The Kidnapping of Dr. Burgman.
This happened in the fall of 1946. The days were getting shorter and colder.There was a nip in the air and Freddy Biggs and I were sitting in the Legion on the corner of Gov't Rd. and Wood Street sipping away at a couple of Black Horse Ales. Freddy and I had gone to KLCVI together and were the right age for war fodder. He joined the Signal Corps while I chose "Adventure in the Air" and flew Spitfires.
We had been upstairs listening to Spike Jones listening to Cool, Clear Water and other music of the day on the Legion radio and had come down to the bar for refills. There wasn't much to do in the evenings in Kirkland Lake.There were three theaters, the Strand the Capital and the LaSalle. There were several pubs and of course there was always 5 Main but that, for a couple of apprentice Pharmacists, was just a tad too expensive. Freddy worked for Boyd's and I dispensed pills and potions for Les Hornick. Freddy came up with the suggestion that we go out to the cottage. We were both lovers of the great outdoors and particularly of Sesekinika where I had bought a cottage for $500 on Island A1 just around the corner from the Narrows separating A1 from A2. You couldn't call it a real cottage though. It was more of a shell. Arnley Wright had arranged the purchase of it for me from somebody who lived far away and did not use it any more. It came with five and a half acres of trees, and a sound roof that did not leak. I had replaced the broken windows. It housed a big belligerent iron cook stove with a mind of its own and a double bed with a mattress mice had lived in so long they figured they owned it.. That was about it. 00. Bill was there when we pulled up to the house. He got in and away we went. As an excuse we had used getting a couple of beers at Kenogami so he didn't complain as we went along #11 to Swastika where the pavement ended and gravel began..But when we passed Kenogami without stopping Bill finally figured out that he "had been had".
I agreed with Freddy's suggestion about going out to Sesekinika and suggested we bring Bill Burgman with us. Many of you will remember Bill.. At the time he was a brand new dentist who had joined the Army after graduating in 1944, had married my sister Katherine (Kay) and set up practice in Kirkland where he pulled and filled teeth for three bucks a pop.
At my suggestion that we bring Bill, Freddy said "Aw he'll never come with us."
I replied that he might if we didn't tell him where we were going. So we phoned and got him to meet us in front of the house. I had a brand new 1946 Dodge Deluxe which, in passing, cost me the horrendous sum of $1,532.
We pulled into MacGregor's Beach where I kept my boat. We parked, went down to the boat and Freddy got in first, immediately taking the little seat at the bow. (No flies on Freddy). Bill got in next and sat in the middle. He had complained a bit about this not being the best idea of the day but had good naturedly gone along with. I sat in the stern as I had to run the motor which was a little silver coloured 2 1/2 h.p. Johnston with the cylindrical gas tank crossways on the top behind the fly wheel which you wrapped a starting cord around and gave a sharp pull or two to get the motor going.
We shoved off into the pitch black lake and I attempted to start the motor. I pulled and pulled but the motor would not start. I said that this was funny because it had always started in the past. What to do? "Well we have oars", said Freddy. The oars were in the middle of the boat so the only one that could row was Bill. I kept pulling the starting cord and Freddy kept telling Bill what a good rower he was for a city guy. As the minutes went by I kept pulling the cord, checking the gas, telling the motor what I thought of it while Freddy kept congratulating Bill on his skill as a rower. By the time we got to the narrows Bill was ready to quit but once again Freddy told him what an excellent job he was doing and that the cottage was just around the corner.
Another 5 minutes and we were there. We shivered our way up to the cottage through the dark stumbling on logs and stumps we could not see. Even I was beginning to think the whole thing could have come out better. However,once inside with the Coleman lamp lit things started to change for the better. The anarchistic stove co-operated and we soon had a roaring fire going and got some heat into our bones. Did I not mention that it was cold? It was.
We were enjoying just being there and finishing our last drink when it started to rain. Not a nice gentle rain but a real downpour. What to do? Go with the flow! We took the mattress off the bed, put it on the floor beside the stove, ignored the mice which were squeaking their displeasure at being evicted and, 3 to a bed, slept the night.
In the morning, early, as the fire had gone out and we had awakened cold, we went down to the boat and Bill finally remonstrated. He said, "I rowed over here, somebody else can row back". So Freddy took the oars and I tried to find out why the motor had refused to even cough. I took the top off the carburetor and low and behold the float had been frozen to the bottom of the bowl. I freed it allowing the gas to run through, gave a couple of pulls and we were off. I had thought of checking this on the trip over but I was afraid of dropping some key part overboard in the dark.
Arriving home Bill was greeted with hugs and kisses through tears of relief while I had to listen to my father J.W. Richards, expound on my complete lack of hope for any worth while future and my likelihood of ending up "on relief" if I didn't change my ways because "You boy, don't have the sense God gave geese".
Bill's only volunteered explanation for his part in the outing was, "I was kidnapped.".