Looking Back Again

This was triggered by perusing bi-weekly reports of CO Leonard Bloomquist, stationed in Watersmeet and Ewen in 50s-60s. I ran across his reports for the last week of May 1961 and early June. Sometime during that time frame I graduated from Rudyard High School and I thought it interesting to see what the office was doing as I got ready to move on to the next phase of my life — all the way over on the other (eastern) side of the Yoop.

Sunday, May 21 — On duty at 9 A.M. Left house and patrolled on fired, game and fish in T47N,R39W, T46N, R40W. Checked at Tanland and Erickson lake for any fishing. Left here and drove to Bond Falls Basin and checked fishermen on the Basin. Left here and checked at Paulding Canal for any fishing, and at Paulding Trout Pond. Left here and checked fishermen at Robins Pond and on the Sucker and Two Mile Rivers. Left here and returned to Bond Falls Basin and continued to check for illegal fishing. Lefer here qt 3 P.M. and returned to Ewen. Left Ewen at 6 P.M. and drove to Bond Falls Basin and checked fishermen coming off the Basin for illegal fist. Left there at 9 P.M. and returned to Ewen, off duty.[9 hours; 71 miles]

Monday, May 22 — Pass Day. [This means day off. Same term used today, a half-century later].

Tuesday, May 23 — Pass Day.

Wednesday, May 24 — On duty at 8 A.M. Left home and patrolled in T48N, R39W. Checked fishermen on Clear and Baltimore Rivers. Left here and drove to Agate Falls and checked on fishing on the Ontonogon river (sic). The water is still high here due to opening up the dam at Bond Falls. Checked on beaver dam complaint in Sec 7 T48N,R36W. The Soo line RR complains of a beaver dam here that might cause trouble plugging the culvert running under the track.In this spot the RR track is 75 feet over the culvert. The beaver dam is on the up side of the track and the dam is on private property. The beaver have been taken out and the dam is dry. There is no damage and none anticipated. I left here and continued patrol in T48N,R38W and checked on fire and grass conditions in the N. Paynesville area. I returned to Ewen at 1 PM Left home at 3 PM and drove to Paulding and then to Bond Falls and checked fishermen on the Basin and on the Ontonogon river. Fishing fair to good on perch and a few trout. I left here and returned to Ewen and off duty at 9 P.M.[11 hours, 72 miles]

Thursday, May 25 — On duty at 8 A.M.. Left home and drove to Hasenberg residence and picked up fire tools. Left here and drove to Bergland and conferred with Officer Grant. Left here and drove to Wakefield Station and turned over worn out and broken fire tools. Picked up outboard motor and supplies. Left Wakefield and returned to Ewen. Did some office sork. Left home at 1 PM and patrolled in T48N,R38W and checked for any fishing on the Ontonogon river and checked on game conditions and called on keymen in this area. Patrolled in the vicinitiy of Agate Falls and checked on fishermen in Ontonogon river. Returned to Ewen at 5 PM.[9 hours, 69 miles]

Friday, May 26 — On duty at 8 A.M. Left home and patrolled T47N, R39W. Checked on fishermen  in Tanland Lake.Checked for any fishing on Erickson Lake. Continued to Paulding Pond in T46N,R39W and checked for any fishing. Left here and continued patrol to Bond Falls Basin and checked fishermen. Left here and patrolled T46 N, R40 W and T47N, R40W and checked for any fishing on the Sucker, Bluff and Two Mile Rivers. Checked at Steusser Lake for any fishing. Returned to Ewen at 6 P.M. [10 hours, 58 miles]

Saturday, May 27 — On duty at 8 AM.Left home and patrolled on fire, fish and game in T46N, R45W and T49N,R40N. Checked on fire conditions and also on game conditions. I returned to Ewen t noon. Left home at 1 PM and patrolled in T46N,R394?W. Met Officer Thomson at Paulding and he accompanied me on patrol of T46N,R39W.Returned to Paulding and then I accompanied him on patrol in his area. Checking fishermen on Lac Vew Desert.Left Watersmeet at 11 PM and returned to Ewen and off duty at midnite [16 hours, 94 miles].

