Vol. 5, No. 4, Sunday December 21, 2008
by dick bales

The volume 4, number 3, edition of this column included references to souvenir shot glasses. The volume 5, number 2, column featured an Illinois ‘one hit wonder” glass.

In this issue I combine both themes by showcasing a 1904 souvenir glass that is the only glass from Mackinac Island, Michigan. (The word is pronounced MACK-in-awe, not MACK-in-knack.)

in Time
Mackinac Island

This glass is a thin-walled highball. The text is in black on a hand-painted enamel label that depicts a landscape scene with Fort Mackinac on a hill. On the reverse side is engraved “Regine/Sept 4,1904.”

Fort Mackinac is a limestone fort that was constructed in 1780-81 on the bluffs of Mackinac Island. This island is 3.776 square miles in land area and is in the state of Michigan, in Lake Huron.

The British held this fort throughout the Revolutionary War and used it to control the strategic Straits of Mackinac between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron (thus controlling the fur trade on the Great Lakes). The British did not turn the fort over to the United States until 1796.During the War of 1812, the fort became the scene of two strategic battles for control of the Great Lakes. But after the war the fort gradually declined in military significance. No longer needed as a front line border defense against the British in Canada, the fort instead took on the roll of a military holding camp. That is, troops not needed elsewhere were deployed to Fort Mackinac and held in reserve. During the Civil War, the fort was used as a prison for three Confederate political prisoners, guarded only by a volunteer militia.

From 1875 to 1895, the fort and much of the island were part of the Mackinac National Park, the second national park in the United States. (Yellowstone National Park was the first.) However, the fort was still used to house and train troops until 1895, when it was closed. The fort then became part of Mackinac Island State Park, the first state park in Michigan.


A current photograph of the fort is shown at right.

But Mackinac Island’s “claim to fame” is probably not Fort Mackinac. Rather, it is probably better known for its large hotel, called appropriately enough the Grand Hotel. This hotel was built in the late 19th century. Its front porch is purportedly the longest in the world—six hundred feet in length.

Shown here is a photograph of the Grand Hotel. If you want a closer view, you need only rent or buy the movie, Somewhere in Time, starring Christopher Reeve, Jane Seymour, and Christopher Plummer.

This 1980 romance was filmed on location at the Grand Hotel. Reeve plays Richard Collier, a playwright. While staying at the hotel, he becomes infatuated by a photograph of a young woman. Through self-hypnosis, he travels back in time to the year 1912 to find true love with actress Elise McKenna (portrayed by Seymour). Plummer plays her manager, who fears that romance will derail her promising career and therefore vows to stop Reeve at all costs. Every October the hotel hosts a convention for fans of this now cult-classic romance movie.

And speaking of romance—what about “Regine,” the name of the woman engraved on the glass? Souvenir glasses often featured the name of someone on them. Consider, for example, this Chicago World’s Fair glass with the name “Mother” on it.

Regine Olsen was a Danish woman who became engaged to the philosopher and theologian Soren Kierkegaard in 1840. In 1841, though, Kierkegaard broke off the engagement. He loved Regine, but he was unable to reconcile the prospect of marriage with his vocation as a writer and his passionate and introspective Christianity. Regine was heartbroken. Kierkegaard would later beg Regine to forgive him for his actions.

This glass is dated September 4, 1904. Regine died on March 18, 1904. Christopher Reeve traveled backward in time to follow his heart. Is it possible that Regine traveled forward in time for the same reason? Did Regine Olsen, like Christopher Reeve, eventually find romance on Mackinac Island?


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