Our Promised Land

Chapter 13.     OUR HOME


Arthur G. Thayer

Thayer Coat Of Arms

Copyright © 1983 with all rights reserved by Arthur George Thayer


13.   OUR HOME

      Leaving Pittsburgh in June of 1947, we moved to a home in Rossford, Ohio. Before starting with L.O.F. Eva, Bill and I drove to Grayling and canoed down the AuSable River to Mio, spending a night in a pup tent on the shore. Bill paddled at the bow, Eva sat on the duffel bags, and I paddled at the stern. A coon visited our camp during the night trying to get food. Beccy stayed with my sister Mary while we were canoeing.

AuSable Canoe Trip

Bill paddling and Eva riding in the canoe on the AuSable River.

      A year later Eva was expecting and Eva's Mother and Dad were with us. On the 28th of May I took Bill and Beccy to Hubbard Lake for the Memorial Day weekend. The next morning I received a telephone call that Ted Chris, our second son, had arrived.

      At Hubbard Lake the sun was shining and the kids wished to go to the lake. Soon they wanted to go swimming. I told them to go ahead. Nobody was around so they shed their clothes and stepped in...and right out! The water was icy cold. They had a boat ride, a ride on a horse, and we roamed the farm, a thing we couldn't have done when we lived in Pittsburgh.

      Bill enjoyed riding on the tractor with Dad while he was cultivating. We left Bill with Mom and Dad for a few weeks, probably in the summers of 1949 and 1950, but Bill would roam around, go down to the lake and to cottages and Mom was not exactly thrilled with such chases.

      Mom loved flowers in the house and in the yard. She would have hollyhocks, spirea, mock orange, and lilacs -- and nearby would be a patch of asparagus!

      Mom always wanted a bathroom. Our outhouse was 80 feet away and, like most, rather drafty and cold in the winter. On one of our vacations, in the '40s, the outhouse had to be relocated. Well, I dug the hole and Uncle Charley Balli, Dad, and I moved it in the evening when the air was cool. When the outhouse was at an angle and halfway moved, Dad almost lost his false teeth. He caught them in his hand before they fell in the smelly pit. It was a stinky job.

      Uncle Charley came to stay with Dad and Mom in the '40s. He was a World War I veteran and had been in a Veteran's Hospital for some years. He was congenial and fit in well with Dad and Mom. He could not work hard, but would fill in the gaps. He was a kindly advisor to problesm. His son is a doctor in Coral Gables, Florida.

      Dad allowed men to take several hundred Christmas trees from the tops of the trees. A new or an old limb would take over so the stump or tree was not lost. The tree tops were trucked to Detroit and sold.

      It became evident that our Colony Road home was too small and Eva located subdivided lots on Hillside Drive. We bought three lots, two in May and one in July of 1950. The lots, a half mile from our first home, ran into Grassy Creek. We hired Mr. Pringle to level the house area and install the septic tank, its drain field, and ditches for the footer, water, and gas lines. He also graded the area for $498.98, which sounded like a Sears & Roebuck price.

      Crews of men did our cement floors, frame, and fireplace. I did the foundations, plumbing, heating, electrical work, and roofing.

      That September, Dad, Mom and Mary stopped in on their way to West Virginia. Dad commented that our porch on the creek side was not wide enough. Well, the overhang was designed to shade the house in summer and catch the sun in winter. It was a ranch home with a flat roof, no basement, and thermopane windows from Libby Owens Ford.

      During the winter, insulation and walls were installed and the following July we moved into the house with much still to be completed.

      Mary married Ed Sprague at Midland on March 31, 1951. Mom and Dad hosted the wedding. Ruth was maid of honor, Beccy was flower girl, and I was an ursher.

      In the summer we cleared much of the brush from the house to Grassy Creek and I started brick work on the outside of the house. Then in October Dad died and I found it to be too much for me to work on our home. But in the spring, the brick work began again and by summer the yard was brushed, plowed, and sodded.

      With Dad gone, Hubbard Lake wasn't home anymore. Mom cut back on many things -- cows, horses, and equipment -- but she tried to make things good. Each summer we continued to go to Hubbard Lake to be with her. Bill, Beccy and Ted certainly enjoyed the vacations on the lake and the farm. Ted would go to a little creek and catch frogs. One time he collected a frog for each finger of his left hand and one for his right hand.

      On trips north I'd tell the kids to go to the bathroom before we left, but soon someone would have to go. It was catching and I'd say, "Not 'til Bay City". To this day they talk and laugh about it.

      Every time we moved, the size of our family grew. On April 25, 1954, our second daughter, Susan Marie, arrived. Guess it's a good thing we didn't move any more and that we all love each other. Before Eva and I were married we bought an Argus slide camera and that and other cameras have captured memories and provided some good albums.

      Later that June, Ruth graduated. Mom was proud that her three children had graduated from Michigan State University.

