MEMORY LANE - BOB-LO MEMORIES

You can submit your Bob-Lo Memory in an e-mail as text or as an attachment in Microsoft Word or Open Office format or by mail to Bob-Lo Memories, 4301 Ormond Road, White Lake Michigan 48383.

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Fred Renon  submitted May 8, 2016

Hi, My name is Fred Renon. I worked on the Boblo Boats in 1975, I was hired to paint the boat for the upcoming season. I at that time skipped school and met up with a friend that was a sailor. He took me into the mariner hall for him to be hired. As it turned out, I was the one to be hired. I told the Mariner hall that I had my paperwork In progress since I was new signup. He accepted it. I went to work on the Boblo Boat and I didn’t know it at the time was also the skinniest one on board. They sent me to the bilge and had me clean that out and then scrape the paint and then paint the hull. I also was sent to paint the piston and the surrounding areas. Then I was sent all over the boat to do whatever my boss told me to do. Great Job, Enjoyed all the time I spent on her.

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Crystal  submitted April 19, 2016

 My name is Crystal and I'm 32 years old. I remember going to Bob-Lo Island as a child. The steamboat ride was my favorite part of the whole experience. Being at the top of the boat with the sun shining on me and the strong wind at my face was my favorite spot. My mother loved dancing to live band music on the ship with Captain Bob-Lo, which I don't remember. That must have been before my time. We took a class trip in elementary school to Bob-Lo Island and decided I wanted to ride the upside down roller coaster for the first time. I did it and felt brave as I was under 10 years of age and without my parents. I would definitely love to ride the steamboat again and would pay to do so. Belle Isle would be the perfect spot for this attraction. I'll be waiting. Xoxo Bob-Lo

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Judy  submitted June 21, 2014

The people in the barrel are Emma Giroux (my grandmother) and her brother, Walter and sister, Rose.  Emma's the pretty lady on the left side of the picture.  It was taken in August of 1908.

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Melvin Geloneck  submitted May 25, 2014

I am writing this on Memorial Day Weekend of 2014. Memorial Day weekend was the traditional opening of Bob-Lo. School was about to end for the year. Baseball season was in full-swing (pun intended!). There was a whole summer full of baseball, Bob-Lo, and nice weather to look forward to.

I still get a lump in my throat as I remember the thrill of stepping onto either the Columbia or the St. Claire for the start of another wonderful season of Bob-Lo.

I remember the area of the first deck where you could look over the railing and down into the engine room. On a chilly Saturday, which was sometimes the case on Memorial Day weekend, it felt good to feel the warm air coming up from that engine room. It was always fascinating to watch the pistons pump up and down after the ship had gotten under way.

I can still hear Captain Bob-Lo as he walked through the decks, mainly the 2nd deck with the dance floor, saying “Coloring Books! Get your Bob-Lo coloring books!”

I still get chills when I think of seeing the band assembling itself near the railing that faced the Detroit dock because I knew that I was about to hear “Anchors Aweigh” for the first time that summer! Once the boat got underway, the band members assembled themselves on the bandstand and began to play the top 40 hits to entertain the passengers. Many people danced on that beautiful dance floor.

Bob-Lo wasn’t high-tech by today’s standards. There was no Superman or Batman roller coaster. The rides they offered then couldn’t hold a candle to what you find now at theme parks. However, it did have The Bug, the rocket jets, the Wild Mouse, and a whole lot of other rides. Teenagers went there by the thousands every summer day. I was one of them. Bob-Lo was many things, but it wasn’t boring.

 A Bob-Lo Memory from James Earl  submitted February 17, 2013

I remember first going to Bob-lo at about age five -1947. We were waiting to depart the dock at Detroit and the whistle on the nearby South American cruise ship went off and so did I. I soon got used to this type of event and enjoyed the trip down the river for many years after. We used to go twice a year and never tired of the eighteen mile excursion and Bob-lo Island. The boats had a real party atmosphere created in large part by the hired bands. One could enter a totally different and serene atmosphere by going up to the smaller top deck by the wheel house, or get another very different experience by peering down into the engine room from an observation area on the first deck. Once the engineer saw how fascinated I was and climbed the ladder to give me an explanation of the engine room operation.

I was always enamored by ships on the great lakes and for me the Bob-lo boat was the place to be with lake freighters passing very close by going in different directions.
I loved to draw and would come home and spend many hours drawing the boats from memory.

In the fifties the steel mills were at full tilt giving off tons of orange smoke and fire, creating a wonderful sight for us on the evening boat. One could see freighters like the Edmund Fitzgerald being built at Great Lakes steel and a wide variety of ships tied up along the river banks. I actually went to her launching in the late fifties.

