For those of you who grew up on Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Little House on the Prairie series, hunting and trapping are an honored part of our heritage. Laura lived from 1867-1957 and wrote about Pa & her family’s struggles to survive in the great wild Midwest during the late 1800′s. What a hero her father was to her, and what a mighty hunter and trapper! But, today I want to share a little bitabout Alan’s cousin, Phyllis (Armstrong) Suggitt, who grew up in the great wild Midwest nearly a century later. Phyllis and Alan grew up together in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where hunting and trapping were (and still are) time-honored traditions. For instance, in this picture you can see Uncle Ross and Uncle Keith (far left and right) with Phyl’s mom and her older brother along with their dear friend, Milton Hembroff (who is Larry’s dad, for those of you who are family friends.) Phyllis has been posting old photos of her father, and I’ve been just thrilled to see these pictures from long before I’d ever met Alan or knew his family well, because Uncle Ross was a bit of a hero to me.Not only did he bring up three of the world’s sweetest daughters, who brought up really great kids of their own, he left a heritage of beautiful, gracious people to bless the U.P. for generations to come! Uncle Ross was also a hero to me because he died at the age of 77 of a heart attack while out chasing coyotes on his snowmobile, and I can hardly think of any way I’d rather die than having a heart attack while doing something that I really found challenging and felt passionate about! I mean…what could be finer?Phyllis shared some awesome pictures and memories with me: “Dad always had so many animals around. We had coyote pups in a box in the living room behind our oil stove till Dad could take them to the D. N. R. Cute fluffy little pups…Keith raised one like a dog. He had it as a pet but it got out on the track and was hit by a train. Dad kept a young fox for a while to train his dogs. We girls were upset we couldn’t keep it for a pet.” But Uncle Ross was a serious hunter, and his dogs were record-setting trackers that couldn’t afford to be Fox and Hound friends!Uncle Ross was the only person in the U.P. in the 1950′s to bag a lynx, and he trapped dozens of bobcats, foxes, and other game animals. His grand kids tell me that there’s still wild game in the U.P., although not as much as there used to be in the mid-20th century when we were growing up. At any rate, I was just delighted to know that The Little House in the Big Woods still existed in my childhood and that it’s not yet entirely gone today! I may not die while out chasing coyotes or lynx on a snowmobile, but I would so love to die while out in hot pursuit of something challenging and exciting! If you could choose, how would you die? Since we’re all going to die sometime…have you got any better ideas?
“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1:21).