By Paul Gerald VilleMonte
Grandpa O’Dell gave me my first fishing pole with a reel. He also let me help him dig the hole where they would move the outhouse. This was a very important task. Grandpa always planted a tree where the old outhouse was. After Grandpa got an early call to Heaven it was up to Dad to take care of the cottage. Dad formed and poured steps where Buddy destroyed the toboggan.
Summer came and we would go to Runyan Lake and cut the hill and grass around the cottage and install the dock. Which means mostly Dad … Dale and I weren’t much help.
There were fun times, Duane, Carmen, Buddy, Dale and I would row out onto the lake and sing. The fish never complained. We would also adventure to Turtle Lake.
Early we had two islands … Little Island straight out from Lyon’s home and the Big Island across the lake. The water level rose and we had one island and a sand bar.
Hot dog and marshmallow roasts were enjoyed at the waters edge. Dad had an old Johnson Seahorse outboard motor, which I could start but couldn’t keep running, so when I took Carm for a ride she usually rowed back without a single complaint.
Bacon rind as bait and a bamboo pole secured to the diving board would often produce a bullhead overnight. One morning I was surprised by pulling in a 21” gar-pike, which was good fertilizer for the tiger lily bed.
Grandpa VilleMonte’s cottage was on top of a hill eight to ten lots south of Grandpa O’Dell’s cottage at the water’s edge. I remember asking Grandma VilleMonte while visiting if “Grandpa VilleMonte was going to have beers”, which inspired a chuckle.
Uncle Bob O’Dell enjoyed trolling and landed many beautiful great northern pike. Note the photo of Uncle Bob holding one of his trophy pike with Runyan Lake in the background. After dark Dad would cast for bass. My mother was the most photographed woman on Runyan Lake. She was called quite often to pose for photos holding the catch of the day. After a number of these photo opportunities she realized that a very slight 5’0” lady holding a fish could almost make a minnow look like a trophy size catch. Being a good sport Mom continued for many years in this unofficial capacity. I wish I could locate one of these photos to share with you.
We walked from Runyan Lake to Fenton and back every year and always stopped at Mickey’s Ice Cream for malts and ice cream sodas as a reward for arriving. Of course, we would buy some vegetables at a farmer’s stand on our return trip.
We had a dog named Blackie at the cottage. One day Blackie had an encounter with a stray cat. Blackie as dogs will do decided to chase this cat. The cat turned on the dog and jumped on his back. My dad had enclosed the area below the cottage and had installed openings at each end for air circulation (we also stored items under the cottage during the winter). It happened that the day that Blackie was taking the cat for a ride on his back these doors were open. Being a very smart dog and wanting to eliminate his unwelcome rider … he ran in circle for some time then headed for the opening under the cottage at the speed of a Greyhound. He raced in one end with the cat and out the other end catless. Blackie had succeeded to peel off the feline with the help of the floor joist.
Those were the Good Old Days!
(Dave’s Note: This is a response to my 2011 request to the family elders to recalls their memories of Runyan Lake)