Submitted by Nute Chapman
From Onaway Outlook July 4, 2014
Picture #1: Onaway's 50th Anniversary
Picture #2: 4th of July Weekend Activities
Reading some notes from the summer of 1949 when Onaway was 50 years young, I came across some advertising covering the planned activities for the summer.
One of these was the greased pole contest run by Ray Tourangeau and Russ Wolff. This activity was very popular with the teens of Onaway. After all, the five-dollar bill attached to the top of the flagpole was very inviting to any young man. This activity was not supported by my Mom and many other moms. The pole was greased with new axle grease, but Tide was no match for the grease that one would get by trying over and over to reach the five dollars at the top.
Some of the older boys had learned from previous years that as each person tried their luck, the pole would be easier to climb as the grease became embedded into one's clothes and one could get a better hold on the pole.
This writer had tried his luck a few times and suffered the consequences when arriving home to face one hostile redhead, my Mom. This was a bigger crime than using her broom to put out grass fires on the tanks in the springtime.
Sometime in the mid-fifties one of the ingenious committee members came up with a new Fourth of July activity. They would add a greased pig to the celebration. Whoever could catch and hold the pig from escaping would be the owner of the pig. This pig required more grease than the flagpole.
About 20 young lads lined up to try their luck at a new game; most of them knowing it was against their mother's wishes. They turned this young pig loose on the north end of Maxon Field and the race was on. After a few grabs and tackles with no luck, the pig headed across M-211 and behind the Guiles home. From here we, (yes I was one of the lads), went through Archie Getzmeyer's yard and behind the horse barn and lit out to the north. There was some more ugly terrain in this direction and the number of chasers got less.
After a few circles and a couple of rest stops the pig took refuge in a large burdock patch behind Ray Thumb's Gas and Oil Storage building, (now Northern Michigan Batteries). This burdock patch was a mix of new foliage and ten thousand burrs left over from last year. The pig was in the middle of this jungle catching his breath. Cleo Tucker and I were about the only chasers left and we made plans to attack the pig from both sides. Cleo somehow managed to dive onto the pig, burdocks and all. The judges caught up to the chase and declared Cleo the winner.
Can one imagine the burrs and grease all mixed up together? I don't remember which was worse, the burrs or my Mom, but I was well versed about what would happen if I tried this trick again. Although I do remember that a couple of my younger brothers became very avid grease pole climbers after I gave up the fun.
From the Onaway Outlook, July 4, 2014, page 5.
Retyped by J. Anderson