Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Tribute To Our Friends

June has not been a kind month to the inhabitants of Camp Chicken. We have lost several of our loved ones in the month of June.

Our good friend, Kathy Fike, passed away on this day, June 9, 2000.

When we first began coming up to Camp Chicken, Kathy wanted to come along. She had never been an outdoor person, living most of her life in Sault Ste. Marie. She was a Native American and was the second employee hired by the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians after the Tribe gained federal recognition in the mid-70s.

Kathy lacked any kind of outdoor skills and Arlene jokingly called her a "City-Indian" but she was our friend so in the early days of Camp Chicken, she tagged along.

In the first fall at camp, we made Kathy trim trees, haul brush and saw wood. I was sure she was going to cut off her thumb or worse. But, she was a good sport and worked hard to help us reclaim the camp clearing from Mother Nature.

At other times Arlene called Kathy, "Bear Bait". Finally, Kathy was brave enough to ask why.

"Well," Arlene said, "if we stumble onto a bear, I know that I can always out-run you, Kath. So you are our Bear-Bait. He'll get you and we can get away."

I think that Kathy thought Arlene was serious, because if she went for a walk in the woods, she made sure to take my dog with her to protect her.

Just two years ago, on June 12th, we lost another good friend, Joanne Fletcher. Jo had been ill for awhile but certainly not ill enough to pass away. Her death was totally unexpected and shocked us all.

This is one of the few photos that I have of Jo. She hated getting her picture taken and I probably have 50 photos of Jo with her hands in front of her face. This photo was taken at Arlene's grandson Arnie's graduation open house. Little did we know that just 10 days later, she would be gone.

When Arlene was just a young mother, struggling to raise three daughters on her own, Jo babysat her kids. She was just like a second Mom to Arlene's daughters and a second Grandmother to Arlene's grandchildren.

Jo was funny, honest and out-spoken. She was one of those friends that you could call at 2:00 AM for any reason and she would help you out.

We tried many times to convince her to come to Camp Chicken for the weekends but Jo loved her creature comforts and prefered being home.

Joanne and Kathy were great friends and talked to each other on the phone almost everyday. They both loved going to the casino.

Several times a year, we would all go on a "Casino Run". Arlene called Kathy, "Erma Tuttle, the Queen of the Shuttle" because Kathy always wanted to be the driver. If it was a gloomy Saturday or Sunday, Arlene would say, "call Erma and Jo and Mary and see if they want to go on a run" and we would all hit the road.

We would drive from the Soo to Hessel Casino, then to St. Ignace Casino, then on to Brimley's two casinos and finally back home to the Soo Casino. It was always great fun. Of course, if your money ran out early, it could be a long, long day.

We really miss our friends and talk about them often, sharing stories about them and honoring their memories.