Ed’s House Looking Great

These are photographs of Ed’s new sided home. The house is looking really good. I like the deck that he has on his house and that middle section behind his house. I have another shot that gave me from the vantage point of Big Bass Lake. With that beautiful house, Ed will have to do something with that pier.

The Funnel Cloud Near Big Bass Lake

On a trip to our property with the Hoffman Estates Boys Club a funnel cloud was observed near our field and over a neighbors property while we were starting a hike which was ever so quickly cancelled. The funnel cloud was moving away from us but with those things one doesn’t tempt fate.

We returned to our beachfront camping area as fast as we could and got to the lowest point there to ride that storm out. Only the storm never came as it was moving to the southwest at a rapid pace. All we received was a brief period of wind. Some of the boys had never seen a funnel cloud before as that was a one time moment for them.

The kids were rather quiet that afternoon choosing to remain at camp. Ever so often, though, I noticed their eyes go skyward just to make sure that storm had passed. Within an hour the sun was back out and all was forgotten but for that one hour it was rather tense at our camp. At campfire that evening that was the topic of the day.

Michael, in particular, was up to talking about that experience and then the others joined in. One of the kids joked about that happening on the night we were going to go to the haunted house citing that they would have opted to spend the night on the island rather than crossing Big Bass Lake with that thing in the area. Only at night they never would have seen that funnel to begin with until it was too late. That was the only time that a funnel cloud was observed on any of our trips to our property.

Tubing Again on Big Bass Lake

Ah, it’s the time of the year 4 speed boats ramping up there’s speed to tow skiers and tubers alike. What great fun it is to go around the five Islands on the lake. There is no speed limit on Big Bass Lake so watch out if you’re on a rowboat or a canoe. Even the rare sailboat is at risk due to high wakes on the lake. I’ve even seen a hang glider towed by a speedboat and that’s quite a sight to see. I just hope the glider never gets an itch up there when the tendency to scratch it. But what a view they must get of the lake! Have fun everyone but stay safe.

The Still at Big Bass Lake

Bass Lake EveningStill

In the 1920’s, I just learned that my grandmother, Barbara Noreika, was once arrested for making moonshine. No, not the kind that glows on Big Bass Lake, but the kind of stuff that my grandfather once sold at his bar in Wisconsin before making the move to the farm. No doubt this moonshine made by my grandmother was prepared for my grandfather. I wonder if Elliot Ness was in on the bust?

My grandmother, I am sure, would have rather been in the kitchen preparing pasti with cole slaw over that of that other activity. Farm life then was difficult as the family faired largely on chicken, eggs, and milk, all home grown or produced by the animals of the farm.

There was a Lithuanian language barrier in the area and thus many people like my grandparents were segregated. Yet, like the Amish, they came together for barn raisings, to cut hay, and of course for social gatherings.

You just never know what things one might find out about their grandparents these days!

The Green Hand

When I was 9 years old I attended Tower camp at Sawyer Michigan. On the second night my counselor told us about the green hand. He said every so often a mysterious green hand reaches up from under Lake Michigan and pulls people underwater. In my cabin there were eight boys and at our first swim at Lake Michigan none of us went in. We waded in very shallow water. That night our counselor told us he was just kidding about the green hand and he didn’t think we took him seriously. We all looked at one another and told him we believed him. He apologized and the next day we had a great swim in Lake Michigan. To get there we had to go over Mount Baldy a large sand dune. Swimming was much better after that.

The Last Day of a Trip

The last day of any camping trip to our property on Big Bass Lake was always bittersweet. As the kids folded up the tents to be stored in our grainery on the way out they had bittersweet memories. Sure, they were going back to their own towns and families but this period of independence was about over. They thought back to the visit to the Haunted Island at midnight, the trips to the Pine River Bridge near Wellston or the visit to the Lake Michigan Recreational Area for swimming, or even the night hike down the Bloody Antler Trail as those times were about over.

They talked some about those things during the last campfire the night before. They laughed at how much fun they had swimming, boating, or fishing on Big Bass Lake. They even talked warmly about their camp chores, except for cleaning the latrine. They wouldn’t miss that part at all. They spoke of the night hikes on our property in the deep forest and of picking blackberries to go with cattail pancakes which they made for themselves on the trip.

As they loaded up my station wagon they glanced about at the forest and Noreika Road, taking in many memories and some for the last time. Yes, some trips had repeat campers but some would never come back to this place. And, as we drove past the Big Bass Lake Store for the last time, they knew their trip was at an end. Sure, there were many miles before we reached either Columbus, Ohio, Marion, Indiana, or Hoffman Estates, Illinois, but the trip home was often more relaxed.

Rarely did I hear that refrain on the way back to wherever the kids came from, “Are we there yet, or, how many miles are left to go?” As we sped along the kids would talk openly about all their experiences which made the return trip go all the faster.

