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7 Revitalization: 1960-2000 Activities MID-SIXTIES: THE SHADIES AND THE SAINTS When the black middle-class professionals began deserting the resort, many white hunters and fishermen, gamblers, and black pimps and their stables of prostitutes did just the opposite. They pumped a few dollars into the resort.! However, most of the dollars ended in the hands of pimps and prostitutes from Detroit, Indianapolis, Battle Creek, Chicago, and other places. In the late 1960s and 1970s, it was not unusual to see ladies in red working deercrossing areas, tributaries of the Manistee River, and many inland lakes. During the height of the deer season, some panderers bought or rented mobile homes to be used as brothels on wheels, especially if the beds were already occupied at the Eagle's Nest. Many ladies were on a first-name basis with their customers. One of the females, desiring to remain anonymous, stated that, "Once some of those white Johns went black, they never wanted to go back. They wanted to have fun, sex, and coke."2 Furthermore, some white customers felt that they had been initiated into true manhood after being with a black woman. Occasionally, such fellows would carry more than wild game home. BLACK EDEN: THE IDLEWILD COMMUNITY Gradually, a few of these sportsmen began to recognize the pristine beauty of the resort. Some of the properties deserted by the descendants of the pioneer resorters were acquired by whites. The black character of the resort gradually began to change, much to the lament ofthe old guard. Many realized, as did John Reynolds, that, "Land is made by God. Unlike cash, it is not man made. Furthermore, how can Black folks talk about Nationalism if they have no land base?"3 To their credit, some descendants did hang on to their land and refuse to be lured by the Madison Avenue-style advertisements ofthe recently desegregated resorts, which were hoping to gain favor among those who were once victims of Jim Crowism. A NEW BREED BRINGS HOPE TO OLD-TIMERS After learning of the resort's history from the old-timers, many nationalistic blacks did not want the resort to die. Every summer for two weeks in July and August, members ofthe lLOA and the various Idlewild clubs would pour into the resort to discuss its future, the intoxicatingly seductive zeal and luster of Idlewild in its heyday between 1930 and 1960, and the new investors and investments. Perhaps a renaissance could be initiated by new blood from the outside. Overhearing those reminiscing about the good old days, the young bloods knew that the resort was a vital cog in the black heritage. The idea of a "connection" between the old and the young, through the clubs and the associations, led to knowledge of heritage and a continuation ofthe Idlewild experience. Before his death, longtime Idlewilder John Reynolds insisted that "Idlewild will continue to grow, it wont die."4Yet the former realtor knew property sales were not good in the area. He wondered how the town would survive beyond his generation. He often said, "I wonder why there's so much interest in the past rather than the future.... We need some new ideas."5 In this same connection, Audrey Bullett, former county administrator, lectures, "When you write about all those people who came up here and drank, about the glamour ofthe past, you forget those of us who have stayed around here and tried to make something of this place."6 Revitalization: 1960-2000 .Activities ACTIVITIES TO STOP THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL Aside from the efforts of the ILOA and Idlewild Clubs as articulated in their bylaws,? in the mid-I970s, attempts by various individuals to revitalize Idlewild had begun. Some who had inherited property decided that they did not want to lose their land because ofdelinquent taxes. By paying the assessments , they reinforced their commitment. As a matter offact, some decided to increase their holdings by taking advantage of tax sales. The lots ofthose who had defaulted were sold at tax auctions in Detroit, Lansing, or Baldwin. As in the past, some who attended the public sales bought the property sight unseen. The motivation for the new acquisitions was an unwillingness to see what was once theirs, become the property of "the man." Interestingly, a few whites, who in years past had had no interest in owning property near that ofblacks could not pass up the incredibly cheap land. Land prices in predominantly white resorts were skyrocketing, land was becoming...


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