Dan Haig

Well, so what to say about working at Doctor's Park...

The water was nearly always too cold for comfortable swimming, the beach being far out in the lake on Fox Point - Bradford Beach's water, being in more of a bay near downtown, was frequently at least 5 degrees warmer. Being County Beach guards, we all knew each other and would often compare notes while out on the town evenings. We did have people in the water as summer wore on and warmed up, and even on occasion were busy enough to have guards out in a boat or two to mind those further out, but that was always an exception rather than the rule.

At the beginning of the season we'd have to go out in a boat maybe 50 yards to dig a hole in the sand at the bottom, to create a space to drop in and bury the cement anchors for the chained buoys that marked the end of the swimming area - we could not guard all the way out to Muskegon right? So we'd have to jump in the lake with a shovel, plunge down ten or more feet, and dig as furiously as possible before screaming back up to hand up the shovel and haul yourself back into the boat, chattering hard enough to break your teeth, while the next guy went in. One year when we did this, on a day in the first week of June, the surface temperature measured by the shore where we'd toss in the thermometer was 48 degrees.

Dan Haig

One summer - in 1983 - a storm so powerful came thru that for days afterwards really enormous driftwood trees were dredged up from the deeps and washed up along the shoreline, making a huge mess on the beach and rendering the water incredibly dangerous. The lake being virtually opaque in those days, you could swim within a foot of a heavily waterlogged tree trunk that had probably been floating in 20 feet of water for a decade and not see it until it was about to crack you in the head. But we couldn't resist the challenge of the waves in the days that followed, 8 feet or higher, really rare for the western shore of Lake Michigan. Some guards from Bradford drove up after hours the first day of that because they heard we had amazing surf - but not one of them dared join us in the water. We really were working in the wilds of Milwaukee County up there.
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And you?

We are always interested in more stories from the years that lifeguards worked at Doctors Park. Email us.