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The U.P: A timeless bond

The colossal, earth-shattering cracks occurred as monumental chunks of ice collapsed, whose shock waves and sounds carried for miles. Eventually, ever so slowly, began the creeping retreat of the ancient glaciers. In its wake lay a barren landscape of rock, soil, streams, lakes, rivers, and ponds. Years passed, and slowly the beginning strands of life took hold in this desolate place.

As the hundreds of years passed, it would be inhabited first by Native Americans, and much later, by immigrants. Today on the “half-isle” that we call the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (or U.P.) are a sparse amount of hamlets, towns, and small cities sprinkled throughout this vast expanse of land.

This special piece of terra firma (the U.P.) holds a unique feeling of attachment. Like a magnet that draws iron, so does the U.P. with its inhabitants. I don’t know if this occurs elsewhere, but there is a special bond—a connection if you will—that’s shared by many residents and former residents. By connection, I mean that whether it occurs stateside or throughout the world, when a resident by chance encounters someone from another area in the UP, it creates a common bond. This could be forged by the knowledge/memories shared by both individuals of places, people, or things located in the U.P. Below are a few of my personal encounters.

In one encounter, I was visiting my daughter at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and was wearing my Gladstone cap while shopping. A lady noticed my headgear, approached me, and asked if I was from Gladstone, Michigan. I responded with “yes,” and she proceeded to inform me that her husband was from Escanaba. We shared information on people we were both familiar with, and various local establishments.

Another encounter occurred when I portrayed Santa Claus for 5th Group Special Forces, located at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. After addressing 5th Group, I proceeded to distribute candy canes and pasties. When the pasties began to be distributed, various soldiers inquired as to where I hailed from. My response was Gladstone, Michigan. This was followed by soldiers identifying where they were from in the U.P. One said, “I’m from Menominee”; another stated, “I have family in Republic, Michigan”, just to name a few. 

These personal examples, like a fingerprint (or in other words, a timeless bond), have left an indelible mark on my memory. Yes, the U.P. is a unique, exceptional place. 

If you have similar examples to these special encounters, and wish to share them with me, you can send me an email to danpaul70@gmail.com as I may write a follow-up to this article.

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