The Cabin "Story":
Written by Noble Wolfe January 25, 1996
Dear Parks Family,
Perhaps, you’d appreciate knowing the history of your cabin at Mesick,
Michigan’s backwater and Hodenpile Dam area. The original tract
was forty acres and it butted up against the Consumers Powers flood
rights, lands they’d either purchased or leased from the occupants for
flood rights for the dam. The tract was purchased by a Mr. Fred
Freeman, who lived at the time near Potterville (Lansing area) and was
an onion raiser – had much muck ground. Getting on in years, he
sold the onion farms and moved on the forty-acre tract – built one home
and then built a nicer one later on, right next door. His wife had
died and he had two daughters. He loved the location so much that
he divided the outside perimeter into ½ acre lots. He planted pine
trees as the property lines. The trees were planted on the sides
and back, leaving the road frontage open for himself as well as the
middle of the tract.
My father, Fauncher Wolfe , was a very dear hunting buddy of Mr.
Freeman. He was semi- retired and had a great fellowship
with Mr. Freeman. So my dad got one of the lots (the one your
cabin sits on).. He never did build on it. At that time he
lived in Mt. Pleasant. I got it from my dad , finally! Boy
was I enthused. Lowell Harms married my eldest daughter, Janis.
He was a farmer over near Ithaca Michigan. Lowell, who also liked
the outdoors and hunting, found out about the lot as well as saw the
closeness to hunting and fishing areas and the possibilities that if it
even did get crowded, you could go farther north to hunt or even across
the straights to the Upper Peninsula. So, every time he’d be over
to my place in Forest Hills, he’d say, “Dad when you gona put a trailer
or cabin up there so we can have some fun?” And I’d reply, “oh
sometime, probably when I retire- I’ll do something about it.”
He’d then say, “How do you know you’ll live long enough to retire…why
not do something now? Well, I had kids in school and college and I
didn’t have enough ready cash to build and I told him so. Well he
kept egging and I just wanted to let it rest, when finally he said, “I
got an old barn I don’t need it has a lot of good 2x4’s and whole
boards. Why can’t we tear it down. It’s just a fire hazard to me.”
I gave it some real hard thinkin’ then. My Dad was not too healthy
then, but he could still get about ok and he ended up coming down and
staying for a while. We then went over to Lowell’s and sure gave
that barn a knockin’ down. Lowell and I were ripping and tearing,
and fixed up Dad with a place to sit or stand beside an open steel
barrel. He’d drive nails out of those boards, 2x4’s and 2x6”s.
We salvaged wood from that ol’ barn and he (Dad) being a carpenter by
trade, knew which boards to keep and the rest we burned.
Well if you’re gona build, ya gotta have something to build on.
That meant a wall (stone) and cement floor and a well for water to mix
cement, etc. It seemed every time, there were things we had to
face and to drill that well- we neither one had much know how…but we
tried. I think this was in the early 50’s
We got a pitcher pump, a 21ft piece of 1 ¼” galvanized pipe and a
stone hammer head. We welded a piece of round steel into the head
for a handle as well, a 1 ¼” pipe screen to put in the well to screen
out the sand, etc. Now this will slay ya: Lowell had a 2 ½” auger
with a T handle about 4ft long and we started with the handle to make a
hole for the pipe. It was sandy soil as we were drilling and
lifting the dirt out of the hole. Just then a “native” came by and
asked: “What are you doing?” We explained we were digging for a
well and he said: “The auger deal we were using is for a clay
ground. Up here we put the steel pointed screen and the threaded
piece of pipe and maul it into the ground, add more pipe and more
mauling until you hit hard going. That is the gravel where the
water is then maul it some more, then put the pump on and prime it for
water…that’s all there is to it. We thanked him.
We’d already cut that 21 ft pipe and had threads cut. So to
start, one of us was on the roof of the car, the other one was steadying
and holding the pipe- started pounding. The first 10 ½ feet went
in beautiful. We put the coupling on and screwed on the 2nd
piece of pipe into the coupling and started pounding. Boy were we
something. We got that 2nd piece of pipe down about half way,
which would be 15 or 16 feet then it started going hard, so we started
pounding harder and all of a sudden it went easy. We pounded it
until we could put the pump on. We then went to the neighbors with
2-3 gal pails for priming water. We primed and primed and used up
all the priming water- but no water from the well. We were tired
so Lowell took hold of the pump, still attached to the last length of
pipe and gave a yank up and a second yank. He started pulling and
pulling, finally here come the 2nd piece attached to the pump.
