Telling Tales

I was posting some stuff over at Wolfmoon’s Q-Tree & wanted to keep some of these items for future reference.  Most of what I shared is about my family’s experiences in Michigan over the generations.  These tales are told to the best of my recall & were brought to mind starting with the tweet posted of a farmer trying to create a firebreak to save his crops…

Here is the link for where you can find this material originally:

Valerie Curren

This one reminds me of a family story I like to call “And the Wind Turned”…

My grandfather was a young child in the early 1900’s visiting his grandparents on their old homestead farm in mid Michigan. They were awakened in the middle of the night by the roar of flames in the forest adjacent to the property. My GGGrandparents woke up my grandpa & they loaded up the wagon with most of their possessions & wet down a rug to lay over the top, hitched the horses, & waited to see what would happen. I think my grandpa, who was quite young had to stay in the wagon & his grandparents were pouring buckets of water on the roof of the house & perhaps of the barn too. The flames started licking along the wood fence on the perimeter of the property & these 2 retirement age MidWesterners prepared to drive away & restart w/ no insurance, the possessions in their wagon, & their lives…& then the wind turned & blew the fire back on itself & it eventually went out. I think my family’s journey would have been a tad different had they been burned out as elderly but hardy farm folk that day.

This farmer is a hero. I hope he succeeded in saving his crops & moar!

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Looks to me like that crop had already been harvested.

That Farmer was probably doing that to try and head off the fire from reaching his home and barns.

He was running his discer to turn up the dirt and make a fire-break.
I hope it worked!

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Valerie Curren

I hope so too! That was way to close to that line of fire for comfort!!!

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awesome, inspiring story Valerie!
fight for what yours but be ready to leave to protect what’s most important!

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Valerie Curren

Yes! When my grandpa died he had very little left to his name financially, I think I got $100 as an inheritance as one of his 5 grandkids. He did leave us The Cottage owned jointly by my dad & his sister which we lived at in our early marriage. Apparently he almost signed the deed over to the Masons to guarantee himself a place in a retirement home but thankfully that never happened. He also left my dad & aunt part ownership in a one-room tar paper hunting shack in Michigan’s North Woods. My husband got put on the deed of that place early in our marriage (I’m not on it) & Hunting Season (bow opened Today!) is a big deal to our family & thankfully 3 of our 4 kids love it–we’re still tentatively working on Josiah in that arena. He loves being Up at the Shack for hunting but isn’t (yet) ready to become a hunter, if ever. His special needs complicate that whole adventure!

My grandpa, his cousin, & a couple friends were the original owners of The Shack. They used to hunt on the land where the Shack now sits & would camp there during hunting season for years, begging the then owner farmer to sell them a small plot so they could put up buildings instead of tents & for years he refused. One year they invited the farmer into camp to share a meal. They had a large canvas tent w/ a wood burning stove that was the cook tent. Well a spark fell on the canvas & the whole tent went up in flames quicker than they could drop it to the ground.

The farmer decided that was no way to live so he sold them one acre on the edge of his land. It was a long skinny rectangle w/ a 2 track running through it. The deer camp was large enough to actually build 2 shacks, though the guys across the street got the larger portion of the land & put up better facilities, though most of them live near by that Northern Michigan woodland while most of Our Shack hail from Metro Detroit.

Back in the day, before the buildings, they dubbed the location “Piscopalian Valley” & there was a nice wooden plaque w/ that moniker burned into it that hung over the porch across the street. Unfortunately that sign was stolen a few years ago which is crazy because no one but our groups would even know of that name as is was Extremely Local. It was for Piss Go in the Pail! not a slam on Episcopalians.

My grandpa’s cousin’s father who came to hunting camp until his death was known as “the Mayor of Piscopalian Valley” since he would make the rounds of the various hunting camps & the horse camp (there is “the blue horse trail” camp nearby & that trail crosses MI’s lower peninsula for horseback riding) & learn all the news & gossip of the area so he was Always up to speed on the hunt & beyond!

A number of years ago my dad & his close friend & hunting buddy (who only got put on the deed of the Shack after 30+ years in camp) bought a nearby shack on the hill behind our Shack. That place was called “the Luzerne Hilton” by the prior owners, so it’s now “the Hilton” to our guys. My family mostly likes to stay in the Hilton & the old timers & my brother’s gang stay in the Shack. However, for the first time this year my 2 older sons will be bringing companions to deer camp so we’ll have Currens in the Shack & the Hilton. Next weekend will be a big deal hunt!

I can’t wait for all the stories once they get back from deer camp!!! It’s a huge tradition to download many of their tales after the hunt, sometimes before they even catch a shower! Getting out into the woods, wood duty, camaraderie, & tales mostly of getting skunked on the hunt are just awesome. Most of my family Hate coming back down into the city after a couple days “living like rats” at the Shack!!!OK, I’m just hitting post w/out checking because it’s so long….sorry for any typos!

