Spotlight on Committees: Tennis Committee
By Ginanne Brownell
If the expression “down the middle solves the riddle” rings a bell, it’s pretty likely that you or someone in your family have taken part in a Steve Shreiner-led CSA tennis lesson at some point in your summer. Steve is known for his great expressions—and booming voice—and has helped to really shape the tennis program over the last few years.

That shaping up has been helped in large part by the very active tennis committee, which is co-chaired by brothers-in-law Alan Marble and Dennis Nahnsen. The two men –who are both known to take part in CSA adult lessons—took over the roles about eight years ago. Though there had been a tennis committee before that—with Alan estimating it probably started back in the 1990s— it had not been very active for a number of years.

The tennis program at CSA has grown in leaps and bounds over the last few years. For example, in 2022 the week of July 18th saw a whopping 576 adults and children participate in tennis lessons throughout the week, while this year the top week of July 10th saw 435 participate (some of these numbers include repeat “satisfied customers.”)

Two years ago, the tennis committee added pickleball to the summer roster. Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the country, and it has certainly become popular at the Assembly. This past July the first Pickleball Festival was held with over 50 participants.

The CSA Tennis Committee is responsible for the administration of all tennis activities that take place in the CSA. Its duties include creating and implementing the rules and requirements for all tennis activities and court usage on the grounds of the CSA, working with the Managing Director of the CSA to hire the tennis staff, and helping to organize and oversee two week-long tennis tournaments in July and August.

tennis 2023Alan Marble, Tennis Committee Cochair, is pictured on right after the Senior Men’s Doubles Final match in the August 2023 tournament.Steve, of course, ran the CSA tennis program for years and, lucky for us, he came back two years ago. “Denny approached Steve in January of 2022 and he expressed a sincere desire to run the CSA program once again,” said Alan Marble. “We cobbled together an aggressive budget proposal, got the support of the Board of Trustees and the new (amazing) managing director, and the program set records for attendance in 2022. We asked for an additional $6K for the 2023 budget, all towards salaries, and we got it.”

He added that the committee has worked hard to obtain new equipment including courtside benches and tournament scorecards, as well as developing a new program for monitoring tournament play with volunteers to ensure consistency and reporting of scores and to monitor sportsmanship. Two of the Woods courts were resurfaced last winter, and the other two will be redone for the 2024 season.

Alan says that the committee has been pleased with not only Steve coming back to help run the program but also the results, including the numbers of those signing up for the July and August tournaments as well as the weekly tennis classes. The success of the tennis program is, says Alan, “of great pride to the committee.” And for all those who love tennis, the program has become one of the highlights of summer at the CSA.

2023 Youth Citizenship Award - Avery Leete
This summer, the CSA community and with full support of the Youth Committee has selected another incredibly deserving person as our 2023 Youth Citizenship Award Winner. We had an overwhelming number of nominations for our winner this year. Over the years, our winners have embodied what it means to be a part of the CSA! This year’s winner is no different as she is genuinely connected to the CSA and demonstrates daily the spirit of inclusivity and doing things “The CSA Way”.

Avery Leete 2023 Youth Citizenship AwardThe surest way to find her is to look to the tennis courts. Since she was 11, when she began volunteering with the tennis program, we’ve had the privilege to watch her grow up into the confident young adult that she is today. She has been described as “being fantastic with the kids, always leading with kindness and inclusion.” “She has a smile on her face every morning, while being patient, kind and nurturing.” “Her parents have exposed her to great family values, to treasure the environment, and the importance of the CSA community.”

The descriptions of how she shows up, every day, go on and on. The positive feedback however didn’t stop with her time on the courts. Those who nominated her were quick to point out instances off the tennis courts, where she continues to lead by example and maintain the inclusive feel we all love about the CSA. So many children look up to her, and she’s never too busy with friends or family at the CSA beach to say hello or take the kids out for a swim to the raft. The way she engages with everyone, can only be described as authentic kindness. We are lucky to have her as part of our community.

This year, please join me in congratulating our 2023 Youth Citizenship Award recipient, Avery Leete!

