Roemer, William Sr. - Recalls
William Roemer, Sr - Recalls
We used to come out to my brother Jim’s camp before we ever owned a place on the lake. A bunch of us used to go down to Hayden’s to party and sing. One of that group was Gary Stevens, who sang with a band and made several records. Later he appeared on channel 6 with the group the after 6 seven.
While I was in the service, my wife’s mother died and left her $3500.00. My parents wanted to buy a camp at the lake, so we went along with them while they looked. They were looking on the other side of the lake on Dyer Rd, but the camp they saw for sale was on a lot too steep and hilly for my father, who had arthritis. Lee and I looked into it and found out it was for sale for $3500.00 so we bought the place.. I think we did this in 1948. The camp didn’t have any running water and had kind of a detached bathroom. There was a wood frame outside the bathroom that held two 50- gallon drums for catching rainwater. This water was used for flushing the toilet. If there wasn’t enough rain, you had to bring water up from the lake. After a while it became too much to lug water up all those stairs and I decided to put water in the camp. I was in the automotive parts business, so I used auto copper tubing for the plumbing. I installed a pump down by the lake and we had running water. At this time we had an old kerosene stove for heat, boy did that thing smell. We replaced that very quickly with an electric heating unit. I have to admit that my wife did most of the remodeling and carpentry work at the camp.
We would walk down to Robert’s Grove, which we did quite often for recreation. They had a dance hall up back and we would square dance there on Saturday nights.
I remember the lake associations Family Day as the main social function of the summer. How the kids used to look forward to that. One -year “Chips”, my son Billy’s dog had a litter of pups. We loaded them in a big wicker laundry basket and brought them out to the Family Day. We appealed to everyone to take one home and that’s how they all found a new home. My wife’s sister Rose, used to pick night crawlers for my son Billy, and I would help sometimes. We put a sign up on a tree by the road and Billy sold worms and later he had some fishing tackle for sale. The hill between the camp and the lake was heavily forested and you could hardly see the water. There were lots of white birches, but I spent years thinning out the rest for a better view of the lake.
The lake association was very active at this time. All the people around the lake knew each other because of all the social functions. I had a friend in the Urania Club, Bernie Shay, who lived on New Scotland Ave. His neighbors next door had a camp on the lake; I believe their name was Young. I did a little boxing in the service and became quite good on the speed bag. In later years I installed one on a big tree at the camp, where I used it quite a bit. Quite often other people, like Al Shutter, would stop by and give it a try. We used to play poker on Saturday nights, but my Father-in-Law loved to play Pinnocle. He had a very thick German accent and when he got a good hand, he would sing out in his loud booming voice and I think they heard him all over the lake. We called him “Pop Widdra”. I remember staying at Jim’s camp and bringing a little 7 in. TV out with me. The front of that set would pull out and the size of the picture would double. Whenever their were fights on or some other sporting event, everyone would gather at Jim’s camp to see it. Hank and Helen Craft and my wife and I were famous friends. We went over to the Craft’s quite often. Hank would go over to O’Hanlons and get a half of beer. We would start on it on Friday night, as long as we did not have to work the next day. We would have singing and drinking and I would bring along my blender with some rum and assorted juices. I would make frozen drinks in very large glasses. Hank had a voice like a foghorn. Boy oh boy would we get loaded and then we would go out to the end of the Craft’s dock and sing and holler so the whole lake could hear us. Sometimes O’Hanlon would join us.
We all like to call them the good old days, but they were so good because we were so young, let’s call them the good young day’s.