A Christmas Past from Down the Line

A Christmas Past from Down the Line

Our Richards Landing neighbour, Harold Armstrong, stopped by with his photo album one afternoon to show me an old photo of the house we recently renovated. I couldn't resist taking a peek at the rest of his album and came across the photo above. This is how the story goes.

The Armstrong family woke up on Christmas morning 1951 to discover that one of their three boys was missing. Keith was not in the house and his car was not in the driveway. Mr. Armstrong set out looking and found his son at the Ross residence in downtown Richards  Landing, where a crowd of young people were gathered after an eventful night.

The story goes that young Sally Wismer (MacDonald) and her boyfriend at the time, where coming home on Christmas Eve, when the car they were driving went into a big hole in the ice, crossing from Port Findlay to Richards Landing.

Sally remembers getting wet, but getting out before the car went under. The young couple started to walk across the ice towards Richards Landing, hollering out in case someone could hear them. Sure enough, people at a house party downtown heard their calls and quickly went out to retrieve the cold, wet couple.

Keith Armstrong and his girlfriend at the time, Sally's sister, Mary Campbell (MacDonald), got word about the car going through the ice and decided to venture across the lake to see if they could help.

Markers were put up on the ice, so that no other vehicles would go into the hole, but they were only placed on the Mainland side.  Sally said, "Since no one marked the site from the St. Joe side, Keith ended up driving his car into the very same hole, and landing on top of the first car." 

They too were able to get out, and walked back across the frozen lake to the house party in downtown Richards Landing, where Keith remained until he was located by Mr. Armstrong on Christmas morning.

Later that winter, when the ice conditions improved, men hauled logs and timbers out and rigged up a system to hoist the cars out of the frozen lake. As you can see in the photos, the first car to go in has the roof caved in where the second car landed on top of it.

Harold recalls that his brother Keith, got the car dried out and continued to drive it until he left for the Air Force and it was sold.

The sisters were told never to cross the ice again, by their mother. Mary was very nervous from her mishap on the lake and was happy to oblige, but Sally crossed with others many times after that Christmas Eve, without incident.

Thanks to Harold Armstrong, Sally Wismer, and Mary Campbell for sharing their story.

Armstrong car recovered in February 1952.
Armstrong car recovered in February 1952.
First car to go through the ice. Roof caved in from second car.
First car to go through the ice. Roof caved in from second car.
A Christmas Past from Down the Line