Sunday, May 28 — On duty at 8 AM. Left home and checked on fire, fish, and game in T48N,R39W. Checked for any fishing on Baltimore and Clear creeks. Talked with keymen in this area. Continued patrol in T47N,R39W. Checked at Tanland and Erickson lake for any fishing. Left here and continued to Bond Falls Basin and patrolled for illegal fishing. I returned to Ewen at 2 PM.Left home at 4 PM and drove to Paulding and checked at Paulding Pond on trout fishing and trout fishermen on Sucker creek. Left here and drove to Bond Falls Basin and checked for illegal fishing in boats coming off the Basin. Left here at 9 PM and returned to Ewen.[11 hours, 72 miles]

Monday, May 29 — Pass Day

Tuesday, May 30 — On duty at 8 AM. Left home and patrolled on fire, fish and game in T48N,R38W and T47N, R39W. Checked Tanland and Erickson lake for any fishing. Drove to Bond Falls Basin and checked for illegal fish. Big perch are being caught here. Fishermen report catching a lot of bass. The fishing pressure on Bond Falls Dam is heavy. Fishing pressure in streams is very light. Paulding and Robbins Trout pond are being fished quite heavy.Not much luck. I continued patrol in T46N, R48N. Checked at Two Mile and Sucker creek and at Bluff creek for any fishing. Checked at Steusser lake for any fishing.I retuned to Ew2en and off duty at 8 PM [10 hours, 68 miles]

Wednesday, May 31 — Pass Day

Thursday, June 1 — On duty ta 9 AM.Left Ewen and drove to Watersmeet and with the US Forest Service Ranger checked on gravel permit in Sec 21, T44N, R39W. Left Watersmeet at noon and returned to Paulding and then patrolled on fire, fish and game in T46N,R39W, +  R47N,R40W,+  T46N, 40W. Checked on lakes and sterams in this area for any fishing. Checked on fire and game conditions. In the evening checked fishermen coming of the Bond Falls Basi. Left here and returned to Ewen and off duty 9 PM [12 hours, 97 miles]

Friday, June 2 — Pass Day

Saturday, June 3 — On duty at 8 AM. Left home and drove to Sec8 T47N, R88W and checked fishermen at Agate Falls. Patolled along the Ontonogon river above the falls and checked on fishing. Left here and continued patrol in T47N,R39W. Checked at Tanland and Erickson lake for any fishing. Left here and checked at Paulding Canal and Paulding Trout Pond for any fishing. Left here and drove to Bond Falls Basin and checked fishermen. Left here at 4 PM and patrolled in T47N,R40W. Checked on Bluff creek for any fishing and watch for illegal fishing aat Steusser lake. Left here and off duty at 9 PM [12 hours, 78 miles]


1) CO Blooomquist was a pretty fair typist, but a little loose on punctuation, spelling etc.

2) Today’s officers would not be as predictable as Officer Bloomquist was in terms of starting duty daily. Today’s officers vary time on and quitting times and rarely use same routes to or away from home. They try to create no patterns or tracks.

3) CO Bloomquist was patrolling most of the time in his own sedan, not 4WD. The district had a Jeep, but officers had to sign up for it in advance.

4) During the pay period the officer worked 100 hours in nine days, had 5 Pass Days, and drove 678 miles.

5) Officers still maintain “dailies” (on computers, not on carbon paper reports)  such as CO Bloomquist’s and, by and large, their duties remain quite similar, though there are far more tasks for today’s officers than back then. Not to mention a lot more people contacts and complaints.

I hope you all find this interesting. I do. It’s nice to know that certain patterns an activities and priorities  persist.

So that was looking backward. Looking forward, I’m having lunch with cadaver dog handler Sue Stejsjal. Her dog is a chocolate lab named Buzz and it will be fun to learn something about a subject that’s all new to me. The only thought I could think was I hope her dog doesn’t get a lot of work. Over.

