The Buggies Return
On the first weekend of September, Beaver Island was treated to a parade of horse-drawn carts. Cloyd Ramsey, who went to Sunnyside School for a couple of years and whose father logged at Camp #3 and Carpenter's Mill, was at the head of a small caravan that wound its way down the East Side Road and stopped at Peter Doney's farm, now part of the Little Traverse Bay Conservancy's "Little Sand Bay" Nature Preserve. With him was new Island property owner Shaker Heights, who recently purchased Kevin White's Freesoil Avenue home, which had previously supported Pam White's ponies, and the Taylors from Savannah, with a single horse. Along the way Shaker picked up four-year-old MacKenzie Bauman, a weekend visitor who was in awe of the horses' speed, grace, and discipline.
Cloyd's father moved here from The Thumb just after World War II to escape the mad onrush of mechanized civilization. They worked with two teams, plus skidders, and usually had seven or eight horses for the job. One of his first contracts was to supply Tony Wojan's mill on the southwest corner of Greene's Lake with logs from Lake Geneserath. Art Taft was hired as camp cook, and Clarence Palmer and his son Perry caught on as loggers. Every second weekend they'd walk into St. James for three days of R & R. They had a little red shanty for a cook house on the South Arm (which still stands), and a bunk house on the edge of the lake. One freezing night the wind was howling so badly that it tore the roof off the bunkhouse, and the hands had to get the rest of their sleep wedged into the cook shanty.
Not only did the Ramseys use horses in their logging, but the horse and buggy was their preferred method of other transportation, taking them to town or to the many House Parties from their home on Darkeytown Road. This involvement with horses became part of Cloyd's ongoing life when he left for Gaylord. His fond memories of Beaver Island stayed with him, and over the years he has helped Islanders from the Petraks to the McCaffertys deal with their animals. From the polished details of everything about their operation, Cloyd's love for this old-fashioned lifestyle is readily apparent. We all hope he spearheads a return of favor for this noble and long-cherished nearly-vanished art.