Last Stop: Paradise

By Fran Somers

Just like the less-welcome mergansers, every summer hundreds of us are drawn back to the cool, clear waters of Crystal Lake. And every year, some of us start thinking about making this bit of paradise a forever home. A little 8’ x 4’ place maybe, with quiet neighbors and the occasional visitor who brings fresh flowers.

“My parents are in the North (cemetery) and I will be. And all of my friends will be around me,” said CSA archivist Jane Cooper, who often takes peaceful walks through her future home.

deer in north cem aA deer visits the North Cemetery in Frankfort. Photo courtesy of Crystal Lake Township.There are two cemeteries in Crystal Lake Township: North is a 2-minute drive from the CSA office at 1511 Pilgrim Highway. East, also known as the Lutheran or Norwegian Cemetery, is at 1658 Frankfort Highway, near the Frankfort gateway.

To be clear, you won’t own the plot of land, according to Amy Ferris, Crystal Lake Township supervisor, who oversees the cemeteries. “If it was your land, you’d be paying taxes on it. You’re buying a burial right.”

Ferris said some families pour ashes straight into the burial plot without a container, and some get more creative. A golfer was buried in his golf bag. A CSA ceramicist made a beautiful urn for a family member’s ashes. 

Alan Marble’s father, a lieutenant on a Navy destroyer in WWII, was buried in his tackle box. “Dad and I spent hundreds of hours in the ‘50s and ‘60s trying to catch every rock bass that inhabited the lower Platte River system,” said Alan, a member of the CSA Tennis and Communications Committees. “It was only fitting that his ancient metal cantilever tackle box held his ashes when he was interred.”

Alan’s stepmother went a more fashionable route. Lois “Tussey” Marble “was always dressed to the nines,” Alan said. “She spent a long and rewarding career in Connecticut real estate, and loved her shoes.” Her ashes were put in a Ferragamo box.

“We have lots of requests for green burials,” Amy said, which can involve a biodegradable casket or just a shroud. To date, there have not been any green burials at either cemetery.

“A lot of people get cremated these days,” Amy said. “It’s so much more expensive to go the other way.” Also, the state has no authority over ashes, other than a prohibition against polluting a body of water, she added. The practice was especially frowned on after a CSA swimmer found what appeared to be bone chips from cremains in Crystal Lake years ago.

Burial in either cemetery is cheaper if you’re a property owner in the township. And being a property owner could become a requirement if a few members of the township board have their way. The concern is the likely need to dip into the general fund to cover the rising cost of mowing and sexton fees. The issue has been raised periodically, most recently at a June township meeting, but no motion has been put forward.

If you decide to look for a spot in one of the township cemeteries, you’ll be in good company. Among those in the North Cemetery are:

  • Dr. Alonzo Slyfield (1825-1896), the lighthouse keeper for 21 years at Point Betsie. He was also the local doctor and coroner.
  • Charles B. Slyfield (1854-1924), one of Dr. Slyfield’s sons, who in 1912 wrote a fascinating account of the family’s hardscrabble life, which is at the Benzie Area Historical Society.
  • Ellen Neptuna Fletcher who died of consumption in 1870 at the age of 24. Her father, the Rev. A. H. Fletcher, was the first pastor of the First Congregational church of Frankfort.
  • Gordon T. Johnson (1821-1892), a flat-earther who traveled the world to see if this round-earth business had any truth to it. He helped build the Panama Canal, and settled in Joyfield Township before answering President Lincoln’s call for fresh recruits. He served with the Army of the Potomac, surviving some of the deadliest battles of the Civil War.
  • John Beverly Collins (1834-1901), a druggist on Frankfort’s Main St. and local postmaster.
  • Charles A. Voorheis (1846-1920) who was wounded at Gettysburg and became superintendent of the mill in Frankfort.
  • Horace Clifford Frost (1855-1867), who drowned and is reportedly the first person buried at the North Cemetery.

It was the young Frost’s death that prompted his father, Frankfort deacon E. B. Frost, and nine other men to buy 44 acres for the cemetery in 1871, according to “The Story of Frankfort,” by John H. Howard.

