I am looking for information about the Music Box in Houghton Lake (entertainment)

Asked by Suzanne, Michigan Thu Nov 29, 2007

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macnancy525’s answer
macnancy525, Renter, Traverse City, MI
Sat Apr 6, 2013
Hi Cousin,
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!
1 vote
Billy H, Renter, Houghton Lake, MI
Fri Feb 3, 2012
I also remember the Music Box with fond memories of my youth. My family had a cottage nearby at Higgins lake and also a ranch in Merritt a short distance West on M55 from Prudenville. There will never be nights like that again for any generation. I remember waiting in line chewing mints in hopes that the person working the door would not smell alcohol on our breaths and turn us away. Once inside it was an evening of dancing with beautiful people you never met before and laughing and falling in love every second. After the dancing we would drive a short distance East on M55 and head out into the pines and moonlight to party and hill climb the sand hill. Everyone was out of control but under control. As the sun came up you felt as if you were a rag doll but never realized how precious those moments in the magical Summers of the 60s were. PEACE
2 votes
Musicboxkid, , Prudenville, MI
Wed Dec 16, 2009
Check out this blog for some photos of the Music Box. <http://enchantedmusicbox.blogspot.com/>
2 votes
Dick Kennedy, , Fort Myers, FL
Sat Feb 14, 2009
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!
2 votes
Beach Dad, Both Buyer And Seller, Put in Bay, OH
Tue Oct 12, 2010
The best dancers in Mi went to the box! The best after parties ever. I was there from 57 to 62 I would drive up from Youngstown after I left Bay City.. My friends from Pgh and Youngstow could not get over how cool it was. A little piece of majic at a particular point in time never to be seen again. But I can still smell the fireplace and feel the majic of music under the stars. Jim Roby TL Handy 1961.
1 vote
Sharon, , Saginaw, MI
Wed May 13, 2009
I was a "regular" at the Box from about 1958-1961. I NEVER missed a Saturday night over something like three years. I have so many memories. It was a long drive from Midland to Prudenville, but it was an obsession. I fell in love at the Box (several times), had my heart broken at the Box (more than once). The Box shaped me. Summer and winter, I was there.

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!!!
1 vote
That was Geni's Pizzaria, just past the "Blinker light" in Prudenville. (not sure of the spelling, could be Genie's. Loved that place...litte table juke boxes for a Quarter...
Flag Fri Feb 1, 2013
Bearshadow, , Dexter, MI
Fri May 8, 2009
Lee and Shirley were childhood friends of my mother and Godparents to my brother.

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.
1 vote
Gmunro, , Owosso, MI
Fri Apr 17, 2009
I remember the Music Box. What great place. I was a teen in the late 70's early 80's. The summer of 1979 was a very special time. I was 16 and my family was spending our 2 week summer vacation at a resort rental. A friend was allowed to vacation with me and my family and he, my brother and myself took some girls to the music box for some dancing. What a great atmosphere. i will never forget it or the music from that summer. Does anyone have any old photo's of the Music Box they could post on the web. It would be great to see them. Thanks, Gerry.
1 vote
Dick Kennedy, , Fort Myers, FL
Tue Feb 24, 2009
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!
1 vote
Kevin, Both Buyer And Seller, South Carolina
Sun Feb 15, 2009
Great story Dick, nice to see I'm not the only one who has such good memories of a wonderful summer place. I wish I had known about that reunion, I would have moved heaven and earth to be there, it mus have been great!

Thanks again for the recollection!

1 vote
Sheryl, , Livonia, MI
Sun Dec 14, 2008
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.
1 vote
Grammadee32, Home Buyer, New York, NY
Wed Feb 15, 2017
did anyone go to the Box in the 1940s? I grew up spending summers at my grandparents cottage at Houghton Lake near Robert's Resort. I was just a kid but my mom and aunt never missed a weekend at the Box. I always went to what I "thought" then was a town hall (and maybe it was the Box also) and we younger kids watched "older people" dancing.

Anyone out there from the 1940s to 1950? I was from Bay City by the way and attended Kolb School.

