Eagle Harbor Web

An unofficial source of Eagle Harbor, Michigan news, views and information.

Meet Our
New Neighbors
And Eagle Harbor Storekeepers

Richard and Colleen Grove
and "Blue"

New Neighbors

The arrival of new neighbors is cause to rejoice. Some are long time Eagle Harbor vacationers, often members of Copper Country families. Others move here after only a few vsits. All attracted by the rugged beauty of Keweenaw, the ever changing moods of the Lake, and the advantages of life in a small close-knit community. Each bring a wealth of experiences and personal interests, adding to the richness of all our lives. All are welcomed.

Richard and Colleen Grove

My two young Milwaukee grandsons' eyes sparkled and big grins broke out when I told them that the Eagle Harbor Store - the" candy store" to them - would be open when they returned next summer. "Cool", they offered. That's pretty much as I felt when I first heard the good news. "The store", for decades the focal point of Harbor life for generations of Harbor families, was closed this summer as former storekeepers Patti and Bob Crampton searched diligently for a buyer who would agree to reopen this Harbor landmark. The disturbing prospect that the store, which proudly carries the banner, "This store was here before Lincoln was President", might never reopen loomed larger as the months dragged by. Then the great news. A young (everything is relative here) couple from Grand Marais, Michigan had purchased the property and would re-open it on May first of the coming year. Hurrah!!

Our new storekeepers are Richard (he says "Dick" works just as well) and Colleen Grove. They have devoted the last seven years to successfully owning and operating the Alverson's Motel in Grand Marais. Grand Marais is in many respects similar to Eagle Harbor - dominated by the adjacent big lake and a unique natural environment, off the beaten track, low key, and based on my several visits there on my sailing jaunts, populated by friendly people with strong ties to the area. Colleen says that's changing, as it is here, as more and more folks move into the area in search of a more satisfying lifestyle and the opportunity to enjoy the many blessings of living in close proximity to big waters and big woods.

So why would they leave a successful business in a community that is, in many respects, similar to that of their new home, Eagle Harbor, and assume the risk of operating a year-round store in a hamlet that hasn't enjoyed or supported such an enterprise for several decades? (Yes, they plan to be open at least eleven months each year.) Well, like many of us, there are deep family ties, and, like many of us, they were smitten by their first extended exposure to the lure of the Keweenaw.

Dick's dad, Clyde Grove, grew up in the canal cities and graduated from good old Hancock High. (There's wonderful story of Dick's dad wooing a young lady from Cleveland, proposing to her on Quincy Hill, marrying her, at which point Dorothy, Dick's mom, announced there was no way she would live in this wild country.) Sound familiar? That's why Dick grew up in Cleveland, where he met and married Colleen, whose family was never lured by the magic of Keweenaw. (Dick's uncle, by the way, is the Bob Grove of Hancock's Laurn-Grove Park, named after two young men who lost their lives in WWII.)

Fortunately for us, when Dick first returned to the Copper Country with new wife Colleen in tow, she unlike Dick's mom, was totally smitten by the wonder and beauty of this special place. (Colleen comes from good Irish stock, Dunn, so you know she's not easily swayed by the blarney of our tourism trumpeters.) It was 1977, and they stayed at the Lakeside Lodge on M-26. They have returned almost every year since, and a few years ago bought a camp at Agate Harbor. (Jim and Ruth Grant's place.) Colleen says, that from the very beginning of their return to Keweenaw, they knew that some day they would make this place their home. In fact, she says, part of the rational for purchasing at Agate was the desire to keep on top of business opportunities up here.

Dick is a self described "jack of all trades." He's sold insurance, hung wallpaper, and developed good credentials in a number of vocations. He's soft spoken and unassuming, but one quickly develops the impression that there is not much in life he couldn't handle with skill and grace. Colleen, more the extrovert, is by training and professional practice a graphic artist. She continues to pursue this vocation as time permits, and will do so at the Harbor. (Expect to see some of her skills on display as she overhauls the signage at the store.) Her enthusiasm for life and challenge is contagious. We're going to enjoy having these two as part of our Harbor family.

While they don't look old enough to make such a claim, they are, in fact, grandparents. Daughter Kim, 26, is a nursing student in Traverse City. Daughter Jennifer, 22, is married to Mike, a Grand Marais native and in the Air Force. Jennifer and Mike are enroute to a new assignment in Montana. (Why does MT have an air force?) Colleen and Dick are blessed with two grandchildren, Marya and Dominik. I'm certain that we will all have a chance to meet these kids and grandkids over the coming months.

Of course, what would life be like without the companionship of pets? The Groves come well equipped. "Blue", their beautiful Shetland Sheep dog, will certainly be a class act in a town where mutts prevail (except for Marilyn Marshall's pooches, Rich and Kelly's Tazo, and my late Abby), and Miss Kitty (or is it Ms. Kitty) their cat, will have few rivals. I knew the Groves were my kind of people when a few evenings after their Harbor arrival, I encountered Colleen tearfully driving slowly through the dark in search of Blue, who at age fifteen and a bit shorn of his sensory skills, had apparently wandered into the night of his new haunts and become lost. She later reported that after a restless night of worry, she looked out into the early dawn light to find Blue asleep on their neighbor's (Keith and Mid Willoughby's) back porch, apparently unable to find his way home. (That's OK, Blue, we've all shared that experience.)

Colleen and Dick are very cognizant and respectful of the heritage they have acquired. As I visited them to gather information for this article, they were pouring over a collection of old store photographs and ledgers, selecting those they plan to display in the store. They said that Anne Bach and Patti Crampton have been particularly helpful in providing this historical material. They have a wonderful photo of former storekeepers Clarence and Anne Bach (1970 - 1987), and are searching for photos of Mary and Rudy Franscisco (1949 - 1969), and Mike Smith of the Foley-Smith era (1859-1939). I have some nice photos of Patti and Bob Crampton (1991-2000) which will, hopefully, forever be a part of this planned recognition of our debt to those wonderful folks who have served as our Eagle Harbor storekeepers. (And let's not forget Claire Smith, who was our in-store postmistress foe several years.)

Dick and Colleen's purchase of the store and their exciting plans for operating it (year-round, fresh meats and vegetables, well stocked, off sale liquor and wine, reasonably prices, and yes, my grandchildren, penny candy [or is it nickel/dime now] - and more) will prove successful only if those of us who value having the old store remain open patronize it. When the store opens next May, let's do our part!

In the meantime, lets extend a warm welcome to Colleen and Dick, our new year-round neighbors and Eagle Harbor storekeepers.

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