Boys will be boys. Mischief and shenanigans.

Over the years I have managed staying out of serious trouble. However, I was not an angel in many ways. I don’t think I was mean or hurtful. But I did seem to go off the track from time to time. Let me tell you now of some of my transgressions.

Typical Road work

The first mischief I can remember getting into was on Highland Avenue in Battle Creek Michigan. It was the summer of 1962. My friend Dave and I had come across some road work a few blocks up from my house. We road our bikes up to the glorious construction work and parked our bikes. In the middle of the road was this huge hole. It looked 50 foot deep to us small lads. In reality the hole was at the most 20 feet deep.

Well Dave and I thought it great fun to push dirt from the giant mound down into the pit below. It made a wonderful cloud that practically covered the construction site. It was great fun until the cops came and sent us home with a promise that our parents will be contacted. At this comment from the cop our hearts filled with fear. We both new we were in trouble. We were turned over to our parents for punishment. I was grounded for a week. And it was the first time for both of us to be in trouble with the law.


The second indecent in 1967 involved fireworks. Fire crackers are and as far as I know illegal in Michigan. I had recently got some from a friend who’s family had smuggled some in from a neighboring state that allowed fire crackers. I remember my friend had M-80s and cherry bombs to. I only wanted fire crackers so I bought a couple of packs from him.

I was in a bowling league in Jr. High. After school a school bus took us to Knotkeys bowling alley to play. We would play the other teams in our league to see who was the best.

In a break between games I went out front of the bowling alley and leaned up against the wall. Then I proceeded to light fire crackers one by one. It was glorious until……the hand of the law came down on me both literally and figuratively. As I was about to light just one more fire crackers a hand came down on my shoulder and spun me around. It was the cop that hung around the alley to handle cases very much like this. I was busted. My parents were called and I was turned over in their custody. I was grounded for a month.

Sears Mini Bike

The third time I can recall that I got into trouble with the law was in the winter of 1967. I had that summer received my first motor vehicle. A sears mini bike with a 5HP Brigs and Stratton engine. It was my pride and joy. I has recent obtained a 1964 Michigan motorcycle license plate. It was the wrong color an it displayed the wrong date. So I painted it and painted in the right date and attached it to the back of my mini bike.

I had planned on driving out to D drive north, a road near us. I figured that with the fake license plate attached all was cool. All was not cool. I did not realize that my little sears mini bike was not license able. It had no head light. It had tail light or stop light. It had no turn signals. So a policeman would not even have to look at the plate to know that something was not right.

So here I am driving top speed (Top speed for this vehicle was about 30MPH) down D drive north when a state trooper pulls behind me. We continue on for awhile and then the blue lights come on and the trooper squawked the siren.

I pulled over and the trooper approached me and asked me for my license. I was 13. I had no license. Sheepishly I said “I don’t have a license sir.” How old are you?” asked the trooper. “13” I said looking at my shoes. “Well” said the trooper. “Get on your mini bike and head for home. I will follow you.” ‘Oh God.’ I thought. ‘I’m in for it now!’

So he followed me home and then had a talk with my dad. After some time the trooper left. Dad told me that he was to bring me down to the station to determine my punishment. I was terrified! Were they going to lock me up?

So dad drove me to the police station and we went in. I was scared. I was turned over to a sergeant who gave me a good chewing out. Then he took me back to where the cells were and told me to get in. Then he slammed the cell shut! Then he said “How does it feel to be a criminal?’ At this point I was close to tears. “It don’t feel good sir.” I sad with a faint voice. “I may have a way for you not to be locked up. Are you interested?” I said in a very weak voice still looking at my shoes “yes”. He said “Look at me Jim. I can’t hear you. I said are you interested in a way out of this trouble?” I looked at him with a worried look and said “Yes. I am interested!”

So the state trooper unlocked the cell and motioned me out. Secretly dad and the trooper had set this up to put the fear of the law in me. To teach me a lesson if you will. Both my dad and the sergeant and been trying hard not to laugh or even smile as they watched me squirm over my predicament. The sergeant sat me down and handed me a 1967 Michigan drivers handbook. “Take this handbook and copy it from cover to cover and return it here in three days. If your assignment is not finished in 3 days then we will have to resort to a more harsh punishment” he said motioning to the door that led to the cells in back. I told him I would do it.

So after school each night I sat at the breakfast nook copying and copying and copying. I did not know this at the time but me reading and then writing it out taught me a lot about driving. The knowledge stuck in my young brain. The state trooper was wise to do this. I completed the assignment and returned it to the station in time.