Diane (Lutz) Melander
0 votes
Tracey Kielb, Agent, Plymouth, MI
Sun Jun 21, 2015
My uncle Lee Kelly owned this property :) !
0 votes
Dowsertoo, Home Buyer, Saginaw, MI
Sun May 4, 2014
I grew up there!! We lived in Flint and had a cottage a couple miles west of Prudenville, so I went to the "Box" every Saturday night during the summers from 1962-1969. Later, I moved out of state for several years, then moved back to Michigan. I went to the reunion in 2008, and saw Lee for the last time. I lived in Prudenville for 3 years, almost across the road from the site. I joined the American Legion there and became the Chaplain, performing most of Lee's memorial service in July, 2010.
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.
0 votes
Doug Taylor, Home Buyer, Naubinway, MI
Fri Jul 19, 2013
Suzanne, you can go to: http://www.westmichmusichystericalsociety.com/ has story on the Music Box and another at: http://www.westmichmusichystericalsociety.com/the-music-box/ and their FaceBook Page is: https://www.facebook.com/groups/musicbox.hl/ Good reading Doug
0 votes
David Jipping, Renter, Valparaiso, IN
Wed Jul 13, 2011
i started remembering houghton lake and THE BOX a while back great site suzanne i was there in the mid sixies with my boys from Lansing we came up for the big weekends Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. 6 or 8 of us would rent a cabin, get some illegal spirits, party all day , and go to the Box at night sober and ready to fall in love. i did meet a little redhead up there from Flint and we met up there for a couple of summers . My best memory was dancing under the stars to Groovin by The Young Rascals and doing The Freddie . What a great place, wish I could go back in time to those summers I'm now been happily married for 32 years in Valparaiso, in. and my doesn't know what she missed. Thanks!
0 votes
Dreamster101, Renter, Lansing, MI
Fri Aug 6, 2010
I just moved from there they tore down the music box a few years back now they have some new medical center built there, Yes it is sad to have it long gone a lot of people have some fond memory's of it. They had an action on all of it's things just before they took it down.
0 votes
Kevin, Both Buyer And Seller, South Carolina
Tue May 12, 2009
I think it's amazing how many people have such strong and lasting memories of that wonderful summer place. There are still certain songs that instantly take me back to a warm Saturday night under the stars there like it was yesterday. For me, its also tied in to more miles than I can count cruising 55 at night, from Prudenville around to the Heights and back, and all the people we met that way as well. Summer memories for a lifetime!
0 votes
Kevin, Both Buyer And Seller, South Carolina
Fri Apr 17, 2009
If you go to the linked web page and scroll down near the bottom, you will see a picture I took on a cold gray morning. The Box was already out of business but still looking good. I'm glad I got the picture before they tore it down at least. I'd love to see some interior shots if anyone ever finds some.
0 votes
Tracy, , Michigan
Tue Feb 24, 2009
i live in houghton lake still and i know that the music box is closed now and i got to go there when it briefly was open again for our generation. I know that there is a book that was written that includes talking about the music box and how there were cars parked all over to get in. I am trying to find the name of it and have no idea. i read it in high school. any info would be really helful!
0 votes
Alan Bradley, , Plainwell, MI
Tue Feb 3, 2009
Suzanne --What a great place to spend summer evenings in 56&57 -- A bunch of us who worked as lifeguards at the municipal pool in Midland Michigan used to drive up( prox 70 miles) every Saturday night -- meet girls and dance the night away -- then go over to one of the Higgins Lake state parks, throw our sleeping bags on the beach - then get up the next morning and drive home in time to start work at the pool at 1:00 PM Sunday afternoon --- One thing I remember was that the Music Box had a chess board laid out in one of the rooms -- the chess pcs were about 2 ft tall so when playing you could actually walk on the board among the chess pcs.

Could go on and on because at 70 - all those memories from 50+ yrs ago are/were great fun -- Be Well.
A.H. Bradley - alcobrad@yahoo.com
0 votes
Gary Johnston, , Michigan
Sat Sep 6, 2008
I was there a few weeks ago, and the Music Box is gone! Yes, there is a putt-putt golf course in its place. It was torn down about 4 years ago by the long time owner, who didn't want developers to take advantage and change the history and perception of the origional Music Box! Sorry to see it go!!!!!
0 votes
Kevin, Both Buyer And Seller, South Carolina
Sat Jul 19, 2008
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.
0 votes
Terry Lepert, Home Buyer, Claremont, CA
Tue Jun 17, 2008
I spent all my teenage summers going to "The Box" in the 60's! It was truly a magical place and my cousin Joanie and I would spend hours picking out the perfect outfit which, per the rules, had to be below the knee...no short skirts allowed! I had many summer romances as a result of all those moonlit dancing under the stars nights. We got to know the owners and they even let us swim in their pool one summer. I was so sad to find it had been demolished when I returned to the area a couple years ago (I now live in L.A.). I have a plastic coat check token with "Music Box" imprinted on it which I put on my key ring! I remember kids from all over would flood the area in those summers just to go to "The Box". Remember the very last song they always played? It was "Goodnight Sweetheart"!
0 votes
Kathy, , Dearborn, MI
Thu Apr 10, 2008
What is it that you would like to know about The Music Box. I spent the summers at Houghton Lake as a child and teenager. I can tell you it was THE dance hall hot spot in the 60's on Friday and Saturday nights. It cost a $1.00 to get in with proof of age 16 to 21. There were three dance floors on different levels. The largest one without a roof provided dancing under the stars! The place was enchanting! Sadly, "The Box" was torn down in 2006.
0 votes
smith3gary, Agent, White Lake, MI
Sat Dec 8, 2007
Suzanne, When I looked online, this Put-Put establishment indicated they were on the site of the "Music Box"
0 votes
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