Monday, August 4, 2014

Michigander Monday: Dennis Cawthorne

I'm pleased to welcome Dennis Cawthorne to Michigander Monday!

Debbie:  Dennis, please tell us a little about yourself.

Dennis:  I am a lawyer, legislator, chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission, businessman, saloonkeeper-restaurateur, chamber of commerce manager, and carriage driver.  I know the famed Great Lakes destination, its people, and its idiosyncrasies like few other people.  For a great part of each of the last 54 years, I have lived, worked, and played on iconic Mackinac Island.

I am also a world traveler, having visited sixty countries on six continents.  I have served as an official United States delegate to international conferences of government leaders in Moscow, Beijing, and Brussels.  I am a graduate of Albion College (Phi Beta Kappa) and Harvard Law School.

When not on Mackinac Island or travelling world-wide, I make my home in East Lansing, Michigan.  My wife Cynthia and I have two sons and three grandchildren.

Debbie:  And, of course, we want to know all about your book, Mackinac Island:  Inside, Up Close, and Personal.

Dennis:  Many books have been written about Mackinac Island, usually focusing on its history, its scenic beauty, or its architecture.  This is not one of those books.  Rather, this book is a nostalgic and candid behind the scenes look at more than a century of Mackinac people and events.  It's part memoir, part history, and part chronicle.  All of it is true.

Mackinac Island is very much a small town, yet each year it hosts over three quarters of a million people and is often the focal point of national and even international media coverage.  It attracts celebrities of every kind as well as masses of "average Americans."  It is the summer home of Michigan's governor, frequently a hotbed of state political activity, and a place endlessly fascinating to those who know it.

For a half century and more, beginning in 1960, I came to know and experience Mackinac intimately.  I did so through the prism of the many roles I played there during those years: carriage driver, chamber of commerce manager, state legislator, saloonkeeper, attorney, legislative advocate and for over 20 years member and chairman of the Mackinac Island State Park Commission which governs 83% of the Island's land area.  Along the way, I built a home, became engaged, got married, and raised two sons there.  Probably I will be buried there.

I have been an eyewitness to- and too often involved in- a host of events that one does not normally associate with Mackinac: murder, political intrigue, a disastrous fire, scandal controversy, hilarity, and high jinks of all kinds, made all the more fascinating by the very fact they happened on Mackinac.

Through it all, I came to know intimately and appreciate Mackinac's rich stew of colorful characters and events, its multiple layers unseen and unknown to casual visitors.  But I have not been a passive observer of Mackinac.  I like to think I also played a role in shaping and impacting the Mackinac Island of today, I hope for the better.

Designed for those who really want to "know" Mackinac from the inside, this is the story of an amazing half century of life and times on an incredible island.

Debbie:  Other books or projects on the horizon?

Dennis:  No other books planned.

Debbie:  Upcoming appearances?

Dennis:  Several pending.

Debbie:  Do you have a favorite Michigan bookstore? And/or a favorite Michigan library?

Dennis:  The Island Book Store on Mackinac Island.  The State Library of Michigan.

Debbie:  How about a favorite place in Michigan?

Dennis:  Mackinac Island, of course.

Debbie:  Do you have a Michigan event or happening that you love to attend?

Dennis:  The annual Lilac Festival on Mackinac Island.

Debbie:  A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?

Dennis:  Most of the people mentioned in the book.

Debbie:  Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan?

Dennis:  What a great scenic state it is!

Debbie:  Last question.  Some folks in Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders, others as Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: are you a Michigander or a Michiganian?

Dennis:  Emphatically a Michigander!

Debbie:  Dennis, we'll add you to the Michigander column!  Thank you so much for joining us today for Michigander Monday!

No comments: