The son of a military surgeon, Harold Corbusier lived on Mackinac Island from age ten to twelve, and again when he was nineteen. As a boy he spent his free time sailing, fishing, ice skating, and exploring the island. He kept a journal about his daily activities. The journal was a birthday gift, and Harold’s first entry on January 14, 1883, reads: “I am ten years old today.”
In winter, the extreme cold and snowy weather didn’t keep the Corbusier family from going outside. On January 16 Harold wrote: “The skating is very fine. We all went again this afternoon. Mama sat on a sled and Papa pushed her about on the ice.”
Harold and his four brothers knew the name of every boat that came to the island. The first boat to arrive in the spring after the ice melted was greeted with cannon fire from Fort Mackinac. On April 28 Harold wrote: “A steam barge passed through the straits from Lake Michigan. They gave her a salute of one gun as she was the first boat of the season.”
Spring also meant collecting sap for maple syrup. Harold wrote: “We tapped eleven trees and brought home four gallons of sap and would have had more but we wasted a great deal.”
Like today, many people in the 1880s vacationed on Mackinac Island in the summer. Friends and cousins visited the Corbusiers and they took trips to different places on the island. On August 19 Harold wrote: “We went in wading as it was very warm. We took a big watermelon and buried it in the sand to keep it kool.” About a week later, he wrote: “We hired a boat from Davis and rowed around to the other side of the island past Arch Rock and had a picnic.”
Although Harold didn’t go trick-or-treating, Halloween was celebrated. Harold wrote: “It is All Hallows Eve. We were going to dive for apples but there were none in town so we had to dive for potatoes. We played games and mama made candy.”
When Harold grew up he earned a medical degree from the University of Michigan. Like his father, he became a surgeon in the U.S. Army.
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