Dad¶s Apprentice Three - Background Stories In this chapter I will share some of the stories Dad told of the

exploits of his grandfather, Robbie, and his brothers that were part of family lore. Apparently the Richardson brothers were known for practical jokes and also a ³don¶t tread on us´ mentality. Too, if you remember I told you that Dad as we all do had both positive and negative experiences during his growing to be a man. I think you will agree that his experiences were of the break or make stronger type. Uncle Geordie Richardson - Info from Clarksville Centennial Booklet. George was Robert¶s (Robbie¶s) brother. They had another brother, William (Willie). They came to Canada first from Scotland and then moved to Ionia County, Michigan in 1865. George became known as Uncle Geordie in the Clarksville community. He was renowned as not only a good farmer but quite a carpenter and a showman too. At one barn raising he stood on his head on the top frame member of the barn. It was called quite a feat in the Clarksville centennial booklet. He was described as a large and rugged man. Allie Nash told the story that Willie Richardson having gone to Lowell with a load of wheat had stopped at a saloon for lunch, and this being in the time when logs were still being run on the Flat River, a big burly lumberjack accosted him and asked if he was one of the Richardson boys. When Willie retorted that he was, he gave Uncle Willie quite a beating. On his return home that evening, Uncle Willie stopped at Uncle Geordie¶s. Uncle Geordie seeing what had happened to Willie immediately,

even though it was late in the evening, hitched his team to the buggy and started for Lowell. The big lumber jack was still at the saloon when Uncle Geordie arrived. Upon the lumberjack being pointed out, Uncle Geordie told him that he had picked on the wrong Richardson that afternoon and proceeded to make up for the damage done to Uncle Willie. The Ornery Neighbor Apparently Halloween was a favorite time for pranks. One Halloween night the three brothers decided to play a joke on a neighbor who was known to be unfriendly and obnoxious to everyone. The neighbor had parked a loaded wagon full of bags of wheat just inside his barn door ready to be taken to the flour mill in the morning. He had a vicious German Shepherd dog that was very protective of his territory. They lured the dog with fresh meat and then put a muzzle on it so that it couldn¶t bark and tied it to a fence post. Then they proceeded to unload all the sacks of grain from the wagon. Next they disassembled the wagon removing the wagon box from the running gear. They then used ropes and lots of effort to pull the running gear up to the peak of the barn and positioned it to straddle the peak of the barn roof. Then they hauled up the wagon box and positioned it on the running gear and finally they pulled up the individual bags of grain and loaded them into the wagon. They waited for morning to see the neighbor¶s reaction. Of course, he came out to the barn and thought someone had stolen his wagon load of wheat. He went into the house and told his wife who came to the door to look and noticed the wagon on top of the barn. Well that caused the neighbor to get almost apoplectic. That is when the Richardson brothers showed themselves laughing and told him they would put everything back as it was. Apparently during working together with the farmer to undo the deed they became friendly and had a good relationship from then on. I can only imagine the work involved in the middle of the night to pull something like that off. But they didn¶t have TV to watch. Other tricks played were the well known classic reserved for those who were really not nice. This amounted to setting back an outhouse a few feet after dark and then waiting for the victim to go to it in the middle of the night and walk into the pit. That makes me grimace to even think about. Since the logging wheels were first made in Manistee, Michigan they were

called Michigan Logging Wheels. As you see unlike a wagon where the load is above the axle, here the load was suspended from the axle by chains. Perhaps luckily for the community, the brothers would go each winter to the north woods of Michigan to work in the White pine lumbering operations. The focal point for the work was the area that is now Houghton Lake the largest surface area lake in Michigan. It was dammed up to transform a swampy area into a water way that logs could be floated on or hauled on during winter when the lake was iced over. Usually they waited for the spring thaw having assembled large quantities of logs on the shore during the winter. This was rough and dangerous work and required constant vigilance to avoid getting seriously injured. They used double bit axes sharp enough to shave with and crosscut two-man saws to fell the trees. Axes were used for limbing and once the trunk was cut into manageable lengths the logs were dragged to a primitive ³road´ where the giant logging wheel rigs pulled by draft horses could haul the log out usually to a waterway to be floated to a mill once the ice thawed in the spring. If you know anything about Michigan winters you know it would have been cold and very hard work. By doing this work in winters the men could earn cash to use in expanding their farming operations during the rest of the year. Dad¶s Negative Formative Experiences I mentioned in Dad¶s Apprentice Two that Dad had fond memories and some bad ones. Some were really bad and left lasting marks on his psyche. The bad things included losing his Dad and older brother to strep infection complications leaving him to take care of the farm while still very young. This caused him to quit school after 11th grade (in those days they promoted them ahead if they were advanced and he was at least a year ahead of his age. Also while he was still young one day he was taking his mother to town to shop and an irresponsible driver going 70 on narrow gravel roads ran a stop sign and smashed into his car, killing his mother and almost killing him. To make it worse his two older sisters blamed him for their Mother¶s death and held it over his head as long as he lived. I never fully understood until I was visiting him in Michigan years after I had moved away from Michigan to Colorado, he asked if I would like to visit Aunt Etha who had just moved to a nursing home to be near Dad. I said sure and he took me over to where she was being cared for. During our visit, Aunt Etha mentioned how terrible it

was that Dad had been responsible for their Mom being killed in the accident. I saw Dad lower his head in shame and not say anything which made me very upset. I knew he wasn¶t to blame. The other driver was officially blamed and had to pay for Dad¶s hospital care. I talked to him on the way home and he didn¶t even remember Etha saying what she said so it had become a subliminal prod of guilt that his sisters had used to get him to do what they wanted him to for virtually his whole life. I realized that Doris had done the same thing as Etha. While helping family is a fine attribute I had wondered why whenever one of his sisters would call over some financial or other problem, Dad would jump to meet their demands. After finally realizing what was happening I never had any use for either of them again. How awful to treat your younger brother that way for your own advantage. For Dad to overcome all of that and be a good father and husband was an amazing feat.

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