Written by: Hope McDaniel
I began to pack up leftover food and head inside for the day. The sun was just beginning to set and
the pink sky glistened off the water, while a gentle breeze blew over Lake Michigan.
Yesterday, my cousins, April and Drew, and I arrived at Grandma’s cottage on Lake Michigan for the
week. School had just let out, and the three of us came prepared to have a blast at Grandma’s lake
house. I had met my cousins at their house in West Virginia and we headed to Michigan from there.
Grandma had lived in this house on Lake Michigan as long as I could remember, and both April’s
and my parents grew up here. But work brought both of them down south, so spending a week
in Michigan was a rare occasion. Grandma’s lake house is nice, but definitely not new. The house
is a deep red with white shutters, and glass walls that look out over the lake. Right beyond the house
is a swing on the dock and a beach area to play. All the kids have a ton of fun when we visit, and
grandma greatly enjoys living on the famous great lake. Although we have never told Grandma this,
Drew, April, and I have a feeling that this house holds a mystery.
The next day, I awoke to the delicious smell of pancakes and bacon, and bounded downstairs to
have some. “Today I have to go to the store, I might be a while. Kylie, I'll leave you in charge. Don’t
go down to the lake till I get back. Sound good?” Grandma asked, during breakfast.
Later on that day, April and I were in the middle of a game of uno when Drew dragged himself into the living room. “Kylie, can’t we do something fun?” he whined. Uno was getting old, so I said “Sure, but what?”
April always had ideas. Her little voice piped up, “What about we explore Grandma’s house
and find out what makes this place look so mysterious!”
I hesitated. I mean after all, that could be a little dangerous, especially if anything happened I was to be blamed. But I did want to explore and what
was wrong with a little fun a day like this. Drew’s enthusiasms finalized my decision.
“OK! Let’s do it! But, one thing.” I said, and changed my tone to one of authority. “Stay safe!!”
“Ok” said Drew and April as they nodded their head. We headed up the stairs. There was little wooden door directly in front of the staircase, and Drew about busted with excitement .
“It’s probably a secret door that no one knows about! Lets open it!”
Of course I knew it wasn't secret; it was out in the open. But taking a peek inside would be cool. April carefully cracked the door open. After peering in, she back away from the door with a frown on her face.
“All it is is Christmas decorations of Grandma’s” she said.
Disappointed, Drew said “Maybe this isn't going to be any fun after all, I think I might go down and read a book instead.”
“Come on Drew! You can’t give up yet, we just started exploring!” said April.
“Look guys!” I said, there’s another hallway over there. Lets go see what rooms are over there” “Oh, ok” Drew said.
As we peered around the corner, I couldn't help but wonder why grandma had never taken us up here before. There was one door, but it was just a storage room. As we looked again at the short hallway I thought this shouldn't be all that was up here. I studied the hallway, starting with the floor to the ceiling. Then, all the sudden something caught my eye. There was a string hanging out from the ceiling. Must be the attic ,i thought.
I told April “Please get a chair from the kitchen: I think I found the attic.”
In the stuffy attic April, Drew, and I looked around. Nothing seemed unusual, just the typical attic. As i walked across the floor towards the entrance, the floor creaked. “Wait, I thought attics were over rooms.” Said Drew. “ Yeah, what room is this part of the attic over?” April added in. That’s what got me, there were no rooms from the hallway upstairs, but there had to be a room under here somewhere. In the middle of my deep thoughts we heard Grandma’s car pull up.
“Alright guys lets head downstairs.”
In Grandma’s library, I searched for a good book to read, As I scanned the titles, I came across one called the Secrets of the Underground Railroad. It sounded interesting. The book told of times during slavery when blacks would escape to freedom in Canada. To get there they went from house to house. And these houses were a part of the railroad. The book explained that those who were apart of the underground railroad were in constant danger. The rooms that held the slaves were hidden in the most brilliant ways so when people came in search of their slaves, there were not found. Some were in storage sheds, or behind a bookshelf. Others may have been in closets or attics.
“Attics!” I exclaimed out loud. With Grandma’s mysteries attic on my mind, i became very interested. I found a map in the back of the book that showed where the railroad actually was. As I traced the blue line with my finger from Mississippi to Canada, my finger ran right through the state of Michigan!
Before anyone could say Michigan I was up in Grandma’s attic. As I searched I pictured a place where no master could find. A place where a slave would feel safe. As I searched frantically, I came across a wooden block. But it wasn't just a plain old wooden block. It had a string attached, and the string ran through the wall. This was it! This is how they got in the room! I pull at it, nothing moved, I pulled harder, and harder. Finally part of the wall swung open. I peered in the room, but it was too dark. So I went downstairs and got a flashlight, and April and Drew. They were so excited about the secret room I had found.
Back in the attic we came to the room, and I flipped on the flashlight. We were amazed. There was a small bed, and even some trunks that the slaves could store their belongings in. As I looked around the room, I felt apart of history. This really happened; a slave stayed a night or two here right before entering freedom.
Downstairs we told Grandma of our discovery. She smiled , “Yes, your grandma’s house was apart of the Underground Railroad. The man that sold it to me was up in age. He told me of the room, and how he helped and hosted many slaves in this very house. I discovered the room myself, but kept it hidden, hoping one day my clever grand kids would enjoy the same thrill of discovery I had”
April, Drew, and I grinned. We had found the room, and we were very proud. This was the best visit to Grandma’s ever