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A long time ago, I was a child. (I started out as Cathy First from Colon, Mi.) For the past several years I’ve been an adult. A lot of things went on between those two stages of life; probably no more or no less than anyone elses. My husband and I moved to “da U .P” from southern Lower Michigan several years ago (yes we were trolls at one time). We owned and operated and operate Clementz’s Northcountry Campground and Cabins just north of Newberry, Michigan until May 2015. We have grown kids and grandkids (who all live downstate). My passion is life and all that Nature has to offer us and trying to photograph it in unique ways. Our intention in life is to see all that Nature has to offer us. We hope that you will be a part of our adventures as we cruise through our lives together. Come back often!

Monday, June 14, 2010


When I was little, my Grandpa took me fishing. You could say he got me HOOKED on fishing (pun intended).

He would snatch these two long cane fishing poles off the wall in the garage and dig a can of worms.  Then he would tie those fishing poles to the outside of the car (long ways of the car) and off to the Long Lake Channel we would go to catch whatever was biting that day. My memory seems to revolve around catching bullheads…a LOT of bullheads.

Grandpa got stung more than once when taking one of these ugly fish off the line. Early on in my life I gained a healthy respect of things that were ugly, had stingers and made Grandpa cuss a might.

Grandpa also introduced me to ice fishing. I think we had just as much fun ice fishing as we did fishing off the bank in the channel. The ice fishing poles were easier to handle than those long cane poles and it was fun sitting out on the ice with other fisherman all around us.

I remember one time catching the biggest fish of my LIFE! Well, it was the LONGEST fish of my life and Grandpa wouldn’t let me keep it! And it was REALLY ugly. Long snout and lots of teeth and Grandpa called it a gar pike. He convinced me that it wouldn’t be good eating because it was so boney, but it was the longest fish I’d ever caught! I had a hard time throwing that thing back in the hole; I just didn’t want to let it go.

Grandpa and Grandma taught me how to play canasta. Even though I was young and my hands were small and my fingers got tired holding all of those cards, we spent hours playing canasta. And I got pretty good at it…or they let me win to make me THINK I was good at it. I haven’t played it in a very long time but it always brings back memories when I think about playing canasta at the dining room table at Grandpa and Grandma’s.

They had a nice, large screened in porch, complete with a porch swing. In the front of the porch were several large bushes. In the spring they got flowers on them which if I remember, didn’t last long, but the leaves stayed on all summer.

One day, I was sitting on the porch, in the porch swing, holding a cute little yellow kitten. Suddenly, that cute little kitten started hissing and scratching. Being about 6 years old, I couldn’t figure out why this kitten was acting so mean until I saw two huge snakes trying to climb up the screen of the porch!

I screamed for Grandma (Grandpa must’ve been gone) and she came running to see what the fuss was about. When she saw those snakes, she went back through the house, to the garage and got a shovel. When she came back to the porch and headed out the screen door, I kept thinking my Grandma was a brave lady…but boy, those snakes were big.

Grandma walked to the edge of the walkway and stood at the end of the walkway where the sidewalk crossed. The snakes were still trying to climb up the screened in porch. I remember wondering what Grandma was doing standing way out there, with a shovel in her hand when the snakes were way back here.

Eventually, a group of teen age boys came along and Grandma asked them if they could kill the snakes. I don’t know if Grandma would have stood there till dark waiting for someone to come along or not; I’ve always wondered about that.

The boys were thrilled for the opportunity to kill a couple of blue racer snakes (do they travel in packs??!) I don’t recall if they had trouble “catching” them or not, but I DO remember them holding them up by the tails and the snakes were as long as the boys were tall.

Grandma had a blue metal cookie tin that always had fresh homemade cookies in it. She would separate the layers of cookies with a sheet of wax paper. Grandma usually made sugar cookies and poked a raisin in the middle of each cookie. She made very good cookies.

Grandpa and Grandma took me to the St. Joseph County Fair. I think we may have gone a couple of times during the week. We would always go set up in the grandstand and watch the harness races.  And we always had a bag of caramel corn to eat. Then we would walk the midway and occasionally go on a ride or two. I remember the three of us watching a new “game” that was being played on a hay wagon. The hay wagon was all decorated with streamers and sparkly things. There was a record playing or maybe it was a radio, but there was music. And there were people on this hay wagon making the strangest gyrations while trying to get this hoop to spin around their waist. THEY WERE TRYING TO SELL A BRAND NEW FAD CALLED HULA HOOPS! Grandma was rather appalled at the movements these people were going through, so I knew enough not to even ask about getting one! I eventually had a hula hoop, did you?

I’m hopeful that you have fond memories of your Grandparents. Since we don’t get to see our Grandkids that often, I don’t think our Grandkids are going to have those kinds of memories to look back on. And I think Grandparents of today are a bit different than my Grandparents. Today’s Grandparents have to have knowledge of computers, email, digital photos, texting, playing Wii…or at least I guess that is what is expected of this generation of Grandparents. And they also need to be prepared to attend endless soccer games, track meets and softball tournaments (none of which Dan and I really get to see).

I would like to have the opportunity to introduce our Grandkids to fishing, playing cards, baking cookies (but not in an old wood cook stove!), homemade bread, growing things in a garden and learning what life is like WITHOUT TV and gadgets. How about you?


  1. I wish my grandkids lived closer to do ANYTHING with them!...two live in Kenosha Wisconsin with parents who both have busy, stressful careers...thus they can hardly ever come up here on vacation...and we practically have to schedule an appt. to go there when they aren't "booked" with other things..and my newest grandson lives in FLORIDA! I love them all so much and so when they do come..we do bake cookies and go fishing and do fun stuff with them....hopefully when they get a little older we can "kidnap" them for a week without their parents and have our way with them. ha

  2. My Grandma L and I had a special game we played at when it was time to cook dinner. We pretended we worked in a restaurant and our boss's name was Frank (my grandpa). It was a lot of fun to help grama cook. We also had a special book to read called Toad and Frog. My grama loved toads and frogs and we would hunt for them. Grama passed away a few years ago, but her memory lives on in my heart. Right up until close to the day she died we read our special book, and somehow I can't read that book to my son without tears in my eyes!

  3. Gary H.8:07 AM

    My maternal grandparents were VERY special to me. Gramma taught me how to play solitaire, Yahtzee, as well as some cooking and the proper way to do laundry.

    Grampa, along with being a championship caliber tobacco spitter (his accuracy was amazing), was an encyclopedia of neat (and some not so neat...lol) sayings. When asked how he was doing he would often reply, "Still suckin' air" or "Not looking at flowers from the root side yet".

    I still miss them very much !!!

    Now that schools out (and I'm unemployed again) I get to take my grandkids out fishing !

  4. Anonymous8:48 AM


    I have the same memories, grandpa and grandma lived in Sturgis and I always spent a week with them 'down at the lake' Been to the St Joe fair many a times....those WERE the good old days.
    Dave Steffee


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