A Lilabita Histoire of Da Deeennah

Some bits and info from the 1927-1928 Chief Game, Fish and Fire Warden’s  Report to the Guv.

Approximately 150 full-time conservation officers on duty in this period. As an aside, the state had a population of 4.8 million people in 1930 and growth was happening at a furious pace in 1927, so we had one CO per 32,000 citizens. If you add in the 400 unpaid voluntary or honorary conservation officers of then, the ratio falls to to 1:8800. It is now 2010, 90 years later, our population just under 10 million and we have about 170 officers in the field for a ratio of 1:57,647.

By comparison, in 2009 the population of Oakland County was about 1.2 million. Number of COs? That would be dos for an officer-to-citizen ratio of 1:600,000. Voluntary conservation officers are no longer utilized anywhere in our state.

By these numbers, how important is fish and game conservation to our idiot-stick state legislators? Uh, Not very, to not at all? Words are cheap ladies and gents of our legislature.

Compensation for COs in 1927-28 was $3.50/ day up to $2000 a year for the district wardens ( multiple county positions, roughly akin to a DNR lieutenant nowadays]. For reference, a 1927 dollar would be worth $12.20 today. The average workweek is 40 hours. COs today start at salaries of $36,500 and this goes up to $52,509 over five years.

COs were responsible for reporting local economic conditions as they related to forests and wildlife. They also removed all vehicle-killed deer from county roads.

Act No. 108, passed in 1913 was our first state hunting license law, but required a license only if you hunted outside your home county. No license necessary in your home county. In 1917 the law was changed to required a license for hunting in any county. Our license rates are if not the lowest in the United States, at the very bottom because legislators lack the political cajones to get them up to where we should be.

Our COs have had the power of seizure of violator equipment — guns-nets-boats-fishing rods- autos-trucks —  since the teens, but our state is almost timid in taking such actions. Anywhere else in the United States or Canada, if you break fish and game law, they take everything you are using and you pay humongous fines on top of this. Yoo-hoo, state legislators, open your eyes, or at least move them away from your video phone or Blackberry. And yoo-hoo, conservationists of all stripes and hues and designs will support more aggressive legislation in the defense and preservation of our natural resources. Either grow some political cajones, or rent some, but get to it. We are all sick and tired of Lansing’s pathetic, whining game-playing.  Political parties play while citizens pay. And by the way, it seems to me that the problem with elected officials is not their term limits, but the lack of term limits for their support staff. As it happens, elected officials come and go, but the unelected staffs remain, sometimes for decades, and guess where the real powers reside in Lansing, sportsfans.

The 1927-1928 DNR Districts were as follows:

District # 1: Ontonagon-Gogebic

District # 2: Houghton-Keweenaw-Baraga

District #3: Marquette – West half of Alger

District #4: Iron-Dickinson

District #5: Delta-Menominee

District #6: Chippewa- Mackinac

District #7: Schoolcraft-Luce-East half of Alger

District #8: Emmet-Charlevoix-Antrim-Cheboygan

District #9: Otsego-Presque Isle-Montmorency-Alpena

District #10: Alcona-Oscoda-Iosco-Ogemaw.

District #11: Crawford-Kalkaska-Roscommon-Missaukee

District #12: Leelanau-Grand Traverse- Benzie-Manistee-Wexford

District #13: Mason-Lake-Osceola-Mecosta-Newaygo

District #14: Oceana-Muskegon-Kent-Ottawa

District #15: Montcalm-Ionia-Gratiot-Clinton-Ingham-Livinston-Shiawassee-Genessee

District #16: Clare-Gladwin-Arenac-Isabella-Midland-Saginaw-Bay

District #17: Macomb-Lapeer-St. Clair-Tuscola-Sanilac-Huron

District #18: Jackson-Washtenaw-Lenawee-Wayne-Oakland-Monroe

District #19: Barry-Eaton-Kalamazoo-Calhoun-Branch-Hillsdale

District #20: Allegan-Van Buren- Berrien- Cass- St. Joseph

With the latest reorganization, we now have 9 districts in the state, two above the bridge and seven BTB. Over.

