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1969 Photos and Memories
Staff 69
FRONT ROW: David Brase, Mike Lischer, Bob Schwary, (unknown), (unknown), Bruce Troe, Brian Graefe, Ken Weiss, Joel Johnstone, Alan Abrahamson

SECOND ROW: Susan Swoboda, Ralph Swoboda, John Bacevicius, John Baar, Mike McNulty, Tom Kettle, Tom 'OT' Adams, Scott Johnstone, Steve Goodrich, David Swoboda, Glen Hanson, Jim Black, Kevin Keefe, Steve Dreher, (unknown), John Boehm

TOP ROW: John L. Boehm, Ray Fink, Dave Heerdt, (unknown), Larry Brennan, Dave Johnson, Gary Stults, Mark Johnson, John French, Don Bliss

Training Staff 69
LEFT TO RIGHT: Alan Abrahamson, John French, Ray Fink (w/bucket), Tom Kettle, ( unknown), John L. Boehm, Steve Goodrich (w/guitar), Scott Johnstone (in bow), Glen Hanson, Jim Black, Mike Lischer (in back), Mike McNulty (w/life jacket), John Baar (on box), Don Bliss, Ken Weiss

Alan Abrahamson's essay of Memories or Word .doc of same

Larry Brennan recalls:

"One afternoon, around the end of July 1969, we got reports of a bear hanging around the campsites. We called the DNR. Apparently they'd had reports from others about this fellow, and they arrived with a bear trap- a sort of large barrel on wheels- and set out to capture Mr. Bruin and haul him off to some less-populated place.

The bear- a yearling who may have been chased off by his mother- was too smart to fall for the old trap trick. He apparently had been fed by other people. He was not particularly afraid of the rangers, and he would not go into the trap. It was getting late in the day, and the rangers did not want him prowling around our camp that night. That was that, as far as the DNR was concerned; they plugged him right between the eyes. Pow! End of Mr. Bear.

Brian Graefe, Chief Executive Chef, was immediately on the scene and asked if he could have the bear to butcher and cook. The rangers said it would have to be cleared with Madison, and they couldn't get approval until the next day, as the office was closed by that time. They told him he could take the carcass, and they would let him know in the morning if he could keep it. They pointed out that if he didn't gut it that night, however, it wouldn't be fit to do anything with the next day.

After dinner Brian had a tripod of poles set up on the concrete slab behind the kitchen. I believe this was a Wednesday or a Thursday, for reasons that will become clear later on. A crowd of Staff and groups who had come off the Trail gathered around to watch the bloody show. (There weren't that many non-Staff, which would match a Wednesday- Voyageurs only- or Thursday- last Friday's groups returned from the trail.)

The bear was hung by his hind legs, with a short stick between the rear paws to keep them apart. Brian took one of his knives and slit the bear down the middle. I stood nearby, taking movies and slides of the proceedings. Not too closely- I really have no stomach for blood and interior scenery, and this was pretty graphic as the knife cut through the skin and muscle of the bear's belly and various pink objects began to fall out through the lengthening slit. There was a quiet hum of voices from the onlookers, with an occasional Eeww! or Ugh! as Graefe began removing the bear's machinery.

(It should be pointed out that Brian had majored in Physical Education. In 1969 he had just completed his first year of teaching elementary PE in Miami. For his major he had studied anatomy and physiology. This helps when one is cutting up a body, especially one so close to human in size as that bear was! He was thus able to identify the various components as they were being removed.)

When the carcass was gutted, Brian tied the bear's head up so the cavity could drain during the night. The accompanying slide (scanned by a friend) shows him standing in his bloody apron next to the bear, its tongue lolling out. Graefe stuck his tongue out, too, to match. After all, one of Brian's nicknames was CBG- "Cuddly Bear with Glasses" which had been given to him by one of the Boehm daughters, I think.

Three guys attempted to carry the tripod with bear up to the walk-in freezer on the hill beyond the gas pump, but they couldn't manage it. The tripod was only tied at the top and the weight of the bear swinging around was making them unsteady. Brian finally stopped them, took the bear down from the tripod, and hoisted it over his shoulder to carry it up himself. I have film of him walking along, the bear's head resting on his shoulder, looking like they were staggering home together after a long night of study in the Christian Science Reading room in Minocqua. Or something.