We always stopped for a snack once leaving the Manistee National Forest near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and for the kids that was the last vestage of their camping experience as from them on only cities and flat farm land was left to see. But, what memories they would have for the rest of their lives!

More Ghosts of Camp Sauble

What happened at this building at Camp Sauble in the last month? A couple were walking the road just outside this building when they heard noises coming from inside even though the building has been deserted for years. The man quickly scanned the building by entering through a door. He found it completely empty and as soon as he got outside they both heard noises again. This time they both ended the home cautiously and again nothing was inside. The woman noticed the floor and there were no Footprints but their own. They returned to the road to continue their walk when the noises again occurred. This time they walked faster away from the building. What were these noises? Is the camp haunted? That couple sure thinks so. And they won’t be back. I wonder what really happened there?

New Property Next to Public Landing

This picture shows the last new home on our former property that is nearest to Big Bass Lake Road. Some of their small boats are anchored close to the swamp. From our old pier, there was a windy trails along the shore of Big Bass Lake heading south. Toward where you see those docks the trail angled upward toward Big Bass Lake Road and it was the course I often took to get the mail.

I did so because it was a shady walk over the walk down our driveway in the hot sun. In the 1950’s there was no public landing as that area belonged to Frank Benish and he had his pier there through a section of that swamp. I often wonder how people got their speedboats out of the lake before the public landing. That must have been a lot harder.

Anyone care to let us know for those on the lake in the 50’s and 60’s?

Turtle Island Almost On Ice

Turtle Island lies slightly north of Four Winds Island and some today know it as Pirates Island. It has several trees on it and is today privately owned. Today it is close to 93 degrees so this scene feels like air conditioning to me. As you can see the ice is beginning to form on Big Bass Lake as this has been a rather warm winter by most standards. In fact, only 16% of the United States has a snow cover.

Today some people use Turtle Island for tent camping and that’s about all. It is the second smallest island on BigBass Lake and one that we covered in early December displaying a multitude of pictures both on and around the island. It was once owned by the Manistee National Forest.

Sunrise in Camping

Sunrise was my favorite time of the day while on camping trips with various boys clubs. There were always a few kids up before me and some were gathering wood or getting the morning fire started for breakfast. Some were even doing some fishing on the shore. As even more kids woke up they visited the clothesline to get their wet swimming suits back into their tents.

The Hoffman Estates Boys Club kids on one particular trip were making bacon and eggs using both fire pits. The aroma of the buttery scrambled eggs just filled the campsite and soon thereafter everyone was up. The bacon took a tad longer but soon the kids were gobbling down their hot breakfast ever so fast.

Sleep was rubbed from their eyes and a few boys went down to the lake to wash their faces in the cool water of Big Bass Lake. After mornng chores which basically consisted of cleaning out their tents, the boys took a short swim before leaving for a trip to the Pine River near Wellston.

Nearly every sunrise was treated differently but sleep was always broken up by reville from Camp Martin Johnson on the north side of the lake. The sounds of that bugle could be heard over the waters almost as clearly as they were heard by the campers at that facility. Even though some kids grumbled about it at our camp it still gave the feel that the boys were attending a real summer camp. I later learned that the bugle we thought we were hearing was just a recording.

North Island View Lane Now and Then

This is what North Island View Lane appears like today and this photograph was taken from Big Bass Lake Road. What you can observe to your left are new homes where farm field and an orchard once stood. The roadway is also now paved fully. But what you can see to your left is the same farm field you will observe in my second photograph.

Each new home has a freshly paved driveway and docks on Big Bass Lake.  The closest new home to Big Bass Lake is right next to the Public Landing.  I’m not sure that was a wise place to build as the noise level from the landing can be extreme at times. 

Prior to our property being sold in 2002, the land appeared somewhat different.  The yellow garage in the distance was painted white when my grandparents owned the land and it replaced the old cabin which you can see now.

Here, the driveway is unpaved and rather primitive. It is where I found rocks to skip on Big Bass Lake when I was a young boy. The orchard, near the house, was removed when a tree disease overtook our trees.  Those trees grew apples and cherries and produced many a pie from my grandmother.

What remains in both pictures is our farm land to the left which extends all the way to Noreika Road skirting Big Bass Lake Road all the way.  Quite a difference in the two views is it not?

Belding Cabin

One thing I liked about Belding cabin was the center area. There were four wings in this cabin and the center area in the middle. Being in the northern part of Minnesota some nights got extremely cold especially early in June. The times that we could light a fire and just talk to the boys was special. At times we would have a sing along or roast marshmallows or tell ghost stories. You really got to know the boys at that time. Sometimes they asked us questions and a conversation developed. But all the time we were talking we could hear the crackle of the fire and feel its warmth. Times like those I never wanted them to end. It was a special time with the boys and I think they enjoyed it as much as we did. It’s what made Camp Mishawaka something special.