Moose on the Loose

Jeff King shares his photos with us, both taken this past April within 10 days of each other, one moose near Hessel, the other near Au Train. Like I said, they are there to be seen. Saw Robin Hood movie tonight. Has there ever been a bad Robin Hood movie? This one is a sort of prequel to the story we all know.  Errol Flynn still gets my vote for the best of the Robins. Fun. Over, wot.

Au Train Moose, April 2010
Mackinac Moose, April 2010

The Rest of the Story

US Steel in River Rouge. Outfalls attract fish. Fish attract fishermen. Fishermen attract conservation officer and so the world turns.

Had a few more pix from the Detroit trip to share, so here goes.  Also have a coupla moose pix from Yoop to share, soon as I get the green light. Over.

Downtown from the state park marina. See the fog starting to suggest itself?
People just toss "trash fish" on the bank and leave them to rot. This is a garfish someone didn't want.
Goodbye wabbit. A story crying to be told. But not by me.
Bye to the Tire on 94, heading out of town.
Ghost town. This is how downtown looked as I departed Saturday afternoon. Note the bluebird sky.
By Ypsilanti, this was the sky. I paid special notice to the little funnel just right of midnight, watching to see if it grew or dropped, which it didn't.
No traffic downtown, but on I-94 near Chelsea, whoops.

Motown Postscript…Mon Kameraden

Remember the razzing I got about what I might see in the the UP vs Detroit? To finish the thought:

THIS is what you don't see in Detroit, sportsfans! Except in the zoo. To tell the truth this photo is from Mrs. God's friend in Alaska, but it happened to pop into my email as I was writing the blog and I just knew I had to work it in. The thing is, you CAN see moose like this in the Yoop. I've heard.

Downtown Motown DNR Hoedown

Below River Rouge. One boat stands off while we finish with another group. Tanker cruises past toward the Canadian side.

Checking fishermen as the People Mover growls past the Joe...
First CO truck I've seen in such a setting.
"Let's take a walk out to the truck and talk about this."
Wait, wait, is that Joe Louis through the trees?
Wrestling is choreographed; hockey is not.
We don't have THAT move in hockey. Or her.
Arnold Palmer: Da Drink
Big family on the move.
Naturally, with all the time I've spent up north with COs in the more rural and less populated parts of the state; I got kidded a bit by the Detroit officers. You know:" Bet you don't see that in the U.P." And they were right. For example, here is the view from my 8th floor hotel window. You really can't see this in the U.P. or in northern Michigan, except for a trick shot you might arrange in Marquette.

See your licenses, gents?

The Fog comes in, the fog rolls out… Caesar’s in Windsor.
Sarge readies the boat.

From the Totally Random Department. Caddy with a carpet cover on the trunk. Speculate all you like. We did.
More Motown Randomicity. Doll in parking lot of boat ramp. Got no 'splanations on this one, either.

Precisely a week ago Friday, we were in Otsego County fishing for brook trout on the Black River. A week later, my gear is in Sgt. Art Green’s TAhoe and we are  moving from fishing site to fishing site CO Lacelle Rabon, checking shore fishermen hauling in white (silver) bass, white perch and catfish, though some sought walleyes and were to be disappointed. This was my first time with officers in Detroit and it was a great learning experience. Totally professional officers, great teamwork and total focus on the job. The number of public contacts officers in District 9 (HQ: Southfield) make are astounding, but given the millions of population concentration, not so surprising.

Sgt. Green picked me up at the Holiday Inn Express on Washington Boulevard a little late. En route he’d had to detour around some sort of mass stoppage on I-75, and then a young woman had nearly clipped him, driving out of control,  so he pulled her over. Suspended license. She was dressed in little slippers and a bikini bottom and not much else. She could not understand why she was being ticketed. The sergeant’s parting comment, “Put some clothes on.”

