Just down Federal Forest Highway 16 is one of the most beautiful spots on earth. Tepee Lake.  124 acres of clear water. Encircled by larch, pine, and balsam. Swimming below are bluegill, largemouth bass, Northern pike, and walleye.

The Federal government kept the place up for camping, boating, even grooming a small beach. We spent hours on that beach. Swimming, wading, sand castles, chasing minnows…the whole works.  

We did have to share this bit of paradise. Just down the shoreline from the beach was a cabin with a wide front porch. A long pier stared across the lake. Inside this cabin lurked a mystery.  Bigger than life.  I had heard the stories from folks who had settled in these woods during what I considered to be the Stone Age (or more specifically the Paleolithic Period). In my child’s mind, these tales from the past left me feeling I had missed out. I marveled over these glamorous times of the backwoods when such things didn’t seem possible. 

But they were.

Johnny Jacobs saw it all.  Johnny’s camp was upstream from our cabin.  He was a Lebanese man who had immigrated to America and found his piece of paradise on the banks of the Paint River. He owned a specialty store in Iron River, but his heart firmly belonged in his large one room log cabin that featured wide windows overlooking the stream. Even after a stroke robbed Johnny of his ability to walk, he still came every chance he could get strolling through the woods in his wheelchair. He was simply unstoppable.

Johnny was a handsome man even in his old age. He and his wife, Doris, had three boys.  Each one more dreamy than the next.  My sister and I sighed over the sons, but we were considerably younger, and it was simply unrequited puppy love. (The boys grew up to be a doctor, lawyer, and dentist.) Johnny loved my father and call