from the upcoming and untitled book about Northern Michigan
You Gals That Smoke Keep Your Butts Out of This Car
By Mrs. Claude (Harriet) Hubert of Hillman, MI
Mr. and Mrs. (Fred and Eva) Hubert lived north of Hillman, Michigan, on a farm. They raised eight children: Barbara, Cyril, Clare, Vincent, Clement, Bernard, Loretta, and Claude.
Money was tight. The boys had two pairs of bib overalls, one for school and church, and one for play. Eva was kept busy mending the play clothes, as the boys were rambunctious and not too careful. There was only one bike and it provided play for the family as well as the neighbor kids too. It was in repair practically every day.
Vincent had polio and was unable to walk far and had a very prominent limp. Often the boys would carry him on their backs, as he wanted to be in on all their activities. His loyal dog Amos pulled him back and forth to school with a four-wheeled cart that Mr. Hubert had made. The teacher did not want Amos in the school but he barked and barked so she let him in. He stayed right by Vin's desk. There was a dog that lived on the way to school. Amos hated that dog and one day he took after that dog and upset Vin and cart end over teakettle right in the middle of the road.
Up behind their field were hills. The boys and Loretta would carry water up the hill to make ice slides. Vin was inventive and came up with ideas to make fun ways to descend. He asked his brothers to mount a bench to sled runners. They had lots of spills on that contraption. They also made a high ski jump by rolling up a huge snowball and icing it down. But they were all afraid to try it out. So a brave neighbor boy said he would give it a go. He did and he ended up end over end with arms and legs flying.
One 4th of July, Mr. Hubert told Bernard and Claude that if they finished plowing the cornfield they would go on a picnic at Long Lake. Their horse was plodding along ever so slow. Bernard wanted to speed him up and stuck firecrackers in the cooper strap. The firecrackers went off before Bernard got back. Claude was dragged kitty-corner across the field. He got up a cryin' and spittin' sand. Bernard brushed him off and said, "Oh, you'll be alright.” The horse began plodding along slowly again.
The boys would play "bombs away" by placing a cork in a bottle and putting it in a fire. When the water boiled, the bottle would shoot the cork out. Claude was to watch so no cars would get bombed.
As the boys got older, they began to drive. Their grandpa gave them a Model T 1917.
They wrote funny sayings all over it like "Capacity 4 gals" and "You gals that smoke keep your butts out of this car.” They drove it in many parades in Hillman. They used to race from Alpena to Rogers City to Hillman. There was only one sheriff in those days and very little traffic.
One day a neighbor man who was known to imbibe a bit was weaving all over the road. Bernard and Claude were adjusting the brakes on the Model T. Claude was on his hands and knees and they were distracted. Anyway, the neighbor zigged when he should have zagged and they hit him square on. He rolled up on the car, his eyes rolled back and he let out a heck of a grunt. Claude said, "I think we killed him.” Bernard said, ''Naw, he's alright." And he was.
Vin was living at home on the farm. Barbara was working downstate at Ford’s. She had a friend that told Henry Ford there was a crippled boy up north who wanted a job. Mr. Ford said, "If he's a farm boy, hire him." Because of this, Bernard and Claude were always loyal to Fords.
Claude is the only living sibling. He will be 87 this year. He still tells many wonderful stories regarding his family.