Monday, July 23, 2012

Metro Monday and Kitten Questions

Today's Metro Monday is a story of childhood nostalgia, of urban decay and loss, a reflection of the roller coaster ride that we as Detroiters have endured.

You remember last week's edition when I told you about Sugar Island, the first island amusement park in the Detroit River (which isn't really a river, but a straight)?  Sugar Island was closed by the end of World War II, left to disintegrate and decay.  In fact, I had even heard of it until this summer.  But I had passed by it many times on my way to the island amusement park that endured... Bob-Lo Island.

I didn't even have to go to YouTube in order to hear this song in my head.  I'll bet many native Michiganders can remember this commercial as clearly as I can.

The name "Bob-Lo" is an English corruption of the original name given by the French.  Bois Blanc Island or "Island of White Woods" was an important source of building materials for the French as they built their forts on either side of the river.   The island lies in what is now Canadian waters, but  just a quick boat ride from southeast Michigan.

The Boblo Island Amusement Park opened at the turn of the twentieth century.  While it could be accessed on the Canadian side by a quick ferry ride from Amherstburg Ontario, part of true Boblo experience for any Michigander was riding on the Boblo ferry boats.  The SS Ste. Claire and the SS Columbia.  These excursion steamboats conjure images of old time Mississippi River luxury steamships.  
SS Columbia

Four decks high, complete with snack bars, gift shops, and a dance floor, these steamships made the 18 mile trek downriver from Detroit to Boblo Island several times per day.  Standing on the deck in a cool summer breeze, drinking Faygo and throwing popcorn to the seagulls who flew alongside during our ride, I made this trip at least once per summer with my friends during every one of my teenage years.

Boblo Island Amusement Park from the air (probably from the Sky Tower at the back of the park)

While not an amusement park on a grand scale, Boblo was still a place that could entertain a family for a full day.  Built alongside the original dance hall (in the photo above under the blue roof) and picnic area, roller coasters, ferris wheel, bumper cars, and a full midway greeted the passengers as they disembarked. 

A postcard of Boblo from the 1980s.  The boat dock (in the lower part of the photo) led into the amusement park.  Check out the roller coaster along the other shore.  This would be the Boblo that I remember.

Competition from Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio (just a couple hours away from Detroit) combined with the deterioration of the steamships and local economy led to Boblo's decline. When the steamships ceased making their island runs in the early 1990s, Detroiters stopped making the trip to the island entirely.  The park closed just two years later.  The rides were dismantled and sold to other parks throughout the country while the boats sat and crumbled.

From this:

To this:
After nearly twenty years of disuse.  Both ships have now been sold to private investors who are working to restore them to their previous glory.  Click here for more photos of the interior of the SS Columbia.  It's a little worse for wear, but with some imagination you can clearly see the ship I loved just a couple decades ago.

Although the park is gone, Boblo Island remains (obviously).  Overgrown with greenery, the only remaining structures from the Boblo that I knew are the Sky Tower and the dance hall.  The boat dock, faded and crumbling, still serves passengers who travel by ferry from Canada.  The island, which uses its original French name of Bois Blanc, is being developed into high-end real estate... large mansions line the shore and a condo community is being developed.  It was almost fitting for my mood, that when I returned to Boblo it was a grey, overcast day.  Today's Boblo is almost unrecognizable to me.

The dock of Bois Blanc Island once greeted amusement park visitors.  It is now a welcome home for those who ride the car ferry from Amherstburg.

A leftover from the amusement park days... "Boblo" spelled out in white rocks on the shore.

The Sky Tower in the distance, the dance hall is behind the trees to the right.  Other than that, the Boblo of my childhood is gone.

As I rode back to shore with a heavy heart, I saw something that reminded me that the beauty I remembered was not completely gone.  That happiness can still be found on the river...

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures, by Barb VerSluis
I didn't really see this, but someone (**cough**Holly Waterfall**cough**) might owe me something after this ;-)


Questions... She's got questions

My kittens, while noisy when demanding their dinner, do not create the kind of cacophony of chaos that I expected from the tales of other fosterers.  They are, however, constantly hungry. Seriously... how much do you all feed your kittens?? Mine have 24/7 access to kitten kibble but what they really want is stinky canned goodness. How many times a day should I indulge them? They would prefer that I open one every time I open the door to the room.  I'm thinking a bit less. What are your thoughts?

"The Ellie Belly is empty and can only be filled with canned treats.  Hop to it, Lady."


Penny is a dinner time diva (and a breakfast time brat).  She began her stay with us refusing to touch canned food and now she refuses to eat kibble.  She would starve herself rather than crunch.  Now that she's out in the general population of fat boys, mealtimes happen twice a day and she's proving resistant both to eating kibble and eating when the pack eats.  Any ideas of how to get her to indulge in a more varied diet and/or come around to our schedule?


"Not another bath!"

"Eloise will just wait here while you get another idea, Lady."

Kittens are getting stronger and wiser during bath time.  Bathing them is becoming more of a struggle.  While I used to bathe them in a plastic container in the bathtub, they're becoming fighters so I had to change the game plan.  Sunday's bath took place in the bathroom sink and went a bit quicker and easier, but I'm anticipating needing a back-up plan soon as they learn the new drill.  I'd love to hear your kitten bathing strategies as I anticipate needing to bathe them for another couple weeks.

"Please don't do this, Lady..."

"Henry loves you."