The East Cemetery was purchased around 1890. Lots were first sold only to Lutherans for $8 — the families of the Norwegian immigrants who came to Frankfort and Elberta for jobs on the car ferries, the iron works, and as fishermen, according to Andrew Bolander, lead researcher for the Benzie Area Historical Society. “Before that, people were buried on their land.”  The cemetery was taken over by the township in 1942 and today visitors can find many of the original family names, including Mathison, Didrikson, Oleson, Carlson, Larson, Holden, Peterson, Johnson, Thompson, Gunderson, Leland, and Sampson.

Nobody relishes planning their final exit, but there is one comfort: You’ll never have to worry about swimmer’s itch again!


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Tragedy or Comedy?

By Peter Sznewajs

Have you ever wondered why Crystal Lake’s west shore has long, sandy beaches compared to the rest of the lake or other inland lakes in Northwest Michigan? Or why when entering Beulah, there is a large hill to get downtown? Thank Archibald Jones for the odd commodities that Crystal Lake has to offer.

Stacey Daniels as Archibald JonesDr. Stacy Leroy Daniels portrayed Archibald Jones at the CSA Arts & Crafts Fair July 26, 2023.Crystal Lake’s story is one of lore. Much of its history, especially predating World War II, is undocumented, creating a circus of rumors, skeptics, and conspiracy theories. However, chemical-environmental engineer and former University of Michigan professor Dr. Stacy Leroy Daniels devotes his life to sharing a particular facet of the region's history: the lowering of Crystal Lake.

Spending time around Frankfort and Crystal Lake, Daniel’s presence stands out in the town. He sports a long, white beard, attributed to Archibald Jones, holds booths at local art fairs, including our CSA Art Fair, and was this year’s Frankfort parade’s Grand Marshal. He is the author of The Comedy of Crystal Lake, a two-part novel covering the lake’s lowering and the biography of Archibald Jones.

On July 13, Daniels held a town-hall event at Benzie Historical Society, telling the story of Archibald Jones, the man responsible for lowering Crystal Lake in 1873. Daniels debates whether the lake’s lowering was a “tragedy” or a “comedy,” telling listeners at his lecture “it’s up for you to decide.” However, the consequences were unintentional. Jones planned to build a canal through a temporary dam, which is now the Crystal Lake outlet near Mollineaux Road. Its goal was to connect Crystal Lake to Lake Michigan in hopes of creating a pathway for imports to reach further into Benzie County, increase tourism, and build a more vibrant economy.

Ultimately, Jones’ plan failed. Whitecaps washed out the temporary dam, lowering the lake by 17 to 20 feet and creating the largest inundation from an inland lake in the country, until the Edenville Dam disaster in Midland, Michigan in 2020. Crystal Lake lost 56 billion gallons of water, approximately 2.5 percent of its area and volume.

Scholars debate whether the lowering was a “tragedy” or “comedy” for the lake. The “tragedy” argues that the destruction of the passageway hurt the region's economy, but this is unclear and dubious. The “comedy” is what did occur, and in part, helped the Assembly and local communities come to fruition.

The lowering of Crystal Lake allowed for 1,000 new cottages to be built around the east and west shore of the lake and another 21 miles of sandy front land. Today, the east shore of Crystal Lake includes Beulah, a small but vibrant community filled with summer houses and great local businesses. For the CSA and west shore, the lowering of Crystal Lake allowed for long beaches filled with beautiful cottages that define many of our summer experiences.

Dr. Stacy Leroy Daniels will be at our History Night celebration on Friday, August 4 from 7:00-9:00pm to answer any questions about this curious chapter predating our Assembly’s beginnings.


By Ginanne Brownell - August 10, 2023

For many CSA members—old and new—the CSA’s Membership Committee has always been something of a mystery. But according to Ann Murphy Burroughs, who co-chairs the committee with Megan Royle Carrella, it isn’t purposely that way.  They have made concerted efforts to explain exactly how CSA membership has worked in the past and how it works now in the annual Assembly News and on the CSA website. Ann, who has been on the committee for almost 30 years, says it’s believed the committee was formed when the CSA, “stopped offering anyone who came to the desk the opportunity to purchase a ticket, and the category of Associate Members was created.” For a number of decades, the committee met routinely once a week during the season, but with leadership change and the pandemic, they have adopted both virtual and in-person meeting formats and meet a few times during the season.