A VW Bug

Now the forth and last time I got in trouble with the law was in the summer of 1968. Greg Habenicht, two of Greg’s cousins, Carlos Washington and myself had a campout in Greg’s yard. As I have written before, campouts were not a time for sitting around the campfire and singing and then going off to sleep in our tents. No no. Camping was a time for mischief and roaming the neighborhood like tough heathens from hell. We had already done some mischievous stuff that evening. Creating gigantic burning peace signs on Boyer road. Stealing watermelons from Mulvanys farm. Taking a goose from a farmers pen and putting it in the car. I shudder now to think of the mess that goose made!

As we were walking down Boyer road one of Greg’s cousins got in a VW bug and put it in neutral. he pushed it out into the road and soon we were all pushing the car down the street. As soon as the car left the driveway, it became grand larceny. Very serious. Well little did we know that the owner of the VW was awake and ran out and chased us down the street. He caught one of Greg’s cousins and brought him back to the house and called the police. We hid behind a house and watched as the police car drove down the street towards the scene of the crime. We had to go back and face the music. So we did. Greg cursed out his cousin for being to slow and getting caught. The police got our names and called our parents and soon they arrived. It was 3 AM and they were not happy. Betty Habenicht chewed us out mercilessly. If we tried to talk she just yelled “Shut up”. So there we stood looking at our feet and in serious trouble.

Lucky for us the man did not press charges. We were released to the custody of our parents. Greg, Carlos, and I were grounded for the rest of the summer. And it was only June. So a long boring summer was ahead of us. But all three of us learned a valuable lesson. To respect other people property as you would hope they would do in return. I never got into trouble with the law again

Skiing with Glen, Dave, and Greg Habenicht


In 1967 I went on a skiing trip with the Habenichts. I am not sure exactly where in Michigan the hills were. However it was around a two hour drive. And the hills were great! anything from a very slow granny hill to an advanced bone crushing speed filled hill!

We all had out own skis and equipment so we loaded up Mr. Habenichts car and off we went. We arrived and checked in and paid out tow fees. Then the fun began. Greg and I started out on the beginner hill. Glen and Dave went straight away to the advanced hill.

Beginner Ski Hill

I had already had some experience skiing at Binder Park near Battle Creek. Mom would pack us kids up and off we would go. It was not a steep hill. However it was a fun hill and a perfect hill to learn on. It was there that I learned how to control the skis. How to snowplow. How to pick up the back of the skis and point the skis in the desired direction. Binder Park did not have ski chairs. It had a ski rope that was run by an old tractor. the tractor was up on blocks and the rope ran around a modified tractor wheel. Then the ski rope would go up the hill to a pully at the top of the hill. It was primitive and it worked just fine. Mom would have to buy me new ski gloves each year as I wore them out on the ski rope. By the end of the skiing season they would be shredded by the rope.

Intermediate Ski Hill

So back to the hill we were at. Greg and I winded our way down the beginner hill at a leisurely pace. It was so fun. However after a few times down the hill we yearned for more speed. So we headed over to the intermediate hill. Much better. There were some small whoop de doos that we could jump. And the speed had increased. This was more like it! Greg and I rode the chair up and did this hill a number of times until we decided it was time to take on the advanced hill. I was not sure I wanted to but I went along with it and I was determined to at least try it!

Advanced Ski Hill

We rode the chair up one more time from the intermediate hill and took the trail to the advanced hill. It was steep! It was fast! It had big whoop de doos! And it looked scary! Greg and I stood at the top of the hill and looked it over. We decided we would give it a try. So we both pushed of and started down the hill. Our speed increased and we managed to stay up until we reached the whoop de doos. We hit them and simultaneously we flew through the air, arms and legs flaying and we both wiped out in the snow! I remember snow being pushed up my nose, However we were unhurt and happy. We tried the hill once more with the same results. So the remainder of our skiing that day we spent on the intermediate hill. of course Glen and Dave were experts and they negotiated the advanced hill with no problems.

Then after we went down to the coffee shop to unthaw and have some hot chocolate! It was a very fun day in the cold and snow so long ago!

Three Camping Trips to Spider Lake

Spider Lake Michigan

In the 60s my family loved to go camping. In the early 60s we pitched a tent when we went camping. Later on around 1964 dad purchased a small Shasta travel trailer. I remember three camping trips. Let me tell you about them now.

In 1963 dad packed up the car with the tent and camping supplies and we headed north from Battle Creek Michigan to Spider Lake. Dad told me to pick a friend to come with us. I picked my friend Pat that lived near me. I went over to Greg Habenichts to borrow a sleeping bag for Pat. We got Pat’s parents approval and off we went. Spider Lake is a 450-acre (180 ha) “all-sports” lake located about twenty minutes southeast of Downtown Traverse City in Grand Traverse County, Michigan. Spider Lake teems with bass, bluegill, perch, pike, and crappie contained within 29 miles (47 km) of shoreline. There are several vacation rentals and small resorts all around the lake as well as jet-ski rentals and many other water sports.

