In August, 2012, the Houghton Lake Resorter did a story showing me, my 156 tickets from the nights I danced there, Lee and Shirley, and the outside of the Music Box.
What I recall about the Music Box, is that every week-end in the summer you got all dolled up and went and danced the night away. Being 6 years older than me, I was very jealous that your sister Linda and I couldn't go. And, by the time I was old enough they closed their doors. But, any teen ager who was cool was dancing at the Music Box!
My teen experiences all centered on "the Box."
As someone else mentioned the best pizza (the first I'd ever enjoyed) was from the pizza place in Prudenville. It was all magical.
Ahhaa... for the good old days!!!
I have many fond memories of "the Box" and being in the booth with Shirley spinning vinyl when I was to young to be on the floor "Helping" Lee walk Bopper the best St. Bernard that ever graced Prudenville. The putt putt golf course has been there for as long as I can remember as well as a go cart place. The lights always attracted the bugs and kept them out of the open air dance floor which was great. I am too young to remember all the fancy cars being there but do remember the lines of kids to get in and felt so lucky to have a free pass! I wonder if Lee still has Shirleys' T- Bird? Lee and Shirley didn't want to serve alcohol or sell the business to anyone who would. I was glad to read in posts that Lee was still alive and well and happily remarried. If the author sees him tell him Beryls' daughter Lynn said hello please. I would love to see him again. I wish I did have pics and will have to look in the family box to see if any are there. I have so many great memories of summers spent in Houghton Lake and Prudenville and was so sad to see it gone the last time I passed through there. It did not surprise me with the way times have changed and the cost of gas and running a business as grand as the "Music Box" was.
Try checking in your local library or in your high school library! It was probably an 'esoteric' book, meaning it was probably written by someone in your area and had a limited distribution. I would like to read about it and remember THE MUSIC BOX lives if only in our memories! I even talked to guys in the service in Nam who had heard about the music box. Most were from Michigan, but some were from neighboring states. The neatest thing was when I was in an 'off-limits' spot lit only by candlelight, when I heard two GI's talking about missing the 'box'. I siddled over and asked them about it and sure enough it was the same music box being talked about in a combat zone l8,000 miles from home. The Music Box lives!
Thanks again for the recollection!
I consider myself a connoisseur of the Music Box! My cousin Chuck and myself started going to the 'Box' as everyone called it in l962! We were 'small town' Michigan boys from Mt Pleasant and Shepherd respectively, who couldn't wait to break away from the rural, farm atmosphere and meet people(girls) from the city. Since we had limited cash and no place to stay in Detroit, Flint, G.R., etc, our answer was to go North up US#27 to M-55 and then on past Houghton Lake to Prudenville and the 'Box'. What really impressed us, even before arriving was the number of Vetts, T-Birds, convertibles and other 'hot' cars driving East to the 'Box'. Since we were driving 53-55 Chevy's depending on who could get the car, we were slightly overwhelmed to say the least. Even more impressive were the beautiful 'chicks' driving them. If you have ever seen the movie American Graffiti(please do and buy the sound trac for instant memories) you could relate to what I am talking about. I felt like 'Toad' from the movie and my cool 'cousin' Chuck, would be the person Richard Dreyfuss protrayed.
When we finally pulled into the 'box' after passing Geno's Pizzeria(anyone remember that place), our mouths must have dropped open and we thought we had died and gone to heaven. There must have been 500 kids in line almost equalling the whole population of Shepherd at that time! Beautiful people; high school kids, college kids, guys home on leave from the service in their uniforms and other forms of GDI's. I had to pinch myself in disbelief. After that experience I knew that Shepherd was a thing of the past and I needed to move on. Unfortunately, I felt I was just born in the wrong spot, even though I love the Shepherdites dearly. One of the other bloggers named a song they had never heard of outside of the box and the same was true for me. I will never forget the song I heard upon arriving, it was Morgan, Morgan and have only heard it a few times since. We went inside and had the greatest time of our lives. We danced with girls from Detroit, Flint, Saginaw, Chicago and my cousin who always one-upped me, claimed he danced with a girl from Mexico City, who was in Michigan on Holiday. I wonder if he never questioned why she had blonde hair and blue eyes(probably a big city girl messing with the 'hicks' mind.
