Sylvan Lake Memories

Blanche Fezzey Graf grew up in the house at 2469 Pontiac Drive that was brought across the ice from Voorheis Road in 1918. She remembers the beautiful sail boat races that later gave way to power boat races.

...Lorraine Anttile remembers the day in 1947 when her mother was surprised by a pike as she was ice fishing. The fish jumped up through the hole and into her mother's shanty. Mary Anttila speared it to be photographed later.

...Mae Greenlee, a Sylvan Lake resident since 1946, recalls when a group of residents called the Mothersingers used to entertain at Daniel Whitfield PTA meetings.

...Many residents recall shopping at the store at Garland and Telegraph, which at one time was owned by the Mazza family and called Steve's store. People who grew up here say they used to stop by for ice cream cones. Lynda Vitasinski has fond childhood memories of living in Sylvan Lake. Her father and uncle, Felix and Ted Vitasinski, respectively, were the owners of the store, then called the General Store, from 1950 until it was razed in 1955. Progress meant the General Store had to make way for the new Telegraph Road. The General Store was located in a building that also housed six apartments, a barbershop and a boat rental.

...Mary TePoorten Sax remembers growing up on Lakeview with her mother Lucille TePoorten, who ran a nursery school. The house did not have running water, but did have a pump in the sink. She recalls Mr. Strong, the iceman, who delivered blocks of ice and let the village children ride on the truck's running boards. On August 15, 1945, Mary and her cousin Dorothy Dearing joined thousands of joyful Oakland County residents who celebrated V-J Day in the streets of downtown Pontiac to mark the end of WWII.

...Bette and Alan Monteith also remember August 15, 1945. This was the day they arrived in Sylvan Lake and this has indeed been imprinted on their minds for a lifetime. They moved into their Lakeland Ave. home with daughters, Barbara 6, and Joan 2, amidst a lot of celebrating. It was V-J Day and the end of World War II and their first venture into the home-owning world.

...In September, 1945, the Monteith's went to Whitfield for the big adventure of entering Barbara into First Grade. The Monteith write, "What a delightful place, a staff that was top rated, with a principal to match in Mr. Husted, who was also a Sylvan Lake resident. Here we made lifelong friends by being active volunteers in schools programs, and Brownies and Girl Scouts. We participated in the Memorial Day parades with the Girl Scouts, school children and bands. One year our troop even built a float with help from the fathers headed up by Rex Foster. Wouldn't you know that was the year the skies opened up and sent rain down in torrents so we were all drenched, but the program went on with umbrellas."

...Daisy Worley moved to this side of Sylvan Lake from the area around the present James K, known as Happy Home Road, sometime between 1915 and 1918. Her parents, Frank and Susanna Phillips, bought property between Garland and Ferndale for $300. She said she and her sister could ride the streetcar to Pontiac, attend a couple of movies, and buy candy - all for 25 cents.

...Daisy remembers that Roy Durfee owned concessions at Tower Beach at the north end of the Lake. At the beach, people could rent a little cabin in which to change into their rented swimming suits. Boats were available for fishing. Visitors entertained themselves by taking a board to the top of the tall slide and sliding down into the lake. There were numerous injuries as the boards and people collided.

...Josephine Mack James, the first president of the Garden Club, moved to the "carriage house" on Benvenue in 1935. (The house is believed to be the carriage house for the house at 2239 Pontiac Drive.) Later, she and her husband built their house next door. She recalls that the Garden Club donated the two pine trees, which stand in front of the City Hall. As a piano teacher, she remembers her students and their "mini-recitals."

...The Clevelands built their home on Woodland in 1939. They paid $450 for the lot. Horses were used to dig the basement and the Wood Lawn Subdivision had been a farm owned by the Sawyers. There were few other houses in the subdivision at the time, and it was a wonderful place to raise children. Poplar trees, which lined the streets, were removed and replaced with maples and their roots are less intrusive to the sewers. Mrs. Cleveland had a little chicken coop and kept a few chickens until the city decreed, "no more chickens." During World War II, Mrs. Cleveland and other residents planted victory gardens on the vacant property on Woodland.

back to the top