My Dad (Adam Norris) and Aunt Mary Norris

Here is a picture of my dad and Aunt Mary, who was my dad’s late brother’s wife. His name was Joe Norris. They are pictured in the old house kitchen which just happened to be my favorite room of all time. That is where my grandmother did all her cooking and she was some cook. That is one kitchen that the Smithsonian should have gotten their hands on.

Just out the door there was a short hallway that I always had to duck going through that led to the outside. I remember the floor on the entry way not being too secure. Once outside the water pump was just to the right of the door almost facing the kitchen window and then just beyond that was the grainery and the old cottage.

Just across the stony driveway was the icehouse, so called because of the big freezer within that housed all kinds of great meats and vegetables. And just past that was the chicken yard.

My dad never seemed to like coming back to the farm much as those days must have been painful to him. He might have had a rough childhood growing up there. It was on this trip that was the only time I ever met my two cousins, Craig and Mark. Since they lived in Seattle and us in Indiana that was a long way to go thus Michigan was the ideal meeting place, although still a long trip for Uncle Joe and Aunt Mary.

Party Line

in the 1950s my grandmother’s house had a telephone with a party line. I had never heard of that before but when I picked up the phone once I heard two ladies talking on it together. I started to speak because I was only 10 at that time. And one lady bawled me out for interrupting their conversation. The other said isn’t he sweet to which the First Lady said no. 2 years later my grandmother got a real phone at least what I would say about it. I don’t know how people in that era could stand party phones. What if there was an emergency? Have any of you had experiences with party lines?


When I was growing up, as a lad of eight years old, my older sister and I had sort of adopted a backyard squirrel that we called Frisky for lack of a better name. He was overly friendly and would even eat right out of our hands. My mother drew the line when we both asked if it could come indoors in bad weather citing that they carried the rabies virus.

For nearly two months, Frisky would each day come right up our back stairs to get fed. Once, after a bad thunderstorm the night before, we found a dead squirrel in our backyard. It had to be Frisky because he never again mounted our backstairs in order to get fed.

My sister named him Frisky for how he frolicked throughout our backyard. He had ever so much energy to him. We both buried him in our backyard that afternoon and even my dad attended the funeral. I suppose you could call Frisky our first pet of any sort.

A few days later, our parents presented us with our first real pet, a cocker spaniel by the name of Waggles to help us overcome our loss. Yet Frisky was missed nevertheless.

Diving Dad

that rather thin fellow on the diving platform is my father AJ Norris. The AJ stood for Adam John. I’m not exactly sure where this body of water is but he is about to get a chance to join his fellows in the drink. From where he’s diving it appears to be rather shallow. I don’t know how all this came out but since my father did survive, I’m sure everything came out fine. I sure would like to know who took this photograph?

Libertyville High School

my mother Treva McCarthy attended Libertyville High School in Illinois. Now you might be asking yourself why I have tagged this with Camp Mishawaka? When I attended Camp Mishawaka as a counselor in 1969 one of the camp directors was Norm Erickson and he also attended Libertyville High School. Surprisingly he knew my mother. Even more surprising to me he told me my mother was a swinger. He also liked my mom and told me a lot about her that I di that I didn’t know before. So here I am I at Camp Mishawaka learning about my mother from virtually a complete stranger. That was a Twist to this post.

Thinking about Christmas

IMG_20171013_133728 I recall a Christmas 2 years ago when I was sitting in my easy chair gazing at the Christmas tree. To the right of me was a roaring fireplace keeping me nice and warm. Outside I could hear the wind howl as snowflakes swirled about. Yet within me that night was a peace that passes all understanding. The only gift I ever craved was a babe wrapped in swaddling Cloths. It was one of the best Christmases that I ever experienced. Let the Peace of Christ reign in you this Christmas. Merry Christmas!

Lowell Tensmeyer

IMG_20171019_062510 I’m including my friend Lowell as part of my family because in essence he was. I often referred to him as my second father. We enjoyed studying the Old Testament of the Bible often. Plus I would take counsel from him both in person and over the phone. He worked for Eli Lilly as a scientist. Sadly he passed away four years ago and I miss him to this day. In life one  rarely meets someone like Lowell.  Fortunately for me I knew him many years.

Rediscovering Tootsie Pops

even as I write this today I am enjoying a cherry Tootsie Pop. I enjoyed these as a child and I’m rediscovering them now at 70 years old. I still enjoy chocolate, cherry, Orange, and a new flavor called blue raspberry. Now Tootsie Pops come in an abundance of flavors including banana, mango, caramel, assortment of berry flavors, and peppermint. Plus there are many more flavors and they’re coming up with new ones all the time. Of course at the center of the Tootsie Pops are Tootsie Rolls. I’ve returned to the days of yesteryear- that Tootsie Roll rides Supreme again!

The cottage my grandmother disliked

my grandmother enjoyed old things and was heartbroken when the old Cottage was torn down. It had been her home since coming from Lithuania. My aunt couldn’t wait to move into the new Cottage. My grandmother missed her old kitchen and so did I. She slept on the second floor among bats. These bats are not Louisville Sluggers. It is hard to understand grandmothers. Aside from her kitchen argument everything else about the new Cottage was much better. The bed  was sure softer . But to my grandmother  that first cabin  was her only true home . She never came to accept the new one .IMG_20171016_183930

My arch enemy

IMG_20171006_142505 what you see here is my archenemy. In the event you do not know I am 6 foot 10 inches high. My mode of travel on Lakes or Rivers is a rowboat. A dingy if possible. Canoes and I get along like Fire And Gasoline. I wouldn’t trust a canoe on Solid Ground. Being so tall is a detriment for taking a canoe anywhere. My back would not tolerate the strain. Plus I would have not made a great actor playing an Indian. My personal motto is ban the canoe.

When is a Township Hall not a Township Hall?

IMG_20171003_141759 the answer to this question is quite simple. This is the Sauble Township Hall on the Eastern shores of Big Bass Lake. But in the days when my dad was a child it was known as The Big Bass Lake School. My dad was not allowed to use English at home even though it was taught at school. My grandparents were Lithuanian as was half the population around the lake. This particular school was a one-room School consisting of six grades. Any teacher must have been frustrated by such a situation including having to deal with Lithuanian families that would not allow their children to speak English at home. Comments?

Dangerous ice

  • IMG_20170921_161359 it might have happened that this author never existed. The reason why was the ice on Big Bass Lake. My father was bringing a Christmas tree home across the Frozen Big Bass Lake. As he was walking across the icy surface the Ice broke and he fell into the lake. My dad was fortunate in that he was able to find the hole and climb out. Others aren’t as fortunate. How many people walk on  unsafe ice and lose their life?