Although the Becks and the Stauders were the only year-round residents on Crescent Beach Road, I don’t remember that we ever socialized with the Stauders. I don’t think my parents even knew them outside of an occasional meeting in the Fisher Lake Store. What I do remember is that Big George, (father of Little George) had earned a reputation for being unusually dumb and Wanda (mother of Little George) was extremely loud and extremely overweight. Big George worked in town – probably at the Box Shop[i]This was a branch of the local paper mill that turned cardboard into boxes. with most everyone else in town. Wanda was a full-time housewife and known for yelling a lot. In the Summer when everyone around the lake would be picnicking or otherwise enjoying the outdoors, you could hear her from the far end of the lake. She had one of those voices that carried for miles and she was not afraid to use it.
Little George was perhaps as dumb as his father or maybe a little dumber but he definitely was not little. I think he was a year younger than I but he was easily a full head taller. Around the time I was in 3rd or 4th grade, the school bus started running to our rural neighborhood on Fisher Lake, and Little George and I were the only kids to be picked up on the first leg of the trip to Barrows School in Three Rivers. The bus would pass by our house, giving me five more minutes to wait in the house where it was warm until it returned. It then continued to the very end of the road, where it would turn around to pick up Little George, and finally pick me up on the way back to M60. Invariably, when I got on the bus Little George would be waiting to grab my lunch pail or throw my hat out the window or some other such maneuver. Joe, the bus driver, would yell at George but there was no stopping him from having fun at my expense, at least for the first few weeks.
One cold winter morning as I started up the steps of the bus, Little George reached for my hat – but this time I was prepared[ii]… probably as a result of coaching from my Dad. I stepped aside, grabbing his coat sleeve and one quick jerk sent him down the steps, head-first and face down into the snow and slush and mud and gravel.
I must make it clear that I was never much of a fighter. I have thrown a few punches and probably taken more than my share. But I have never been in a real fistfight and I am quite sure I would have lost if I had been. I don’t recall exactly what happened next but I am pretty sure Joe, the bus driver, was a major player in the incident and he was clearly on my side of the conflict.
I also don’t recall what happened to Little George. If he continued to ride the bus, I don’t recall that he ever pestered me again. My mother recounted this story endlessly whenever she got a chance to brag to anyone who would listen. If she were still alive she would be telling me how to write this now.