Page 85 - Pat's Tavern
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Pat’s Tavern by Thomas J. Cranenight came from kerosene lamps and heat from a centralized kerosene stove. There were no telephones. Water came from a hand pump that was drilled into the ground which had to be primed with water. My father had also dug out the ground and constructed an outhouse over a pit which he treated with quick lime. Cooking was done on the outside using a gas fired Coleman stove. My father made a pier that not only served to tie up our rowboat, but to fish from. The pier consisted of boards placed over sealed 55 gallon drums that were anchored by long metal poles in order to stabilized the pier and prevent it from floating away.Our trips to the Kankakee River provided many adventures and experiences. My parents had been divorced for many years and as a consequence my mother did not partake in our enjoyment and because of that I missed her during our outings. On the other hand my grandmother, my father’s mother did as well as my step-grandfather, my grandmother’s husband, John Fritz. John worked for 39 years as a coil winder overhauling electric motors for Chicago’s streetcars. He enjoyed the outings immensely and even built a row boat for our use on the river. Unfortunately, he died six months after he retired.All things considered, my father went on to provide us with many happy memories, he also fed our imaginations by many of our forays into the woods. One time he told us that he was going to catch an alligator and since it was growing dark, we did not know what he was up to. He attached a large tow chain to his car and drove my cousins and myself into the woods. We heard him rustling about and then he got into the car and drove back to the cabin. When we got there we found that he had attached a fallen tree trunk to the car and he pulled it around in front of the cabin. We then went on to enjoy a wonderful bonfire that lasted most of the night. My father enjoyed putting on his wading boots and walking along the river bank and using his fly rod in order to try to catch that mythical bass. My grandmother cautioned me to not bother my father during those times. It was a time for self reflection or introspection for him. As I watched this artist with a fly rod at work, I could observe him as he became lost in his thoughts. It did not matter if he caught a fish or not. What mattered most was the peace and solitude that he enjoyed. It was interesting to see how his disposition and demeanor changed as he appeared to mellow as he hung up his rod and reel. There was another time when my father drove my cousins and myself to the farmer’s barn yard and asked him for chickens that he could cook. The farmer proceeded to pick up a hatchet and as he laid each chicken on a chopping block he began to chop their heads off. We watched in awe and wonder at what we had witnessed. When the farmer was finished, my father drove us back to the cabin and proceeded to boil water on the Coleman stove. He dipped each chicken into the pot and pulled out their feathers and then deep-fried them. After that, we enjoyed a feast as my father set a huge plate of chicken on the table. Whenever we wanted berries to eat, we went back to the large growth of bushes next to the cornfields. We were able to fill a bucket of blackberries in no time at all. We would wash them85

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