by Ronald Sortor
As a child my grandparents, Ferris and Edna Miller owned a cabin on Brodie Road. It was located next door to the Dwayne Barns farm to the south. Many of our neighbors from Monroe also had cottages in the area. These included Boudries, Tolens, Jays, and Vandenbergs.
The cabin was really rustic, kerosene lamps for light, three burner kerosene cook stove for cooking, pot belly stove and fireplace for heat, and an ice box to keep things cold, and chamber pots so we didn’t have to go out to the outhouse late at night. We got our drinking water from the flowing well on Route 604 behind the Milholin farm. Ice for the ice box came from Dwayne Barns’ ice house next door.
Truman La Fleur and his son Harry lived in a small cabin covered with black tar paper just down the street. There were just two rooms in the cabin, a bedroom and a kitchen living area. There were shelves on the wall filled with Prince Albert tobacco cans filled with nut, bolts and other hardware. Truman and Harry were both very colorful characters and preferred hunting and fishing to work any day of the week. They were always attired with plaid flannel shirts and Harry always wore big overalls. I don’t think they ever washed their clothes, they just got a new set when the old ones wore out. I don’t think they bathed very often either because they always had an air about them. You really notice that when the parked themselves between you and the pot belly stove. They watched over all of the cabins in the area and get the owners notified if anything was wrong.
Harry La Fleur with pet deer Nancy
Truman used to catch rattlesnakes for a doctor from down state that was using them to get the venom. Truman kept them in 5-gallon metal potato chip cans. Boy did that ever impress us boys, sometimes the cans were nearly full.
One summer, my parents and grandparents went to town shopping and left me and my bothers at the cabin. There were a lot of ground squirrel living in the area and my brothers and I were trying to catch them. Truman took notice of our unsuccessful attempts to catch them and came to our aid. He taught us to pour water down their holes and then trap them under a card board box went they came out of their holes. It worked great! However, we used up the entire twenty gallon supply of drinking water for the cabin catching ground squirrels. And my mother and grandmother were quite upset started preparing supper and found all of the water gone.
My brothers, the neighbor kids, and I spent a lot of time at the river swimming and fishing. We collected fishing minnows using a glass trap filled with soda crackers from a deep hole in Wilber Creek across the street from the Heilig farm. We pitched two big Army tents near what is now the swimming area in Alcona Park. Our parents rented row boats for us from George Brodie’s boat livery for a dollar a day. And we happily rowed around Alcona pond filling stringers of fish. Our parents kept us supplied with clean underwear, food and fishing bait. It was pure heaven for a bunch of young boys!