Three Generations from the Grand Hotel Orchestra to the Grand Stables

Three Generations from the Grand Hotel Orchestra to the Grand Stables 

By Guest Blogger Kody Harris, Grand Hotel Stables Assistant

Eugene Harrison
Eugene Harrison 

The story begins with the 1st generation my grandpa, Eugene Harris, who is one of the finest musicians I’ve ever known. He was born in 1929 and grew up in Flint, MI. He can remember his mother and sisters playing the piano and singing when he was very young. Music was part of his life at a very young age. In grade school he was introduced to many different instruments. He knew exactly which instrument was meant for him, the trumpet. As did every other kid in his class! Because of this, the band leader gave him a French Horn. He played it for a little while and hated it! It wasn’t until the next school year that he heard a student play a saxophone. And so it began…..over the next summer he learned to play one by ear. He became good, very good. He’s played all over the U.S. with countless bands. He served in the Korean War with islander, Robert Gillespie – who is still around, if you’d like to talk to him, you’ll find him up at carriage tours barn from 8:00am-9:00am on most days. On the boat home from Korea, he entertained the officers and fellow soldiers with his world class music. How he acquired a saxophone on the boat? Don’t ask me. Maybe Mr. Gillespie knows… He’s played at Grand Hotel with big bands from Grand Rapids, MI, as well as others. One of the more well known groups he appeared with at the Grand was Jimmy Dorsey and his big band from Chicago. At some point in his career he got to know the Grand Hotel’s Orchestra leader, Bob Snyder, and in the summer of 1994 he played in the Grand Hotel Orchestra. He was asked to come back for a special 18 day engagement in the fall of that year and played for Dan Musser, III’s wedding day. 

Gene Harris
Gene Harris

My father, Gene Harris, is one of the greatest men I have ever known. He was born in 1961. The Harris family moved from Flint to Big Rapids, MI 4 years later. He grew up working on farms in the country side. He loved animals, horses especially. He first came to Mackinac island when he was in high school in 1979 and spent it driving for the Mackinac Island Carriage Tour Co. “Somewhere in Time” was filmed at Grand Hotel that summer and one night my dad went down to the Mission Point Theatre to watch the movie “Superman”. During the showing, the sound went out. A man stood up and started narrating the movie and It was none other than Christopher Reeves himself! He narrated the rest of the movie that night. He went to horseshoeing school in Oklahoma at age 19 and met my mom, Sherry. He became good at his trade. He started shoeing for Carriage Tours in 1989. He was asked to shoe the Grand Hotel’s horses by Pete Lapin. They decided to give Mr. Musser a real treat by giving the Hackney’s some custom “golden” horseshoes ( actually brass coated ). In 1990, Jerod, my parents 3rd child, was born on the island. Pete gave my mom and baby Jerod a ride in the wicker Vis a Vis, pulled by the Hackney team, as a birthday gift to her. She recalls it to be a beautiful sunny day. My dad has many fond memories of the hotel and spending summers on Mackinac island.
p.s.  My dad is also a fine and talented musician. 

Kody Harris
Me, Kody Harris

And then there’s me, Kody, the 3rd generation of the Harris family working on Mackinac Island today in the Grand Stables. I was born in St. Paul MN, September 28th, 1996. I was born 6 weeks early and my dad says I could fit in his pocket. The day after I was born he saw an ad on a bulletin board for a saxophone. He bought it and I’ve been playing since the age of 12. No, I’m not a great musician like my grandfather or father, but I secretly hope to one day play with the band at Grand Hotel. Anyway, that’s besides the point. How did I end up here? Well, to put it simply: My last name is Harris. I went to horseshoeing school in Missouri and graduated in the  fall of 2016. Prior to that I had relatively little horse experience. I needed to gain knowledge and practical skills in the area of horsemanship, and my dad encouraged me to pursue a job at the Grand Hotel Stables.  I sent Mr. Mosley a rather unimpressive resume and asked if he was in need of any help for the 2017 season. I’m not the great horseman my father was and is, so whether I would get the job or not was in question ( at least for me). Mr. Mosley worked with my dad here on the island in the late 80’s and early 90’s and respected my dad for his skill, morals, and work ethic. I suppose, for that reason, I was hired. I couldn’t tell you the first thing about driving horses, harnesses, or any of the like when I first got here. I’ve made plenty of mistakes, but I try to do a good job. Mr. Mosley is an excellent horseman and a great teacher. I’m quite sure there’s no one more qualified for the management position over the Grand’s Stables. I’ve very much enjoyed my time here. I have a great deal of respect for Mr. Mosley. When November rolls around and I’ve worked my last day, I will no longer be able to refer to him as my boss, but I’ll always be able to call him my friend. So, you see, it’s not by my own accomplishments that I am here. There was a legacy given to me. An inheritance, I guess is better word.  Proverbs 13:22 says “A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children,”Some kids get money, others land. My inheritance? A good name… Harris.

