In 1948 Jane Grube (about age 28), her husband William, and her 2 ½ year old son, Bill, lived in southwest Chicago and heard from her sister’s friend about a nice lake in southern Michigan. They decided to visit this lake for a weekend. They liked what they saw so they began to stay a couple weeks each summer. When Bill was seven, his brother, Jack, joined the family.
Eventually the family started to spend the entire summer at Hill’s Resort on Lake of the Woods. Mr. Grube worked in sales for a Chicago tool company and he would come and go from the lake each week. Jack recalls before the interstate was built the journey to LOW took over four hours. It began at 6 a.m. They would stop in Dowagiac at Caruso’s for a sandwich, visit the bakery, and time it just right so they could pull into the parking lot at Hill’s by check-in (12 noon). They wore their bathing suits so they could jump out of the car and into the lake. Jack grew up playing with the children of the families at the resort and the locals who lived near the lake.
Hills Resort consisted of 10 small one and two-bedroom cabins with a kitchen/living area. The bedrooms had drapes for doors. The only plumbing was cold running water at the kitchen sink. There was a communal outhouse that had hot and cold water for showers in the same building. The main building, called the “Snack Bar”, housed Mr. and Mrs. Hill. They built a convenience store/snack bar along the front of the house. They sold ice cream, basic groceries, candy, etc. There was a pinball machine and a shuffle board area and a pier with a gas pump at the end. Boats would arrive with kids from the Greenwoods camps to buy candy and play on the pinball machine. Then they would paddle back across the lake. Jane recalls Mr. Hill being very strict and would not allow the children to throw their candy wrappers on the ground. There was a fence on the north side of the property separating the resort from a cow pasture (formerly owned by the Broekhuizen family).
Jane says everyone around the area was “so friendly.” They wore bathing suits all day. There was always someone to talk with, sitting in the metal chairs outside the cabins. It was like a big family and sometimes they all ate dinner together. It was a very communal atmosphere with the locals and other families at the resort. Jane quilted with the other mothers as they watched the children play in the lake. She also had a sewing machine and she sewed a lot of clothes during the summers.
Each cottage had a row boat. Sometimes the dads would go fishing. People were well to do if they had a raft. The kids spent their time on inner tubes in the lake.
They walked the mile to town, sometimes twice a day, cutting through the woods by St. Mary’s church. Jane remembers frequently visiting Mrs. Weeks and her sister’s penny candy store, the Cozy movie theater, a jewelry store (now an auto parts store), an ice cream fountain where the barber shop is now. May Kaplan and her sister owned a grocery store where the Decatur Village offices are now.
On a rainy day they played cards, bingo, went on scavenger hunts, and Jack remembers going to Battle Creek for the Kellogg tour and getting ice cream with rice krispies on top at the end of the tour.
Jack recalls Mr. Red Wolffe was the law enforcement from the county or the DNR (?). He had no boat so when he wanted to check something on a boat in the lake he would walk to the end of the pier at Hill’s and motion for them to come in.
Jack spent most of his summers during his elementary and middle school years at LOW. Mr. Hill died and Mrs. Hill remarried. Eventually they sold the property to Garrett Broekhuizen. In the mid-1970’s the cottages were torn down one at a time, allowing a few of the long time families to continue to enjoy the property. Mr. Broekhuizen purchased property around the resort. In 1976 he built a house adjacent to the resort with the hope that Jane and her husband would purchase it, which they did, making them neighbors. Jane continues to enjoy summers in that home.
Hill’s Resort was one of three on LOW during the 1960’s. Hill’s, Ackleys and Motleys were all located on the south shore of the lake and Hill’s was the largest.
Jane continues to love spending summers at her home on LOW. She says people are too busy these days. They don’t take time to sit and talk like they used to. She spends time crocheting hats for infants and service men and women. Her sister, who introduced her to LOW, comes from Chicago to spend time with her during the summers. She also has a brother-in-law who lives just behind her. She spends the winters in New Hampshire with Jack and his wife.
June 15, 2020 Jane will celebrate her 100th birthday!!
Jane's summer schedule this year is uncertain because of the Covid-19 virus. But she is anxious to spend another summer on Lake of the Woods!
The following are pictures provided by Jack Grube, Jane's son, of earlier days on the lake and Hill's Resort.