Since we just celebrated Father's Day the following story seemed appropriate at this time even though it occurred in a Wisconsin nearly 40 years ago. There I was sitting in Elementary School in Augusta Wisconsin when the teacher made the announcement that one of my classmates father had just died. The classmate also happened to be a good friend of mine too. I can still recall how empty I felt inside as I tried to imagine losing my own father before I was even ten years old
To make matters worse the family had nine children who were all still in school or had not yet started school yet. I shudder at the thought of any women being in that situation with nine children and losing her husband. I could only imagine how terrible that must have been for all of them and wondered just how they would all do in recovering from that situation.
Through the years I spent a lot of time with that family and became friends with everyone in the Luedtke family. I went fishing and hunting with them and many other things as the years went by.
On a Friday night I ran into Vern Luedtke at one of the bars in town and after having a beer with him I told him I was going home early so I could get up early and go musky fishing in the Eau Claire River. Vern asked if he could go with me and I replied "Yes you can but I am leaving at 5 AM." He said fine so we headed for his house to get his fishing pole.
After arriving at home Vern wakes up his mom and asks her to get up and make us breakfast because we are going musky fishing! I could not imagine waking up my mother near midnight and asking for her to make breakfast. But when his mother came out and cheerfully made us a nice breakfast I started to realize what a special bond Vern had with his mother. After eating breakfast we took a nap till 5 AM and headed out to try and catch a musky.
We drove to Harstad Park and walked down to the river and began casting for muskies. I tried several different baits but could not seem to get the fish to bite or follow on anything. Then I saw a fish swirl right next to shore and I told Vern to throw a spinner in the spot where the fish swirled and he would catch a musky. Vern said I am in my recliner and I am not getting up to change my bait. So I grabbed a Mepps Spinner and the musky nailed it. Vern netted it and we had a 33" musky for our efforts.
We put the musky in our cooler on ice and Vern spent the next couple hours showing off the fish. We spent many trips fishing after that first time and had a lot of fun fishing together.
Later that day I was once again at the Luedtke home and what I saw that day I will never forget. Vern was at the table with his mother and asking her just what she or the other kids needed. Several children needed new shoes while others were out of socks, or shirts. Each time his mother told him what someone needed Vern asked her what that item would cost? Once she told him Vern paid her cash for that item. Once they completed the list Vern counted out his money and said "Wow we still got $150 to spend J.P.
Each payday Vern took time to find out just what his mother or siblings needed and provided for the needs of his whole family despite only being 18 years old! Vern never complained but cheerfully provided for his family who were struggling without a Father in their lives.
Thanks to the dedicated effort Vern put forth the family survived very well and today the kids are all grown and doing well. The boys are a little on the mischievous side as one time one of the older brothers spent a little too much time in the bar so they shot a crow dressed it out and cooked it. When their brother returned home they told him they had cooked a chicken for him and he ate it too!
Through the years I have always kept in touch with Vern "Old Bull" Luedtke and often times thought how nice it would be if we all treated and helped each other out in times of need like he did for his family. They came first and whatever money was left was then his.
I hope your Father's Day celebration was special and hopefully this story will inspire a few of you into doing something nice for your Father or your family.
See you next week!
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