Our Promised Land



Arthur G. Thayer

Thayer Coat Of Arms

Copyright © 1983 with all rights reserved by Arthur George Thayer



      As the roads were extended, many tourists built cottages along the lake. The fishing and hunting were excellent around this pristine lake.

      One fall several hunters stayed in a cottage south of our farm to hunt partridge. They asked me where to hunt and I suggested they follow a little creek that flowed into Hubbard Lake near their cottage. In the fall the creek was so small that a man could jump across it, at times there was little or no water. In spots the creek went through swampy areas with thickets of cedar and alder trees, in other areas poplar trees flourished.

      It was a crisp, sunny autumn day as the hunters spaced themselves along the creek bed and started their drive. Apparently one of the hunters became lost, but he knew that he was along the creek bed. He did not hear any of the others calling him. Forgetting that the creek flowed into Hubbard Lake, he doggedly went upstream through swamps, brush and forest for six or seven miles and came to a little lake. He circled the lake and found a logging trail used by a car truck only a few times a year. By now it was dark and, just by luck, he decided to go left on the trail. Around midnight after traveling eleven or twelve miles, he came to a highway and saw a farmhouse. He woke the farmer, explained his plight, and the farmer agreed to take him to his Hubbard Lake cottage. The farmer had a Model "T" Ford. The hunter felt that Model "T" was a Cadillac as he rode to the cottage. Dad bought a double-barrel shotgun from Sears for $9.98 and a hunter used the shotgun for duck hunting. While he was hunting, he fired at some ducks and both barrels fired at once, knocking the guy down on his seat. We were wary of the gun after that -- maybe he had two fingers on the two triggers!

      In the fall of '25, as Dad walked down the road along our fields from Chris's house to the new barn a half mile away, he saw geese in our field. Quickly he went back to the house, picked up the shotgun, and tried to hide it as he proceeded down the road again. He had only one shell with buckshot. (I had shot the others.) As Dad got near, the geese took off. He aimed at the flock, winged a goose, chased it down, and we had a fine goose dinner the next day.

      Dad built a cottage on a back lot and rented it in summer and fall. Later when the road was widened, the cottage was relocated onto a front lot.

      Four fellows from Detroit came in the fall to hunt and use our cottage. Mom was always disgusted with them since they came to booze it up and "hunt" women in Alpena. The hunters were taking the women back one night when they had an accident. About halfway to Alpena (on Route 10, a gravel highway), low three or four foot fog settled over the road. Cows broke through a farmer's fence and decided to lay on the road, maybe because it was warm. Now a car, fog, and cows can foul things up on a highway. Fortunately, no one was killed except a cow. Some were hurt and the car was a mess. Quite a few questions had to be answered in Detroit and Alpena and Mom was relieved that the "hunters" did not come back the next fall. A 16' Thompson rowboat was purchased for the cottage and a dock was extended into the lake. It was hard to protect the boat from the waves when the wind was strong. In spring the water level would be high with little beach so the boat would be hoisted onto the bank, but in summer the water receded exposing a wide beach.

      One summer I made the boat into a sailboat. using equipment from the iceboat. The sail and spar were attached to the mast, which was stepped into the boat. I used a leeboard as a keel. It was an awkward ark, but would travel into the wind.

      White fish would spawn along the shore of the lake in the fall and we could see and spear them when the water was calm. My cousins and I were always concerned about a game warden, though we never saw one or knew of anyone being questioned.

      One night while we were white fishing, spearing in three or four foot water, we saw a huge fish about the size of a fence post. Since a boat was coming toward us, we all thought it prudent to go by a bit and then come back to the area. We did, but alas, we never saw the "fence post" again. Well, if it had been speared, half of the fish would have splashed up in the air.

      Three to five pound suckers (similar to carp) would come up the creeks for spawning in the spring. At night we used a kerosene torch attached to the prow of a rowboat to spear a bushel or two and then we'd smoke them. Four of us decided to go "suckering" on Sucker Creek. We did not have a torch or a gasoline lantern, so we found a pole, some chicken wire, some baling wire, and a bushel of pine knots. (Pine knots were full of resin and rotted slowly from pine trees and limbs.) Soon the pine knots were placed in a chicken wire basket. The basket dangled from the pole at an angle from the prow of the boat. Of course, the two bigger boys wanted to do the spearing first, the third boy rowed and the fourth was on the rear seat trying to raise the bow.

      The two boys at the bow with spears were provoked since the flaming torch swayed wildly with each stroke of the oars. Suddenly the boys in front saw eight or ten suckers swimming around and started spearing furiously. The two boys in the back wanted to see the action and moved forward a bit. Quickly the flaming torch made one big swoop into the creek and there was no light! Both pairs of boys were irate, the two in back because they couldn't see anything and had to row, and the two in front because they felt they had had something good messed up by the "gazers". I found the little nearby creek rewarding for two reasons. First, with hook and line, I caught two speckled trout eight or nine inches long which Mom fried for me. Second, the hard water at Uncle Chris's well would make the beans in our soup as hard as marbles. The more we simmered that soup, the harder the beans became. So I would bring soft water from the creek to Mom for our bean soup.

      In the middle of the '30s I shot a buck with my pants down! I went hunting with some men early in the morning and positioned them where I would, hopefully, be able to drive the deer to them. It was still dark when we were all set and I had to take a crap. Shortly I heard something coming from the otherside and it was moving rapidly. I stood up and aimed high in case it was a man. At 100 feet I knew it was a deer and dropped the gun to cover it. At 70 feet I saw horns and at 50 feet it smelled or saw me. I fired. A shotgun with buckshot is wicked and the deer dropped. I dressed, went over to the buck, and tagged it. A hunter arrived -- he had chased the buck to me!


                      Other Chapters

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


                      Thayer Letter


                      Tree Page


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

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