Friday, August 23, 2013

SOO HILL, DANFORTH AND A TRACTOR MODEL.

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Old school chums make great guides. Bernice’s sister, Marie spent the day with us, searching for a house in Danforth where we lived and for the Soo Hill Elementary school we attended. Note:  My Michigan map does not have the little town of Soo Hill or Danforth on it. In 2006, with my brother and sister, our search failed to lead us from memory to either place.
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Jim decided to stay at the farm and work on his electrical connection with Mark Patrick’s help. They were hard at it when we left.
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In thirty minutes,  I was planted in front of Soo Hill Elementary school which is  outside of Escanaba. Not surprising, this was no little two-room school house. Arlene Johnson was putting up signs in front of the school and in two winks we were inside searching scrapbooks for photos.  She called her mother to ask about  personal photos-yup!  She set up a time for us to meet after she got off work. People in small towns are unbelievably helpful and friendly.
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On we trod. Danforth isn’t a town, it is a place that may have been a town at some early date. Someone tried to build a business complex along the Old Danforth Road and it failed. It was on the site of an old drive-in movie lot which reminded me of taking the school bus to Soo Hill with a bedroll and a lunch box packed for dinner. With a note from our parents, the driver let us off at the drive-in where we sat on the ground and watched the “show”. Then, after a long day, the long walk home at eleven p.m. (About 5 miles.)
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I knew that our house on Danforth road was located south of the Kurth farm. I found a Kurth family in the phone book. He was a relative and knew how to find it the farm. He warned me, “…the house is remodeled, the barn burned down…”  My school chum, Betty Kurth,  is married and lives in Green Bay, he couldn’t  remember her married name.  It was enough to get us to the right place. The house above with some old outbuildings in back. Albert Kurth had a dairy at this place. Older daughter, Louise Kurth, with muscles like a man, milked about 10 cows every day after school.  Betty and I shoveled a lot of manure before we could play in the hay loft.
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The house I lived in no longer exists but we found the spot. It was torn down for this uninteresting new place. Me thinks we should have made this trip about 20 years ago. My most vivid memory of living here was bicycling down the highway from Kurth’s headed home. My foot slipped off the petal and hit the asphalt. It sent me and the bike cartwheeling into the air and I landed in a ditch beside the road with the bike on top of me.  Knocked unconscious, I woke up looking at a beautiful black sky filled with stars wondering why it was night-time.  I had a few scrapes and bruises, but seemed none the worse for my accident.
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At 3:30 we met Arlene Johnson, left, her sister Kris Leonard in blue, and mother Theresa Johnson who raised eleven children who all attended Soo Hill Elementary. What a nice family to put themselves out to make my day.
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From Mrs. Johnson’s pictures, the front of the school with she far right and six of her kids.
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Unique about this school was a central staircase with one classroom to the left and another to the right. In the center was a tiny library. Kindergarten through 4th grade had the only bathroom.  Then 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders  had the room on the right. The cafeteria was in the basement. We were served wonderful home-cooked meals by Mary Bink. Teachers at that time Mrs. Gleick, and Mrs. Carlson. The Johnson family agreed with me that Mrs. Gleick was mean and should never have taught school.
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We returned to the farm where I wanted a picture with a tractor like my paternal grandfather’s.
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This is the newest tractor, only four years old.
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Well, this is fun. I’ve decided to become a tractor model. Whoo, whoo.
My blog got interrupted this morning and I wanted to revamp a bit of how Bernice and I got together again after over 60 years of separation.
I blogged this when she, her sister, another neighbor, Pat Robinson and her husband Richard, visited me in Murphys in 2009. When our house burned to the ground, we literally had only the clothes on our backs and we spent one night with Bernice’s family and the next day, we were put up in a two room shack called the “Warmuth’s Place.” img448My 1st Communion after the fire. We moved to Warmuth's  old two room shack.
I made First Communion there. My dad fumigated the chicken coop, screened the openings, and the boys and my uncle Marvin, who was living with us slept in the coop. Sister Dawn and I slept in the small kitchen, my folks in the only bedroom. Thankfully, short-lived. From there to Robinette’s camp. And from there to Kingsford, MI. where my dad got work at the Kingsford Ford Plant. (Now Kingsford Charcoal.)
The point is, once we moved from the area, I never saw Bernice and neighbor Pat Robinson again.  During the computer age, Pat found somebody who knew where my brother was, called him, got my phone number, and the deed was done. They came to Murphys for a visit and I sent them all home with gold we had panned from a dry creek. We had a lot of fun. That blog was Sept. of 2009.

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