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Sylvan Lake

Family lives in Sylvan for six generations

Published July 16, 2013

» click to enlarge «
Annalee Kennedy stands outside her Sylvan Lake home with her great-grandchildren, from left to right, Mollie Shelters, 3, Mattisyn Hill, 6, and Carson Shelters, 6, July 9.

SYLVAN LAKE — On a bright summer July morning, Annalee Kennedy, 92, pored over dozens of family photographs near a window, framed by a lazy oak overlooking a picturesque lake outside her house in the 1600 block of Lakeview.

Black-and-white and color photos lined in rows under plastic film told stories of family members, proudly displayed atop her table.

One photo showed her mother sporting a bathing suit over her svelte frame. More recent photos show two babies sitting in a wagon during a parade; older ones show a little boy with a cowlick by a lake, and a husband and wife holding each other.

The silver-haired woman, a third generation family member to live in the city, reflected on family life as her granddaughter sat nearby and discussed her own memories.

“The Purser family, my grandparents, came here in the summer of 1914,” she began.

Kennedy’s grandparents summered in Sylvan until they decided to call “The Prettiest Little City” their home shortly afterward. They rebuilt their home — the house next-door to Kennedy’s own — around 1930; Kennedy’s granddaughter and great-granddaughter now reside in the roughly 90-year-old house.

“It has been in that same lot ever since,” she said.

Kennedy said Sylvan means two things to her: family and the lakes.

“Swimming was one thing,” Kennedy said. “Even when my grandparents were here, my mother always brought my sister and me out. We used the lake a lot.”

Family get-togethers have also always been a big thing in the family.

“My birthday was on the Fourth of July, and we always had a Fourth of July party,” she said.

Kennedy’s granddaughter Jeannette Shelters, who moved to the city with her family in 2006, said Sylvan Lake has been home to her extended family for so many years because it is a nice place to live.

“You feel comfortable here,” she said. “My grandparents have always been here. My grandma would bring us here, and we would go to the beach or the playground.”

Kennedy, who visited the city often as a child but came to live with her family in the late 1980s, said some of the changes she has seen included swapping the streetcar system for a bike trail. In 1895, the Pontiac and Sylvan Lake Railway introduced the streetcar service in Pontiac, and west to the city. It was discontinued in the mid-1940s, Kennedy said.

“I didn’t ride the streetcar because we had a car,” she said. “But it was on Garland.”

She added that when she was in junior high in the mid-1930s, Sylvan Lake's water level was very low.

“You could walk way out on it,” she said. “It was just dried sand. I just remember playing croquet on it.”

She added that the city did — and does — hold many memories for her family.

“It has always been a pleasant place to live,” she said.

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