Avenue

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Cassopolis fortunate Pecina’s in its corner

Published 9:12pm Wednesday, February 1, 2012

We hope Cassopolis appreciates its civic-minded benefactor Dr. Roger Pecina of Afdent dental clinics.
Both the Mahogany Outfitters Boat and Auto Museum, which opened in June in the former car dealership at 980 E. State St., and the Americana service station which followed, give the county seat at the juncture of two state highways, M-62 and M-60, a big booster shot in the tourism arm.
Very-visible Stone Lake Sinclair is a dead-on, labor-of-love recreation of something that never existed — at least not in that location.
But it’s done so well people know it’s there, admire this oversized glass showcase of 1952 and tell their friends, even if they missed why it’s there.
Pecina’s passion fell on Cassopolis, the Michigan City native’s home for 27 years, out of a desire “to find a way to get the village people and the lake people to work together” by “creating some points of interest.”
“It’s not about making money,” he said. “The boat museum is free. The gas station is free. Maybe by me doing something, someone else will think they want to invest some time and effort.”
Across Broadway is Holden Green, a 1926 Prohibition speakeasy which is his private refuge, but eventually could be a banquet facility.
Pecina didn’t belabor the point, but it was troubling to think his generosity was met by the village with hassles over his neon sign or wanting to make over the Ritter house into a bed-and-breakfast inn.
These additions should be points of community pride, just as the Dogwood Fine Arts Festival public sculpture collection is for Dowagiac.
He’s not done yet. Coming for summer 2012 is Flip’s retro diner (“the focal point will be the soda fountain”) with blue padded vinyl walls salvaged from a trailer company with stainless trim in the boat museum.
Down the road, there may be a retro barbershop next to Holden Green, the 19th century post office with a 38-foot bar rescued in South Bend and a unique “helm” with Chris Craft boat controls.
“The whole idea is to take something and recreate it so it’s good as new instead of letting it sit in a garbage pile somewhere. I’m a picker. (The TV show) ruined it for everybody” Pecina said. “Now everybody thinks they’re sitting on Fort Knox. Every day is like Christmas because I find stuff I forgot I bought because it was super cheap or part of a collection I already had. I’m the master of five bucks.”
So who knows what’s in store for battery-operated heated socks, a carousel of wristwatches, a totem pole, eight-track tapes, an I’d Rather be Flying license plate and Soldier Field seats?
Probably the guy who’s at a point in his life where he wonders what good two warehouses full of stuff he’s collected are if nobody sees it.
Thanks for sharing.

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