The Michigan location of Toledo Beach belies its name, but it was, many years ago, the summer destination of many residents of Toledo, Ohio. I swam there as a child in the 40’s and 50’s- just before it closed. I’m reminded of that wonderful stretch of sand and the breaking waves because of an email I received from my son. They were at another lake this weekend and, according to the email, his youngest had to be carried from the water’s edge, sobbing, because he didn’t want to leave the beach and go home. Gulp.
For one of my master’s classes, I did a report on the Toledo Beach- its geology, formation and land use. That paper is long gone but my childhood memories mimic that of my grandson- I never wanted to leave the beach either.
What is it about beaches, water, the waves and the sand? Ultimate freedom, I suspect and a clear diversion from life back at home. My son, too, enjoyed his many hours of beach time when we went on vacation. Perhaps it’s a meme passed down now to the 4th generation. Hopefully my grandson will provide that same experience to his children, too.
Lake Erie nearly ‘died’ in the 1970’s with all of the pollution, agricultural run-off and eutrophication with the subsequent algae growth. Not only did fish die, but so too the recreational areas along its coast. We were so careless and ignorant during those years because we allowed it to happen, right before our eyes. Today’s gushing oil well beneath that other body of water is a stark reminder of what unregulated consumer activities can do to a natural wonder.
After the Cuyahoga River, that flows into Lake Erie in Cleveland, caught fire in 1969, Congress at last paid attention to the death of Lake Erie and passed the Clean Water Act of 1972. Time magazine’s June 1969 article on the pollution of the lake caught the attention of the sleeping congress and dumbed-down citizens. Phrases like the river”oozes rather than flows” and in which a person “does not drown but decays” awakened our legislators into action.
Too bad that we Americans are always doing environmental disaster activities after the catastrophe rather than before it happens. We apparently didn’t learn from the near-death of Lake Erie in the 60’s; will we learn anything from the near-death of the Gulf in 2010? Don’t hold your breath!
By the way, Toledo Beach no longer welcomes children to play in its sand at water’s edge. The beach is gone. It has been dredged and turned into a marina. The water is fine, but now there’s no place to dig.