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franklin county times

Remembering simpler times with Grandpa

By Bob Stickley

My dad’s father, Earl Stickley, lived in northern Michigan in some of the wildest country. The people up there were few and far between, as were most of the towns.

The nearest store was 15 miles from his home. Grandpa and Grandma lived in a modest home made of rocks instead of any kind of wood siding or asbestos.

He was a photographer and had a studio in Lake City, some 15 miles away.

Because of the lack of stores, most people in the early 1940s lived off the land. Unfortunately they didn’t have electricity, city water or sewers.

Things were rough in those days.

As a kid I always liked to go visit them in the summer when school was out. Grandpa would take me fishing and I really enjoyed the outing we had in the wildest north country.

It wasn’t uncommon for a black bear to come onto your place and tip over the garbage cans and eat anything that even looked like food.

Deer crossed through Grandpa’s orchard by the side of his house. The would come up and eat the apples.

Grandpa was a hunter of course, since he lived off the land and didn’t have refrigerators, and would cut up his deer and put it in a saltbox to preserve it.

He also had rabbit meat, bear steaks and anything else with four legs from the wild in those saltboxes.

Come deer season, all the men in the family would congregate at Grandpa’s house. Of course, me and my cousins were there too.

Grandpa was a fiddle player and my dad played the guitar and they would play music after a day of hunting.

Grandpa tanned all his deer and bearskins and made rugs out of them. As the music began under an oil light we kids would gather these soft rugs and make a pallet around a pot-bellied stove and fall asleep as the music played on into the late night.

Of course, chores had to be done so Grandma would assign us kids to jobs such as filling the wood box and filling the water reservoir on her old warm morning cook stove.

Times were hard back in those days not long after the Great Depression. People just didn’t have much money, but they made do with what they had — amazingly they were happy.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like if we had to meet those times again. I’m afraid most people wouldn’t even make it, but those folks in those days did.

Grandpa and Grandma moved away to Florida where they lived to be 79 and 95 years old before they passed away, but many fond memories of that little two-bedroom rock house in the wildest country still remain in my mind today.

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