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
"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
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.