While I'm sure I am not the only visitor to this site who has spent some memorable Friday and Saturday nights in the Music Box in Prudenville/Houghton Lake, one experience is probably unique.
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.