Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version



Pp. 40-41 in A History of Little Paw Paw Lake and Deer Forest, Michigan, by Roderick L. Rasmussen. Coloma, MI: Southwestern Michigan Publications.


Copyright (c) 1999 Mary Jo Deegan.


The Virginia Beach Hotel was a Victorian summer resort: Its white clapboard big house and herd of little cottages clustered at the end of a bay in Little Paw Paw Lake. It looked like hundreds of other such hotels built to serve tourists escaping the heat of summer in the city; in this case, Chicago. My great grandmother, Ida Cora Hughes, owned the Virginia Beach Hotel; and my mother, Ida May Deegan, spent her childhood and teen years there for many, many summers beginning in 1923 and ending in 1935. To my mother, this spot was a dream, a bubble of happiness, sun, water, family and friends. She knew every family who owned a cottage on the higglypiggly shoreline and crowded little streets next to the inn. When I could persuade her to go there in the 1960s and 1970s, she would rattle off their names, occupations, hobbies, and idiosyncrasies as if that little community was an open book -- always populated by families from the 1920s who frolicked and played as they did in her child's mind. She would spice up these stories with a soupcon of sarcastic humor, but she mostly loved these people, the lake, and their lives together.