My family rented a house from Lewis Grew in Merrill. His father lived nearby and had a gas station with Amoco gas. If you owned a Coleman lantern or cook stove Amoco was your gas of choice because it contained less lead than most other brands. We always had a can of gas just for our Colemans. There were big pastures behind the houses for about a quarter of a mile. The pastures were between the Owly Out Brook and a small ridge which ran northeast towards Panther Mountain. There was an old wood road which followed this ridge for a couple miles toward Panther Mountain. On the other side of the Owly Out Brook was a wood road which started at Supley’s gas station and ran about two miles northeast. This road terminated at some beaver dams on the brook at the edge of a large swamp. This area was called Stillwater. As teenagers, we hunted and fished all over the areas on both sides of the Owly Out Brook.
We converted an old horse shed into a camp near the Stillwater beaver dams. The camp could sleep four people. It wasn’t uncommon for us to attend a school dance on Friday night, catch the bus to Merrill, and hike into camp for the weekend. The road was barely passable with a four wheel drive. The only time we ever saw a vehicle was when old John Kaska would have somebody drive him in to see if Johnny Joe and Larry Joe were ok. They would drive by slow in a jeep, turn around at the beaver dam, and drive back out. They might wave at us, but never stopped to talk. We could hear them coming a mile away so the cigarettes and beer were out of sight. In the evenings we would evenly split all the kitchen stick matches for our poker games. If we tired of poker we played pinochle. Fried potatoes, eggs, bacon, and coffee always started our camp days.
In the winter Doug Begor got a wood stove out of their garage for camp. We put it on a toboggan and dragged it two miles through the snow at night. It took four of us several hours to get it to camp. We earned our heat.
We crossed a small creek on a log a few hundred feet from camp. My younger brother Preston was in camp with us on a very cold morning. We warned him to stay away from the creek. Sure enough, he fell off the log into the creek. His clothes froze so hard we had to carry him into camp because he couldn’t bend his legs. You’d a thought he had been gut shot. He spent a lot of the day drying his clothes by the stove. He was very fortunate we were close enough to assist him.
Myself, Jim Moulton, and Bob Bowden skipped school to do some camp repairs for hunting season in our senior year………..Buzz suspended us for three days.