The tripod was set up in the anteroom of the freezer. The bear was hung again, its head once more tied back, and its front legs pulled up and tied, too, so no fluids could collect inside. Papers were spread below. The freezer was not well-insulated, and the anteroom was always cool; the glass in the window was usually clouded with condensation. It was an ideally cool place for storing the bear overnight. Brian locked the door and went to his room to clean up. The slab was hosed off. And that would be that until the next day when the word came from the DNR.

As I said, I believe this was on a Wednesday or Thursday, because Bruce Troe, the assistant cook, had been on a day off. This was Bruce's first year as assistant cook. He was a young, blond kid from Lake Mills, Iowa, likable and smart if somewhat naively goofy at times. He had arranged to take the full day, instead of noon to noon, as we normally did. He had not been around that afternoon, knew nothing about the bear, and Brian swears to this day that he didn't realize Bruce was unaware of what had happened in his absence. He needed a case of bacon, so he gave Bruce the key to the freezer and sent him up to get it.

A few minutes later we all knew that Bruce had learned about the bear. Unable to see through the frosted glass into the unlit room, he was totally unprepared for the sight that awaited him when he pulled the door open. All he saw in the dim room was the bear- toothy mouth agape, paws up, ready to attack the first person to enter. Bruce slammed the door and let out a yell that was heard all over the camp. In a panic he ran back to the kitchen, where everyone was suffocating with laughter as soon as they had realized what Bruce was screaming about.

Bruce was a bit annoyed about it, and Brian swore that he hadn't mentioned it because he thought he knew. He was mollified by Graefe's apologies and admitted it was pretty funny. Later that day permission came through from the DNR, and Brian set about to butcher the bear and devise a suitable recipe for cooking it. But that's another story.

The bear's skin was tanned and hung in the Staff Lounge for years after. I wonder what happened to it- did it eventually find its way to Sommers?"

Apollo 11- Man on the Moon: (by Larry Brennan)

I remember that Sunday. It was a hectic day- an Arrival Day for the Base and Arrival Day for Apollo 11.

In those days, the building between the Office and the Health Lodge was the Ranger's House. The ranger was Kenny Freund and his wife, Nina. (I think- I'm not sure right now. I remember she was able to go in the woods and gather edible fungi. I confine my mushrooms to the supermarket variety!) Kenny had a television, and the tall tower beside his house was for his antenna. It's visible on Lee Roane's post of the Roofing Crew. In later years we used it to dry fire hoses, after Kenny had left and the house was used by Staff.

Kenny had the television on all day, watching the latest bulletins from Houston. This would have been the NBC news, as the only station you could get with regular clarity was Channel 12, WAEO, in Rhinelander. After lunch, crews began checking in. At intervals, Jim Allen, the clerk, or I would leave the Office to see the progress of the astronauts. Crews checking in would ask how it was going. As I recall, the astronauts were orbiting the Moon for some time before the Lunar lander detached and Armstrong and Aldrin began the descent to the surface.

After dinner, there was the usual Leader's Meeting with Mr. Boehm and key staff in the Number One Lounge (I don't think we started using the Woodbadge Lodge until later), and the packing demo was held on the field; then everyone went to campsites. Meanwhile, Base Staff began to trickle toward Kenny's house as they ended their work day. As it grew dark out, several Trainers came down from their sites, hoping that. Glen would say nothing about it. He didn't. We were all drawn to the ghostly images flickering in the darkened room. Kenny's daughter was up for a visit, and she had brought a long-haired dachshund. Mrs. Freund popped bowl after bowl of popcorn. We were sitting on the floor, leaning on chairs, standing wherever there was room, transfixed by the event taking place as we watched. The dachshund grew accustomed to the crowd, and was weaving in and out among the forest of legs, sniffing for dropped popcorn. Finally Kenny put it in a bedroom to keep out of the way.

Living in Orlando, only 35 miles west of the Cape, I'd had a front row seat for the early days of the Space Age. Rocket launches were a commonplace, if never without a certain thrill. I'd been in PE class one morning as we saw the contrail of Alan Shepard's Mercury capsule arching upward. I'd seen other Apollo launches- but this one had launched only a few days earlier, while I was in Wisconsin. And now we, and about a billion other people, shared this unbelievable event. I read somewhere that it was the most watched event in human history, with a major portion of the world's population glued to television screens. As was the crowd packed into Kenny's living room! I wish I'd counted, but the group changed as some left to arise early in the morning and others squeezed in. I wish we'd had a sign-in sheet! But we were too concerned about the fate of two men, a quarter-million miles above our heads- I believe the Moon was high that night. I can remember walking over to the Cook's quarters next door and looking up at the Moon, feeling a deep bone-chill at what we had witnessed.

