If you’ve ever been curious about Charlotte, Michigan, the town where most of my stories take place, today’s blog post will show you a little bit about their world. Of course, we won’t see places like the Half Day Cafe from Code Red Christmas and Holding Out For Love because that’s a fictitious place created just for Wendy Burkett. But Reidy’s Pizza – where Dan and the gang sometimes eat, Jet’s and The Gavel restaurant, have found their way into my new western series, those are real places. Places that I love.
Named after one of the founder’s wives (somewhere between 1835 and 1838), the first thing you need to know about Charlotte is that if you say it like it’s a beautiful town in the south, you’ll be saying it wrong.
So how do we pronounce it? Shar-lot (“Shar” rhyming with car and “lot” rhyming with dot).
For a robotic voice, it’s pretty accurate.
The population of Charlotte is 9,032. Maybe, just maybe, in two years, that’s been bumped up closer to 9,100. If you count the stop light maybe half a mile from the city limits and the four-way flashing red light heading out the other direction, there are exactly seven traffic lights in Charlotte.
When you’re ready to have a meal out, or just a treat, you can find everything from nationally known restaurant chains, eleven in fact, to little hometown pizza parlors and family owned restaurants. Reidy’s and Jet’s Pizza have found their way into some of my stories, as well as the lone ‘fancy’ restaurant – the Gavel (named because Charlotte is the county seat).
Tired? There are two well-known hotel chains, though at one time, there were three. However, The Super 8 sold out to a company I’m not familiar with.
A few years back, the guy who owned the Eaton Theater did some remodeling, so now there’s a screen upstairs. It doesn’t seat nearly as many as the one on the main floor, but we kind of felt like we hit the big time when we could say our theater can show two movies at a time. Where else can you watch a matinee for $4.00, with shows after six o’clock only $5.00? Just a side note, the Eaton Theater has the best popcorn. Ever.
You can see the theater in the very last part of the video – and the yellow sign just down the road? That’s Reidy’s.
According to theshadowlands.net, both the Eaton Theater and the old junior high are haunted. You have to scroll down to the Charlotte listing to read about them. All I can say is I’m glad I like to sit in the very back row when I go see a movie.
We also have five parks (the Chamber of Commerce site says nine), including one skate park, a big man-made hill the city made so kids can sled in the winter, a small airport, and a very cool cider mill several miles outside of town. They make the best donuts I can no longer eat, which makes visits there kind of bittersweet. I get to smell them, drool over the, but alas, they are loaded with gluten.
We also have a couple of festivals, Celebrate Charlotte in June, and Frontier Days – which has the longest parade in the history of parades – in September.
But there you have it, the city where many of my characters live, work, and play. As an author, I do create places that are only real in the books – as with the Half Day Cafe, but I try to include as many actual places as possible.
I’ll leave you with a couple more videos. One is a kind of driving tour someone took through town several years ago. Some businesses are gone now, while others have taken their place. The other is the high school band, playing one of my favorite Christmas songs, Sleigh Ride, at their yearly concert. I’ve never been to a performance of a big symphony orchestra, but I can’t imagine any that are better than our students.