I will continue this saga, under another cover and another e-mail later on! I have hundreds of stories to tell regarding the 'box', many of my own and many of other people that were lucky enough to experience the Utopia called the Music Box. Just another tease; my cousin and I were lucky enough to procure 'tiles' from the 'box' autographed by the owner Lee Kelly, entitled 'Music Box' l946-2004. Anybody want to buy one(ha)? I would just like to tell Kevin from South Carolina, that yes there was a reunion of sorts in 2002, when Lee the owner opened the place up for a summer, under duress from former attenders who wanted to dance there one more time. It was open on Friday for kids and Saturday for oldsters and nostalgia. I happened to be coming back from Florida to Michigan to attend a Kennedy Reunion that weekend and thanks to information from my sister, Joyce who still lives in the Mt Pleasant area, I was able to attend(Thank God). Both of us danced the night away with our wives, this time, who just happen to be from the Detroit area(I got that big city girl). The Music Box lives!
Could go on and on because at 70 - all those memories from 50+ yrs ago are/were great fun -- Be Well.
A.H. Bradley - email@example.com
There is a putt putt golf course, on the grounds of the Music Box. But as for the Owners, Lee is alive and well (85yrs young) and married to my mother, They were married 10 yrs ago. Happily living in Mt Pleasant. His wife Shirley, Past away quite sometime ago. I love sitting and listening to to him about all the good times and good friends he had met, during the time the Music Box was open. He remembers almost all of the people that came to the box , all those years ago. He opened the box in 2001 02. but with the changes and the ages of him and his workers, (Some of the orignal people) He didn't want to sell, and wasn't going to sell to anyone that would tarnish the reputation that everyone enjoyed. I am glad you have your memories, no one can take those away.
Whether camping at the South Higgins Lake State Park, or staying with friends on Houghton Lake, in the years of 1970-1973, summer weekend evenings had to include the "Box". The place was a simple concept that apparently had still be successful for quite a number of years: recorded music (no bands), and indoor and outdoor dance floors. A great place to go with friends, and hopefully meet some new ones too.
There were a couple of signature songs during my times there, one much older than the normal top 40 type music we danced to, likely a favorite of the owners, and a perfect theme song on those warm June evenings: Percy Faith's Theme from a Summer Place. Certainly a song from our parents time more than ours, but even at the time we always thought it was somehow right. The other song was an odd but catchy little harmonica tune entitled "Groovin' with Mr. Bloe" by Wind, a song to this day I've never heard anywhere else. Although the tune was burned into my brain, I never learned the title or artist, and none of my friends did either.
Well, after high school, I moved to California to go to college, and I'm not sure what made me think of the place or the song, but I decided I had to know what that song was. Without a proper mailing address (no internet back then), I wrote a letter simply addressed to Music Box, Prudenville, Mich., telling them how much I had enjoyed my hours there, and asking about that particular song, saying only that it starts with exactly the same chords and drum beat as Mony Mony, and of course the harmonica lead.
Maybe 3 weeks later, I received a small box postmarked Houghton Lake, Mich. Inside I found not one but two pristine 45's of Groovin' with Mr. Bloe, along with a letter from the owner. He thanked me for enjoying the place, and said that he was giving me two of his copies of the song because they were so difficult to find and that I could share the extra with a friend. Suffice to say that I already had nothing but good memories of my times there and now to be given this gift...all these years later I still smile at the thought.
Many years hence, in the late 90s, I was driving from my job in Lansing, to one of our other plants in West Branch, and decided to drive a bit of a longer route and go by Houghton lake. It was a typical Michigan November day, gray and drab, with the occasional snowflake marking the windshield. I made the curve on 55 in Prudenville and just had to stop as I saw the old venue. It was looking a bit tired and I'm not sure how long since it had been in operation, but that cold gray day somehow seemed right for saying hi and goodbye to an old "friend". I always thought it would be nice if someone could have put together a "reunion" of sorts, of the people who attended the Box during our years, with the music of the time, but knew it would never happen. I walked around, hearing the old songs echoing as I snapped a couple of pictures, then made my way east to my destination.
We may not be able to ever bring back those youthful feelings or times, but for a moment on that November day, I did.