Source: NMHS Newsletter, November 1994

Cecil Eiler - Home from the North Woods

By Suzanne Eiler Miller

Note: Two years out of high school in 1924 Cecil Eiler (1902 - 1991) started a small battery business in North Manchester. The same year he purchased a lot at 110 W Main and built Eiler's Service Station, a business he operated successfully until WW II. He joined the local Fire Department also in 1924 and would later retire as Chief of the Township Department.

"Tell me a story." When Dad ("Cec" Eiler) arrived home from one of his trips to the North Woods, the first thing I wanted him to do was to tell me a story about one of his adventures.

I loved the way Dad looked when he came home from one of his hunts. No movie hero showing at the Ritz or Marshall could match his dark good looks or could any script have more drama than his stories of the great north woods in the early 30's. "He's home!" would ring through the Red Brick (201 West 3rd -now being restored by Allen D. White) as he would drive up, the deer strapped to the side of the Hudson. He would almost run into the house, throw down his stuffed duffle bags, set his rifle in the corner of the kitchen just back of the front kitchen door. There was an aura of pine woods, adventure, wild scent about Dad that would thrill any young child's heart. And his appearance! He had a disarming grin that suggested he knew more than he was telling that only whetted my appetite to know more. He would riffle his black hair back from his forehead and run his hand over his growth of prickly black beard. He still wore layers of wool trousers he tucked in his high-topped boots. The shirt of his long underwear I could see at the open neck of his shirt and at the ends of his turned-up sleeves.

"Tell me a story." I begged Dad from the moment he would come home. Between the living room and the dining room in the Red Brick was the 'register', a wide seat with grating that brought the warm air directly up from the furnace below. This is where I would sit while Dad would tell me of his adventures. How the moose charged and he barely escaped before he shot it with his 30-06. Or when they found Old Nels dead in his cabin deep in the woods. Or when Chum, the Indian guide, gave him pelts and porcupine quills to bring home to Susie as gifts. He transported me to a far-away world that held me spell-bound and still does.

News would spread that 'Cec was home", and soon friends would begin to arrive. We would gather around the big table in the kitchen and Dad would tell his tales to everyone. Mother (Mae) would perk coffee and begin frying the sourdough buckwheat cakes everyone relished. Friends, take a deep breath. Just imagine the aroma: coffee/sourdough/buckwheats, old hunting boots/newly tanned pelts/fresh air as the door is opened and closed. Neighbors came to look at the deer, count the points on the rack and Dad would tell the details of the shoot until it was all told.

Next day Dad would take the deer to Fred Flook on West Main to butcher and package. I would go with him as he delivered these packages to his friends. He always shared his game. One year he entertained all the business men at the Young Hotel. Mabel Dunbar prepared the venison dinner and served her famous angel food cake for dessert. Another year he had the firemen. Mother had a smorgasbord, a popular way of entertaining at that time. And Harry Leffel kept good humored accounts of many of the anecdotes in the NEWS JOURNAL.

I wish you could all remember with me those venison dinners Mae Eiler served at the Red Brick flavored with stories of the North Woods.