      The next summer, taking off from Hubbard Lake, Sue, Ted, Beccy, Bill, Eva and I drove across the New Straits Bridge to the Soo, then followed the trail along Lake Superior west to Munising. On the way we looked at the Soo locks through the fence, wistfully visualizing the colorful rapids. Brown water flowed into the Tahquamenon Falls and rapids with golden or yellow spray. Here Longfellow immortalized the area with his "Song of Hiawatha". Nearby is the town of Paradise -- I believe it was once called "Hell". We tumbled, slid or ran down the huge sand dunes as we proceeded westerly on to Grand Marais.

      Staying in a cabin on a hill overlooking Grand Marais, we saw its beautiful harbor, its lighthouse and the sheltered bay where fishing and pleasure boats docked. The area reminded me of Hubbard Lake in the '20s when it was still "wild" country.

      People, such as we, drove from cottages and cabins to the Pictured Rocks and Miner's Castle for its rills and scenic views. We continued on toward Manistique and spent the night in a cabin near Brevoit along Lake Michigan.

      Crossing the bridge, we veered right to follow the trail along Lake Michigan through Cross Village and Harbor Springs to Petosky. After calling Bill and Clara McPherson for directions, we drove to their home and spent the evening and night with them. The next day we returned to Hubbard Lake.

      Mom had had heart problems for many years, but in 1956 she had a stroke that left her with speech problems and she was no longer able to take care of the farm. I found a companion for her, but it did not work out and in August she moved to Battle Creek to stay with Ruth.

      We visited Hubbard Lake while Mom was still home that summer and left early to travel by the Soo and eastward above the North Channel through Tessalon, Blind River, and into Espanola. The hot sun warmed the rugged, rocky, pine covered beaches of the Canadian shore and the air was clear through Parry Sound and Barrie along Georgian Bay. What a wonderful area to fish or hunt in. The freighters locking through the Welland Canal were interesting as were the delightful parks along the Niagara River. The mist, colors, and scenic views of the falls were new to the kids. Each had his own memories of our trip when we came home.

      In September Mom died. She was a regular church attender and when she felt things were about over, she said, "I'm happy that the Lord will take care of me." She had complete faith and hope in her religion. After Mom died, Mary, Ruth and I sold the house and farm. While I've stopped by the farm several times, memories are what I treasure.

      Ruth married Allen Dahl at Spruce Hall on October 11, l958. Mary was maid of honor, her husband Ed sang a wedding song, Sonya Dahl was the bridesmaid, daughter Sue the flower girl, Gordon Dahl bestman, Don Wakman an usher, and I walked the bride down the aisle.

      For the last few years there was rejoycing and heartaches that became remembrances of Mom and Dad's Promised Land as Mary, Ruth, and I recognized the efforts and ideals we acquired. But we were busy with our children, homes and jobs. I am happy that Bill, Beccy and Ted were able to see the field, home and lake and see Mom nestle Sue. And shortly they are soon to be adults.

Ted, friend Mike, the woodchick and Lassie.

Ted, friend Mike, the woodchick and Lassie.

      Lassie was Ted's dog. The two, with a friend, killed a woodchuck one time -- a hard thing to do without a gun! Each time the woodchuck started to his den, Lassie would bite him and throw him away from the den. Each bite would sap the woodchuck's energy.

      A large black Labrador dog came into our yard one sunshiny day, chasing a rabbit. As the big dog came bounding after the rabbit, Lassie took off after him. The rabbit changed direction and did not see Lassie. Suddenly there was rabbit, Lassie, and the big dog colliding in one big pile up. The rabbit took off unscatherd. Both dogs were surprised, but nonchalantly stood up as though nothing had happened. They forgot the rabbit quickly, checked noses and tails, the big dog left and Lassie came back to the house.

      In Pittsburgh I had had stomach aches and the doctor gave me castor oil. In Rossford I had the same problem. The doctor felt I might have diverticulitis and asked me to avoid roughage. In 1960 the diverticum broke and I had to have a colostomy. Thanks to penicillin, aureomycin, and sulfa, three months later they removed part of the bowel and performed a final operation to close the colostomy. Scars on my stomach look like a map of the logging roads near Hubbard Lake -- it's hard to say where they start and end.

      In 1962 I had a heart attack. I was lucky. I was working on the roof of our home. It was July, a hot day, and I was concerned about my work. The doctor thought I had had a mild sunstroke. In September I had heart pains and again went to the doctor. He ran an ECG test like the one I had had in June for my annual checkup. With this one, we found that the July episode was real -- there had indeed been heart damage. The doctor recommended some "preventive maintenance" and I am still going strong.


                      Other Chapters

                        1.     Atlantic
                        2.     Silica
                        3.     Oil City
                        4.     Boat Trip
                        5.     Chris's Home
                        6.     Hubbard Lake
                        7.     Hunting and Fishing
                        8.     Our Farm
                        9.     Schools
                      10.     The Depression and the 30's
                      11.     Michigan State University
                      12.     Jobs
                      13.     Our Home
    Next - - - 14.     Boating
                      15.     Trips
                      16.     The Tropics
                      17.     With The Kids
                      18.     It Is Written


                      Thayer Letter


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Copyright © 2001 with all rights reserved by William V. Thayer

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