  1. I have some kittens that seem to barely eat enough to survive, I have others that eat like their entire bodies are empty holes simply for storing then pooping out food. I feed them to their appetite. If they want more I give them more. Their job is to play and grow and both take a boat load of calories. At one point you will hit the 'tipping point' where they FINALLY seem to have their appetite return to 'normal'

    as for baths, I've got nothing for you there. I bathe babies, I rarely do it once they are weaned. Bathing them as babies often makes kitties that love water as adults. I've heard back from several of my bathed babies and been told they love to jump in the shower with their owners :) Apologize and lots of love :)

    1. They are certainly eating more lately. I'm taking it as a good sign that they are growing and getting healthier. ((And I am certainly looking forward to the day when baths are no longer necessary!))

  2. Eloise's little voice is hilarious. So scratchy! As for feeding, when I had foster kittens last summer they initially ate canned food three times a day and had constant access to dry kibble; they were also treated to some licks of chicken baby food every time I entered the room. They were skinny and semi-feral, so it was as important to me that they were trusting humans to provide yummy foods as that they were eating enough. I had to cut feeding back to twice a day when I returned to work (I'm a teacher) at the end of August, which was probably just as well since I anticipated that their eventual adopters would be doing a twice-a-day feeding as well. They had probably been born in June, so they were about 10 weeks old when I had to cut back. They didn't seem to suffer for it!

    Re: Picky Penny. We have one just like her (the brat). She goes through phases of turning up her nose at the food she was happily scarfing the day before. As long as nothing is medically wrong with her, I figure she'll eat when she's hungry. Sometimes we take to isolating her for a while in a bathroom with her food so she can take her time without being pushed aside by our other cat (who will eat ANYTHING and EVERYTHING). If she still doesn't eat after an hour or so, we take the food away. She always comes back around. (We don't leave kibble out all day due to the inability of the other cat to control himself; sounds like you are in the same situation?)

    1. Actually, now that I see Connie's comment, I initially fed my fosters more canned food whenever I saw they were out of it; after a while, this developed into the three-times-a-day feeding. It's been a while. :)

    2. I've started giving in to Penny once a day and feeding her canned food on the other side of closed door from the boys. Yes, we have a couple gentlemen who cannot control their food intake so we do it for them.

  3. Re: Metro Monday. It's always sad to see a childhood memory disolving to dust. I moved from my birthplace at age 8, and I remembered it fondly. But when I went back at age 20, I was so disappointed. It felt like a crummy working town, not the childhood memories I had.

    As for Boblo being a bastardization of Bois Blanc, it's so funny, it doesn't sound much like the French anymore. Maybe a bit more if it were Boablaw. We have many words in French that are bastardization of an English word, but the only example that's coming to me now is our "bécosse", that comes from the bastardization of "backhouse". Not that we use that word much anymore...

    I have no advice to give about feeding, no experience with fostering. But those kitties are so cute! You take good care of them.

    1. I had the same curiosity about the Boblo pronunciation... it doesn't sound anything like the French to me. Maybe it has something to do with the accents of the people trying to pronounce it at the time?

    2. Well, the two vowel sounds in Bois Blanc, "oi" and "an", don't really exist in English. "Oi" could be described as "oua", like the "ou" in "route" and the "a" of "pasta" (sorry, I don't know how to write pronunciation). But the "an", like the "eu" sound in French, don't exist at all in English.

      That's one of the reasons I love my last name (Beaulieu) because anyone whose first language isn't French has a hard time saying it, especially if they don't know that "eau" simply makes "o"!

  4. Kelly :) *hugs* You are part of the crew that has made this a great weekend for me. (I know it's Monday now but go with it). Despite hearing of the awful things happening in the world, I know there are still good people that exist. Friday was my birthday and in the online game I play I had a great outpouring of community gifts that helped me level up. Now you give me rainbows! I don't know you people in real life, but I feel like if you lived next door, you would be just as friendly and kind. Thank you for making the world a nicer place :)
    And as far as the kitties are concerned, I had heard that cats will only eat to satisfy their hunger but dogs on the other hand will continue to eat regardless as long as there is food available. So dogs need to purposefully be fed on a schedule but its okay to leave a cats food out. Am I wrong on this?

    1. I have a couple of overweight boys (one permanent and one foster) who will not stop eating until the food is gone. They don't know how to ignore it. For their health and well-being, I have to measure out serving sizes and pick up anything that the other cats leave behind.

      Been a rotten weekend worldwide... that's why we have to stick together around here. Kittens and rainbows for everyone!

  5. I totally believe that Henry was begging you not to bathe him - so adorable!

    I have one cat, who spent the first two years of her life in a feral colony, who will eat anything (and does!), and another who acts like she only wants canned food, but if I leave the bag of kibble out, she will gnaw right though the package!

    1. Shades of Simba. The kibble stays in the car until I'm ready to open or store the package away from him. He's a "help yourself" kind of fellow.

  6. Hi! I just have to say, I've really enjoyed your posts about MI! My husband & I both grew up there (in Oakland County) & we are currently living in Germany with the Army (although we are moving stateside in September). It's nice to see similar memories (Boblo! Woohoo!).

    I also have 4 cats & a dog - so I love to see the furs too! :) Thanks for sharing!

    1. Really??? Where are you stationed? My husband is Air Force. We spent three years in Germany, stationed at Sembach AB (near Ramstein). My son was born at Landstuhl :-)