The Kivi Heritage - 1248 Louise Street on Baughn’s Bluff
by Craig Kivi
My Great Grandfather Norman A. Wood, curator of birds at the University of the Michigan Natural History Museum, lived in my house located on Baughn’s Bluff on Portage Lake during the early thirties. There, my Father Dr. Louis P. Kivi and he lived together on weekends and holidays, when my Father used to commute back and forth on his bicycle from Ann Arbor. To most, that commute would seem an extreme on a bicycle (no fancy racing bikes then), but this simply augmented my Father’s Olympic swimming training. In addition to the bicycle he would also swim the entire perimeter of Portage Lake, taking at least 3 hours, while looking at the scenic shoreline, wildlife, and other things, just as we would in a boat today.
Dr. Louis P. Kivi.
As it turned out, just a few days before my Father was to go to the Olympics, he was drafted by the Army and flew 13 missions in a B-17 Flying Fortress in World War II. I still wear his dog tags, and remember the few stories he told about missions, when 18-21 year old kids, with incredible bravery and quiet sacrifice, repeatedly and for hours flew right through thousands of altitude level detonated small bombs called “flack”, which tore off chunks of their planes…and came through the plane injuring or killing crew members at any second.
While at the house, they two shot birds and various other wildlife for food, which they carefully skinned and stuffed for the museum. The two would fish together for sustenance and it was said of my Great Grandfather that he knew whether it was a good day to fish by the smell of the wind coming off the lake. He was also known locally for gathering children by lakeside and holding their interest as he explained in great detail some observation about aquatic life. Adults in the area remember him for this, as well as for rowing across the lake to get his groceries from the local store.
I’m grateful for every minute I was able to spend with my Father fishing. Though a very busy world renowned orthopedic surgeon, he found time for fishing with me. I am most thankful that he passed on to me an understanding that natural resources are finite, and need to be respected and preserved for others, and the concept started with me. For instance, although the limit for pan fish is 25 per person, rarely if ever did we keep that many, and often it was a half limit. I learned at a very early age the concept of “enough”. I pass this on to whoever will listen. My Father passed away in 2013 at the age of 91, yet his standards, bravery, and ethics live on through me, my children, and will be passed on.
December 20, 2013