After examining the pipe carefully, we found that the coupling had
broken in two and the pipe had gone right down beside the first piece of
pipe into the sand. Oh what a disappointment. Well it
was about 3pm and it took us two guys with shovels until near dark to
get that other piece of pipe and the point. We dug in that sand- a
hole big and deep enough to bury an elephant.. We took all that
pipe home and next Saturday we went back up there to try again. We had
also talked to few “old timers” who’d dug wells before. And after
questioning us, we found that in hammering the pipe, you’ve got to use a
wooden block to pound the pipe- to absorb the shock. That is what
snapped the coupling and let the pipe go into the sand. (You do not
hammer metal on metal!!) With this info thoroughly installed in
our “noggins”, we went back the next Saturday with a better pounding
unit. We’d run lead in it so the lead made contact with the pipe
and we sunk that 21ft length of pipe in thirty minutes. And it did
get into the water gravel vain. When we primed the pump this time, we
got water, gobs of it. After we’d pumped and it cleared up, we had
cold water that would knock you’re teeth out and it was cold.
We needed water for cement. We put a 2ft wall deep wall all around
(Rat wall), then poured a cement floor, built the cabin with the pump
inside and then proceeded to get ready to finally enjoy it. Lowell
and my Dad worked like demons. We did have a three burner Coleman stove
(white gas), an oil heater and an ice box. We had dishes, some
floor coverings, etc, etc, beds and a davo-bed (a couch that pulled out
into a bed).
Everything was just fine till Lowell went partridge and rabbit hunting
in late fall and that pump was the hardest thing to prime and ya had to
pump to beat all. We knew something was wasn’t right. We
talked to a native (neighbor) and he told us that probably we’d just
gotten into the water vain (in the spring) but that the water table
drops in colder weather. He advised us to take the pump off, get
an 18” piece of 1¼ pipe and drive the whole dat-burned thing down 18”
deeper in the vain. So when Lowell and I went up there to go deer
hunting. We got there late Fri night, the season came on the weekend.
After we got the oil heating stove started we got the 18” pipe attached
and started hammering and boy, the pipe already in there, had
attached itself to the surroundings. It took us till 1 AM to
hammer that thing 18”. But when we did and put the pump back on,
it primed immediately and to my knowledge to this day, there��s been
water- all you needed!
In the spring, our wives and Lowell’s two youngsters went up to clean
and get dishes washed, etc, etc.for the summer. The girls wanted
to see all the ‘hi-falutin” cabin we worked so hard every weekend and
holidays. When they how simple we men had it and a outside privy,
no rugs on the floor (then) and no curtains, etc,etc well it just needed
a “woman’s touch”. For the men, for what little time we could
spend on the weekends, we had the bare essentials and that was it.
Well the girls didn’t come again until late summer and we had put in a
curtain here and there but the stove, gas lanterns, ice box and beds
were still the same. This particular weekend, the wives and kids
came again. There were wild strawberries all over the front yard.
You couldn’t walk without squishing them. The kids had a ball.
The next morning Lowell and I got up quietly to go fishing and told the
girls we’d try to be back by noon or before and to enjoy their sleep.
We showed both gals how to generate that Coleman stove, before you could
cook on it. Well anyway, we came back about 10:30 AM and we went
in the front door. There was woman from each corner descended on
us like a couple of “honey-bee guards”, who check every bee at the
entrance of the hive, and if it is a strange bee, the guards yank its
wings off and kill it. It seems that one of them, I’m not pointing
fingers, forgot the generating “must” and tried to get breakfast for the
kids and ran ungenerated gas- really made things light and they pumped
and threw water everywhere. We looked down to see that the floor
and the walls were all wet. Well after that we got the law laid
down and it was made very plain that there were to be some changes made
right pronto!!! OK, I was afraid to face those angry women.
However there was electricity wired in, there was a good used electric
stove and a refrigerator and “more” curtains. A truce was declared…….
We needed a name for the cabin- preferable “Indian”, so I hunted up an
educated Indian from MT. Pleasant. There were lots of them and a
big school there too. I hit upon taking the first two letters of
the each of us three who built the cabin like: NOble, LOwell and
FAuncher. NOLOFA...NOLOFA. The Indian finally came up with : Nee
Ta Na Kee, which in Indian means: “Industrious People”. (No loafers)
The cabin was originally one big room, then later on we built the back
unit making it into an
L-shape. In 1957 and 1958 Lowell had lost two bean crops.
And he was at his wits end. So at Christmas he and his family went
to see his parents who’d moved to Florida and been there about ten
years- farming. The up-shot was that Lowell found some Florida
land. He bought it, sold his Michigan farm and in Feb 1958 moved
right out of my life. What a hole it left. It got so that
with my kids in school and so busy, my son and daughter were in college
,that I didn’t have anyone to go up to the cabin with. I’d
have to beg anyone to go, so to them it became a thing and it seemed no
one cared. So, I propositioned Floyd Parks. He had five boys.
You know the rest.
People get old- time marches on- things do change. Greg, you’ve
done just fine with the Cabin, it needed someone to love it, and it’ll
love you back…Take Care
In loving Memory of:
Noble (1906-1998) & Ethel Wolfe (1907-1991)