“What’s time to a hog,” Bernie

Getting closure from words I never expressed.

Even though Bernie passed through our lives much to quickly, he still managed to leave a huge impact on all of us. To say he was ‘a one of a kind’ would be a gross understatement. We knew him as having a great sense of humor, a true devotion to his friends, a tremendous love of life and a constant quest for adventure. No one would ever question the statement,”He’d give you the shirt of his back” because literally that had been the case many times. It was common knowledge that he helped so many people financially, providing a place to stay, or just sitting with you to lighten your burden.

I first met Bernie in 1948 when he entered first grade at the old St. Anne’s (prison) school behind the cemetery, on the bluff overlooking the Apple River.
Our small town kids bonded into tight friendships for over sixty years. Bernie was the nucleus of our group, holding the rest of us close to his center.
Returning home was never complete until we contacted Bernie. He was always accessible and always ready to boogie, as we use to say, when language had words with only one meaning.
Bernie was a wise business man, but that was alway put aside when he was with people he cared about, which was everyone. Being his friend assured you that no matter what, you had a friend always there for you.

He loved to travel and fish, but he never seems happier than when his friends were gathered together at the bar, at his cabin, in a boat, or on the road. You all will recall the many things he did and the special relationship you had with Bernie. The most outstanding thing about this man was, everyone of us thought we were his best friend, and it was true. What a tall yard stick to be measured against.

Asking Bernie if he had time to do this or do that, he’d always say, “What’s time to a hog”.

So Bernie, we bid farewell for now, until we meet again.


Billy Audett

Sometime in the early 50s, as a young boy, I remember Billy Audett. He lived In a little one room house behind Nig’s big, red brick building, which was across the street from Johnny’s Tap room. Billy was a portly man; dressed in overalls and flannel shirt, he sat in his worn wood slat chair guarding the big pot belly stove which sat in the middle of the dirt floor. Behind him was a sleeping cot stacked with homemade quilts and a feather pillow. Piles of staples were on the table to his right and a gas burner rested on the far end next to the porcelain washing bowl and water pitcher. He had a twinkle in his eye as he told yarns of things not imaginable to ten year old boys. His stories were highlighted by leaning forward and poking us with his wooden cane. I know now, that he delighted in the horror In our eyes as we listened to the tales he spun. We’d visit Billy from time to time and for the most part, we believed he spent a lot of time alone preparing his stories for our next visit.

One particular Halloween, I recall some of the older boys placing a burning paper bag filled with cow pies on Billy’s stoop and how he howled out profanities as he attempted to extinguish the fire. We were instructed to watch from the row of bushes and we were confused as whether to run, laugh or rush to Billy’s aid. We decided to run for fear of being the target of his cane.

The Earl recalls, “Billy Audett was I believe the son of Charles Audett who is listed in the 1897 St. Joseph plat book as owning 160 acres just east of the Bass Lake Cheese Factory. He is also listed as owning an additional 80 acres on County E.”

Maxine recalls, “Billy lived in that little green one room house behind the old village hall, near Myrt Lemires home”

The big red brick building in front of Billy’s was owned by Nig and housed 6 apartments and a store. Again from Max, ” In the early 50s, my dad Nig ran a grocery store in the front main floor. I helped him after school and Saturdays. In 1955, he made a big apartment out of the store and moved groceries to the basement…when I left for California in the fall of 1956, Nig closed his little basement business, retired to watch wild westerns and be with mom. He died In 1962, leaving a 6 apartment building to mom, Marold, Shirley and me…”

The Earl further recalls, “
After a snowstorm (and there were some big ones in the ‘50s) Nig Johnson use to shove the sidewalk just wide enough for one person to walk from his apartment house where he lived right to the bank’s front door so his daughter Shirley could easily walk to work. He also use to go up to the railroad tracks at the end of Depot St. and pick up the mail as the train drove by. I don’t think the train stopped but just slowed down and threw the mail bag off. He was a short chubby fellow.”
Maureen, our golden haired classmate, lived in the lower back apartment of Nig’s. I know this because as we sat on LeGrandier’s grocery store steps, we witnessed Micky and Bruce sneaking back every night to vie for her affection like two ally cats. Although I digress, and my memories are fuzzy, this is my story and I’m sticking to it.

Whew! This has tired me out and it’s time for a nap