John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
Do you remember going to South Shore Beach when they still had lifeguards and swimming available? The beach was sandy, but the water's edge had a lot of small stones that you had to walk on to get out deeper in the water. There used to be trees on the hill near the beach. People had blankets and large beach towels to lay on. The radio stations used to announce the water temperature at the various beaches. You could walk down to the bath house/pavilion to change clothes if you wanted to. Sometimes they would play music from a radio at the beach. They used to have tall stands for the lifeguards to sit on. No dogs were allowed on the beach. Many times the sand was very hot to walk on near the beach. Sometimes the water in Lake Michigan was so cold that you shivered as you entered the water. The main times that they closed the beach was during a thunderstorm or during the time when Polio was epidemic in our area. You were always told not to drink the water while swimming because it could be dirty. The beach was frequently crowded in those days. On a hot day, you could expect more people than normal there. As kids, we used to look on the beach for anything that was unusual, like small stones, rings, money, keys, watches, shells and other such things. Some of the small stones could be used to make simple jewelry or similar things.
Now, when you go to South Shore Beach, there are no lifeguards, only signs that state that swimming is too dangerous due to heavy amounts of E-coli bacteria in the water. Many of the trees are no longer on the hill. The sand on the beach is a bit rough to walk on. Many people take their dogs into the water to cool them off. At times you can find dead fish on the beach near the water. Debris from the lake is also in the sand. Swimming is almost a thing of the past, as the beach is closed so often. Boating and fishing are more common than attempts at swimming in the lake. There are many yachts and other boats near the South Shore Yacht Club. The view of Lake Michigan is wonderful from South Shore Park. When you attend the South Shore Farmers Market, you always can get a beautiful glimpse of Lake Michigan while shopping. When there is a lake breeze, you feel like you are in the best place in world. In spite of the ban on swimming, South Shore Park, at 2900 S. Shore Drive, offers a lot of activities for the entire family to enjoy. The children's play area is just wonderful. Take the time to visit the area and enjoy this beautiful park with your entire family. Please support the Bay View community.