Blaney Park Resort – Part One

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For decades, Blaney Park Resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula drew visitors from all over the Midwest to an unparalleled array of activities.

From nearby and faraway, tourists and local residents came by train, small plane, and vehicle to Blaney Park.

UP residents remember Blaney as the scene of formal receptions, informal socializing, dining, dancing and drinking, and a whopper smorgasbord. From horseback riding, swimming, golf, archery and snow sports; to hunting, fishing and trapping; to elbow-bending and toe-tapping, Blaney had something for everyone.

The Inn at Blaney blended mature guests with a young staff: The waitresses (“waitri,” in college staffers’ slang) and other employees put on skits of youthful energy and talent. Dr. Jim Surrell vividly recaptures the congenial relationship between staff and guests.

My brother Don played jazz piano there when still a student at Newberry High School, sometimes solo, occasionally with Charlie Taylor on bass, and once or twice sitting in with the Swing Kings. Mrs. John Alton (Peg) Barrett took us to dinner there and danced us all under the table. I put a right angle in my brother’s nine iron trying to hit a golf ball out of a small shrub, under the shade of the American Elms along the ninth fairway of the sporty Blaney golf course.

The Bill and Naida Earle family moved from Blaney to Newberry in 1961 when Bill, son of owner Stewart Earle, stepped away from management of the Resort preliminary to its sale by Stewart. Some of us regarded the Earle kids with curiosity and open arms. (Literally: I took the oldest Earle daughter, Mary Margaret, to the Christmas Ball in 1962. We reconnected and married in 2010. Mary died seven months later.)

We kids never appreciated what a phenomenal chapter the Resort and its owners wrote in UP history, nor did we know how typical of UP history—from founding to foundering—Blaney’s story.

I hope this little book corrects that. It is dedicated to the memory of the guests, the woodsworkers and waitri and other staff members, and to C.J.L. Meyer and the Earle family, especially Mary Margaret.

This was the introduction to Blaney Park Resort – Part One by Ted Bays. You can read the full publication, for free, here:  Blaney Park Resort – Part One

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Ted Bays

Ted L. Bays graduated from Newberry High School in 1964, then attended the University of Michigan where he received his bachelors degree in 1969 and his masters in 1972. Bays served in the U.S. Army and was honorably discharged E5/Spec. 5 in 1971. Bays worked for the Escanaba Daily Press from 1972-75 and was the owner-operator of Bays Tree Care in Traverse City, MI from 1994 to 2009.

11 Comments

  1. Russell LaBeau on November 1, 2021 at 7:39 am

    Is this published in a book? I would like to buy a copy.

    • ted bays on December 1, 2021 at 12:46 pm

      Not yet. Hope to when my ship comes in, although latest report has it at the bottom of Lake Superior. Thanks for your comment.

  2. Rick St. Peter on November 1, 2021 at 9:26 am

    I had not been to the U.P. much until I met my wife in 1985. Her family had a camp on Lake Independence in Big Bay since 1962. We always head north on M-77. I was immediately fascinated the first time I passed through Blaney Park! You could tell there was something very ‘significant’ there at some point. I started searching for more information right away. Can’t wait to read the rest. Thanks for writing it!!

    • ted bays on December 1, 2021 at 12:51 pm

      Hey Rick–Yes, M-77 is in some ways the best route to get the heck OFF US-2 and ON M-28 (although lately both east-west highways are hell-for-leather zoos). The Engadine route is longer but maybe speedier (if speed is a concern….).
      Writing this article was literally a labor of love, and required some time after Mary Earle’s death for me to nerve up to it. Glad you like it.

  3. Bob Miller on November 1, 2021 at 5:40 pm

    I have to say that figuring out where this place was is a challenge. No town or county is mentioned in the brief summary. Best I can tell it was near the junction of US 2 and M-28 so I must of driven through it enroute to MSU?

    • Jane Stefanich on November 1, 2021 at 10:06 pm

      Bob, Blaney Park is about a mile North of US2 on M-77.

  4. Sue on November 11, 2021 at 12:44 pm

    I’ve always been interested in Blaney Park but this is a tough read. Couldn’t the footnotes have been placed at the bottom of each page? It’s frustrating when the flow of a sentence is interrupted several times.

    • ted bays on December 1, 2021 at 12:52 pm

      Hey Jane–Thanks for clarification. I should have mentioned exactly where Blaney is, right up front.

    • ted bays on December 1, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      Hey Sue–Good catch. Will try to improve flow, although my sentences often seem irredeemably impacted, if not constipated. A writer, as you may know, often defers to production and publication personnel. Ah well. Onward and Upward, Press On Regardless, Keep the Faith, Holy Whuh, ‘ey?. Thanks for your read and comment.

  5. Julia Connolly on February 14, 2022 at 11:00 pm

    Hi Ted,
    Enjoyed the Blaney Park piece. As a child I imagined it to be a magical place (thanks to the highway signs imploring us to visit).

    Remember the time I sent you The Köln Concert album?

    I think of you every time I happen upon fresh mint.

    Trust all is well with you, yes?

    Best regards,
    Julia Margaret Benson Hughes Connolly
    Former resident of the former Arrowhead Inn

    • tedbays on February 17, 2022 at 12:44 pm

      Yoolie!!–Holy guacamole!!! SO good to have contact. Remember? Hell YES. I still have that album, and “Facing You”, which my son Brendan ogles when he visits (he has a turntable). He won’t get it (them).
      I divorced shortly after our chaste encounter. Some adventures since then, and finally (1987-20011) a real career as an arborist (chainsaw attraction, tree affection, exercise addiction.) Sold my Traverse City business and moved to Marquette to marry old high school girlfriend Mary Margaret Earle. She died 7 months later.
      And you? Names suggest affections of you own. Hope so. Do i dare ask about Howard and wife and Jane?
      Keep the Faith, kid.–ted

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