It has been four years since we last held a garage sale.
For awhile, we had one almost every year. Eventually we ran out of good stuff and retired our garage sale signs.
As most garage sale people know, you must have interesting items at reasonable prices or sit and watch the cars go by.
Once all the “treasures” have sold, the best move is to pack up what remains and donate it to Goodwill or The Salvation Army.
During the last garage sale, I sold a two-burner Coleman Camp Stove. It dated back to the 1950’s when my dad won it in a sales contest.
Along with the stove he was awarded a Coleman Camping Lantern, tent, cooler and two sleeping bags. I don’t know who was more excited, him or me.
We had everything we needed to explore the wilds of northern Ontario in search of lakes loaded with Walleye and Northern Pike.
The members of our fishing and camping adventure consisted of my dad, Uncle Bob, and me. After much planning and map reading we packed up the Mercury, hitched our fishing boat to the bumper and headed north to Canada.
In 1955, the Mackinac Bridge still was in the building stage so we crossed the Straits of Mackinac by ferry boat. Entering Canada at Sault Ste. Marie, we continued north on an uncharted course.
Although I was only eleven on that first trip, I felt like I was one of the guys, right down to a jaunty fishing hat and a hunting knife which hung from my belt.
I wanted to help with the camp chores and previously had done some cooking with my mom.
Neither my uncle nor my dad was very keen on cooking so my offer was readily accepted.
Our camp was far off the beaten path, at the lake end of a sandy two-track road constructed by a logging company.
In those days, you simply picked a shady spot along the shore, launched your boat and set up camp. No one ever questioned our presence.
After learning the basics of operating the gas-fueled stove, the cooking detail was turned over to me.
In appreciation for my efforts, Dad and Uncle Bob washed our dirty dishes in the lake.
The meals were simple, typical camp food.
Breakfast consisted of fried bacon, pancakes and eggs along with a steaming cup of campfire coffee. Lunch frequently included canned beans and weenies, macaroni and cheese, or pan fried Spam sandwiches.
With luck, dinner featured fresh caught Walleye with fried potatoes and onions. Nothing tastes better than fish pan fried in bacon grease or lard.
The North Country lakes were crystal clear with fifty miles separating us from the nearest farm or factory.
When we needed water, we waded out from shore and filled a bucket for drinking and cooking.
Surprisingly, none of us became ill drinking the water without first boiling it.
Bath time was a swim in the same lake with a bar of soap.
By the end of our Canadian adventure, I had become a pretty good camp cook and was invited back the following summer.
I learned that a good home-cooked meal is greatly appreciated after spending the day in the outdoors.
From that early cooking experience I developed a love of cooking and 50 years later I still enjoy trying a new recipe.
I was recently reminded of this memorable time while stopped at a neighborhood garage sale.
On a back table, covered with dust and a patina of bacon grease, was a two burner Coleman Camp Stove. It could have been mine. The owner saw me looking it over and approached me.
“That’s an antique!” he said.
“I know, I learned to cook on that,” I replied.
Ed Hungness and his wife became full-time residents of Fife Lake in 2005 after Ed’s retirement. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail at P.O. Box 57, Fife Lake, MI 49633