From its inception and continuing today, the committee established policies and procedures for membership and ticket purchase eligibility as approved by the Board of Trustees and lot owners. Over the years, as family stays reduced from 8-10 weeks to 1-2 weeks a summer, and families sometimes missed CSA seasons entirely due to various societal factors, membership definitions and ticket purchase eligibility policies evolved. 

At various times the CSA Board has discussed ways to generate more income, especially early in the season. Consequently, the Membership Committee has discussed how policies might accommodate ticket sales in the “shoulder” seasons – early June and late August – and what programming or services might be offered at those times. 

In terms of what the committee does beyond policies and procedures, part of their work is reviewing incoming Associate Member applications, keeping track of lot owners and Associate Members, and determining who is eligible to purchase a ticket and vote at annual meetings. An applicant for membership or associate membership needs to provide evidence of a lengthy past association. “We also work to make membership policies broadly communicated and understood [and] consider larger issues such as making new members feel welcome, how membership policies impact crowding and car traffic at the CSA, and how membership policies might be adjusted in the future,” Ann says.

She points out that like all CSA committees, the committee’s job is to stay on top of all current issues at the CSA as well as to think about how things might evolve going forward, and draft recommendations to the Board as needed. “At times we have consulted with Waterfront regarding capacities for boats and people on the Crystal Lake beach, with CSA Staff regarding which programs and activities can welcome the general public, with new office staff on the intricacies of membership policies related to ticket purchase, with the Women’s Association on welcoming new members, and with Bylaws related to membership,” Ann adds.

The Committee has also taken on new roles when needed, for example when it was decided that all Associate Members would be invoiced in the spring for the equivalent of a two-week ticket. At that time the Membership Committee took on the work of preparing those invoices and mailing them out for over a decade. Nowadays, this is done by paid CSA staff. Also, in the past, when membership policies had outlived their relevancy and were failing to address “certain situations based on general demographic and constituent lifestyle shifts” Ann says the membership committee has reviewed these policies and suggested amendments to the Board.

In terms of challenges, Ann says one of the biggest ones they face is that “our membership policies have grown to be incredibly detailed and complex, and it is very hard for the general CSA member to get a handle on how membership operates.” However, she says that this is nothing new: similar situations have occurred in the late 1990s/early 2000s.  That led to a lengthy study by the Membership Committee that included open forum discussions, a board recommendation, a CSA lot-owner vote, and new policies adopted in 2007. She added that since that’s now been almost two decades, “we again welcome ideas and discussion on membership policies from CSA participants, especially regarding potential ways to simplify membership policies.”  Open forums and community discussions have always played a critical role for many perspectives to be heard as the Membership Committee considers future options.

While at present the Membership Committee is fully staffed, they welcome anyone interested in attending their meetings.  Ann says what is so enjoyable about the Membership Committee is the chance to work, “with a dedicated, multi-generational group to consider how past and present CSA community constituents were/are defined, and how our community would like to welcome constituents in the future.”  She encourages anyone to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.her with your thoughts and/or questions.

Bear Interrupts Tennis Tournament

By Alan Marble

The July 2023 tennis tournament had a surprise visitor one afternoon, which, upon close inspection, was promptly run off the property.  He was spotted 15 minutes later, heading for the high ground above Marquette Court.  According to Darlene Leete, he was not particularly perturbed by the rousting.

MARGIES BEARThe bear who interrupted the CSA’s July Tennis Tournament. “He” was a substantial black bear…I’m fairly certain that the accompanying photograph, graciously provided by Margie Finley and tweaked by Dean Keiser, shows the trespasser.  He is, by any standard, a whopper of a male black bear. Perhaps he is the same bruiser who haunts the Marquette Court neighborhood from late fall into spring, sleeping only for a month or so before shaking the deep sleep out of his eyes and heading out for his next meal.

Bears are more and more each year a part of the CSA cast of characters. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has written recently that the northern lower peninsula population of black bears is on the rise. Case in point; I have driven the woods and walked the trails of Benzie County for 60 years or more.  Pre-dawn turkey hunts and fishing trips, middle-of-the-night trips home from walleye fishing adventures . . . throw in almost three years working these woods and waters as a Michigan conservation officer…and I saw my first Benzie County bear about five or six years ago near Little Platte Lake. 

