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South Williamsport, PA
United States

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Family Tradition

Since I can remember, hunting and the cabin have always been a big part of my family. I think back to when I was little; my dad would go to my grandfather’s cabin, “Bear Creek” to hunt deer and turkeys. I can still recall climbing up on top of the radiator in the front room

Since I can remember, hunting and the cabin have always been a big part of my family. I think back to when I was little; my dad would go to my grandfather’s cabin, “Bear Creek” to hunt deer and turkeys. I can still recall climbing up on top of the radiator in the front room to watch out the window as he pulled away, wishing I were going along. My grandfather Kline, known to many as “Tater” was well known for his turkey hunting and woodworking abilities. His homemade box call is still a prized possession of mine.

Born in 1911 in Sullivan County, my grandfather Earl Kline was the son of Calvin Cephus Kline. My great grandfather C.C. Kline was the bookkeeper for Col. Rickets, Rickets, PA, and then the barber in Sonestown. By the time the Great Depression hit, my grandfather Kline had already been working since the age of 10 and went to work with the CCC, Civilian Conservation Corps. He helped build roads, stone walls and plant trees all over Sullivan County. They were paid a small sum but in turn had to send most of it home to help their families, in exchange they also got free housing (usually tents or cabins) and were fed three meals a day. Not far from the Loyalsock Trail, just off Rock Run road, across the metal bridge to the right lays the remains of one of Sullivan Counties CCC camps. This location is also about 1/2 mile from my grandfather’s cabin.

From the time I was born until today, someone in my family has owned, or I have belonged to a cabin. My Grandfather purchased his cabin in the early 1960s and from the time I was born I was going there. To say the “cabin” is a part of life is an understatement; it was the place to not only hunt but also to cut wood, ride snowmobiles, target shoot, fish, swim and to relax. Bear Creek was a family affair for the Klines, McCalls, and Snyders. Just across the creek from my grandfather’s cabin, was another property with a large stone two-story home and numerous cut fields, known to us all as “Bear Creek Farm.” This was owned by my dad’s cousin Jay O. McCall and was the site of numerous family reunions, picnics, pig roasts, parties, Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings. It had a huge living room with a large stone fireplace, and I can still see the hot cider being served to all.

Not more than a few miles from Bear Creek, as the crow flies, was the home of my grandfather’s sister Nedra Snyder. Almost all trips to Bear Creek ended with a stop at Aunt Nedra’s. Possibly the best cook in Sullivan County. I always looked forward to stopping with the hopes the trip would end on a high note — pie! Upon entering there was always something cooking and many Sundays we would come for chicken and waffles — on those days there would be one less chicken running around the barn. Uncle Bill would usually be on the davenport, and his dog Zipper, a rather large basset hound would always be at his feet. The memories I have as a child growing up in the 70s and early 80s in Sullivan County I would not trade for anything.

Nobody in my family was well off, in fact, lower middle class would probably be a stretch, but everyone worked for everything they had. Pride sums it up in a word very well. Everyone was proud they had a job, and everyone was glad to work. I still remember when I started working almost 30 years ago and my dad telling me a story about my grandfather Kline. He said that he always, no matter where he worked, went and thanked his boss each day for that job, something only a person who lived through the Great Depression could understand. By saving and doing the work themselves, owning a cabin was not a luxury; it was a way of life.

My grandfather bought his cabin in order to get back to the “woods” and mountains of Sullivan County where he grew up and spent the first 25 years of his life. He wanted those memories and the family ties for his son. My father followed in his footsteps, and I never had a choice, hunting, and the cabin have been a part of my life since day one, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Every generation teaches the next how to hunt and I was taught with and still have the rifles and shotguns, my great grandfather, grandfather and father hunted with over the last 100 years. Passing on the torch, 11 years ago I taught my daughter Mia how to hunt. It was one of the most rewarding things I have done. I am already making plans for 12 years from now, although by that time I will be approaching my 60s, I would not miss teaching my grandchild how to hunt and sharing the memories made at the cabin. My only hope is that my children and grandchildren continue to pass on my love of the outdoors, hunting and the cabin because it truly is a “Family Tradition.”

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