TJ and Wind

TJ’s mother invited me to their home for lunch on a Saturday. TJ was a member of the Bradenton Boys Club. When I arrived I’m at TJ’s dog Wind. It was a beautiful dog and very friendly. In all the time I worked at the club I never asked TJ what his initials meant. His father was a big Star Trek fan and he named his son Tiberius James. Little Wonder Why TJ never used his first name. For those not in the know, Tiberius with Captain Kirk’s middle name. TJ’s father just reversed the order. I had a great afternoon with TJ’s Family and his mother is a great cook. After lunch I took a run with TJ and his dog. It was a perfect afternoon.

The Burial Mounds on Haunted Island

I’ve heard it said that the burial mounds near the old site of the haunted house are sacred Indian burial grounds. More than one person in the Big Bass Lake area has claimed that to be true. I know for a fact that my Aunt Beth once told me a similar thing about the area just behind our barn.

Had I known about all that back in the days I took boys club trips out to the haunted island at midnight, that would not have occurred. But is there FACTUAL evidence that anyone knows of for sure in regard to that area having sacred burial rites? One can’t deny that there are burial mounds on that island just north of the central part. But who’s buried there?

Maybe some local residents, more learned than I in this regard, can enlighten us all? By the way this Photograph was taken from the Big Island.

I Saw A Bear

This was the reaction for Mark Rogala when he saw a bear on the other side of the lake. It was priceless. we were not in danger of the bear as it was on the other side of the lake. It was fascinating to see but only for a moment. He got his drink of water and scampered back Into the Woods never to be seen again. The boys talked about it the rest of the day. It was about 250 yards away with the lake between it and us. It was probably more scared of us if it even took notice of us. Those are the kind of days were you just grin and Bare it.

The Eagle Has NOT Landed

As the Salesian Boys Club members and I walked on Noreika Road during one of our camping trips to our property we were suddenly enveloped by what seemed to be the shadow of a small aircraft.  However as we glanced upward we observed the massive wing span of a wonderous eagle passing overhead.  The sheer magnificence of it all took our breat away.  One of the kids just couldn’t believe how large and imposing that shadow was. 

I have seen many eagles flying over our property and somewhere on BBL and Beyond, in our video category, there is a short release of an eagle over Big Bass Lake.  However our eagle seemed much larger than the one in the video.  For that brief moment all else seemed to stand still as the boys and I took in that marvelous eagle in flight.  It was only a few seconds befofe it was out of sight and then we continud our hike toward our logging trail.  But that eagle was sure on the minds and thoughts of the boys for the rest of that hike.  It was really something to see!

The Obrien Factor

the devil made me do it was not only Flip Wilson’s slogan but also Mark O’Brien’s. Mark had a habit of doing bad things like stealing from the club. I think he was adopted as his parents were very old and did not have much control over him. At the Hoffman Estates Boys Club he did things to get himself kicked out a lot. He was also into drugs and he was only 11 years old. I tried my best to get him into club activities however he only wanted to talk to me one-on-one. Since I was a one-man director I really didn’t have time for that as I needed to be with the majority of the kids. Mark needed special attention but he would not share me so there wasn’t much I could do for him. I often wondered what happened to Mark.

Clear See-Through Ice

I have often wondered what percent of the time Big Bass Lake has clear see through ice? The kind of ice where you can actually see below the surface of the lake. I’m sure this makes for great ice skating ice as well. This would require the lack of snow. So how often is Big Bass Lake have clear ice? Only people that live year-round at the lake would know. Please leave us a comment about this issue.

Imagination Thy Name is Otis

I think the kid with the greatest imagination I’ve ever met was Otis at the Bradenton Boys Club. His Imagination in arts and crafts was fantastic. At times a Tad bizarre, but still very creative in his approach. He surprised us with absolute color in his presentation. Otis’s attitude was also very good. And he was a chef extra-ordinary on camping trips in Florida. Of course we only took one camping trip but we ate very good on that trip. Otis brought along his own spices. Now what 11 year old kid does that? Yes, Otis was a young man to remember.

The Owl and The Boys


I used to enjoy our night hikes on our property. Just past the swamps the trail angled off toward the right where we had the option of staying on the trail to the Matson Road or hanging a sharp right and moving off trail back into the depth of our forest. It was on just that occassion where our kids heard their first wild owl making a faint hooting sound which in the pitch of blackness sent shivers up and down their spine. Some had never really heard an owl before.

One of the kids thought it was a ghost and he huddled closer to me. Another laughed and said, “That’s just an old owl!” I asked him if he was sure about that and that caused him to rethink his glibness. “Isn’t it?” The hooting got louder and louder as we approached the area that the owl was situated but by the time we arrived at what I thought might be the place the owl had vanished along with his hooting. “I guess he didn’t care a hoot about us seeing him, guys”. Ouch! Yes, that was bad! For that particular night, though, that was something to be remembered by each of the kids on that hike and it was talked about on the way home back to Indiana.

The Old Swimming Hole

the boys in the Bradenton boys club in Florida showed me a swimming hole that they used that was supposedly alligator free. There was even a rope swing there. I don’t think I’ve ever seen water so blue. I chose not to swim but I did wade. We made a day of it including lunch. the boys swam as soon as we got there and then again about an hour after lunch. They actually had more fun there then when we went to the Gulf of Mexico to swim. I enjoyed the Gulf more. Even though I got a bad.sunburn there.

Tree Maintenance

Having worked with the National Forest Service for several years one thing I understand is tree maintenance. Over the years several kinds of hardwoods have come up with diseases and that is why periodic spraying of our national forests is vital to prevent more outbreaks of diseased trees.

The easiest way is to spray by air as it saturates the entire area with chemicals that can reduce tree disease. These are akin to crop dusters that help prevent plant diseases. Since a national forests reputation, as it is, depends on trees, it is vital to have a tree maintenance program for without it, our nations forests would soon disappear or be populated with dead trees.

Already the Manistee National Forest has been thinned somewhat with new homes going in and new businesses that have taken the tree line further from various roads across the area. I am ever so happy much of the acreage is under federal protection. Trees are in a large part my business and I want them preserved so that people can enjoy them for centuries.