-Kody Harris

P.S.  All my co-workers at the Stables are worth writing about. Shelbie, Mike, Blake, and Jeff are all hard workers and by far much better horseman than I. They all have shown me great kindness and patience. They themselves are good teachers and often give me encouragement. They’re so good at what they do, I have trouble keeping up with the pace they set. Most of them have worked here for years. Also, our interns, Tilly and Zach, are a huge help and make life a lot easier for the rest of the workers. They play a big roll in keeping the place in tip top shape.


Grand Hotel Celebrates 130 Years with a Presentation from the State of Michigan

State Tribute presentation
State Representative Mr. Lee Chatfield and State Sentator Mr. Wayne Schmidt presented the Musser family with a State Tribute on behalf of the State of Michigan. (Pictured: Lee Chatfield, Dan Musser, III, Marlee Brown, Mimi Cunningham, Wayne Schmidt)

July 10, 2017 – Grand Hotel’s 130th Birthday
On July 10, 1887 Grand Hotel opened its doors for the first time. 130 years ago it was owned by the Mackinac Island Hotel Company. Today, Grand Hotel is owned by the Musser family. Dan Musser, III, President and his sister Mimi Cunningham, Vice President are the third generation of their family to own and operate the hotel. It has been in their family for 85 years.

It was a perfect evening on Mackinac to recognize the historic occasion on the Front Porch. There was a reception at 6:00 p.m. for guests highlighted by a presentation of a State Tribute by State Representative Lee Chatfield and Senator Wayne Schmidt on behalf of the State of Michigan to Grand Hotel President, Dan Musser, III followed by a champagne toast to commemorate the occasion.

welcome

Grand guests
Grand guests enjoying the evening.
champagne server
Champagne for everyone!
Grand Hotel Orchestra
Grand Hotel Orchestra
Ken Hayward welcoming guests
Ken Hayward, Executive Vice President and 32 year employee of Grand Hotel, welcoming guests and introducing State Representative, Lee Chatfield. The presentation look place on the balcony of the Presidential Suite looking over the Front Porch.
Mr. Lee Chatfield presenting the State Tribute
Mr. Lee Chatfield presenting the State Tribute on behalf of the State of Michigan.
Dan Musser giving a champagne toast
Dan Musser, III President giving a champagne toast following the presentation of the Tribute.
view of guests from the balcony
A view of guests from the balcony of the Presidential Suite.
Tilly Musser (Dan and Marlee’s daughter)
Tilly Musser (Dan and Marlee’s daughter), Marlee Brown, and Dan Musser, III.
Cheers
Cheers to another 130 years!

Thank you to the State of Michigan for the recognition and to all of our guests who joined Grand Hotel and the Musser family for being part of this historic day. “Cheers to 130 years and to 130 more!”

If you were not able to view the Live presentation from the Front Porch you can view it here:


Grand Hotel 130th Anniversary Recognition Day

historic hotels of america logo

Recognizing 130 Years of legendary hospitality on the Tenth Day of July 2017

Larry Horwitz, Executive Director of Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide proclaims the 10th day of July 2017 as, Grand Hotel 130th Anniversary Recognition Day.  Grand Hotel will celebrate 130 years of legendary hospitality on the 10th day of July 2017. Mr. Horwitz presented the proclamation to Dan Musser, III President Grand Hotel on July 1, 2017 at the hotel during his recent stay.

Larry Horwitz and Dan Musser III
Larry Horwitz, Executive Director of Historic Hotels of America and Dan Musser, III President Grand Hotel

Proclamation 

Historic Hotels of America and Historic Hotels Worldwide Proclaim the 10th of July 2017 as, Grand Hotel (1887) 130th Anniversary Recognition Day. 
Whereas, The National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States founded Historic Hotels of America in 1989 to recognize, celebrate, and promote the finest historic hotels and resorts in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, and, Whereas, Grand Hotel (1887), Mackinac Island, Michigan, affectionately known as “America’s Summer Place,” was formally inducted into Historic Hotels of America on October 1, 2001, and,
Whereas, Grand Hotel (1887), since 1933 has been the beneficiary of three generations of dedicated stewardship by the Musser Family, in partnership with the Hotel’s Management Team and Associates, which has made it possible for a new generation of travelers to experience this iconic resort, and, Whereas, Grand Hotel (1887), will celebrate 130 Years of legendary hospitality on the Tenth Day of July 2017.

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Thank you to Larry Horwitz and Historic Hotels of America for recognizing Grand Hotel’s 130th Birthday in 2017 with this recognition. As a family owned hotel for three generations and in the Musser family for 85 years it is an honor to be recognized with this Proclamation this Anniversary season.

grand hotel logo