Going home to my in-laws is like going back to another era. Their hobby of antique collecting makes me feel like I’m stepping into the 1800s when I walk into their home. From the old phone booth to the antique apple corer, there is an appreciation of how things used to be. Indeed, going back home even feels like a visit to my childhood era as there are no computers or cell phones. Yet five miles down the road, this rural area of mid-Michigan erupts into the 21st century – shopping, a grocery superstore, and yes, cell phone reception. A visit back home often involves a balance between appreciating the past and pressing into the future.
Our first stop on this trip was the Vassar Theatre. Opened in 1937, it has been stylishly restored in its Art Deco heritage. The ticket agent crawls through a short door in the wall in order to sell tickets in the square booth. The bright red doors with their arched glass insets beckon you to enjoy a taste of the golden age of movie-going. After getting our necessary popcorn and candy, we admired the painted murals and lighting around the theatre. The red velvet-like chairs kept us comfortable as we watched the clock for the show to begin. And then, the red drapes flung to the side as Disney’s “Monsters University” began to the delight of my children. I guess we couldn’t stay in the 1930s forever.
One day while the kids were with Grandma and Grandpa, my husband and I snuck away for the morning to modernity. The Birch Run Premium Outlets are a shopper’s dream: BCBG, Crocs, Hartstrings, Le Creuset, Nike, and Pottery Barn are just a few of the 145 stores. We wandered around for hours enjoying the quiet with no kids whining or pulling on us. I scored a hand-painted J Crew cardigan and some very comfy and stylish Merrell barefoot mary janes. Then, it was time to go back in time.
A trip to Michigan wouldn’t be complete without visiting a few antique shops. This time, our oldest was welcomed into the family legacy. While the other kids and I headed to the store for some modern-day groceries, he was following Daddy around looking at colored bottles, little boats, and other various smalls. With his allotted $5, he chose a safety razor and a typewriter pencil sharpener. Don’t ask me why those items, but his foray into this new antiquing world had begun. Mike and Frank would be proud.
Going back to the in-laws this year was honoring to the past and yet a whole new future was set in motion. Their house now has cell phone reception. What was once an idyllic step back in time now has the modern pressure of responding to email, calls, and texts. I found myself longing for how things used to be – when a visit to Michigan meant a retreat from present busyness in order to enjoy relationships like the good ole days. Maybe I’ll put my phone on airplane mode next time.
If you enjoyed this family adventure, then you’ll like A Saturday Full of Sugar
To learn more about the author, visit Jenny Klouse. One of her first antique purchases was an advertisement for Bing Crosby ice cream.
Vassar Theatre photographs courtesy of Jenny Klouse.