A typical camp setup

We pulled into the camping area and mom and dad set up the tents while Pat and I unpacked the car. Afterwards mom fixed a dinner for our first meal camping.


Dad had started a fire and Pat and I were both playing with it. Burning sticks and so forth. We had got in kind of late so dad instructed Pat and I to brush our teeth and get into our sleeping bags. We did just that.

Pancake Breakfast

The next morning after a breakfast of bacon and pancakes, Pat and I combed the area for small firewood to start a campfire. We brought the wood to dad as he built the fire in the fire ring. Then we had a full day of fun and adventure exploring the local surroundings. When the sun set dad lit the fire and we all settled around the fire and enjoyed it’s warmth.

Meanwhile dad made a quick check of the campground including the tent where Pat and I slept. He noticed a strong smell. He felt around our sleeping bags and discovered that Pat’s sleeping bag was soaking wet. The previous night he had peed the bed.

Dad pulled the bag out of the tent and hung it up over a clothes line to dry. Then he joined us around the fire. Pat and I were playing with the fire again. As Pat held a stick in the fire my dad said “Be careful boys. Playing in the fire will make you pee the bed.” Pat immediately dropped the stick he was playing with and sat down on a log and looked down at his feet. My dad took him in hand and privately told him it was okay. Things happen and that it would be alright. After the trip dad bought the Habenichts a new sleeping bag. It would not be right to send this peed in bag back to them.

A Shasta Travel Trailer

Later on in 1964 dad bought the Shasta travel trailer. He had planned a camping trip to Spider Lake and then the upper peninsula of Michigan. He instructed me to pick two friends to come with us. I picked Greg Habenicht and Cliff Graw to come with us. Summer came and dad packed up the car and hooked the trailer up and off we went. This time mom stayed home. It was just us boys this time.

We made our way to Spider Lake and dad backed the travel trailer into the site and them set up camp and unhooked the trailer from the car. Us three kids played around until dad called us. We were going out to eat. We piled into the Rambler and dad put the car in gear. Just as he was pulling out I shouted “Wait! The trailer is following us!” Dad slammed on the breaks and discovered that the trailer was not following us. He looked at me. He was angry. He backhanded me across the face. I meant this as a joke. My dad was not amused. I deserved the smack in the face. Dad later apologized and admonished me to never do that again. I promised dad that I would never do it again. We continued to have fun on the trip. We fished and ran the boat and had a marvelous time!

Fort Michilimackinac

We continued our trip north, stopping at the Mackinaw bridge that connects lower Michigan with upper Michigan. We stopped at Fort Michilimackinac. It was fantastic and very interesting. The following is an excerpt from the Michilimackinac website. ‘Treasures from the past come to life at this 18th-century fort and fur trading village, reconstructed based on historic maps and more than 60 years of archaeological excavations. As you walk through the site, you are stepping back in time to 1779, during the American Revolution. Historical interpreters representing voyageurs, British soldiers, and French-Canadian merchant families are stationed throughout the fort to answer your questions and perform demonstrations.’

Woodland Park

After that we crossed the bridge into upper Michigan and continued on to the camp at the north side of upper Michigan. We stayed at the Woodlands Park near the Light Keepers House Museum. Something that stands out is the tenacity of the plant life there, and the roughness of Lake Superior. It was late in the summer. However there was a chill in the air in the evenings. After staying there a few days we made the long drive back to Battle Creek and home.

Cabin on the lake

Then in 1967 my parents planned a trip to Spider Lake. This time they rented a cabin. My brother Alan was to meet us there. This was after his accident that left him totally deaf. We were looking forward to seeing him.

So we packed up the car along with our Boston Terrier Candy. On the trip, as always when we traveled with her, she clung to my mother. If we left the car for anything she would go insane until mom returned.

We arrived at the cabin and unpacked the car. The cabin was old but spacious. It had three bedrooms, an ample kitchen and a huge living room with a fantastic view of the lake. It was very rustic looking. Bare log were the walls. Fishing trophy’s adorned the walls.


Later that day Alan joined us in is spiffy sports car. He came in and said hi to everyone. He hugged dad mom and I and said “How about a drink dad?” He pulled out a bottle of whisky from his case. Dad did not drink. He did in his past but had not drank a drop when my mother years ago gave him an ultimatum to stop drinking or she was leaving him. He was a slave to the stuff back in the late 40s and 50s. I had never seen him drink until today. “Sure” dad said. Alan was getting good at reading lips. Dad got a shot glass out of the cupboard and two highball glasses. Alan poured and he and dad raised their glass and downed the drink on one gulp. They both slammed their glasses down and Alan refilled them. After those 2 drinks I never saw my dad drink again.

