Lake Michigan chalet, 1966
‘It was magical … The soul is still there’
By Clay Eals
Arms outstretched as a young girl, she had a nonverbal part in a makeshift production. Kristen Lidke was portraying “the horizon.”
The play was “Let the Pages Go Walking through the Yellow Fingers,” spoofing a Yellow Pages ad slogan. The setting was a tiny stage inside an A-frame chalet, part of a western Michigan lakeside resort whose origins stretch to 1894 and whose name — Mich-Ill-Inda, (later Michillinda) —stems from the investors’ home states: Michigan, Illinois and Indiana.
It was the destination for yearly trips taken by two Michigan families in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The memories of the three tykes who shared the summer sojourns are a sensory extravaganza: walks and sunsets, bonfires and sing-alongs, wild raspberries and fragrant pine trees.
“It was magical,” says Kristen (now Woodward) of Seattle’s Westlake neighborhood, who grew up in Ann Arbor. Readily agreeing are her cousins, siblings Renee DePlanche Snyder and Brad DePlanche, who were raised in the nearby Michigan town of Plymouth and as adults settled separately 30 miles away in Brighton.
Their childhood Michillinda recollections tumble out: A father winning a “best legs” contest. A first dive into a swimming pool. The ring of a dinner bell. The tree-lined driveway to the massive lodge.
The lodge burned down in 2012, but the chalet, built in 1965, remains standing to unite the trio in warm chats and yearnings to return.
“It holds such memories whether the lodge is there or not,” Kristen says. “You can still feel everything. The soul is still there.”
Here is a video interview of Kristen Lidke Woodward and her cousins, siblings Renee DePlanche Snyder and Brad DePlanche, conducted via Zoom, along with 5 more photos of Michillinda from their childhood.