It’s always sad when a good friend passes on, but the entire area lost a wonderful character with the death of Pat C. Peters last weekend.
I first met Pat C. and her husband, Frank, after I moved up here close to 25 years ago. I was renting a place with no washer or dryer, and so my friend Kenny and I used to haul our dirty clothes to the laundromat in Lake Tomahawk every weekend. During the wash cycle we would have a cool beverage down the street, but during the longer dry cycle we would head across the dam to Frank and Pat C.’s Lone Pine Landing on the Rainbow Flowage.
I can remember with distinct clarity walking into this establishment for the first time, and meeting Frank and Pat C. Of course the flowage itself made for a beautiful backdrop for the Lone Pine. The back sliding doors were just a few feet from the lapping water, and depending where you sat in the bar, you could watch the cars coming over the dam, or fishermen zooming across this massive body of water in their boats.
The bar itself was memorable. It was shaped like a horse shoe, only in the middle there was a gap where patrons walked through to get to the other half. I remember Frank welcoming visitors in with gallant sweeping gestures, guiding them through his work area to the other side. There was a small pot bellied woodstove in the corner; paper hornet nests hanging from branches tacked on the ceiling; a massive musky mount; a big old-fashioned saw blade with a scene painted on it; assorted deer heads peering languidly over the crowd, and Pat C.’s Beanie Baby collection in a fancy curio cabinet. In other words, it was a true Northwoods establishment, the likes of which, I am sad to say, are closing down at an alarming rate.
Lone Pine was the type of place where families brought their kids and grandkids, and it was especially convenient for this purpose because the place was surrounded by numerous house trailers. These served as vacation homes for people from all over the Midwest. It was a hopping spot, especially in the summertime. There was always a campfire or two going, giving off the faint aroma of burning wood; kids running in and out, carrying fishing poles and wearing swimming suits; dogs reclining lazily near the front door watching the activity, and always there was laughter and revelry coming from within. It was the type of place where generations of families brought their loved ones over the course of time, and children grew into adults, never forgetting their adventures at Lone Pine, and I’ll bet to this day recount them again and again.
And while the location itself was always interesting, it was Pat C. and Frank that made it special. They worked as a team, but as most everyone who knew this loving pair knows, it was Pat C. that ran the show. She was a woman I truly admired, and for a number of reasons. For one, I loved her flashy panache, her unique style of dress and hair. I was always fascinated by it. Sometimes she would show me a fancy gee-gaw she was planning on wearing in her hair, or a pair of flashy earrings she had purchased on one of her many junkets to Vegas. And yet, she wouldn’t be afraid to step into the bar with curlers in her hair, preparing for a big outing later on in the day.
Frank and Pat C. were known for their hospitality. It seemed there wasn’t a weekend that went by without a party or gathering at Lone Pine. My favorite was the “Smart Ass Club” get together. It worked like this. For $1 you purchased a card (featuring a picture of a donkey) with a number and your name. Then every week you had to stop in and pay a $1 to sign into the club. Another requirement was appearing on Sunday morning for the Smart Ass Club drawing, and if your number was drawn you won the pot. One Sunday I won $150 bucks, which Pat. C. announced in her booming voice over a loud speaker. Every year there was a party held for the members of this fine fraternity, featuring “finger food.” Pat C. was an excellent cook, and she always made these little rolled up sandwiches which I adored. She gave me the recipe a long time ago, and I have made them many times since.
Another admirable trait about Pat C. was that she was very civic minded. She sat on the Newbold Town Board for many years, and her tenacity in garnering a seat on the Oneida County board was phenomenal. She lost numerous elections, but she always bounced back, eventually realizing her dream of becoming a county supervisor, a position she took seriously. Most people would have given up, but when Pat C. got something in her head, there was no stopping her.
Pat C. also had a playful side, and loved to sing karaoke (Patsy Cline was a favorite), and she was a savvy businesswoman, making Lone Pine a favorite spot for miles around. But above all, this wonderful lady had a tender heart, and kids especially knew it. When I would take my own boy there, she would make him a special kitty cocktail, and sneak him a bag of chips or a candy bar. Lone Pine had the best cheeseburgers, which Jake loved, and Pat C. would serve him one as if he were a king.
I am sad to say, along with Pat C., Lone Pine is no more. The bar has been remodeled into a duplex, and the trailers have all been pulled away, and now the land is for sale. One day last week I was coming home from an assignment in Lake Tomahawk, and on a whim, pulled into the old driveway, remembering all the good times I had there with Pat C. and Frank. There was a big pine cone that had fallen from one of the giant trees in the yard, and I got out of my Jeep and picked it up. I brought it home and put it on a shelf, and now I look at it frequently, knowing the world has lost a wonderful, one-of-a-kind lady with the passing of Pat C.
She will be missed, but she will live on in the hearts of those who knew, and loved her. I know this for a fact, because I will never forget my friend Pat C. She left an unforgettable legacy.
Pat C.’s Party Roll Ups
24 thin sandwich bread slices
8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
1 cup diced salad olives
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp. pepper
Remove crusts from bread then flatten bread slices with a rolling pin. Stir together cream cheese and remaining ingredients. Spread 2 tablespoons cream cheese mixture on 1 side of each bread slice. Roll up tightly; cover and chill at least 4 hours. To serve, cut each roll into 4 slices.
Associate Editor Mary Ann Doyle is available at email@example.com.