Posted by: Jim E | July 24, 2011

What?…Pasties?…The UP?…A Ferry?…Mighty Mac?…Prayer?…What’s All This?…

Now this was the post I was going to write yesterday and some songs intervened…that’s okay with me…but today…I thought we would travel…way up north to Michigan…it’s where my lovely bride was raised…it’s where we were married some 48 years ago come this August 3rd…now that is hard to believe…but it’s true…so let’s spend some quality time there today…

Oh, there are many things in the Lower Peninsula to see…but we won’t be spending much time there…we are going way north…to the UP…the Upper Peninsula…Sidebar: the lower peninsula is shaped like a mitten and it is surrounded by some of the Great Lakes…Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, Lake Erie and on the UP side, Lake Superior…so it is why it is called the Great Lakes State…the two peninsulas were connected in 1957 by the Mackinac Bridge or Big Mac or Mighty Mac…End Sidebar…

Over the years, Judie, our boys and I have traveled many times from Minnesota, through the UP, to Michigan’s lower peninsula, to see her folks and family…we have enjoyed all those trips…most of them taken “on a shoestring”, especially in those early years…but there is one place we never missed…and that was Lehto’s…what is Lehto’s you may ask…well, as you can see by the picture they sell pasties…and I will add a picture of “their pasties” because no one else can make them like Lehto’s…they are so good…and we would get some pasties to eat…and go just a little east of Lehto’s on U.S. Highway 2, up a steep grade, to Gros Cap  Roadside Park that overlooks Lake Michigan…about 100 feet above…it is beautiful…we have had some rainy days there but most are “bluebird” weather…a blue sky, so blue you can’t believe the color and the lake about the same color blue…and with the trees and beauty of the lake, it is a place I go to sometime just sitting in the living room, if you know what I mean…the last time we were there was two years ago…and Oh, those pasties were so good…Lehto’s was the original, as you may be able to read on their sign, 1947…in our family, three generations have visited and enjoyed Lehto’s…I think you should too…I could kick myself…a friend, well I have never met him, but a friend on  the “Imjustwalkin” blog we followed last summer…made a motorcycle trip up that way this summer…and I forgot to tell him about Lehto’s…sorry Raymond…

Now how did this all start…well, let me tell you a story…lets go back to about 1957 or so…Judie and her family were living in Mount Pleasant, MI…her dad was teaching in the high school there…they had 6 kids and things were tough financially…one morning as Judie’s mom was sending the kids off to school, her mom noticed their oldest daughter’s shoe…the sole was loose…she asked her about it…she said, “No one will notice.”…and went on her way…this bothered her mom but she just didn’t have money for a new pair of shoes…so as was her practice, she prayed about money for her shoes…but she didn’t know where it was going to come from…

Mount Pleasant was the home of Central Michigan College, now University…Judie’s folks had a room for rent and she had called the college a few weeks before and told them so…she now called and asked if there were any students who needed a room, they only lived two houses off campus…the lady said they were turning students away because they didn’t have rooms for them…Judie’s mom told them again, she had a room and that she had called before with that information…the lady put the phone down and rummaged through some papers…she came back to the phone and said, “I don’t know how we missed this but here it is.” …”I’ll have someone there in two minutes.”…and in a few minutes there were two young men at the door…Dan and Mike, both seniors…they looked at the room and said they would take it…they laid the money down on the table and left…it was then Judie’s mom realized that this was the money she needed for Ann’s shoes…(by the way, Mike’s last name was Lehto)…

And so the Lehto name was “gold” after the year he spent at the Yeley home…and it was not forgotten…and many is the time that Judie’s folks stopped at Mike Lehto’s mother and dad’s place of business to buy some pasties and to talk about how Mike was doing…we did the same for many years after that…so two years ago, when we went north through the lower peninsula and up to the “Big Mac” to cross over to the UP…we planned the trip so we could get to Lehto’s about lunch time…other years we went out to Mackinac Island on the ferry (notice the Mackinac Bridge behind the ferry)…and spend some time in Mackinaw City on the Lower side…but we instead crossed over to St. Ignace on the Mackinac Bridge…one of the longest suspension bridges in the world…it is beautiful…a little scary for some…one of the lanes is “see through”…it is steel grate, that you can see down the 400 feet to the Straits of Mackinac…beautiful, beautiful, beautiful…scary, scary, scary…but would do it again anytime…

Here’s a picture of our car outside Lehto’s in 1977…one of our many trips…Mr. and Mrs. Lehto, Mike’s parents, always greeted us with such warmth…and we would always talk for a while (our stomachs growling), they were wonderful…Mike’s parents are both gone from behind the counter at Lehto’s now…there is a third or fourth generation taking care of business there…but the big thing is…Lehto’s is still there…and they are the best…so Raymond, my friend, I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Lehto’s…maybe you traveled on U. S. Highway 2 across the UP and just about 6 miles or so west of the Mackinac Bridge and a little west of Gros Cap Roadside Park, overlooking beautiful Lake Michigan…maybe you found that little gem that travels way back in our family history…all from a prayer for a young girl’s shoes…a room for rent…and those who rented it…and ended in a prayer being answered…and then a generational connection to a small pasties shop way up in the UP…we are all thankful for all of that…I really hope you can someday have that great pleasure…what a great trip…hope you went along for the ride…



  1. Pasties are so good. Dad made some when they were here in April. I need to make some more.


    • Cheryl…no doubt pasties are wonderful…I wonder if your Dad’s recipe is Lehto’s???…I know it’s online…because I Googled Lehto’s and it was listed there…we got the recipe from Mr. and Mrs. Lehto years ago when we were there…but like most things, nothing substitutes for the original, if you know what I mean…(i.e. Dino’s Pizza in Chicago is only Dino’s pizza when you are at Dino’s in Chicago)…but they are so good, you are right…and you know, I have a friend who loves pasties he gets a little further west in the UP…I suppose its what you get used to…but for me…nothing can beat Lehto’s…and as my post suggests, maybe the background story of Lehto’s pasties is part of what makes them special…

      Uncle Jim

  2. I have memories of walking into that place…and sitting on the little stools at the counter while we waited for you to initiate conversation. Mrs. Lehto was always smiling, had a unique way with her makeup, and was always ready to get us whatever we wanted. I remember wondering many times if this was going to be one of those visits where they gave us our pasties for (which they did occasionally)…just cause we were friends and the story above. Then when Mr. Lehto heard who was here, he would come out. He always had a white apron on, flour on it, and one of those paper “diner” hats tilted to one side on his head. He generally did not say a lot, but was a great guy. We would go to the one end of the counter and watch him lift the hot pasties right off the pans, wrap them in that thin “food paper”, and put them in a paper bag. They smelled so good, and the bag was heavy!! A meal in your hand, and there were at least 6 of them in there. Sometimes we would get a Coke in a glass bottle, that was big time. I finally got to take Marisa there. Same newspaper clipping on the wall, same “Cash Only” sign from 50 years ago. I don’t know if they still make a certain number of pasties a day, but back then, it happened to us. We got there a little later in the afternoon and they would be sold out. That was very, very sad. I think we went across the street on those occasions to buy some from their daughter’s store (good, but not as good…different).

    Great memories Pops. Thanks to you and Mom for building them. It took work, money, and planning…but you just kept doing it.

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