Our first stop was the fishing site at the end of the famous Alter Road. I tried to keep track, but it was difficult with so many stops and so many contacts with so many individuals. Alter Road, Mariner Park, Harding Street Creek, Bishop Park, Elizabeth Park, we worked our was eastward from just outside the Gross Pointes down to Trenton or thereabouts. Everywhere we went there were people, not as many as they would expect on a nicer day (no rain or squalls), but a lot.  Besides tons of humanity, other factors make working the CO jobs complex in this are. Later, look for a photo with a map of all the courts officers need to be familiar with and in whose jurisdictions they issue citations year-round. Add to this that different parts of the Detroit River have different take and keep limits for various species, that Canadians have their own laws and so too does Ohio and the layers of complexity add up fast.

But it is what it is and the officers keep an even keel and professional demeanor. Citations are written for trespass, over-limits, and not having fishing licenses. Also some discussion of various equipment employed.

Sgt. Green started as a Detroit Police Department cop in the 80s, served as a security policeman in the USAF and later moved to the DNR. Both he and CO Rabon started their DPD careers, walking beats. Lacelle walked a midnight beat and said sergeants used to put matches on car door handles to make sure their officers were rattling and checking every vehicle door to make sure there had not been a break-in.  They both said they were told when they began with DPD that a beat cop should never get wet from rain or snow, or hungry, or tired, that he should know all the places he needed to be or could go to to take care of his daily needs. They said right out of the gate they got two two-week furloughs yearly, one in summer, another in winter. Officer Rabon actually retired from the DPD in 1994, grew quickly bored, and joined DNR law enforcement in 1995.

Both men are native Detroiters and regaled me with city history, and DNR and police department stories, like a call comes in that a guy is peddling down Jefferson with a sturgeon draped over the handlebars, looking for a buyer, or someone is at the corner of such and such, selling fish to passersby.

Their favorite story was of the late Greektown Stella, an elderly woman who used to show up at the Wayne County Jail and DPD garage where she would spend most of her days.   She used to shower in the garage.She spoke mostly Greek and used to yell at parked cars. She knew all the cops, hung her laundry in the area, and so on and when she died, it turned out she was extremely wealthy, though she looked homeless. Her actual name, sources indicate was Stella Paris.  Apparently she was schizophrenic, but she wanted to be in Greektown, so the community sort of adopted her. They even got her an apartment, but she preferred the ways of the street.  She wore a World War II nursing uniform and carried a billy club given to her by the DPD for her protection. She died earlier this year, loved by many, claimed by none that I can determine.

CO Rabon referred to NO TREPASSING signs  as “decorations” because so few people heed them.

We were rained on throughout the day and as we moved along met up with others officers, as we all worked our way toward a particular central destination.

The day’s patrol included  Wayne County COs Green and Rabon (the elder statesman); Oakland County COs Ben Shively and Brandon Kieft; Macomb County’s COs Kris Kiel and Todd Szyska; and Monroe County COs Mark Ennett,  Danny Walzak, and Jon Sklba, the youngest and newest member of the multi-county team.

Midday the sergeant conducted an area meeting for his officers  and then it was back on work. At one downriver park the COs related the story of an officer who once jumped into a civilian’s boat as he came into the ramp,  and yelled, “Follow that boat!” as a anglers with a boatload of illicit fish saw the COs and headed back into the river to dump them.

We walked a lot.

Saturday began at 0845 and once again ten minutes later we were to the east and checking licenses and a gentleman claimed he left his at home. A call to Lansing to the Retails Sales System showed this not to be true and the man gave a false ID, so he was escorted to the truck, obviously nervous. Sgt Green said to him, “Look, I need your real name and identity, otherwise we’re going to take a ride to 1300 Beaubien. The man actually stepped back. He did not want to make that ride, which is the address for the HQ for the Detroit Police Department. Came out finally that he had no license and didn’t want to be ID’s for fearing he would lose his job. All he had to do was tell the truth and the officers probably would have given him a verbal warning, told him to stop fishing and asked him to go get a license right then. But he lied. This is normal behavior for DNR contacts, in the UP and on the Detroit Riverfront.