These days, bears haunt our bird feeders and garbage bins, and, last year, two sows (females) with cubs were working the CSA and Wildewood beaches for the dead alewives drifting ashore. This winter, in early March after a fresh snowfall, I picked up his tracks in our yard under my bird feeder pole.  My dogs Rooster, Goose and I chose to follow the spoor, and away we went, up Marquette Court all the way to John Way’s cottage. 

At most cottages, devoid of human life or tracks, this bear visited decks, standing on hind legs and trying to get a look inside in case there might be a still-warm ham or brisket resting on the sideboard . . . or a rancid forgotten side of salmon from a summer meal.  Southward, up to Laurie Johnson’s place on Maple Arch, down to Lover’s Lane in the CSA and on to the beach.  Up the new stairs, up Beech Road, past the Nahnsen and Holt cottages, then to the end of Golf Lane. He still stopped to look in some windows, but it appeared that he was growing doubtful about his prospects of finding anything edible, and the frequency of his window-peeping tapered off.  Down Ness Road, crossing the Campbell property to Thomas Road, cutting through the wooded swamp to South Shore Road, and the dogs and I followed him to just shy of the Yacht Club when dusk began to fall, and I figured it was prudent to head for home and hearth.  More important, it was past the dogs’ dinner bell, and, well, when you are fed once a day, that timing is pretty darn important.

The upshot?  We share these environs with a myriad of wildlife species which, whether we realize it or not, enrich our lives and indicate that where we live, or vacation, is highly prized acreage by human and wild animals alike. 

Black bears are omnivores, in that they eat everything they can.  Around here, in descending order, bears eat plants and grasses, insects and grubs, carrion, garbage, bird seed from feeders and the occasional fawn or small mammal which the bear stumbles across. 

Do they represent a threat to their human co-inhabitants? In a small measure, yes.  A sow with cubs, especially new cubs of the year which aren’t much bigger than Mary Soule’s Cocoa, will defend her cubs if scooting them up the nearest tree doesn’t deter the threat.  By mid-summer, when most of us are treasuring our CSA moments and sunrises and sunsets, these woods provide a huge bounty of food for all creatures.  Squirrel and bird feeder activity drop off, as nature’s bounty comes on in a rush. The cornucopia is spilled for all of us.

Bears will choose to avoid any human contact unless the human provokes the bear, offers it food or garbage, or otherwise does something stupid which is routinely shown on YouTube, primarily in western national parks.

Walk the trails and roads and take in the experience.  A career in law enforcement taught me to try to always be aware of my surroundings. Walking Lover’s Lane with ear buds takes away what you are missing in the mid-summer song of scarlet tanagers or the loud rustling of last year’s leaves as a doe and fawn, or a bear, crashes uphill towards the lake. If, and that is a big “if,” you encounter a bear, stand up straight, raise your arms and holler. In Alaska, where we commingled with huge brown bears (AKA grizzly), we yelled something inspiring like, “Hey Bear! Hey Bear!” The idea is to try to not surprise bears.  Let them know you are there, that you are large and in charge. And, in the unlikely event that the bear DOESN”T bolt at 30 miles an hour through the brush to escape, back away and keep talking.

Jill and I have secret weapons of defense, which are, of course, Goose and Rooster.  Dogs are a built-in DEW (Distant Early Warning, from the Cold War) line of defense. The more dogs, the merrier, I always say. 

Do not feed wild animals other than birds.  Do not leave garbage anywhere that a 300-pound black bear can get to it. If bears can get to your bird feeders, remove them for the season.  You do not want to create a situation in which a bear believes your home and surroundings are a reliable source of food.  Don’t put feed out for your cat (or as some foolish souls do, for the raccoons).  Leave your phone at home when you take a walk in the woods. 

Amy Somero and staff - do NOT sell Assembly Tickets or woods courts stickers to bears, regardless of their provenance. 

Now that I think about it, it is almost time to add a pup to the pack.
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