Finally, sometime around midnight or later, Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. And we were there- vicariously, electronically. After a few images from the moon itself, we began to leave, drift off, and go to sleep.

What a night! What an incredible night!!

And I took one of the full-page color photos of the Earth from space, farmed it, and hung it on the wall by the entrance to the Trail Office, with the caption: "High-Altitude Picture of the Canoe Base and Its Canoeing Territory."

But it really still amazes me...

The Catapult: (by Steve Weaks and Larry Brennan)

As I was walking around the beach at the old Base site I remembered an incident that took place in front of the maintenance shop. I think it was in '69 but I'm not sure. Several of the operations staff decided it would be pretty exciting to build a catapult. I think Dave Swaboda was the main architect behind the project but there were several other masterminds involved. Brennan must have been in on the deal as this sort of mischief was right up his alley.

After several days of preparation the device was ready for testing. It worked really well and could hurl small stones for a pretty "fer piece" with a good deal of accuracy. As I said the machine was built to fling small stones, about the size of a jumbo hen's egg.

Now I ask you to think about this, here is a bunch of young adult males with a toy built to chuck egg-sized projectiles to a range of 50 yards or so with credible accuracy. These self-same young men also know that an unsuspecting Voyager Trainer and his trainees will be coming across the lake in several days following a fairly intense training session. The most pressing things on their minds will be a decent meal, a sauna and a shower. They wouldn't know what hit `em! What would you do in this situation?

Well the Chief Chef supplied the eggs. The little beauties were buried in the warm sand for some time allowing them to age gracefully and attain the special bouquet that rotten eggs are noted for. I don't recall who the Voyager Trainer was but he and his small flotilla began coming under fire just off-shore, they attempted to retreat and maneuver away from the bombardment but the catapult was easily and quickly moved to prevent a graceful withdrawal. These guys took some nasty hits and spent a long time soaking in the lake before they came ashore. I don't remember there being any ground-based combat after the landing so I guess the Voyagers and their leader decided to take the whole thing as a good prank or possibly they were just too tired to mount a counterattack.

I wonder what became of that catapult, does anyone know or have pictures of the thing?"

Larry Brennan elaborates: "Dave Swoboda, Maintenance Manager, and student at M. I. T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, not Minocqua Industrial Training), did indeed construct a catapult that summer. Pretty sure it was 1969. The force for the throwing arm was provided by shock cords. The throwing arm itself ended in a sling made of painter and a piece of old tarp, indicating the co-operation of the Outpost forces. The throwing arm was cushioned at the stop by old kneeling pads. In order to keep the catapult from over-turning when used, Dave buried a bucket in the sand on the shore above the beach near the old Shop. This provided an anchor for the device, which was attached with a piece of nylon line through an eye-bolt on the rear member of the frame.

The catapult was well-made and substantially built. Dave had designed it well and tested it, refining the details after each test to allow for the most accurate fire possible. I don't recall the hen fruit in question being especially ripened for the job, but I do know that early on the morning in question, a number of us gathered near the Shop to witness the test. Brian Graefe came down from the kitchen to watch. I think Scott "Rock" Johnstone was the VT in question, but I might be wrong.

The catapult was readied, with the eggs at hand. The canoes glided closer and closer to the intended landing behind the Outpost, the occupants possibly wondering what the party on shore were doing. When the unsuspecting voyageurs were within range, Dave opened fire. He and his assistant, Dave Brase, had worked on "rapid-fire" of the machine. As soon as the first egg sailed through the air, the arm was pulled down, cocked, and another egg placed in the sling. The water around the canoes began to spout up as eggs rained down. The VT shouted for his crew to scramble and zig-zag to shore. I think one or two canoes were hit, but it looked like the targets would escape. Then one Voyageur was not so lucky- he received a direct hit on the chest.

When Rock got to shore, he was trying to express the proper outrage without dissolving in laughter. The perpetrators mollified the casualty- the guy with egg on his red jacket- by telling him that they would buy him a brand-new one in the Trading Post after breakfast.

I can't recall if Dan Dunst was down taking pictures- I did get some of the action on film, though. Yes, there are movies of this nefarious deed.

The catapult was used a few times for general interest, and was retired to the back of the old Shop. It was there for years. I believe my brother fired it up at least once when he was Maintenance Manager, 1971-1973. (He was one of Dave's assistants in 1970.) Eventually it was placed outside, and in my last year there- 1979- its sturdy though weather-beaten frame was still there."