As we checked shore fishermen behind Joe Louis Arena we saw a lot of boats out front, probably looking for walleye, so we headed to Milliken State Park where a DNR boat is kept and Sgt. Green prepped it and off into the river we went, just as a heavy fog descended on the river. It lasted about 30-40 minutes as we went from boat to boat, checking fishing licenses, fish buckets, fire extinguishers, PFDs, boat registrations, etc. Then we roared down to River Rouge and made some contacts near the US Steel plant where there are water outflows that attract fish year-round. Just about every boat we stopped had some sort of problem, but the officers offerred more warnings than wrote tickets. For the most part everything remained copacetic, although one fisherman with an expired registration roared away in a fit after getting his ticket. So it goes.

At the Joe there were 9 or 10 gaudy 18-wheelers unloading WWE gear for a sunday show to be called “Over the Limit.” Wrestling itself is over the limit in my view, but I’m just one opinion. Millions disagree. Nevertheless I took some great enjoyment in the visual aspects of the wrestling trucks.

In fact both days were visually interesting and I’ve tried to capture the sense of it. After ten years of bouncing around with COs on two-tracks, it was very different to be doing resource protection in a major urban setting. The thing is, the job is pretty uniform in terms of informing the public, protecting the resource and each other, and backing up other police agencies.

Moving east Saturday midday we came across an EMS truck, lights going, sitting in a center lane, nobody in the front, so we stopped to make sure they were okay. They had come across a gent who had had a diabetic attack and was parked in the middle of the street, not moving. So they moved him into the EMS truck and moved the man’s van to a lot across the street. And after glucose treatment to get his blood sugars up the man was demanding to go home instead of to a the emergency room.  The EMS guys thanked the COs for checking and we moved on.

Out across from the St. Clair Shores Coast Guard station we saw a guy catch a smallmouth bass as we drove up (season there not on till mid-June. The guy threw the fish back, broke down his rod and tried to peddle his bicycle off the pier, but the officers stopped him. Yes he has license but he left it at home. Computer shows he hasn’t bought license in two years. He sits somberly, says thank you when the ticket is handed to him. We stopped for lunch at Fishbones (turkey burger is unreal) and we drank Arnold Palmers, half fresh lemonade and half freshly made iced tea. Wonderful drink!

Off a spot they call Nine Mile we saw a family of geese with either 18 or 19 goslings, the most any of us have ever seen. And finally,the  animal count for the trip:41 deer, 1 great blue heron, 3 woodchucks, 1 muskrat,4 dead deer, 8 sand hill cranes and 2 turkeys. Many of the deer were in Wayne County. Great time. Over.

Da Joe
These are all the courts Detroit COs have to contend with and each has its own rules.
Leaving a checkpoint. From left: CO Shively, Kieft, Szyska, Kiel.

Sergeant Green checking suspicious line in a side channel.
CO Lacelle Rabon. Lacelle is 63 (going on 40) and may give us hope for Grady Service's potential longevity.
The Sarge "chats up" the public.
Comparing Notes, Officers from Left: Kiel, Green, and Shively.
"Okay, let us get this straight, but you have nearly 75 fish for two people, but your buddy's kid is also with you and he went to McDonald's with a friend and he ought to be back anytime? Are you SURE?"
CO Kiel counting fish. I did not one time witness a citizen accurately indicating the number of fish they had unless it was only two or three in the bucket.
Tactical Planning: From left, Officers Rabon, Szyska, Shively, Ennett.
Standing in truck bed is CO Jon Sklba, showing the take he and Officers Walzak and Ennett took that morning before we joined up -- hundreds of fish over the limit of 25 per person. From left, Sklba, Kieft (back to camera), Kiel, Walzak, Green.