Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Voelker Camp in Winter

One of the neatest things about writing The Fiberglass Manifesto has been the people that I have met in the process. Last week I received an email from Adam Tsaloff who mentioned that he enjoyed reading T.F.M., the exposure to several rod builders, and also explained that he was the oldest grandson of Michigan Supreme Court Judge and Writer John Voelker, pen name Robert Traver.

During our email exchange Adam talked about "The Camp" on Frenchman's Pond and he passed along a few photographs that his Uncle Woody had taken early this winter after everything that been buttoned up. Adam wrote of a few memories about spending time with his grandfather that I am honored to share.

“The camp lays still during the winter months, visited by an occasional rabbit hunter or a band of revelers on cross country skies or snow shoes. My Grandfather would ski into camp with friends and put a fire in the Franklin Stove to chase the winter chill out of the cabin. They would mix a few Old Fashioned or drink mulled wine out of their wine skins and pop popcorn over the fire."

"I went along on a few of those outings as a kid, and usually wound up skiing around outside while the laughter echoed out of the cabin. I would busy myself by looking at the pond and surrounding woods. Even in the dead of winter the pond would never freeze completely over. Open spots would reveal where a spring bubbled up from below. I would mark those spots in my mind and revisit them on the hot days of late summer. There I would throw hopper patterns with my 8’glass Fenwick six weight that my Grandfather bought me at the local sporting goods store. On occasion, I would be rewarded for my craftiness and provoke a swirl from a large Brookie that had claimed the spot to fin in the cool water.”

I've long enjoyed the writing of John Voelker and these photographs were certainly an insight into his most sacred haunt at a time of the year that most of us have never before seen.


james deloria said...

Hi Cameron. I'm James and this is the first I've seen your site. Pretty cool. Last night Adam mentioned that he had some comments on here. I first met his gramps some 36 years ago in the NMU library in Marquette Mi. I was star-struck and ran the 3 blocks back to my apartment for my already tattered first edition copy of "Trout Madness" to have him sign. When I got back he was already gone. That summer 2 college buddies and I mounted a holy grail to see the fabled pond. When we hit a No Trespassing sign we ditched the jeep and adopted the Woody Guthrie technique of walking in backwards and seeing nothing on the back of the sign, continued our quest. After what seemed like hours of hot dusty hiking we came upon the infamous "Cribbage Champion of the UP" sign signifying that we had found shangri la! We each took one hasty ceremonial cast and got the hell out of there. Some 34 years later through a mutual friend I found myself sharing a camp on the AuSable with Adam. After relating this tale I received merciful exoneration with which I can only hope the honorable justice Voelker would agree!

Cameron Mortenson said...

James...I really appreciate you sharing that story. What a neat set of memories and experiences. Your account of "merciful exoneration" made me laugh.

cofisher said...

Cameron, thanks to you and Adam for letting us have a peek at the "life" of one of my favorite authors. Of course it was made even more special by the inclusion of the photos.

Thanks also to James Deloria for the humorous recalling of his adventure.

Unknown said...

Cameron, check out a book called Voelkers Pond by Ed Wargin and James McCullough. It has many photos and wonderful essays that delve into the life of the Judge and Frenchman's Pond.

Cameron Mortenson said...

Dan...I have that book and it is really excellent. It was neat comparing those photographs with these just to see how the place looks so different in winter.