Word of Idlewild spread quickly, soon black folks from all social classes traveled long distances to claim their own bit fresh air and sunshine. They'd come from everywhere, Georgia, everywhere in the United States, California, New York. Over the years the first rustic shelters, Canvas tents and wood planked platforms became one room bungalows, affectionately called doghouses. Then the doghouses grew to full fledged summer homes. In 1938, Gladius Chipchase, her husband Chip, and Aunt Pearl are looking for a cottage in Idlewild Pearl took a fancy to a ramshackle place on a hilltop overlooking Paradise lake a real fixer-upper. And she would have little Tiffinity just sitting on stilts and I said i dont want that thing, and I came back again and she says come on up here, we got out of the car and went up there and there was this gorgeous sunset, and i said to her lets buy this sunset, it was just so beautiful. And they did, with the purchase of the sunset came the one room cottage and a rigidity outhouse. Gladius put her father to work sprucing it up They lined it with linoleum, pretty colors and what not it was the prettiness outhouse in Idlewild Soon as the sun rose over Idlewild, kids pored out of the cottages to gather by the lakes of what became known as Black Eddin. Daytime in Idlewild meant a dip in the lake or a round of golf. The real action started at night. At the center of it all, a simple clubhouse a place for older sisters met dates, the jukebox crew and the audience preformed Every night, whatever Even Chicago night, the enterdity from Chicago, they could a number well that was the Cabery the showfer that night, do you remember that? And that was before your time. then in the late 40's and early 50's Ziggy Johnson, Chicago talent booker brought Dazl and Flash to Idlewild nightlife. The shows they would have at the paradise had very tall statues ladies with beautiful beautiful tall head gears, and then we had an afterhours spot called Elmorocko and that was over in the woods and we'd go over there and stay tell about 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning. Relative unknowns like Refa Franklin and Dino Washington, on there way to gigs in Chicago or Detroit would pop in for a couple of sets at a Idlewild club. Another up and coming young singer jammed the night away with moody brand of blues people called him blues boy, BB King. His music was so loud and my aunty called up over there at paradise club and says your music is to loud for me, I came up here to rest, BB invited Aunt Pearl to join the party As the story goes Aunt Pearl declined the offer. By 1959 Idlewild was by far the biggest African American resort in the country, besides private cottages the grounds included 3 hotels, 26 motels and 4 clubs More than 10 thousand people called Idlewild home during the summer months and that number doubled on the big holiday weekends. But by the 1960s Changing times took there tolls on black eddin Ironically the end of segregation brought the end of Idlewild, specially after passage of the civil rights act of 1964 African Americans started to enjoy the freedom formerly whites only vacation destinations like Las Vegas and Florida or just somewhere closer to home in Michigan. Back in New York many Jewish families who had frequented the Cats Skills year after year, stopped going when they no longer needed to drive for hours to cool off. They had invented Air conditioners at that time or we were wealthy enough to afford one, so some of the orginal impetuous for getting us out of the city were no longer there. In a way the decline of these resorts signaled a more tolerant nation, as families of all races began to vacation side by side, but there passing also meant the end of era when family vacation meant much more to your family it meant community.

Video Details

Duration: 8 minutes and 22 seconds
Country: United States
Language: English
Genre: None
Views: 42
Posted by: atrctech on Oct 27, 2011

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