BERWYN – It’s 7 a.m., and the smell of the lake mixes with the wild mint that has overgrown around your cottage. You shoot out of your bed like a stomped on tube of tooth paste. The screen door creeks and slams, and you find yourself running for the pier as though you’re head is engulfed in flames.
It’s summer, you’re a kid and this is Michigan resort life.
Berwyn resident Alex Rassogianis has written a book, a collection of recollections, of the summers he spent as a child in Michigan.
“Return to Glenlord: Memories of Michigan Summers,” takes readers to the resort where Rassogianis and his family spent weeks during the summers when he was in grade school.
It also pays homage to Glenlord itself, essentially a Greek vacation community from Chicago that would settle at the Berrien County, Mich., resorts around Stevensvile.
Rassogianis and his family spent their summers there, along with his extended family.
The book takes place in the 1950s and ’60s, when summer resorts were the water parks of their time. Those resorts are all but extinct today, but the memories still are strong for Rassogianis.
“It’s a world that doesn’t exist anymore because all those resorts are gone now,” Rassogianis said. “There were so many of them; resorts with cabins.”
For two months out of every summer, Rassogianis was packed off by his father and uncles along with his immediate and extended family to the resort. The older men stayed behind to work and would visit on weekends.
“There were many families that went to Michigan for vacation,” Rassogianis said. “But there were a lot of Greek people from Chicago who would come to Stevensville in the summer.”
In 1951, his father decided to build a permanent summer home in Stevensville.
“Our house was like the meeting place for all Greek families in the summer,” Rassogianis said. “My birthday is Aug. 6. All of those people would come – not just to come to my birthday party – but for a chance to get together. It was great.”
Now 67, Rassogianis said so many of his memores of Michigan remain vivid, especially those of his mischievous friends.
“There was a Greek church in Benton Harbor. The priest picked me and my friends as altar boys. We were the furthest thing from altar boys, but we were recruited by our fathers. We had no choice,” he recalled.
So, they convinced themselves they had earned a little of the priest’s wine from time to time. And a cigarette break outside when needed.
“We didn’t want to be altar boys anymore, so we told our fathers and the priest,” Rassogianis said. “Our fathers said, ‘If you decide to leave the altar we have to take something from you.’ We said, ‘What’s that?’ They said, ‘Michigan.’
“We went back to the church.”
Rassogianis earned a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Elmhurst College and a master’s degree in history from the University of Wisconsin.
He taught history in Chicago for more than 15 years and served as a compliance officer for the U.S. government.
Rassogianis also has published “The Growth of Greek Owned Businesses in Chicago, Illinois:1900-1930.”
More information can be found at www.alexanderrassogianis.com
The book is available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.