Early Morning Fishing

We had brought our small boat along and we got it set up to do some fishing. We got it set up on the dock and Alan, my dad and I boarded the boat. Alan loved to fly fish. He had brought is tackle box and fly fishing rod and real with him. It was early morning and a mist was over the water, Sounds of creatures of the night could be heard. It was very pleasant. A bonding time if you will. Alan showed me how to use the fly rod and real. He whipped the line back and forth and then slowly brought the line back in. It was fascinating. We caught a few bluegills and mom cleaned them up and we had them for dinner that day along with some grits.


Alan loved to golf. The next day he took me golfing to at a local golf course. Being deaf he had trouble locating a ball after he made a shot. Something to do with his inner ear that did not function correctly. So I spotted the ball for him successfully. We did not loose a single ball. Then he taught me how to hold the club and let me take a few shots. I was terrible at it. However it was fun being with him.


The next day before Alan was to go back to Midland Michigan, we went out to eat at a local diner. We sat down and the waitress brought us the menus. Mom dad and I ordered and it was Alans turn to order. Mom tried to help him. We waved off the help. He wanted to do it himself. He told the waitress what he wanted and when the waitress asked if he wanted a roll with the dinner he did not understand. She brought him a roll anyway. Alan was getting better at reading lips.

A little background is needed here about Alan. Alan loved to go watch football games. He had attended a Western Michigan game and as he was coming out of the parking lot his car was hit. As he was looking at the damage another car came along and mowed Alan down to the ground. The driver was drunk. Alan was in extensive care for a long time. He lost all his hearing from the accident. The only thing he could hear was a roaring in his ears like a freight train. It never stopped. Alan also loved music. Music was out of the question for him now. He was not a happy man. One day he had had enough and he ended his life with a revolver. This camping trip was the last time I saw Alan.

After Alan left for Midland Michigan we stayed on for a few more days then we made the long drive back to Battle Creek Michigan. These three camping trips hold a special place in my memory.

Fishing with dad

In the summer of 1963 dad took me on my first fishing trip. Dad had the boat up on the rack on top of the Rambler station wagon and had the motor stowed in the back. He packed us a lunch of ham sandwiches, coffee, milk and snacks. I was excited about the fishing trip. Dad had suggested it to me a few days before. Dad woke me up very early on that Saturday. Around 3 AM. It was hard to wake up. However I did. I helped dad pack the lunch and the tackle box, the can of worms and cane poles into the car and off we went to Beadle lake!

We arrived at the boat ramp at Beadle lake and dad took the boat off the roof of the car and tied it up at the dock. Then he clamped the 3 hp Mercury outboard motor to the transom of the small boat. Dad said “Grab our food and coffee Jim. Let’s get out on the lake before the sun comes up.”

The sun would not be up for another two hours. There was a fog hanging over the lake. The street lights in the parking lot lit up the mist in the slightly chilly air.

Dad got into the boat and took his place at the stern. I handed him the cane poles, a thermos of coffee, our food and the can of night crawlers and he helped me into the boat. I took a seat in the bow of the row boat and dad idled the boat into the lake.

Cane Pole

Dad stopped the boat and threw out the anchor. He said “Come over here Jim. Bring the worms with you.” I climbed over the middle seat with the can of worms and sat next to dad. Dad took the cane poles and a worm for each and hooked a worm on each hook. He handed one pole to me and said “Put the line in the water Jim and watch the bobber. If the bobber disappears for a second give a gentle tug on the line. You will know if you have a fish. You will be able to feel it.”

I did just as dad said. Presently the red and white bobber plunged under water momentarily. Excited, I tugged hard on the line. The line, the bobber, and the hooked worm went flying into the air. “Gently” dad said smiling. I tried again and this time when the bobber disappeared, I tugged gently. This time the line began to vibrate and move about! I had caught one! Dad said ” Raise your pole”. I did and Dad grabbed the little bluegill and took the hook out of it’s lower lip. Then he said “Too small to keep Jim. We will send him back and give him a chance to grow up.”

I did not mind having to throw the fish back. I learned that day what fishing was all about. It was not about catching fish. It was about the preparation. The being out there on the water before the sun came out. It was the smell of coffee and sandwiches. It was the feel of the slimy worms and wiggly fish. But most of all it was the time spent with my dad. Just being there learning how to fish out there alone in the mist with my dad on that fishing trip long ago.