Mason County, Michigan — My One-Woman Road Trip Takes Me to Falconer Country

Windmills outlined against the sky of Mason county, Michigan, farmland. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Mason county, Michigan, farmland with one of the recently installed windmills. Photo by Barbara Newhall

By Barbara Falconer Newhall

The Poet of Mason County

My father was a bit of a poet during his college years. The flyleaves of his undergraduate textbooks are riddled with his farm boy syntax and off-kilter meter.

Money was tight for families working the sandy soil of Mason county in the 1930s. But that didn’t stop my father from going off to Michigan State College — now Michigan State University — to study dairy science. He took odd jobs to put himself through college. Washing dishes in a sorority house was one.

I admired my father’s grit, which is why this poem is my favorite of the lot:

My name is David Falconer

And I own a bag of sand.

I come from Mason county

And I don’t give a damn.

— D.B. Falconer

 

The One-Woman Road Trip Continues

Naturally, a visit to Mason county was a must-do stop on my one-woman road trip up and down and across Michigan. I set aside a day to revisit the towns of Ludington and Scottville. Also the sandy, gently rolling countryside . . . OK, the barely rolling countryside.

The Ludington library invited me to speak and read from “Wrestling with God” while I was in town. There are no Falconers left in Mason county, but a Falconer cousin (our grandfathers were brothers) drove all the way up from southern Michigan for the book talk and to show me around the old family farms.

More stories of my one-woman road trip at “Wrestling with God on  the Shores of Lake Michigan.”

An unused barn and silo in Mason county, MIchigan. Photo by Barbara Newhal. Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God."

The now-unused barn built by my cousin’s grandfather outside Scottville. Its silhouette foundation blocks were made of local sand.  Photo by Barbara Newhall.

Red brick work around upper story windows on a farm house in Mason county, Michigan. Photo by Barbara Newhall

Our great-grandfather’s nephew did the brick work on our great-grandfather’s farmhouse in Mason county. The Falconer family came from Scotland around 1880. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Ludington, MIchigan, library -- the old facade seen from the main street. Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God." Photo by Barbara Newhall

The Ludington library as my father knew it. Its formal facade faces the city’s main street. Photo by Barbara Newhall

The sleek, modern rear entrance to the Ludington, MIchigan, library contrasts with its formal facade facing the main street. Photo by Barbara Newhall. Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God."

The sleek new rear entrance to the Ludington library is the one most people see today. It faces the parking lot. Photo by Barbara Newhall.

The Scottville United Methodist church. Photo by Barbara Newhall. Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God."

The Scottville Methodist church attended by my father, his mother and his grandmother. Photo by Barbara Newhall.

The tombstone of my great-grandparents, Andrew and Janet Falconer, from Scothland. Photo by Barbara Newhall Barbara Falconer Newhall travels up and down Michigan's lower peninsula, visiting friends and family and putting on book events for "Wrestling with God."

The tombstone of my Falconer great-grandparents, Andrew and Janet, born in Scotland in the 1840s. Photo by Barbara Newhall

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