As a final note I’m super thankful that both my daughter & daughter-in-law have embraced hunting!!! My generation Never had women in deer camp. My aunt claims to have been hunting but I don’t think it was in our hunting camps…She did host a bunch of girl descendants of the Shack guys a few years back when the Hilton was owned by our group over a Youth Hunt weekend. Unfortunately Only my daughter Clarissa of that group of cousins & friends has continued on as a hunter…& she loves to hunt!!! Good Times, even vicariously…

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thanks for sharing so many good stories!!
my granddaughter went hunting last year for the first time and shot an 8 point buck…she is hooked on it now. I am not much for hunting, but they hunt as a family on my son-in-law’s family farm.
this year they may come up here for bear season tho–granddaughter and daughter will NOT participate in that particular hunt tho–bears are too daunting (thank goodness!)

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Valerie Curren

I don’t know if anyone has ever Seen, let alone Shot, an 8 point in our camp. You can find such big bucks downstate on farmland but not in the dicier Northwoods, at least not outside of the places where they feed the deer for those fancy private hunting camps.

Our guys have never done bear hunting though they occasionally run across bear sign & cat sign (hopefully lynx or bobcat & Not mountain lion). There is some talk of bounty predator hunting for coyotes, my husband heard all about it from the shack across the street, but that hasn’t happened yet for our group. My daughter wants to go for coyotes but my middle son doesn’t think he can stomach shooting anything that looks like a dog…

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my son-in-law never travels after dark around the farm without a gun…he hears the coyotes all the time…
we’ve seen a twelve pointer up here during the rut so they’re around…and we do see bears some times.

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Valerie Curren

That all sounds amazing!

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Cuppa Covfefe

Reminds me of the woman who saw off her hubby and his buddies going hunting, and was amazed when they were back only a half hour later.

“Honey, what happened? Are y’all OK???”…

“Well, we’z a goin’ along quite fine, but then there was a sign in the road”…


“Sign said, BEAR LEFT”, so we turned around and came home…

(Must’ve been Democrats. Then again, those dogs don’t hunt.)…..

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thanks for the laugh!!!!

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Valerie Curren


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Valerie Curren

OK, just a bit more…A couple years back I hit the resale store in the town near my parents’ Cottage for the first time ever & discovered this gem on CD, which I gave to my girls!

my husband sent the link to his hunting buddy who commented on the “hillbilly rocker” who appears around 2 minutes in. He’s like a seeming cousin of Ted Nugent (not literally) who used to hunt those beautiful Michigan Northwoods, where I believe that video was filmed…

If you do watch the video All the way through there’s a little treat at the end! So this song gets busted out every deer season, at least by me, for fun. Neither of our shacks look Anything as nice as that deer camp–those chicks have the posh pad!

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so cool!

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Valerie, thanks for that little anecdote.
and a very welcome outcome.

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Valerie Curren

Amen! I’m so thankful that they didn’t get burned out. I hope that farmer & his property are OK too…

My grandpa was born & lived in Detroit his whole life until retirement following the race riots & moving permanently Up North to the then finally winterized Cottage. His own dad was raised on that farm but went to work in Michigan’s North Woods in the lumber industry as a young adolescent, like age 12 or 13. He found favor w/ the boss when he stood up for & defended the bosses “city boy” son who was in camp w/ the lumber jacks to learn the business. Eventually my Ggrandfather became the foreman & when the woods work was done the boss asked him to manage his lumberyard in Detroit, which is how my grandpa was born there. Grandpa’s oldest sibling was born in some community (that I’m not sure still exists) called Sawyerville.

It must have been a pretty intense “adventure” for a city kid to experience that fire nearly burning out his grandparents on their farm.

As a side note my grandpa ran his own gas station at Junction & Toledo in Detroit but never owned the building. He tried to convince his landlord to sell him the building numerous times but he wouldn’t budge. When the race riots destroyed segments of Detroit & my grandpa decided to retire (they were driving w/ my aunt & her family on a cross country adventure to Alaska) he had an offer to buy his gas station business but since the building was a rental the deal fell through. I think Grandpa just liquidated his assets & A Lot of his tools are still in the garage at The Cottage along with his sign “Stoddard’s Superior Service”.

Tragically I believe that gas station has remained empty ever since the late 60’s as testament to the demise of much of what was good in Detroit back in the day.

My dad once said of a “vulcanizing” machine that grandpa had at his gas station that it should have been put in a museum for it practically kept Detroit on wheels during WWII when regular people couldn’t get tires so grandpa’s ability to patch worn tires kept a lot of people in functioning transportation!

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