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Mary Savage submitted November 08, 2012

I have great childhood memories of our trips to Bob-lo Island. My mother was a single parent of 3 she'd pack the picnic basket and off we'd go she'd try and take us every year.. Then as I got older I'd get to go with her, the school field trip and our neighborhood community center.. Never have been sick on any ride but I must say the last time I was there that gravity ride where you stuck to the wall and the floor drops that, that really made my stomach turn, it broke me from riding spinning rides.. I love the memories and times that I had there.. I told my sister yesterday it wasn't even sad when you had to leave for the day cause you knew you was going to have a fun ride back on the boat. Thank you for letting people like me walk down memory lane at your site. Have a Blessed Day. Mary Somers Savage

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Dave Kern submitted December 27, 2011

Every summer back in the 50's and early 60's, my family and I along with all the kids and parents from Bethany Lutheran school would head down town to take our annual Bob-Lo boat cruise to Bob-Lo island. As soon as we were allowed to board the boat, my friends and I would explore all the decks and later on hang out near the band as they played after we departed. Captain Bob-Lo would greet us with "Hi boys and girls, I'm Captain Bob-Lo!" Aunt Viola would always have a picnic basket full of sandwiches to enjoy at the picnic grounds on Bob-Lo island but the rides were the chief thing on our minds! Love the bug and the whip!
We live in Florida now but I have high hopes that we will be making the trip back to Detroit to take a cruise on the St. Claire one more time once she is ready.
Dave Kern
Ft. Myers, Florida

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Linda M. Cook  submitted August 15, 2011

Every summer my family would get up at the crack of dawn so we could be downtown in time to be on the first boat away from the dock. I so wish Bob-Lo and the boats still existed. We would pack our lunches and not come back until the 6:30 boat left the island.

Great memories of a yearly tradition

 Childhood photos submitted by Terri Cook (1977)

Mary Lettau's grandmother and friends 1962

  Mary Lettau's grandmother and friends 1923

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Marsha Kolar submitted May 17, 2010

My best/worst Memory of the Boblo Boats.   Best – making our way to Boblo Island and all the fun rides. Worst – first date with this great looking guy – had this new outfit – white pants and a striped jacket. Everything going well until the band came out to play – I HAD ON THE SAME JACKET AS BAND.

Marsha Kolar (64)

 A Bob-Lo Memory from Mel and Brenda Geloneck submitted May 8, 2010

There are so many wonderful memories of my many trips to Bob-Lo during the warm summers of the 1960s and early 70s. 
To me, the memories are not one particular visit, but rather the "feel" of being on those boats!
I can steel feel the boat start to throb as the band played "Anchor's Aweigh".  I can still hear the boat whistle echoing up the streets of Detroit. Even now I can almost feel the boat making its U-Turn as it left the dock. 
Another constant memory is listening to the band play and watching people dance.  That dance floor was unique: An open-air wood dance floor on the second floor.
I also loved leaning over the railing of the engine room and watching the pistons moving up and down.  That brings me to one of my fondest memories:  One of the people working in the engine room saw me at the railing and asked my parents if he could show me around the engine room for a minute.  They agreed and in a moment I was heading down the stairs into that big room that passengers weren't allowed in!  I remember that he handed me an oil can and let me oil one of the engines!  To me, that was a big thrill!  At the end of the brief tour, he handed me a peach out of his lunch and returned me to my parents.  It was a wonderful memory that stayed with me all my life.
As to the Island:  I remember exiting the boats, walking down that long covered "walkway" to the island, and almost always having to wait because the train crossing signals clanged as the train crossed in front of us!  It was great advertising for the train ride! 
I can still see the restaurant in front of me as I crossed the train tracks.  I can see the jets slightly to the left.  To the immediate left, along the shore, was some twirling ride that blared pop music. 
The miniature golf course was just to the right of the boat docks.  Playing mini-golf was always a "must" for me!
Adjacent to the restaurant was The Bug.  The Dodge-Em cars (another "must" for me and my dad) were a slight walk from the docks. 
I remember a huge picnic area that was off to the right (if you turned right at the restaurant).  Going to Bob-Lo for the Scotch Picnic was an annual event for my family, and for that trip it often included my mom's family! 
The old blockhouse was always fascinating to me.  The train took you past it, and I loved that train ride!
Even now, just thinking of it all makes me feel warm inside.  I remember warm, wonderful, sunny days with nothing but a long, beautiful summer (and no school) ahead.  And many summer trips to Bob-Lo.
The Bob-Lo boats may one day sail again, and their wake may one day lap up against Bob-Lo, but they will never again sail to the Bob-Lo Island of my childhood.  But the boats will always sail to my childhood's Bob-Lo in my memories! 

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